- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Natural Disasters and Climate
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation
General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:
In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.
Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:
Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.
If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:
Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).
The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves. The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling. Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.
What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:
The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.
Where to go for more information:
We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Avoid non-essential travel.
Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020
Latest Travel Alert
Coronavirus (Covid 19)
The UAE authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities. The UAE authorities have stated that any violation of instructions and procedures put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be treated as a crime punishable by law.
Entry to the UAE is currently only permitted for UAE citizens and residency visa holders who have received permission from the authorities to return to the UAE. The issuance of new UAE entry visas and the visa waiver scheme has been suspended since 19 March.
The UAE Government and the Government of Dubai announced new international travel protocols which apply to citizens and residents from 23 June.
Overseas visitors will be permitted to travel to Dubai from 7 July.
Requirement for COVID testing prior to travel
On July 23, the UAE Authorities announced new requirements for COVID-19 testing prior to travel to the UAE from all countries.
All passengers flying to the UAE, including transit passengers, will be asked at check-in to produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test conducted in the previous 96 hours.
We strongly urge all travellers to double-check the requirements for COVID testing with your airline prior to travel.
UAE residents abroad must obtain permission to return to the UAE from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) through the UAE Residents Entry Permission service. The granting of permission to return to the UAE is at the discretion of the UAE immigration authorities. The ICA advises passengers to wait for approval before booking flights.
Holders of Dubai residency visas must obtain permission to return to Dubai from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Permission can be obtained through the airline or by applying directly to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). This link is only accessible outside the UAE. Further information on the procedure for returning Dubai residents is available on the Emirates Airline website.
Passengers arriving in the UAE will be required to go through thermal screening and may be tested for Covid-19. There may be a mandatory quarantine period of up to 14 days at home or in a designated facility. You should follow the directions of the local authorities.
The UAE government has announced the resumption of some transfer services between Europe, Australia and Asia through the UAE. Please see Emirates and Etihad websites or contact your travel provider for further information.
UAE Visa and Entry Permits
The UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced on 13th April that visas and entry permits that expired after 1 March 2020 would be valid until the end of December 2020. This decision was revoked from 12 July 2020, applicable to entry permits, residency visas and ID cards. Administrative fees and fines will be applied to all services provided by the ICA from 12 July with the following exceptions:
- For residents outside the UAE (who have spent less than six months outside the country), will be given a grace period of one month to renew their documents from the date of entering the UAE.
- For resident outside the UAE (who have spent more than six months abroad or their residency visa expired as of March 1), will be granted a grace period to return to the UAE effective from the date of the opening of airspace between the two countries.
- For residents inside the UAE, will be granted a grace period of three months to renew their documents.
If your visa has been cancelled, you will need to leave the UAE within 30 days or change the status of your visa to remain in the country legally.
Irish citizens currently in the UAE on expired visit visa should seek to update their status in the UAE.
If you have questions on the validity or expiry of your visa, or on change of visa status (e.g. From a Resident visa to a Visit visa) you should contact UAE Immigration – see the ICA or GDRFA websites.
Public and Commercial Locations
Most public and commercial venues have re-opened, with some restrictions on entry. You should monitor local media and comply with the directions of local authorities. It is mandatory to wear a facemask in public and follow social distancing requirements.
See links below for details.
Irish Embassy Abu Dhabi Covid-19: Frequent Asked Questions
If you are in the UAE, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities.
Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.
HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:
There are ongoing regional tensions and, in the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
There is considered to be a high threat from terrorism. You should remain vigilant at this time.
The UAE is a Muslim country. Laws and customs are very different to those in Ireland and other western countries. It is important to respect local customs, laws & religions while in the UAE. There can be serious penalties, including custodial sentences, for doing something that may not be illegal in Ireland. See Local Laws & Customs section.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. You can also contact the Irish Embassy if you require assistance or advice.
The Emergency services number in UAE is 999.
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravel for the latest travel updates
- Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
There are ongoing regional tensions and, in the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
The political situation in the UAE is stable but you should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.
You should be aware that there is a threat from terrorism generally in the region. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and against Western interests, as they have been elsewhere in the region.
Crime remains relatively low in the UAE but you should take sensible precautions.
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
- Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. UAE law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that sexual relations were not consensual, especially when the victim had consumed alcohol or where the attacker was known to the victim. If the sexual relations are determined to have been consensual, both parties may face prosecution for the offence of sex outside marriage. Drink spiking can occur. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
You should also stay away from military sites – taking photos of military or security installations, and some public buildings is prohibited. Avoid filming or photographing people without their permission.
The UAE has strict laws regarding online behaviour, including comments made via social media, with offences punishable by fines, imprisonment and deportation. Sharing videos or photographs of others through social media can be a punishable offence.
If you’re planning to drive in the UAE, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by speeding, poor driving and inadequate lighting.
Drivers involved in an accident causing injuries may be detained until the injured are released from hospital. In an accident causing injuries or fatalities, those found at fault may be legally required to provide financial compensation to the injured or the family of the deceased.
You should exercise great care as a pedestrian and only cross the road at designated pedestrian crossings. Drivers often fail to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings.
Offensive gestures and bad language can lead to fines, a jail sentence and deportation.
Excursions to the desert can be dangerous especially without adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. Serious accidents can occur when driving on sand dunes in the desert, which can result in death. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and the penalties can be severe. Your insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving you to pay claims by other parties involved
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Rip currents can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Always comply with warning signs, especially red flags, and only swim from approved beaches. Only swim at pools with a lifeguard in attendance, and always check and ensure that there are qualified lifeguards present if your children will be swimming as part of their school activities or at summer camps.
The safety of tourist boats may not be up to Irish standards. Ensure that life jackets are available for all passengers.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
The UAE is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals, or if you intend to visit religious areas. In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 23 April.
Dress conservatively, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates, where Islamic law is rigorously enforced. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs and underwear should not be visible.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour. If you conduct a sexual relationship outside heterosexual marriage you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Private life is respected in the UAE, however people are punished for sexual activity outside marriage where there is a public element or if it is brought to the attention of the police authorities.
If you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in the UAE may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in the UAE, and could face arrest, imprisonment or deportation. To obtain a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.
During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.
Bringing drugs, pork products and pornographic books and material into the UAE is forbidden. Videos, books and magazines are subject to scrutiny and may be censored.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills, is regarded very seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud do not generally get bail. Convicted debtors will not usually be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived. Several Irish citizens have received custodial sentences as a result of non-payment of outstanding debts.
Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and can lead to prosecution. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.
Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE.
Liquor licences can be obtained by non-Muslim residents to consume alcohol in private homes and licensed hotels and clubs. Tourists in Dubai can apply for a temporary liquor licence through one of the official distributers of alcohol in Dubai. Liquor licences are only valid in the Emirate in which they are issued. Liquor licences are not available to non-residents in the other Emirates, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. Drinking alcohol in the Emirate of Sharjah is illegal. It is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink alcohol or to be drunk in public. Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.
The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.
Travellers who transit in UAE airports are subject to these laws. UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.
Weapons and related equipment
Weapons, ammunition and gun belts etc. all require permission for entry or transit through the UAE.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural disasters and climate
The UAE is hot and dry most of the year. Drink plenty of water but remember that during Ramadan it is an offence to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset.
There are occasional sandstorms but they are not usually bad enough to affect daily life.
In some parts of the country, particularly in the mountains, occasional heavy rain can cause flash floods. Take precautions and seek out local advice.
Entry & exit requirements (visa/passport)
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months to enter the UAE. A longer period of validity may be required if you intend to seek a UAE residency visa. If you hold a UAE residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months in order to travel into the country.
If you are unsure of what the entry requirements for the UAE are, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.
For non-residents, Irish temporary passports are not valid for entry into the United Arab Emirates. However, temporary passports are accepted for airside transit and exit from the United Arab Emirates.
Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If your residency visa is under process, or if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. A number of Irish nationals have been arrested when departing or transiting the UAE, including as a result of unpaid debts in the country.
If you wish to buy property in the UAE, you should seek appropriate professional advice, as you would in Ireland.
If you need emergency assistance from the Embassy, then contact us immediately. Our telephone number is: +971 (0) 2 4958200.
If you require emergency assistance at the weekend or on a public holiday, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine. The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer at the Embassy will contact you as soon as possible. When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying). If necessary, contact the police also. Please note that the Duty Officer will deal with emergencies only
Embassy of Ireland
Al Yasat Street off 6th Street
P.O. Box 61581
United Arab Emirates
Sunday to Thursday 09:00-13:00
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.