Dubai’s journey from a fishing village to a modern-day metropolis is a tale of dramatic transformation. It has one foot firmly rooted in tradition while the other leaping into the future. Shopping malls abound with luxury brands featured alongside traditional abaya stores and prayer rooms. Al Seef along Deira Creek showcases the charms of old-time Dubai while the Museum of the Future takes you on a forward-looking journey powered by technology. With so much to see, it can be a challenge to squeeze everything into a single trip. Add to that the events that take place year-round in Dubai like the Cricket Asia Cup going on at present or the World Expo that wrapped up earlier this year. That’s where a long-term, multiple-entry tourism visa can help you. UAE’s recent offering of a five-year multiple-entry tourist visa lets you visit Dubai and all of UAE over and over again to watch this transformation as it happens. This post is the complete guide on how to apply for this visa and add Dubai to your repertoire of vacation destinations.
Visas are a necessary and important part of travel for most visitors around the globe. Travelers with Western passports enjoy visa-free entry or on-arrival visas to several countries. But most of us do not have the luxury of just packing up and leaving for a foreign land. We need to plan in advance, fill out the appropriate paperwork and give ourselves enough time to receive a visa before visiting the places of our dreams.
This is why I’m always excited whenever a country streamlines and simplifies its visa process allowing visitors to not just travel once but become repeat travelers. In March last year, UAE announced a new 5-year multiple entry tourist visa that lets visitors stay for three months at a time with an extension of an additional three months.
I recently applied for this visa for my family members and they were promptly approved. Everything here is based on my personal experience and by directly contacting the ICP customer service for clarifications. This was definitely one of the easier visa applications. But this functionality is relatively new on the Smart Services website and I did run into a few software glitches along the way. The engineer in me is always looking at software systems with that debugging lens and I was able to work around those bugs. I’ll make a note of all of this in the post so you can learn from my experience. I’m sure these issues will be resolved with time and all travelers will have a smoother digital application experience.
Who is eligible for the five-year multiple-entry tourist visas to UAE?
Anyone who wishes to visit Dubai, or UAE in general, on self-sponsored trips with at least 4,000 USD (or its equivalent in foreign currency) in their bank account for the last 6 months is eligible to apply for this visa. This visa is different from the Golden Visa which is for investors and the remote work visa which is for workers employed in other countries. This visa is purely for tourism purposes and meeting family and friends. The recipient of this visa can stay in the country for a continuous period not exceeding 90 days and may be expanded to a period not exceeding 180 days during the year.
What is the cost of the 5-year multiple-entry tourist visa?
The total cost of the visa application is 650 AED which includes the request fees (100 AED), issue fees (500 AED), e-services fees (28 AED), and ICA fees (22 AED). Visa fees are subject to changes at any time, so check the latest cost on the Smart Services website. Issuance fees are refunded if the application is rejected by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
You will also incur additional costs for the 6-month health insurance that is one of the required documents for the visa application. These costs vary by company and plan. Plan on setting aside another couple of hundred AED for this purpose. For example, the Ziyarah insurance from Daman is priced at 220 AED plus 5% VAT.
What is the application process for this visa?
The visa application process is very straightforward. There are two main categories for submitting the five-year multiple entry visa application. The first one is for individuals applying alone and the second one is for families applying together.
- Visa – Multiple Entry – Long-term Tourism (5 Years) For All Nationalities – Issue New Visa
- Visa – Multiple Entry – Long-term Tourism (5 Years) For All Nationalities – Issue For Family Group
Here are the main steps:
- Fill out a short form on the ICP Smart Services website. This form includes personal details, passport details, address, and contact details within the UAE plus address and contact details where you reside outside UAE.
- Attach the required four documents outlined in the next section and any optional documents based on your citizenship or visit.
- If you are applying for the family group, you will fill out the form and attach the documents for additional applicants.
- Pay the fees online using a credit card. The fee of 650 AED is per person so if you are filing under the family group, you will be paying the total amount depending on the number of applicants.
- Check your application status regularly on the website and watch out for any emails regarding missing/additional documentation.
- Once approved, download the visa from the Smart Services website or receive an email with the visa attached.
What are the documents required for the visa application?
The following documents are required for the application. The allowed file types are .jpeg, .jpg, .pdf and the maximum size of each attachment is 2MB.
- One colored personal square photo matching the ICAO standards.
- Passport copy. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
- Each attachment should be less than 2MB so you should stick to scanning just the main pages of your passport plus any pages with other visas and entry/exit stamps.
- A health insurance valid continuously for 6 months at least. I was advised by ICP customer care to purchase the health insurance advertised for “Multiple Entry – 6 months to finalize the procedures of golden residency” from UAE insurance companies like Daman, Wathba, and Orient company.
- I went with the Ziyarah insurance from Daman since it fits the bill perfectly and provided insurance for 190 days for multi trips.
- A bank statement for the last 6 months with a total balance of 4,000 USD or any equivalent foreign currencies. This must be stamped by the authorized bank.
- Every page of this statement needs to be stamped by the bank. Do not attach any extra pages like the cover page of a passbook since it may flag your documentation as incomplete and the application will be returned to you for resubmission.
- Two-way travel tickets (in & out).
- Hotel reservation/ residence proof inside UAE.
- If you are staying with family or friends, this can be the rental lease agreement or mortgage papers of their residence.
Other optional documents for certain citizenships
- Iraqi Population Card for the beneficiary
- The Iranian Censenamah\ID card for the beneficiary
- Pakistani ID card for the beneficiary
Please check the documentation requirements at the time of your application for any changes to this list. You can check this by clicking the Service Card button for this visa on the Smart Services dashboard and opening the Supporting Documents Required section.
What is the tour guide attachment for a UAE visa?
The tour guide attachment is not required for the 5-year multiple-entry UAE tourist visa. However, it is a confusing attachment required when applying for the 30-day and other tourist visas. So I wanted to talk about it while we are on the topic of documentation.
This section doesn’t mean that you need to hire a tour guide. It only means that you need to provide more details about your visit and itinerary.
You can simply attach the roundtrip flight tickets in this section. In addition to the tickets, you can also attach hotel booking confirmations and tickets to any attractions that you have booked in advance.
Can I fill out the application partially and return to submit it at a later time?
Yes, you can absolutely return to complete and submit an application at a later time. You can fill out just the form in the first sitting and come back to retrieve the application and attach the documents or make payments. However, this functionality is not very visibly displayed on the website.
The application is saved only after the form is filled. So you will need to fill in all the mandatory fields in Step 1 before you can pause the application. Once the form is filled, look at the gray-colored leaderboard at the top of the page which shows the type of visa at the top of the page. Right below that in small letters is the Reference Number. Save this number on your computer or online since it is the key to reaccessing your visa application from where you left it off.
When you wish to return to your application, go to the Smart Services dashboard and click the Application Tracking button. Use the reference number saved previously in the input field of Request Number in this step along with your email address. The system should pull up your application. Click the blue edit button next to your application which will take you back to exactly where you left it off.
This is such a helpful feature but unfortunately not displayed clearly on the website. It appears as if you need to start from the beginning by filling the form every time if you haven’t saved the Reference Number and found this workflow.
How long does it take to receive the visa?
The ICP does not provide any certain timeline for deciding on the visa application. Based on my personal experience and reading other news reports, ICP is very prompt and efficient in its processing. You can expect to hear back from them in 5 to 7 business days. They may contact you for any incomplete or missing documentation and it depends on when you learn about this and how long you take to resubmit the application.
Here’s where things get a bit tricky though. During the time of my family’s applications in July 2022, the email notifications from ICP were not working. This meant that we didn’t receive any email informing us that we needed to make a minor change to the bank statements. It was only after reaching out to their customer service and manually checking the application status online, did we learn that the application was back on our plate for update and resubmission.
Keep in mind that your application may be canceled if you do not respond to the request for updated documentation in a timely manner. Here are a couple of scenarios where this can happen:
- Applications are canceled electronically after the lapse of 30 days if the application is returned due to missing data or non-completion of the required documents.
- The application will be canceled if it is returned 3 times due to missing data or non-completion of the required documents.
How can I check the status of my visa application?
Click on the Application Tracking button of the appropriate Visa category card on the Smart Services dashboard. You will need the request number and email address to pull up the record.
The most important input here is the receipt number. However, you will notice that the confirmation page displays a different receipt number (with a couple of extra zeros in the beginning) than what you received in the email after submitting your application. The receipt number that you need to check the status and download the visa needs expert fine-tuning to match the receipt numbers in the ICP software system. Follow the steps below to avoid any grief with mismatched receipt numbers.
- Start with the receipt number in your email and not the one on the confirmation page – The receipt number on the confirmation page is padded with two extra zeros in the beginning. Make sure you begin with the number you receive in the email after you apply. It should start with a 01 and includes only numbers. For example 01234567898765432123456.
- There should be only one zero at beginning of the receipt number – This is just to double-check the point above in case the receipt number in the email also gets padded with extra zeros in the future.
- Prefix your receipt number with an extra 01 – Repeat the 01 at the beginning. If you use the receipt number without this, the button to download the visa will not work. You will see a No Data Found error notification on your page. The ICP system is adding an extra 01 at the beginning of the numbers internally so you need to do the same to get the system to work. The number used in the example here will change to 0101234567898765432123456.
- The receipt number is ready for use to check the application status!
Can I make edits to my visa application after submission?
No, you cannot make edits to the visa application unless ICP returns the application to you for an update. ICP will move the application back to you if any of your documents are missing or incomplete. At that time, you will be able to retrieve the application using your request number and email address and edit it to change the uploaded documents or add new ones.
What are some things to keep in mind for a smooth visa process?
As I mentioned earlier, there are some issues in the software system that may delay the visa process. I hope these issues are resolved soon. Until then, follow the guidelines below to ensure you’re on track to receive the visa.
- Check your visa status manually – It’s great if you receive the ICP email notifications but do not wait for ICP in case the email notifications are not working. I received the first email after submitting the application but no further emails. Keep checking your visa status every day using the application tracking functionality mentioned above.
- Massage the request number – Make sure you are using the correct request number. Follow the steps provided in the application tracking Q&A above – This is necessary to correctly retrieve the status of your application and download the visa until ICP fixes the bugs in their system.
How do I get the visa once it is approved?
As per the process, you should receive a visa approval via email. At the time of our applications, this functionality wasn’t working. So, we never received any emails regarding requests for updated documents or the final approval.
Hopefully, this functionality would have since then been updated but I would highly encourage you to check the status manually. Once your record is pulled up, click on the button with three horizontal lines at the top right. Then click on Print Electronic Visa or Print Electronic Visa with Rules options from the drop-down.
Take a printout of this visa and you are all set to visit Dubai!
What are other UAE tourist visa options?
You may have other visa options that are better suited depending on the frequency of visits and country of citizenship. For example, Indian nationals residing in USA, UK, and EU countries are eligible for receiving a 14-day on-arrival visa. You can check the eligibility and visa requirements on the Visit Dubai website and choose the best option for you.
I’d like to turn it over to you for questions about the 5-year multiple-entry tourist visa to visit Dubai and UAE. I know posts about visa applications aren’t as glamorous as destination guides and listicles of the best things to do. But they are a necessary part of our travel planning. I hope my experience and the way I worked around the issues will help you have a hassle-free visa application.
There’s a good reason why Dubai is named Tripadvisor’s Top Destination for 2022. Applying for a long-term tourist visa like this allows you to take advantage of the wide array of entertainment and sightseeing opportunities that take place in the UAE every year.
Let me know your questions in the comments below and I’d love to help out if you need any advice! If you’ve received this visa, let us know your experience so we can all learn from each other.