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Abu Dhabi: Visa Information

As an expat moving to Abu Dhabi, you’ll experience a life full of variety in the second largest city of the UAE. However, before you rush to prepare for Abu Dhabi, read our InterNations Expat Guide to make sure you’ve done your homework concerning visa options, work permits, and transportation!
Abu Dhabi, an island city, impresses with both modern and traditional architecture.

Entry Permits for Visitors to Abu Dhabi

If you come to Abu Dhabi as a tourist, e.g. on a fact-finding trip prior to your expat assignment, you need to enter the country with a valid passport and a tourist visa or visitor visa. Either of the above visa types needs to be applied for at the nearest UAE Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your trip. However, nationals of the following countries, among a few others, can get their tourist or visitor visa upon arrival in the UAE, provided they have a valid passport:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican, UK, US.

This list may vary so be sure to check with your nearest embassy or consulate if you are eligible for such a visa.

A tourist visa is valid for up to 30 days and can be renewed for another 30 days. It only applies to individual tourists from selected countries sponsored by hotels, commercial tour operators, etc. in the UAE.

Visitor visas are for tourists or non-touristic visitors (e.g. for visiting a relative or attending a trade fair). They are valid for 30 days and can be renewed for a total stay of up to 60 days. Usually, your relative in the UAE, your tour operator, the business organization that invited you, etc. will act as your sponsor for the application process.

Work Visa for Abu Dhabi

Neither a tourist visa nor a visitor visa allows you to take up gainful employment or any kind of work in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, a tourist visa can never be transferred into a work entry permit. Temporary work visas are valid for 90 days and can be extended for an equal amount of time. During this time, expats have to make sure that their residence permit is processed. In order to obtain a work visa and, later on, a residence permit, you usually need a sponsor in Abu Dhabi (e.g. your future employer) who is going to take care of the process for you.

There are different types of work visas for private companies, depending on the applicant’s position. Employees of governmental institutions and ministries receive their visa directly from the GDRFA (General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs) and are not allowed to accept work in the private sector.

The type of visa and work permit you need always depends on your nationality and on your individual situation. It is therefore hard to provide specific information. For all questions relating to work visas (also known as work entry permits or labor entry permits), please ask the Embassy staff or the GDRFA.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Antoine Mariaux

"Thanks to InterNations, I've received very useful tips about the Emirates and expat life in Abu Dhabi."

Maria Loura

"The idea to connect expatriates in Abu Dhabi is just fantastic! Have been looking for such a platform for a long time."

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