Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > United Arab Emirates International Travel Information
Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4.
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Telephone: +(971) (2) 414-2200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(971) (0) 2-414-2200
Fax: +(971) (2) 414-2241
U.S. Consulate General Dubai
Corner of Al Seef Rd. and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Rd
Telephone: +(971) (4) 309-4000
Emergency Telephone: +(971) (4) 309-4000
Fax: +(971) (4) 311-6213
The normal work week in the UAE is Sunday through Thursday.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the United Arab Emirates for information on U.S. – UAE bilateral relations.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in the UAE.
U.S. citizens are subject to all UAE immigration laws.
Land Exit Departure Fee: All travelers who depart the UAE by land and who are not citizens of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country must pay a departure fee. The fee is 35 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local currency.
Please verify this information with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates before you travel.
Exit Controls: The UAE maintains tight exit controls. All travelers must exit the country with the passport on which they entered. Travelers should visit a UAE immigration office prior to departure to obtain an exit pass if they plan to leave the UAE without the passport on which they entered.
Travelers both departing the UAE and transiting will be barred from exiting the UAE if there are any criminal or civil legal cases against them. Travelers have been arrested at the airport and have had their passports seized due to outstanding financial cases, unsettled legal disputes, and late credit card payments, including for cases that were previously unknown to the traveler. In such cases, some individuals have been arrested and detained for long periods of time. Individuals will be barred from leaving the UAE until legal cases are settled in full. This affects all persons whether they are in the UAE as residents, tourists, or transit passengers with no intention of exiting the airport. UAE residents can verify with UAE authorities whether they have an exit ban due to outstanding cases in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. More information on this process can be found on the UAE Government Portal.
The Government of the UAE requires that all persons residing in the country have a national identification card. U.S. citizens who are working or living in the UAE should visit the Emirates Identity Authority website for more information on card registration procedures and requirements.
Cancellation of Visas: All UAE visas must be formally cancelled through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) before a new visa can be issued. This includes visas that have already expired or have never been used. Travelers may be denied entry to, or not permitted to depart, the UAE if previous visas have not been properly cancelled. More information on the process is available on the UAE Government portal.
Dual Nationality: The UAE does not recognize dual nationality. The UAE recognizes only the citizenship of the passport on which a person enters the UAE. The embassy may be prohibited from providing certain consular services to those who did not enter the UAE on a U.S. passport.
The UAE has imposed HIV/AIDS travel restrictions on all foreigners seeking residency. Travelers for tourism are not tested or requested to provide information about HIV/AIDS status. Please verify this information with the Embassy of the UAE before you travel. Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the embassy website. For further information about customs regulations, please read the embassy’s Customs Information page.
Weapons and Law Enforcement Equipment: The transportation of arms or items that may be considered law enforcement or military equipment is strictly prohibited without written approval from the UAE government. Do not transport any arms or items that may be considered law enforcement or military equipment. Such items include, but are not limited to:
U.S. citizens, military personnel, and U.S. government/military contractors found to be carrying such items, even in the smallest quantities, will be arrested and face strict criminal penalties, including imprisonment, large monetary fines, forfeiture of the items, and deportation , even though airlines and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a U.S.-originating flight.
Other prohibited items: Importation of the following items is also prohibited under UAE law: pornographic material, non-Islamic religious pamphlets for missionary activities, e-cigarettes, fireworks, ivory, chemical and organic fertilizers, laser pointers, radar jammers/other unauthorized communication devices, products and medications containing cannabidiol (CBD), endangered animal species, and any objects, sculptures, paintings, books or magazines which do not adhere to the religious and moral values of the UAE. Possession of any of these items can lead to detention and lengthy jail sentences.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula remains a serious concern. The UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel in September 2020 has increased the potential for attacks in the UAE, including by Iran-backed entities. Separately, rebel groups operating in Yemen have stated an intent to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE, using missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones). These groups have already launched long-range missiles and unmanned aerial systems into Saudi Arabia, specifically targeting populated areas and civilian infrastructure; they have publicly stated their intent to continue such attacks.
Both historical and current information suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Boating: The UAE and Iran have had a long-standing dispute concerning jurisdiction of Abu Musa, approximately 20 miles from Dubai. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. Obtaining consular assistance in Iran for U.S. citizens is difficult and can only be done through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which acts as a Protecting Power, providing limited U.S. consular services.
Crime: Violent crimes and crimes against property are rare. U.S. citizens should take the same security precautions in the UAE that one would practice in the United States or any large city abroad.
Harassment and Assault: U.S. citizens, especially women, should take precautions against the possibility of verbal and physical harassment or sexual assault when walking alone, consuming alcohol, or riding in a taxi cab. Taxi passengers should avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxicab and should be sensitive that "small talk" can be misinterpreted as over-friendliness or even a form of propositioning by some taxi drivers. Taxis driven by women for the exclusive use of female passengers are available in some airports and by dispatch. Female travelers can identify these dedicated vehicles by their pink roofs.
Some victims of sexual assault have been prosecuted for violating laws against sexual relations outside of marriage. The law puts a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that sex was not consensual. In cases where the victim has failed to demonstrate so, both parties have been prosecuted, and sometimes sentenced to jail time, followed by deportation.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in the UAE. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +971 2 414 2200. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
As each emirate has its own independent judicial system, legal procedures and penalties vary throughout the country.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Alcohol: Alcohol is sold only in very limited areas including certain restaurants and hotels. Public drunkenness and driving under the influence, regardless of one’s blood alcohol content level, are considered very serious offenses. Persons arrested on alcohol-related offenses are regularly detained for many days as they await a court hearing. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences, substantial fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings.
Note: The possession and consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah.
Drugs: UAE law imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs (including in the bloodstream) can result in lengthy prison sentences of up to 15 years. Bail generally is not granted to those accused of drug crimes.
Possession or consumption of marijuana in any form, including detections of trace amounts in the bloodstream, is illegal in the UAE, even if a doctor’s medical card is presented. Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are illegal in the UAE. Possession or importation of CBD products, including those found in prescription and over the counter medications in the United States and other countries, are prosecuted in the same manner as marijuana possession. The UAE's anti-narcotics program also includes poppy seeds on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms, including as dried decorative plants, are strictly prohibited.
Persons may be charged and convicted even if the controlled substances were ingested outside of the UAE as long as traces are still present in the bloodstream upon arrival in the UAE. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.
Codes of Behavior and Dress: Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are much stricter than in the United States. Penalties for public displays of affection or immodesty may be imposed. Sexual relations outside marriage are illegal in the UAE and convicted individuals have been punished by lengthy jail sentences. Pregnancy outside of marriage can result in arrest and detention. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during pre-natal visits, and those giving birth in the UAE must present a marriage certificate to receive medical care and register the child’s birth. Failure to do so has resulted in the arrests of both unmarried mothers and fathers, as well as deportation.
Individuals may be arrested, fined, and/or deported for committing any of the following acts: making rude gestures, swearing, touching another person without his/her permission, and making derogatory statements about the UAE, the royal families, the local governments or other people. Travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions, including clothing choices, may invite unwanted attention.
Debt and Financial Crime: Crimes of financial fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment or late payment of bills (including hotel bills, hospital bills, traffic or parking fines, and late payment of credit cards, utility bills, etc.), are regarded seriously in the UAE and often result in imprisonment and/or fines. A personal check written as a guarantee for the payment of a personal or business debt may be submitted to a local bank for collection at any time for the full amount of the check. If the account holder does not have sufficient funds, he/she may be charged with passing a bad check. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Debtors can be held in prison until their debts are paid or until an agreement is reached between the parties. Passports may be seized by the UAE government to guarantee that debtors settle their cases. Financial cases may be further complicated by debtors being unable to work in the UAE without passports while still being held responsible for their debts.
Photography: Taking photographs of UAE military facilities, sensitive civilian sites, airports, some beaches, or foreign diplomatic missions – including the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General – may result in arrest, detention, and/or prosecution by local authorities. Travelers should be aware of signs which indicate where photography is prohibited. Note that it is illegal to take photographs of other people without their consent. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping that includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences. (This does not apply to use of publicly available online maps.)
Drone Operation: The flying of drones is prohibited in certain areas and may result in arrest and imprisonment. Individuals should not operate drones without prior approval from local authorities.
Social Media: The UAE has strict laws regarding use of the internet and social media. Individuals have been arrested and criminally convicted for posting information on social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) that local authorities determined was disturbing to the order of the UAE. Users of social media should be cautious about online posting of information that might be deemed to insult or challenge the local or national government. Individuals should avoid posting insults or derogatory information about governments, institutions, or individuals.
Charity and fundraising activities are closely regulated by the UAE government, and it is against the law to conduct any private fundraising activity online (including those conducted on popular fundraising websites for personal causes).
The UAE National Media Council implemented new rules in 2018 for conducting business as a social media influencer in the UAE. Influencers must apply for trade and e-media licenses in order to promote brands on social media in the UAE. For more information please review the website of the National Media Council.
Terrorist Organizations List: On November 15, 2014, the UAE government announced a list of 85 groups it considers to be terrorist organizations. Individuals who are associated with groups on the UAE list could be detained at UAE borders, have their assets frozen, and/or be prosecuted for membership in a terrorist organization.
Religious Proselytizing: While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned or deported.
Employment in the UAE: Although it is common for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Many contractual or labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. If an employee leaves his/her job without properly canceling the employment visa, the employer can file charges that can lead to imprisonment, fines, and/or deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General do not intercede in employment disputes.
U.S. citizens have become involved in commercial or financial disputes that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen's passport, effectively preventing the individual from leaving the UAE. In addition, local firms have been known to file criminal complaints, which may lead not only to travel restrictions but possible criminal penalties, including jail time. A list of local attorneys is available from the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.
Document Authentications: U.S. citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE are generally required by the UAE government to present authenticated personal documents for themselves and accompanying family members such as marriage and birth certificates, adoption and custody decrees, certificates of good behavior from police, and educational documents to include diplomas and certificates. The authentication of U.S. documents is done completely in the United States. For information, contact the State Department’s Office of Authentications or see the U.S. Embassy website. Determining the exact requirements with one’s prospective employer is strongly recommended before arrival in the UAE.
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in the UAE. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment. Under interpretations of sharia, the punishment could include the death penalty. Although the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. Cross-dressing is also a punishable offense and there have been reports that the government took action against cross-dressing individuals. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers with Disabilities: While in the UAE, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations somewhat different from what they find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services, and the law is enforced. The UAE government refers to persons with disabilities as “people of determination.” Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access.
The UAE has several modern cities with good services and accessibility of lodging, public transportation, sidewalks, and buildings. Outside of newly constructed areas, accessibility is not comparable to the United States and navigating with a visual impairment or using a wheelchair is difficult due to sidewalks in disrepair or without curb cuts, poor road crossings, and inaccessible buildings and public transport. Public transportation in Dubai is wheelchair accessible. However, the buses that connect Dubai with the other emirates in the UAE are not wheelchair accessible. See the UAE government information on accessible transport and parking facilities. See our Traveling with Disabilities page.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the UAE.
Adequate health facilities are available, but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards. While most common conditions can be appropriately treated in the UAE, complex medical conditions may be better treated in the United States. Providers may recommend a large number of procedures and tests, some of which may be unnecessary.
For emergency services in the UAE, dial 999.
Ambulance services are widely available.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. You may be denied care, even in an emergency, if you are unable to provide a cash deposit up-front. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Medication: Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are prohibited in the UAE, and possession of such substances without the appropriate approval is generally treated the same as possession of illegal narcotics. All tourists and residents of the UAE should seek prior approval, via an online form, before carrying certain types of medications, narcotics, or chemical substances to or through the UAE. The service can be accessed directly on the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s website. Travelers can also find updated lists of prohibited medications requiring prior approval on the same website.
Travelers with prescription medication must have their prescriptions issued by licensed doctors and authenticated by the appropriate authorities. In order for a U.S. prescription to be fully authenticated, it must be authenticated by the Secretary of State of the U.S. state in which the prescribing doctor is licensed, then by the U.S. Department of State, and finally by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC. Additional information on authentication of documents can be found on the State Department’s website and on the Embassy or Consulate General websites. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Further queries may be directed to the UAE Ministry of Health’s Drug Control Department in Abu Dhabi.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information, go to:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General maintain a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE. Drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards. Pedestrians should also use great care on the roads of the UAE – over 25 percent of road fatalities are pedestrians.
The police emergency number and ambulance number is 999. Response time by emergency services is adequate; however, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site.
Traffic Laws: Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consuming alcohol.
Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other vehicle is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.
In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver’s licenses are not recognized for residents of the UAE; however, U.S. citizen visitors who are not UAE residents can drive using a valid driver’s license issued by his or her state. An international driver’s license may be required in some emirates. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.
If you are in an accident, UAE law mandates that you remain at the scene until authorities arrive. The use of front seat belts is mandatory in the UAE. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. Parking is not allowed where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras are used extensively on Emirati roads for registering traffic violations, including speeding. Fines can be substantial and must be paid prior to departure from the UAE. Individuals with outstanding traffic fines may be detained at airport immigration.
Please see our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the UAE should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport and the NGA Broadcast Warnings website.