Man having a PCR covid test in a pink car

How to cross the Dubai to Abu Dhabi border during coronavirus restrictions – UPDATED FEBRUARY 2022

by Dubai Travel Planner

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, whilst you can now cross the domestic border without going through a police checkpoint, there are still slightly different COVID rules in Abu Dhabi emirate. Primarily, a “Green Alhosn” is required for entry into public buildings – more on this 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.

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.

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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:

  1. Overseas visitors/returning residents with a valid PCR result who need fitting with a tracker (more on this below) and
  2. 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:

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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 Listcountries 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

How long does it take to cross the Abu Dhabi border crossing checkpoint?

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.

Do children need to complete the testing?
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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).

Do I need a COVID test to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai?

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.

Can I cross from Dubai to Al Ain at the moment?

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.

Can I enter Abu Dhabi if I arrived through Sharjah?

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

What if I only want to make a quick day trip to 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.

Can I drive in Dubai as a tourist?

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:

UAE Authorities (though note, social media accounts are often more up to date than the information contained on these websites):


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.


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.

Take me back to Latest Dubai Travel News

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.

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18 comments

Ronald Amboni December 31, 2020 - 4:48 am

i just now arrive at dubai airport and i m going to al ain because im residence in al ain , what is the requirements in dubai al ain border?
thank you

Dubai Travel Planner January 3, 2021 - 6:04 pm

Sorry we didn’t see your message sooner. I hope you were OK crossing the Al Ain border, I assume you found a facility there where a tracker was fitted via the E66 or did they make you come via the E11 centre?

Raja January 5, 2021 - 12:50 am

Hi
Am from abudhabi, I have Dubai resident visa but am working in abudhabi past 6 years.

Now I plan to bring my wife and my son (2years) by 90 days visiting visa.

My question is

1. Once my wife arrive Dubai airport can I travel directly in gantoot border.

2. I have Dubai Visa, any issue to bring my family to inside abudhabi. because one of my colleagues told me only abudhabi visa holder to bring.
In case I’m submitting my abudhabi driving license, my company abudhabi branch working proof or anything to cross the border
Thank you

Dubai Travel Planner January 5, 2021 - 12:37 pm

Hi thanks for the question – you should verify from a Government source but I will do my best to help.
Visit visas have been allowed into AD since September. At the Ghantoot border, new arrivals into the UAE will be fitted with a tracker watch for their self-quarantine period in AD. Their last negative covid test result must be within 72 hours, if it is over, they will need a new PCR or DPI in Dubai before getting the tracker fitted at the border. If you are crossing the border to collect them, you will also need a PCR/DPI to get back into AD. They only ask to see your EID with your test result, I’m not aware of them (as at January) stopping anyone based on Dubai or AD residency ~ Keri

Pawan January 6, 2021 - 9:43 am

Hi I am from Al Ain , my mother in law is coming to Dubai on 3months tourist visa I want to pick her from Dubai airport & bring her to Al Ain , kindly can I know what is the procedure to bring her to Al Ain

Dubai Travel Planner January 8, 2021 - 3:05 pm

You will need to confirm this with the appropriate authorities at your time of travel. Our understanding is you will both need a valid PCR test for when you cross from Dubai back into AD, not more than 72 hours from last result. We’ve not yet been able to confirm if the AD tracking watch can be fitted on the E66, I believe you still need to cross back into AD for the tracker to be fitted at Ghantoot on the E11, then your mother will need to self-quarantine for the specified number of days left and follow up tests are required by AD authorities. Day 1 is the day she lands in Dubai, then most arrivals need a follow-up test on day 6 and Day 12 ~ Keri

Bridgette Lowe January 12, 2021 - 8:30 pm

Hi my partner is resident in Abu Dhabi and we have both flown in to Dubai from the uk a week ago, he’s 62
1. Will he be fitted with a tracker if he crosses the border on his own to get a few things whilst I stay in Dubai and he comes back the same day
2. If I go across the border from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in a weeks time for 6 days to return to Dubai for my flight back to the Uk will I get my tracker removed?

Dubai Travel Planner January 12, 2021 - 9:26 pm

You will need to clarify this with the Government authorities (see latest from Abu Dhabi here https://visitabudhabi.cn/en/plan-your-trip/covid-safe-travel), the initial advice in September suggested over 60’s were exempt but latest updates we received in December refer to “all passengers” expect under 12’s and disabled. (See more here too https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/justice-safety-and-the-law/handling-the-covid-19-outbreak/travelling-amid-covid-19/quarantine-guidelines-for-travellers-to-the-uae). 2. If you go in a weeks time, once you have completed your 10 days, you can stay in Abu Dhabi for 5 days, on day 6 you’d need another PCR OR leave the Emirate.

A.T January 15, 2021 - 7:58 pm

Hi there, I’m traveling into Abu Dhabi but I’m a Dubai resident, I will be going from the airport straight to Dubai. Do you have any idea on the protocol? Will I have to quarantine in Dubai and will I even be allowed to go from Abu Dhabi to Dubai with the tracking system provided?
Thanks much appreciated.

Dubai Travel Planner January 16, 2021 - 10:02 pm

Please check this with the airline but I understand those landing in AUH and transiting straight to Dubai Emirate are not required to be fitted with a tracker, but I am not sure what evidence you need for this.

Sindeep January 20, 2021 - 11:42 am

Hi
I am on sharja visit visa and currently in Dubai , can I travel to Abu Dhabi

Dubai Travel Planner January 20, 2021 - 12:16 pm

As long as you have been in the country for more than 10 days and have a negative PCR test not more than 48 hours ago then you can cross into AD on any UAE visit visa. If you stay more than 4 das in AD you will need another PCR. If you’ve not yet done 10 days in the UAE you’ll be fitted with a tracker and need to self quarantine and follow the advised follo-up testing dates so best to do after day 10.

Ota January 20, 2021 - 12:48 pm

Hello, I am planning to ravel from Dubai to Aby Dhabi by car on Saturday.
Should i have PCR test with me or I can pass PCR test on the boarder?

Dubai Travel Planner January 20, 2021 - 3:55 pm

You can have a PCR result on your phone (take the test at least 24 hours before to be sure), or you can come off the freeway at Ghantoot to have a DPI test on the spot, though weekends queues can be long.

A.S January 21, 2021 - 12:48 pm

Hello, I arrived in Dubai airport with Dubai visiting visa 11 days ago and also quarantined for 10 days with a negative PCR test on the 10th day. Can I cross the Abu dhabi border even though I have Dubai visiting visa?

Dubai Travel Planner January 21, 2021 - 6:00 pm

Yes after 10 days and a further negative PCR you should have no AD quarantine under the present rules. But do check with AD Government that you don’t need a day 12 PCR test. Even if you landed into Dubai your UAE visitor visa allows you freely into AD once quarantine & testing requirements are met.

muhammed shafeek January 27, 2021 - 12:11 pm

i plan to go abu dhabi from dubai in a day only for visiting for shaikh zayed mosque the same day i return to dubai any procedure for crossing border kindly reply

Dubai Travel Planner January 28, 2021 - 9:47 pm

The procedure is exactly as outlined above, you will only need the one valid negative result and no follow-up tests if you are returning the same day.

Comments are closed.

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