Global Immigration News:
COVID-19 travel

Immigration rules, particularly travel and entry rules in relation to COVID-19 restrictions, are subject to constant change in countries worldwide.

For this reason, it is important to ensure you are aware of the current guidance in your destination country before departing. This week, the Global Immigration team at Smith Stone Walters would like to highlight the following travel updates from the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.

EU: Gradual lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel

The European Council has recommended to Schengen member states, including prospective members (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania) and the four Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) the gradual lifting of temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU for safe third countries.

The Council keeps a list of non-EU countries that have been categorised as ‘safe third countries’ based on criteria relating to the epidemiological situation of each country. The list is reviewed and updated as appropriate every two weeks.

Effective 30 August 2021, the European Council has removed the following countries from the list of safe third countries:

  • Israel
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • United States

The Council now recommends lifting travel restrictions for residents of the following countries and territories:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Macau
  • Moldova
  • New Zealand
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • China (subject to reciprocity)

For countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the Council suggests that the following categories of people should be exempted from the restrictions:

  • EU/EFTA citizens and their family members.
  • Long-term EU residents and their family members.
  • Travellers with an essential function or need, including:
    • Healthcare and elderly-care professionals, health researchers
    • Frontier workers, seasonal workers in agriculture, transport personnel and seafarers
    • Highly qualified workers if their employment is necessary and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad
    • Diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel and humanitarian aid workers
    • Passengers in transit
    • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
    • Persons in need of international protection or travelling for other humanitarian reasons
    • Persons travelling for the purpose of study.
  • If member states accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they should in principle lift restrictions on non-essential travel for third-country travellers who have received the last recommended dose of an EMA approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival.
  • Member states could also lift the restriction on non-essential travel to those who have received at least 14 days before the last recommended dose of a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process.

It should be noted that the Council’s recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, and the authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.

UAE: COVID-19 travel update

Effective 30 August 2021, tourist visa applications are open to people from all countries who are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine. The decision applies to citizens of all countries, including those arriving from previously banned countries. Passengers arriving on tourist visas must take a mandatory rapid PCR test at the airport. The previous rules for unvaccinated travellers, including exempted categories, remain in place.

For travellers to Dubai, the following guidance applies:

  • All UAE residents can travel to Dubai without an approval from GDFRA or ICA except those travelling from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam or Zambia.
  • However, those coming to Dubai from one of the above listed countries do not need approval if they have one of the following:
    • A newly issued residence or employment visa
    • A short-stay or long-stay visa
    • A visit visa
    • A visa on arrival.

The following COVID-19 testing requirements also apply to passengers travelling to Dubai:

  • Passengers arriving from the countries above must present a printed negative result (with a QR code) of a pre-departure PCT test issued within 48 hours of the time the sample was collected at an approved health facility. They must also present a negative result (with a QR code) of a pre-departure PCR test conducted at the departure airport within six hours before departure.
  • Passengers travelling from other countries must present a printed negative result of a pre-departure RT PCR test done no more than 72 hours before departure.
  • The following people are exempt from COVID-19 testing at the departure airport, but must undergo a test on arrival in Dubai:
    • All UAE nationals returning to Dubai from any country
    • Non-UAE nationals accompanying a first-degree UAE national family member
    • Domestic workers accompanying a UAE national sponsor
    • Children under 12 years old
    • Passengers with moderate to severe disabilities
  • All passengers arriving in Dubai from the following countries will be required to take another COVID-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai’s airports:
    • Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.

For travellers to Abu Dhabi, the following guidance applies:

  • Effective 5 September 2021, all travellers to Abu Dhabi are required to present a valid negative pre-departure PCR test result received within 48 hours before departure.
  • Quarantine-free entry is permitted for travellers from ‘green-list’ countries.
    • Effective 1 September, the green list includes Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Comoros, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine.
    • Vaccinated travellers arriving from green countries must take a PCR test on arrival and on day 6, without the need to quarantine (unless the on-arrival test is positive).
    • Unvaccinated travellers arriving from green countries are required to take a PCR test on arrival, again on day 6 and again on day 9, without the need to quarantine.
  • Quarantine-free entry is also permitted for vaccinated travellers from non-green list countries:
    • Effective 5 September 2021, vaccinated travellers arriving from non-green countries must take a PCR test on arrival but no longer need to quarantine. They must take further PCR tests on days 4 and 8.
    • Unvaccinated travellers are required to take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days and take another PCR test on day 9.

Global immigration support

Due to the constantly evolving nature of global immigration, country-specific rules may change at short notice. For up to date advice before you travel, please contact the SSW Global Immigration team.

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