Dubai Airport’s Strict New COVID-19 Test Requirement

Filed Under: Emirates

Dubai Airport has just added a strict testing requirement for passengers, regardless of where they’re coming from, and regardless of which airline they’re flying on. This is significantly stricter than the testing requirement that was announced by Emirates a few weeks back.

Dubai Airport will require COVID-19 test

As of August 1, 2020, all passengers traveling to, from, or through Dubai International Airport will be required to show a negative coronavirus test result:

  • This applies to citizens, residents, and tourists, regardless of whether they’re starting in Dubai, terminating in Dubai, or are just transiting through the airport
  • This doesn’t apply to children under 12, or those with “moderate to severe disabilities”
  • The negative COVID-19 certificate from a PCR test must have been from within the 96 hours leading up to travel

While this policy makes perfect sense, this will prove a logistical challenge for many, given how hard it is to get tested and receive the results within that timeframe in so many countries.

Dubai will require a pre-travel negative PCR test result

Some passengers will have to get tested twice

Some Emirates passengers traveling to Dubai will have to take a second PCR test upon arrival. While the pre-travel testing requirement applies even to transit passengers, the potential for a second test at Dubai Airport applies to those actually looking to enter Dubai.

This would include those traveling from dozens of high-risk countries, including the US, Brazil, Russia, etc.

Some passengers traveling to Dubai will have to get tested twice

Emirates offering coronavirus insurance

It’s probably worth posting a reminder of the initiative that Emirates announced a few days ago, whereby the airline is offering all passengers coronavirus insurance, in the event that they test positive during travel.

Obviously there are some terms and conditions to be aware of, but it’s an innovative concept that should put some passengers at ease. Note that this insurance doesn’t cover the cost of testing prior to travel, which continues to be the responsibility of each passenger.

Emirates will offer all passengers coronavirus insurance

Bottom line

Anyone traveling through Dubai Airport will have to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel.

That seems responsible, and on the surface that also seems reasonable. The issue is that unfortunately in many places scheduling a test and getting results all within 96 hours of travel can be nearly impossible.

This is yet another logistical challenge associated with international travel nowadays…

What do you make of this move by Dubai Airport? Would you like to see more airports require proof of pre-flight testing?

  1. Being incredibly optimistic, I have my (rescheduled) honeymoon planned for October. Traveling home from the Maldives on Emirates. How the heck am I supposed to get a test while at the resort in the Maldives??

  2. Flight from Singapore leaving August 30th. You cannot get a Covid 19 test at this point for travel
    out of Singapore document, yet Emirates has departures. My reservation shows a 48 hour layover before I can take a connecting flight to my USA destination.
    Am I missing something in this story? Not sure they would let me board in SIN without a Covid test document. Then the 48 hour layover before taking my connecting flight. What’s that for?

  3. I don’t get why you would even want to travel with all these restrictions. Restaurants suck now. Bars suck. Many if not all attractions are closed. What’s the point?

  4. Matt… don’t go.

    Cancel your trip and give the money to a family suffering from the virus impact.

    Be a decent person and sacrifice a little while not putting so many people at risk.

  5. A very pertinent question Matt has asked.

    They will go back on this rule in a few days especially the test requirements for transit passengers. It will kill Emirates business not that they are already flying around empty planes.

    It makes sense to have a compulsory negative test report for anyone entering Dubai but the transit requirements will go as they do not make sense.

  6. “This would include those traveling from dozens of high-risk countries, including the US, Brazil, Russia, etc.“

    The USA mentioned on par with Brazil and Russia.

    So much for American exceptionalism in 2020…

  7. The requirements for Etihad are actually tougher than Emirates in one crucial way

    If flying to Dubai as a final destination, Emirates allows passengers to choose any lab in the country of origin if an “accredited lab” is not available.

    Etihad does not allow except “accredited” labs which exist only in 30 countries. Philippines being one country without one, ( along with Canada as well initially, but then they got assigned one in Ontario, should be fun for those in Alberta or BC)

    Fun fact: this technicality led to most passengers on MNL-AUH in recent days to be denied boarding as having a negative Covid test was not sufficient, it had to be from an accredited lab which Philippines does not have yet.

    Fun fact 2: In countries with “accredited labs” the Covid test at that lab can be twice the cost of a normal lab……

  8. “Negative COVID19 certificates will be valid for up to 96 hours from the time of the PCR test.” The 96 hours is at the time of boarding your flight or the time or arrival in Dubai?

  9. Emirates might as well declare bankruptcy and go out of business as these testing requirements make no sense and are unreasonable.
    For starters, testing 96 hours in advance means nothing as you can get infected any time between the time of the test and the time of departure. Secondly, it is unreasonable to order people to pay out of pocket again when they already have bought a ticket before these reactionary changes were announced.
    In the end, COVID-19 is here to stay and will NEVER EVER go away. People need to finally get that. Therefore, lest a vaccine becomes available, the best way to protect you is the wear a face mask and adhere to strict hygiene measures.

  10. First, I understand countries needing to protect themselves. But they also turn a blind eye when they dump this out, leaving passengers potentially stranded and vacations ruined. Who picks up the tab for our lost prepaid vacations? And try getting travel insurance right now. IF it’s out there and you can afford the enormous fees.

    I spoke with Emirates last night and it’s the government driving this, not the airport or airlines.

    Second, the 96 hour window is to be valid when you board the plane.

    However, this leads to an obviously poor thinking out of this. So it’s valid when I board. Then have a 13 hour flight to Dubai, an 8 hour layover where I do not leave the airport and my 96 hours has expired when I go to board my transit flight to Maldives. What then? Same for coming back. Am I now stuck in the airport a la Tom Hanks in The Terminal? Nobody can answer that question. And Emirates isnt responding to emails or messenger or their FB page.

    As for the Maldives, they are as caught off guard as the rest of us. I understand the resorts all have on site doctors as a requirement to reopen. Some have said they will take blood and get certificates for departing passengers but others are silent.

    So, do we have to waste a day and $$$ flying or boating back into Male and back to the resort to hopefully get a test at a hospital in time? And since almost NO requests for staying in a transit hotel are being granted, are a lot going to be sleeping in that open airport?

    So far, the Ministry of Health, the tourism board and some resorts aren’t answering ANY emails on this.

    They dump out these pronouncements without THINKING of all the possibilities, then we are left trying to struggle to get answers.

    And yes, we have reservations there in Sept. In the past 24 hours since this bomb drop, I’ve seen prices drop at resorts as reservations seem to be getting cancelled

  11. From 1 August 2020 all passengers arriving in Dubai from any destination, including passengers connecting in Dubai, must have a negative COVID-19 test certificate to be accepted on the flight.

    This is from the Emirates website.

    To be accepted on the flight. Which appears to mean valid within 96 hours of boarding.

    But considering the poor quality of this whole thing, who truly knows

  12. Someday I’ll understand where posts being reviewed go to. Maybe the same place as socks. Guess I’ll write shorter messages.

    I spoke to Emirates last night. This isn’t their or the airport’s doing but from the government.

    I have a question that if I board at JFK with a valid 96 hour test, then fly 13 hours, then have a layover where I never leave the airport, then try to board for the Maldivrs but it’s now longer than 96 hours, am I forever stuck in Dubai’s airport?

  13. All resorts are required to have an on site doctor as a requirement to open in the Maldives. Some have stepped up to say they will take blood and get the certificates handled for their customers. Others are silent.

    Which means some may have to pay to fly or boat back to Male to go to a hospital for a test, then fly or boat back to the resort costing time and $$$

    Emails to the Health Ministry, tourism board and Male hospitals have gone unanswered and many have tried.

    I noticed last night a number of cancellations after this bomb dropped

  14. There is a difference between how Emirates links to the “government” now and how it did before the pandemic….

    When it it Dubai’s Civil Aviation matters or anything to do with Dubai Airport, there is hardly any difference between said parties and Emirates Airlines. The latter will get what it wants and decision makers are pretty much the same, though on paper they are not…..

    However, the current rules are implemented by the country of UAE as a whole, and this is after Dubai as a state within the country, actually jumped the gun and announced in June separate entry policies than the rest of the UAE, the separate policies being more relaxed for Dubai.

    Now we are back to the whole country on the same page when it comes to entry policies, with Dubai no doubt having to compromise on a more liberal approach.

    The differences can be seen after this single approach, as Etihad is far more restrictive on which labs’ results it will accept as opposed to Emirates

  15. There is an equal chance that these rules will tighten going forwards, not loosen

    Just today Vietnam went back into lockdown, sending 80,000 Vietnamese tourists back home from Da Nang. Over 4 positive tests

    Tourism is important
    Not having mass burials is more important

    It is extraordinarily likely that the world will see COVID wave 2 this fall. This will lead to lockdowns

    I would be very careful traveling anywhere that requires an airplane to get home. There is a good chance you’ll be stuck there

  16. Now is not the time to be travelling. The number of florida cases is up 1500% since may reopening.

  17. Okay, just spoke with Emirates. Take that for what it’s worth.

    According to them,the 96 hour negative covid is required AT departure (in my case from JFK).

    Given 3 hours to boarding, 13 hour flight and 6 hour layover (never leaving the airport), even if my test is 120 hours old at that point, I will be able to board my flight going on to Maldives since it’s consider under ongoing travel.

    That is the story tonight. Lol

  18. “It’s probably worth posting a reminder of the initiative that Emirates announced a few days ago, whereby the airline is offering all passengers coronavirus insurance, in the event that they test positive during travel.”

    In which case it’s probably worth posting a reminder that there are so many conditions and exclusions it’s practically worthless.

  19. @ Benice:

    I volunteer weekly at a local food bank. I’ve given 25-30% tip on every to-go food order. Donated money to a number of different sources. Paid my house cleaning service an extra month when they couldn’t come to my apartment. Cancelled numerous social gatherings. I wear a mask everywhere.

    But thanks for your concern and advice.

  20. It’s a crazy policy. Why would you say “while this policy makes perfect sense”?!? It doesn’t. It’s on the far far far end of the risk/reward trade off. It might make sense for airborne Ebola. We have so so so much evidence that Covid is not airborne Ebola.

  21. @Joe:
    It’s not airborne Ebola, it’s actually much more sneaky. Ebola was considerate (if such a thing could be said of a hideously lethal virus) in that it could only be spread if the host was presenting symptoms. This made tracking and containing it far easier than Covid-19, which will happily spread itself around in an airborne cloud from hosts that aren’t presenting any sort of symptom.

    You sound like the people that say it’s only a 3% fatality rate, open everything back up. The problem with that is if 3% of the world died it would be 230+ million people.

  22. Governments should be the ones to have covid test stations at airports, with immediate response. We can see the lacks and no senses in governments for all countries. Why people pretend from airlines so many things and stay to non sense misuses from their own governments?

  23. I feel Matt’s frustration. I live in Dubai and plan to be in the Maldives on a dive trip in late August. Not sure how I’ll be able to get tested and have the results back before my return flight either. Like so many of Dubai’s covid-related requirements and proclamations during the past five months, this one has not been well thought out and will probably change three times in the next two weeks.

  24. This doesn’t apply to children under 12, or those with “moderate to severe disabilities”

    Wouldn’t this mean that a lot of Americans would be excluded from the requirements?

  25. The big question is what will happen if you are positive?
    Who will bear the costs? Where will you be sent? What will they do?
    If many people are positive from a flight because someone on board had the virus then what will they do.
    It costs a lot in time and resources to have quarantines and to service these types of people and I wonder if all of this is worth it for the airline, hotel, and for other services to make money.

  26. Emirates connects a lot of hotspots via Dubai. I would not be keen to travel via an airport where travellers from those countries congregate. Besides, a lot can happen in 96 hours and PCR tests do not pick up very recent infections.

  27. @M.O.
    If covid had a 3% fatality rate then I’d be totally aligned with this policy! And I’d also be the first one saying shut all borders and keep ’em shut to keep this out. I’d also advocate an extremely hard lockdown policy to eradicate the virus (if there was evidence that we could).

    But it’s not a 3% fatality rate. You might be pleasantly surprised to hear it’s just a fraction of that. The CDC puts it around 0.3%. And it’s not just them – all research points to a fraction of a percent. I know this is counter to what you might expect given the news etc at the moment. But I implore you to look more closely into this. What’s more – it also attacks a defined part of the population. Those who are old and already ill/vulnerable. The fatality rate for the young and healthy (and by that I mean up to 50) is astonishingly low. Even beyond this it’s not incredibly dangerous until you reach multiple commodities and very old age. So it’s not as simple as scaling up population Y multiplied by death rate X. There’s also more and more emerging evidence that there’s pre existing immunity in the population from other coronaviruses. The narrative that this is a “completely new” virus is just not true. I will concede, however, that there is a lot more research needed on this and covid in general.

    This isn’t to trivialise it. We need to protect those people who are vulnerable to it. But it’s not at all clear to me that the right way to do that is with policies like these. It _might be_ if the situation were as you described (3% death rate etc). I’m also not trying to be heartless. What we’re doing to the world right now in reaction to this is causing (and going to cause) countless deaths from famine, missed cancer diagnoses, and economic devastation.

  28. I am on holiday within Europe right now but in another country. Personally and honestly here, I do not think travel for leisure is worth it this year again, at least for me. And if the further abroad lockdown again, I doubt foreigners will be given that much support with flights scrambling them out.

    We are a seeing second wave now across Mainland Europe, and the huge not socially distanced queue at airports upon my arrival, as well as the lounges being closed has been stressful. It is easier just camping domestically until a vaccine and/or better treatment is found.

  29. Ben, again I do not like to point out you are quite naive about this. Frankly, this policy of Emirates makes NO sense. Dubai’s business model has been built on a the Singapore model of being a global business, transshipment and transportation hub. Emirates Airlines and Dubai Airport are government owned with linked policies and management. They ultimately report to Sk. Ahmed (CEO of Emirates Airlines and Dubai Holdings).

    My ability to travel as I must for international business as an American Citizen is being challenged. Frankly, I am going to relocate to France next year as I can no longer deal with restrictions put on me as a US Citizen due to poor response by the US Federal government to the Pandemic.

    This makes me very sad, I love it here.

  30. The new regulations make it impossible to fly. We live in a small community with effectively no Covid and only now an influx of summer tourists. To get to an accredited testing center would mean flying into a covid-infested major center, staying 48 hours to await test results, then flying onward probably having been infested during our stay.

    Had managed to arrange a reward flight in EY F through Abu Dhabi to Male but cancelled as soon as I heard AY had taken the 380 F off the LHR-AUH route. Just as well.

    Too bad. No plans to return to UAE but Rangali would be so nice and quiet and probably covid free.

  31. @Joe

    Problem is that, after having had corona, even young people can have severe compilations.

    Death is not the only option. As was reported in Jama Cardiology, German scientists found that over 70% of people who did not succumb to corona had heart muscle problems.

    Extensive lung damage has also been found with former patients and they continue to suffer.

    It might be 0.3% death rate (a mere 1 million US casualties), but it is far more than that. Please read more than your daily CNN/Fox briefing but actually read some of the scientific research, you’ll learn far more and improve your understanding of the measures governments are taking at the moment.

  32. @Joe

    With “far more than that” I meant that the disease obviously has more complications than death, which is natural for most diseases.

  33. “Governments should be the ones to have covid test stations at airports, with immediate response.”

    We’re nowhere near being able to provide that in the US. Labs like are showing that they’re taking two weeks to process a test like the one Hawaii wants if you want to skip quarantine. You’re not wrong to want this, but we want it for all kinds of reasons – travel isn’t the highest on the list.

  34. there is no way most folk globally do this.
    as a poster indicated-you cant get a test in Singapore without symptoms.
    some industries here(construction orientated) must do two weekly testing-no document issued if negative.
    so you cant travel.
    they used to say any law had to be equal , proportionate and enforceable. this isn’t.

  35. Justin, please do note that there are rare complications with every disease, they just don’t have the spotlight put on them as we have now with Corona.

  36. Most countries do not allow you to even test unless you are having covid symptoms, or been exposed to a confirmed positive patient. Plus, in 96 hours you stand a chance of getting exposed which renders the test useless. Only way is to test on arrival with the fastest turnaround for results, or stay closed. Makes no sense but hey, welcome to the middle east where logic doesnt exist.

  37. I don’t think it will work for Emirates with these new restrictions.
    I live in Dubai and have some friends from Europe who were interested to fly to Dubai in august. Now that i told them that they need a test before coming here they are reconsidering coming here…. they rather go to a European country where they do not need to have a test.
    It will not work on the long run, very few people will be interested to come here.
    It sounds good but people will just skip Dubai in my view.

  38. Hello
    i spoke with coccon Resort and any resorts nearby Male.
    the costs for the testing are 100-125 USD p.P plus 300 -500 USD for the speed boat!
    You will be testet at the resort or at local testing spot 72 h before leaving.
    We start our trip with emirates from Frankfurt on 1. August…

  39. Leaving for Maldives on Aug 18 from JFK. I spoke with Emirates several times for clarification on the “96 hours “ because I do not want any issues boarding my connecting flight . My test would be technically expired by then .. They reassured me that I would be able to board my connecting flight because I’m in transit .We will see… The resort we are staying at went from $40USD (first quote) to $100USD plus $200 speedboat fee per person for testing prior to leaving Maldives .They stated results would be ready within 48 hours ..

  40. I’m trying to fly out to Kenya, I’m from Florida and it’s difficult to get a Covid test. Every where is three days for results. I have layovers doing my connection flights and it’s just horrible trying to size this all up. On top of that if my Covid 19 test is negative they still want me to quarantine 14 daysI’m doing business in Kenya. I have not been there in a year. I took Sick. Breast Cancer survivor this 96 hours is very confusing, I’m hoping they change this quickly. Last week they said 7 days. Now 96 hours. I’m trying my best not to say just forget it. I’m hoping they make some changes this is not going to work.

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