There has never been a better time to move to Abu Dhabi with over 60 visa options available. Deciding which visa to apply for can be tricky, but understanding the requirements and your eligibility can make the process easier.

What is the difference between an Entry Permit and a Residence Visa?

Entry Visa

An Entry Visa allows you to enter and stay in Abu Dhabi legally for a short period of time and can be granted for a number of reasons including employment, visits, tourism, medical treatment, missions and conferences. Most entry visas are valid for two months (60 days) but the duration depends on the type of Entry Visa. For example, entry visas for transit allow you to stay in the country for only four days, while entry visas for employment allow you to stay in the country for 60 days during which you must obtain a residence visa or apply for an extension.

All visas can be extended for 30 days twice without needing to leave and re-enter the country for renewal. If you fail to extend your entry visa and overstay, you will have to pay a fine of AED 100 per day, which is calculated from 10 days after the expiration date of the visa. The rules for extension do not apply to certain groups including: visitors and tourists who are residents in GCC countries; residents accompanying GCC nationals; those on special entry permits; and those on 96-hour permits for special missions.

Residence Visa

A Residence Visa is issued to people who are already in the country after entering the UAE on an Entry or Tourist Visa. It allows you to live and work in Abu Dhabi and can last from one to three years depending on the sponsor. Long term residence visas are available for five or 10 years subject to certain conditions.

Do you need a visa to enter the UAE?

Yes. Coming to Abu Dhabi requires obtaining an entry visa, which allows you to enter and stay in the emirate legally for a short period of time. Conditions for obtaining an Entry Visa differ based on nationality, the purpose of the visit and the duration of stay. Before you apply for an entry visa, check if you are eligible for visa-free entry or can receive a visa on arrival.

  • Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC)

  • Visa on Arrival

  • Pre-arranged Entry Visa

  • Sponsorship

  • Valid Documents

  • No Restrictions

Citizens of GCC countries do not require an Entry Visa or to be sponsored by a UAE national or resident in order to enter the UAE. They simply need to provide their passport or national ID issued by a GCC country at the point of entry. The validity of entry permits for GCC residents is 30 days.

Citizens of these countries are not required to apply for an Entry Visa prior to arrival. Instead, an entry visa is issued automatically upon arrival and it is valid for 30 days with a 10-day period for extension.

The list is subject to change; therefore it is advisable to check with the UAE embassy abroad or the airline before travelling to Abu Dhabi.

Anyone who does not have the privilege of visa-free entry or visa on arrival must apply for an entry visa ahead of travel.

You need a sponsor to apply for your entry permit. The sponsor can be:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Tourism establishments
  • Companies based in Abu Dhabi
  • Individuals (UAE national or an expatriate who is already living in the country with a valid residence visa)


You must have a valid passport with at least six months validity from the date of entry.

You must not have been previously deported or banned from entering the UAE. A visa ban prohibits a person from entering the country or taking up a new job. If either of these conditions apply, you must obtain special permission to re-enter the UAE. Apply for an entry visa

How much does a Visa Cost?

  • Visa Fees

  • Overstaying Your Visa

  • Overstaying a Tourist or Visit Visa

  • Overstaying a Residence Visa

  • Modifying Visa Status

Visa fees vary by type and usually take three to four business days to process. Urgent processing can be requested for an additional fee of AED 100. Visit

Visas are granted with a start and end date. Visa holders who stay beyond the expiration date of their visas and fail to obtain an extension are subject to financial penalties.

Tourist Visa and Visit Visa holders have a 10 day grace period to obtain an extension. If a tourist or visitor stays beyond the grace period, fines will accrue as follows:

Residents have a 30 day grace period to get a new Residence Visa or leave the country. If a resident stays beyond the grace period, fines will accrue as follows:

Holders of all visa types can modify their visa and transfer it into a Residence Visa while staying in the country. Applicants must meet the requirements for a residence visa, pay a fee of AED 500 in lieu of leaving and complete the process before the entry visa expires to avoid penalty.

Types of Visas

  • Entry Visa
  • Residence Visa
  • Tourist Visa
  • Golden Visa
  • Green Visa
  • Non-Working Visa


It is a business-friendly city. The relevant authorities are on hand to answer any question you may have. I found the department’s advisors incredibly helpful during the initial stages right until the day the doors of my business opened.

Amy Gilbert

Owner of Perfect Balance Rehabilitation Centre

We all bring different skills to the table and that's why in an expat environment, it's quite exciting because everyone has something different to offer from different educational backgrounds.

Chris Butcher

Consultant Orthopaedic & Knee Surgeon

My advice to anyone moving to Abu Dhabi is to say yes. Make it a year of yes. When people invite you to events, say yes and approach everything with curiosity.

Christine Hecht

Marketing, Communications & Customer Service Manager at Zayed Sports City

I think the cultural diversity of this city really comes to life on the stage.

Clive Primrose

Director of Marketing & Audience Engagement at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

“The leaders of Abu Dhabi want MBZUAI and the city to be the center of all things related to AI which is one of the most futuristic technologies and that is very exciting”

Dr Karthik Nandakumar

Associate Professor at Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence

There is so much love and hope offered in the energy of Abu Dhabi. It's definitely a place to check out some time in your life. To live or pass by Abu Dhabi will be life changing.

Laura-Helene Kopinski

Founder and Director of Inner Seed Wellness

The demanding environment definitely makes you a better professional. You have to elevate yourself, elevate your own skills and knowledge to become a better worker.

Rebecca Renee

Marketing Manager at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island

Career progression is one of the reasons why my family and I have stayed for so long because my career progression has been so great. I came out as a senior associate and I am now a partner at an international law firm.

Ross Barfoot

Corporate Partner & Global Head of Education at Clyde & Co Global

One of the reasons Abu Dhabi is so special is the sense of togetherness and community. As someone who thrives on this feeling of togetherness, Abu Dhabi is perfect for me and my family.

Seth Amoafo

Founder of PASS Abu Dhabi

Having a lot of sun really lifts the spirits. My children are very positive. In some ways, thinking about them going into teenage years, the positivity of them being out here will help them cope with stressful situations like GCSEs or A-Levels.

Simon Johnson

Head of Cranleigh Arts Department, Senior School

One of the great aspects about Abu Dhabi is you can come here with one career and then change over because there are plenty of opportunities across different fields for everyone.

Trevor Buckley

Teacher and Bar Manager at The Irish Vickers

The thing that I love about Abu Dhabi is that it has an old school charm that showcases tradition but has a vision for the future.

Winston Cowie

Manager of Marine Policy at The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi

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