Domestic Rules applicable from 28 February 2022
Travel during COVID times is never straightforward, even within countries. With the health and safety of residents and tourists front of mind, the situation for freely moving around the 7 Emirates of the UAE remains dynamic.
Border crossing point between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
In the ever-changing post-COVID world, there have been several periods of time where a police border crossing checkpoint was placed between Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates. Since July 22020, each Emirate pursued a slightly different approach to reopening international borders and ongoing testing requirements to conquer the spread of COVID-19.
We’re delighted to announce that free movement is again permitted domestically in the UAE without any border checkpoint or testing requirements from 28 FEBRUARY 2022. (Swipe left for English)
Please note that whilst you can now cross the domestic border without going through a police checkpoint, there are still slightly different COVID rules in Abu Dhabi. Primarily, a “Green Alhosn” is required for entry into public buildings and spaces.
7 NOVEMBER 2022: Almost all COVID restrictions for Abu Dhabi emirate have now been abolished, including the need to wear a face mask and Green Pass on Al Hosn – read the latest update for Abu Dhabi visitors here.
This border-crossing guide was first published in July 2020 and has gone through many iterations since.
We try our best to keep it fully updated but please recognise rules can change suddenly. We have kept past rules and procedures as a reference for you below.
- Border crossing point between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
- Dubai to Abu Dhabi border crossing rules prior to February 2022
- What happens next – subsequent testing in Abu Dhabi [abolished]
- Abu Dhabi COVID-19 Rules [still current – capacity limites have increased]
- Arriving in to Abu Dhabi from overseas [being updated]
- Frequently asked questions on Dubai to Abu Dhabi Border Crossing
Dubai to Abu Dhabi border crossing rules prior to February 2022
Once an incredibly simple process to cross from Dubai into neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi, the world changed for the Emirates on 22 June 2020 when precautionary health measures saw Abu Dhabi shut off its domestic border with Dubai.
The restrictions have eased, however, a border checkpoint remains in place restricting movement into Abu Dhabi emirate.
All drivers and passengers of private vehicles over the age of 12 must present a negative COVID-19 test result – DPI or PCR – in order to cross from the emirate of Dubai into the emirate of Abu Dhabi, plus undergo subsequent nasal PCR testing if they remain in Abu Dhabi [this step now abolished].
Border testing travelling from Dubai into Abu Dhabi
Here’s what you need to know before crossing from Dubai into Abu Dhabi.
The difference between a PCR and a DPI Coronavirus test
There are two different types of coronavirus testing that are currently accepted for passing the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
In order to cross the police checkpoint that has been set up across the highway, you will need to provide evidence (an SMS screenshot of your test result will suffice) that you are COVID-19 negative. This can be from a PCR or DPI test result.
A PCR is a Polymerase Chain Reaction test – in the UAE conducted via a nasal swab test that takes, on average 24 hours for the results to be returned, though this can vary. You should plan a PCR test at least 24 hours in advance of when you wish to cross from Dubai into Abu Dhabi.
A laser-based DPI test (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) is a pin-prick test on your finger that picks up signals of infection and allows for quicker mass-testing, the result is almost instant.
At present, you are allowed to take either of these two tests in any part of the UAE. From 19 July 2021, you have 48 hours to cross into Abu Dhabi with a negative PCR result or 24 hours from receiving a DPI result. You cannot use the DPI method on consecutive crossings.
You will need to present a photo ID – be it your Emirates ID card (EID) or a passport with your test result, with your name in Arabic or English.
Rapid testing centre at Ghantoot [abolished]
Just over the border on the E11 Freeway that connects the two cities, you will come to the area of Ghantoot. If you are NOT already in possession of a negative test result, pull off the freeway here, it will be very clearly signposted.
There are now separate places to go for:
- Overseas visitors/returning residents with a valid PCR result who need fitting with a tracker (more on this below) and
- UAE residents looking to undertake rapid DPI test, per conditions below
NB – The Al Faya Road facility is a new drive-through testing station open 24/7, the large tent to the right is no longer offering DPI testing, it only deals with international arrivals.
You will need an Emirates ID card (EID) and will need to contactless pay 50 AED per person (testing only applies to those in your vehicle aged 12 and over). You no longer need to book in advance.
Because of the need for an EID as part of the testing process, instant DPI testing is NOT available to non-UAE residents. They may use a PCR result instead, but be mindful if you’ve come from overseas the result can be no more than 48 hours old.
New overseas arrivals into Abu Dhabi are also subject to strict self-quarantine measures, more below.
You should have the Al Hosn app installed on your phone. The two staff testing you (one entering your details and one actually doing the prick test) will ask you to confirm your mobile number. You will be instantly sent a result which indicators either “no swab” or “swab”.
“No swab”= keep driving, you’ve tested negative. Keep your phone handy as it’s only a few kilometres back on the E11 or E311 Highway until you hit the police checkpoint and will need to show this result.
“Swab” = If a follow-up swab is required, they will do this on the spot (a PCR test) in the testing tent.
We have heard varying stories on whether you are then allowed to cross the border and self-quarantine while you wait for the result. It appears some leniency being shown with families who live in Abu Dhabi and can prove their residency, otherwise expect to be turned back to Dubai until a PCR confirms whether you are actually positive or not – a PCR is far more accurate than a DPI test which may pick up other infections.
NB there are several border crossings into Abu Dhabi from Dubai by road. The only border where a DPI testing tent can be found is just off the E11 on Al-Faya Road.
The E11 Highway from Dubai to Abu Dhabi has now been widened at the border checkpoint with many more lanes to speed up the border crossing process; it includes automatic number plate reading.
To add one more layer of complication, if someone is borrowing your vehicle (even if it’s your spouse who ordinarily drives the vehicle), be warned the police system may assume it is you, the owner that has crossed the border. You may receive the day 4/8 warning by text or a flat out fine for not re-testing even if you yourself never crossed the border!
Testing in advance of border crossing into Abu Dhabi
If you are unable to get a rapid DPI testing appointment at the border, or you’d rather not chance being turned away if it’s busy, you should get your PCR or DPI test performed in advance, in any emirate.
The SEHA App will give users access to booking a PCR or DPI at any of the designated Government testing centres around the UAE. These may also book up well in advance of weekends and public holidays so you should plan your trip carefully.
Results from private testing labs at hospitals and clinics in the UAE can also be accepted. These may cost more than using the SEHA service (though in our experience, many of the private labs are now cheaper – eg 85 AED). Emirates shares this list of approved testing centres in Dubai.
What happens next – subsequent testing in Abu Dhabi [abolished]
The rules on subsequent testing, once you are in Abu Dhabi Emirate, have changed numerous times and depend on your vaccination status.
If you are unvaccinated or do not have your vaccination status on the Alhosn App:
Entering Abu Dhabi on a PCR test? You will need to be re-tested by PCR if you stay in Abu Dhabi for 4 consecutive days, and again on day 8 if you stay 8 consecutive days.
Enter Abu Dhabi on a DPI test? You will need to be re-tested by PCR if you stay in Abu Dhabi for 3 consecutive days, and again on day 7 if you stay 7 consecutive days. You cannot use a DPI on consecutive border crossings. If you fail to do so, you will be fined.
Subsequent testing in Abu Dhabi – exemptions
The exemption for subsequent testing for vaccinated individuals was reintroduced (It was briefly abolished from 15 July to 20 August 2021).
If an “E” or Gold Star appear in your Al Hosn App, you only need one PCR test to cross the border and do not need to follow up with the Day 4/8 (PCR) or Day 3/7 tests (DPI). (Swipe left for English)
Abu Dhabi COVID-19 Rules [still current – capacity limites have increased]
Abu Dhabi authorities introduced the “Green Pass” on 20 August 2021.
Essentially, the Green Pass is electronic evidence of your vaccine and PCR status, required to enter most public places. You will require the Al Hosn App on a smartphone to display your Green Pass.
To keep your Green Pass active, vaccinated individuals must take a PCR test every 14 days.
Pop over to this detailed guide on our Abu Dhabi Travel Planner site to find out more and how you go about getting the Green Pass if you’re visiting from outside the UAE.
Follow @admediaoffice for the most up to date rule announcements.
How to register your overseas vaccine in the Al Hosn App
These are the instructions as detailed by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis & Disasters Committee:
Arriving in to Abu Dhabi from overseas [being updated]
Rules have changed again from 26 February 2022 including abolishing the “Green List”- the information below dates from the last major update on 15 August 2021 – we’re seeking clarity and will update this section soon
If you are a new arrival into Abu Dhabi from overseas (whether a Resident visa holder or a tourist) these rules apply, regardless of which airport you land in.
- Passengers must present a negative COVID test result (valid within 72 hours) before boarding a flight (Under 12’s and those with disabilities are exempt).
- On arriving in Abu Dhabi, at either AUH airport or the International Arrivals tent at the border if flying in to DXB, you will be given a further PCR test. (Expect this process to take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending how busy they are).
- Quarantine requirements will depend on the country of origin. A tiered system has been introduced:
- Visitors from “Green List” countries will be exempt from quarantine, once they get a negative COVID test result on arrival, this may take 24 hours. PCR Testing is required again on Day 6 (and again on Day 9 if unvaccinated).
- Arrivals from all other countries into Abu Dhabi Emirate must self-quarantine for 10 days, either in a private home, hotel or accommodation provided by the authorities. Testing is required again on Day 9, you will get a tracker watch fitted until your final PCR result.
- If you are non-green list but vaccinated, this self-quarantine period is reduced to 7 days with a follow-up PCR test on Day 6.
If you first arrived in Dubai or any other airport in the UAE and do not immediately cross the land border you will still need to complete the balance of your time in self-quarantine, per Government guidance below (Swipe left for English):
Frequently asked questions on Dubai to Abu Dhabi Border Crossing
Since 24 December 2020, they have widened the road checkpoint with more lanes and on average drivers are reporting less than a 10-minute wait but it can depend on the time of day.
Border crossing rules are applicable for all passengers aged 12 and over. Note that all children under 16, however, will be granted green status on Al Hosn without the need for a PCR test (you will need them registered on your Al Hosn).
No, there is no border control point at all crossing from Abu Dhabi emirate back into Dubai. You will be tested on arrival though as you come through AUH before crossing into Dubai.
Al Ain city sits within Abu Dhabi Emirate, so the border crossing rules also apply to visiting Al Ain. There is no rapid testing centre on the E66 freeway to Al Ain, so you must have a PCR test result in advance to show at the border crossing point, or cross from the E11/Ghantoot testing centre then take a longer route to Al Ain.
The exact same rules apply to arrivals from Sharjah Airport or any UAE port coming into Abu Dhabi airport. If international arrivals have not yet completed the set number of days (depending on green list/not and vaccinated/not), they must quarantine or complete the follow-up testing procedures set by the Abu Dhabi
Regardless of how long you wish to stay in Abu Dhabi, you still need to observe the border crossing procedure detailed at the top of this article to enter.
Yes, with an overseas driving license or International Driver’s Permit you can hire your own car from Dubai to drive around the Emirates, including crossing into Abu Dhabi. You can learn more about driving in Dubai here.
It’s very important as we said at the outset to note things are changing CONSTANTLY!
As quick as the border was shut, they may decide to reopen it or change the testing validity of rules. The best channels to follow for further information include:
- wam.com/ae – Emirates News Agency
- Abu Dhabi Media Office Twitter & Instagram Accounts in Arabic & English @admediaoffice
- Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre @adphc_ae
UAE Authorities (though note, social media accounts are often more up to date than the information contained on these websites):
- Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP)
- Department of Health – Abu Dhabi
- Dubai Health Authority
- National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority
- Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship
Further reading for tourists on dealing with the Dubai to Abu Dhabi issue and visiting the UAE during Coronavirus times
Prior to the border closure, Abu Dhabi was an easy day trip from Dubai. If you meet all of the testing requirements, there is still no problem visiting Abu Dhabi as a side trip.
Most tour operators are up and running again, offering both group tours and private tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi for the day. The Dubai to Abu Dhabi bus service is partially back up and running.
Taxies can take passengers across the border with the right documentation, with a maximum of 3 or 4 passengers, depending on the vehicle type.
- Learn more about the Dubai Assured Stamp – How do you know if an establishment has implemented all the necessary public health protocols for the prevention and management of COVID-19?
- Learn more about current entry requirements for tourists to Dubai and the UAE updated rules from 1 August 2020.
We have removed commenting on this post as we are getting too many personal requests or frustration that the steps were followed, but border police still turned them away. We cannot advise on individual cases or your visa status. If the steps above are unclear or you have specific concerns, you need to contact Government authorities who will be better positioned to advise on the exact day-to-day situation.
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We strongly recommend you check all information provided here against current government guidelines.Dubai Travel Planner