The United Arab Emirates has dropped its strict COVID-19 testing entry requirement for vaccinated travelers, meaning your trip to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in 2022 might be a lot easier. But there's one big catch for Americans to be aware of…
For more than a year, the UAE has required travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the Middle East – and unlike many other countries, they wouldn't allow rapid antigen test results. To enter Dubai, you'd need a negative PCR test result no more than 72 hours before departure. In Abu Dhabi, that window was just 48 hours.
Over the weekend, the UAE announced some new, relaxed COVID-19 measures including dropping the PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated arrivals. But to prove you're fully vaccinated in the UAE, you need a vaccine record with a scannable QR code … and that could be a problem for travelers from the U.S. where a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) card is the standard.
Some states like New York and California have rolled out their own digital platforms to prove vaccine status. Other states including Utah and New Jersey have partnered with smartphone apps to provide QR code vaccine records, while some health care providers have a way to secure a digital record.
But for many Americans, getting a vaccine record in QR code form could be a challenge to enter the UAE. It's unclear if third-party platforms like CLEAR – which allows travelers to enter their vaccine records and get a QR code – will satisfy the emirates' requirements.
Unvaccinated travelers and those who cannot prove a QR code vaccination certificate will still have to provide a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of travel or provide a QR code proof of recovery certificate from within one month of travel.
On the ground in the UAE, masks are still required in all public indoor spaces, but the requirement to wear a mask in outdoor areas was dropped over the weekend, too. The UAE also uses Green Pass, requiring all attendees of sporting events to prove COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours.
All over the world, entry testing requirements like this one are dropping like flies. Over the last month, the U.K., Ireland, Italy, and Switzerland all notably dropped their entry requirements, signaling a trend across Europe. But this is among the first major cracks in travel restrictions in the Middle East as travelers look to visit Dubai again in 2022 and Qatar for the World Cup in November and December.
If you have a QR Code COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, you can now enter the United Arab Emirates without a negative test. But QR code certificates aren't available in all areas of the United States, in which case you'll still need a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before departure.
The UAE's announcement is the latest domino to fall as countries all over the world loosen travel restrictions.