Renewals on the Issue of Visas – An Update

Every foreigner who wants to work in the UAE knows the procedure: To obtain a work permit, a residence visa is required, which in turn requires, among other things, a health test and the handing in of fingerprints. This year, visa changes for tourists and pensioners will be added as well as certain requirements for taking drugs with you.

1. Changes in the carrying of drugs for tourists and expats:

All tourists and expats arriving in the UAE must now obtain a permit to import and carry prescription drugs such as psychotropic drugs, i.e. antidepressants or neuroleptics.

In order to obtain such a permit, an electronic form must be completed and the relevant documents uploaded. The ministry checks the documents (currently: within one working day) and then grants permission to take the medication with them. An inspection at the airports is carried out by employees of the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the so-called “Ministry Inspector” in cooperation with the customs authorities themselves.

If necessary, the application can be made free of charge on the following website ( The following documents in English or Arabic are required for the application:

  • Medical prescription (certified copy is sufficient),
  • Medical report,
  • Confirmation of the length of stay of the passenger (tourist / expat),
  • Copy of passport or Emirates ID.

With the approval granted, the prescription drugs can then be imported into the UAE for a supply period of up to three months. Narcotics and psychotropic drugs can thus be imported for a 30-day supply period.

As things stand at present, no direct penalties are imposed for the introduction of these drugs without corresponding documentation. In the case of prescription medicines and non-commercial quantities, customs officers will decide on the spot whether or not they may be imported into the UAE. Narcotics and psychotropic drugs (without appropriate documentation) are confiscated directly from customs at the airport.

2. Changes in visas for widows and divorcees, students and tourists:

With the new visa system, widows, divorcees and their children will be able to extend their stay in the UAE (without a sponsor) from the date of death or divorce. Tourists can also extend their visas twice for 30 days at a time without leaving the UAE.

a. Changes in visas for widows and divorcees:

In order to obtain an annual extension, widows or divorced persons must submit the divorce or death certificate together with other documents such as, but not limited to, the following when applying for the extension

  • the tenancy agreement,
  • medical fitness certificates for the respective applicants,
  • Emirates ID,
  • Insurance policies and
  • proofs of income must be submitted. The fees for such an annual visa shall be AED 100.

b. Changes in student visas:

Students can also apply for an annual visa under these new regulations if they are over 18 years of age. The cost is also AED 100 and will apply to students who are “sponsored” by their parents. To apply for this annual visa, a duly certified degree from universities or schools at home and abroad is required, but no bank deposits as before. An extension of this student visa for another year is also possible.

c. Changes in visas for tourists:

Tourists wishing to stay longer in the UAE can now extend their visas by 30 days. The fee for this is AED 600. The application can be made twice and extended to a maximum of 60 days. However, this does not apply to tourists from other GCC countries who have a residence there or persons with special entry permits (e.g. 96 hours permit).

Applications for these extensions can be submitted online through the E-Channel system or to Tas’heel offices or Residency Departments throughout the UAE.

3. “Retirement Visa”:

In October, the “UAE Cabinet” also announced the so-called “Retirement Visa”. The law should come into force in 2019 and give expats over 55 the opportunity to stay in the UAE and spend one’s retirement here. The visa should be valid for 5 years. The following requirements must be met in addition to age:

  • a property worth at least AED 2 million,
  • reserves of at least AED 1 million, or
  • an income of at least AED 20,000 per month.

If you have any questions on these issues or need help with other legal issues, please contact us at or tel: +971 7 236 4530.

Scroll to Top