20201023 dubai international airport
Image Credit: Atiq ur Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai: If you are planning to travel between the UAE and India or Pakistan, you may be unsure of all the rules and regulations you need to follow - how many days prior to your travel should you take a PCR test? Do you need to take an advance test at all? Will you be asked to go into institutional quarantine or can you quarantine at home? Here is all you need to know about travelling to and from India and Pakistan.

Busy international routes

Nationals from these two countries not only make a sizeable chunk of the expatriate population in the UAE, they also form a big portion of the total number of tourists each year.

However, if you are planning to travel to or from either of these two countries, there are some basic considerations you need to keep in mind.

1. How soon should you get a PCR test before you travel?

2. What are the institutional quarantine requirements for passengers arriving in India and Pakistan?

3. What are the requirements of the airline that you are choosing to travel from?

The following guidelines have been provided by UAE-based airlines Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai and Air Arabia for routes to India and Pakistan.

Stock Dubai airport terminal 2
Dubai airport Terminal 2 Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

Travelling from India to UAE

Who is allowed to travel?

According to Emirates Airlines, flights from India to Dubai will be limited only to the following passengers:

• UAE nationals.

• UAE residents whose final destination is the UAE. Dubai residents require General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) approval and residents of other Emirates require Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval for entry.

• Any Indian national holding any valid UAE visa whose final destination is the UAE.

PCR test

• Most airlines offer relief for the test requirement for children under the age of 12 and people of determination.

If flying with Emirates, you are required to take a COVID 19 RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test not more than 96 hours before departure. UAE will accept PCR test results from any lab authorised by the government of India, according to the airline’s website.

• The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has listed laboratories that perform the real time RT PCR test for COVID 19 across the country, which can be found here.

• PCR test and certificate cost has to be borne by you, and it is important that you carry a copy of your negative COVID 19 PCR test result when travelling. Verification of the PCR test certificate will be managed by the airport team as part of documentation checks at the time of departure. Bring an official printed certificate – SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.

If flying on Etihad Airways, where possible, the result must be issued by a Pure Health approved medical facility, based on the information on the airline’s website. You will find your closest approved medical facility on the Pure Health website – purehealth.ae.

If there are no approved Pure Health facilities close to you, you can also get a test result from an ICMR lab. No other clinics will be accepted.

Check-in online to avoid queues.

Stock Dubai airport terminal 2
Dubai airport Terminal 2 Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

Travelling to India from UAE

Important update: In an update issued on November 5 by the Indian government, passengers flying to India without a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative certificate and seeking exemption from institutional quarantine may now undergo the RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport.

“All travelers should submit self-declaration form on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel or physically after arrival at the respective health counters,” the guidelines state.

“Travelers may also seek exemption from institutional quarantine by submitting a negative RT-PCR test report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey. The test report should be uploaded on the portal for consideration."

Read the complete report here.

Who can travel?

According to Emirates Airlines, flights to India will be limited to the following passengers:

• Stranded Indian nationals.

• All Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders with UAE passports.

• UAE nationals (including diplomats) with a valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) guidelines dated June 30, 2020.

According to Etihad Airways, flights to India are limited to the following travellers only:

• Indian nationals stranded abroad.

• All Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.

• UAE nationals (including diplomats) with a valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) guidelines dated 30 June 2020.

Stock Etihad Airways
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

flydubai provides a list of the following categories of travellers who are currently permitted to travel from the UAE to India:

• Only citizens of India can book to travel to India.

• UAE nationals (including diplomats) with a valid visa issued by an Indian Mission in any category covered under Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) guidelines dated June 30, 2020.

• Passengers with an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card or booklet.

• Students/Minors, if one of the parents is a national of India or OCI card holder.

• Spouses of Indian nationals.

• Single parents of a minor who is an Indian national or OCI card holder.

Flydubai
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

• Passengers returning from a neighboring country via India to their country of residence.

• Passengers with diplomatic, official, UN/International Organisations or project visas.

• Passengers with a visa or an e-visa issued after 30 June 2020 by India.

• Passengers holding a Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO Card) are permitted to enter India until October 31, 2020.

• Indian citizens stranded outside the UAE are permitted to transit through Dubai if they are travelling on repatriation flights to India with flydubai.

STOCK Air Arabia Sharjah
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

According to the website of Air Arabia, which is headquartered in Sharjah, the following passengers are allowed to travel to India:

• Indian nationals

• Nepal and Bhutan nationals

• Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and PIO cardholders

• Foreign nationals (including dependents) on any visa except tourist visa

Stock Sharjah airport
Sharjah airport Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Steps to follow

1. Fill out the self-reporting or self-declaration form – All passengers must fill the self reporting form on the website of the airport they are travelling to, at least 72 hours before the scheduled departure. Passengers will receive an approval code that must be presented at the time of departure.

2. Check airport requirements – Find out the specific requirements based on the Indian state you are landing in, as well as the airport’s requirements. Each Indian state has put in place specific requirements for registering with COVID-19 tracking and information platforms like ‘Aarogya Setu’ or other state-specific apps. Based on the state you are travelling to, requirements may also change for who can exempt themselves from quarantining at state institution facilities, or whether passengers will be able to take connecting flights within the country to other national airport. These guidelines are regularly updated and it is advisable to check the airport’s website to get the latest requirements before you book your ticket.

3. Conduct a COVID-19 test before you travel – Most Indian destinations require a test result valid for 96 hours before the flight departure time. However, confirm the test requirements from the airport authority before booking your flight ticket.

4. Keep printed copies – It is always advisable to keep printed hard copies of your negative COVID-19 PCR test, any self-declaration forms or special request forms you may have filled in. Some airports may not accept digital copies like those on your mobile phone.

5. Quarantine guidelines – Each state has specific regulations for quarantine requirements – whether at home or a state institution – quarantine exemption rules and eligibility, etc.

Travelling to Pakistan from UAE

Who can travel?

According to flydubai, travel to Pakistan is open to citizens and residents of the United Arab Emirates, open to citizens and residents of Pakistan and open to all visitors.

Stock Dubai airport terminal 2
Dubai airport Terminal 2 Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

Steps to follow

These are the steps you need to follow if you are travelling from the UAE to Pakistan:

1. RT-PCR test – COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test result, taken 96 hours before the travel date at any government-accredited medical facility.

2. Pass Track – It is mandatory for passengers travelling to Pakistan to complete the personal details on the passtrack.nitb.gov.pl web portal. You would be required to present a print out of the form at the time of check in. Without this documentation customers will not be boarded for the flight. You can also install Pass Track app from Google Play store or Apple store and enter the personal details as required.

Passengers must upload a copy of the RT PCR test (if done) on the Pass Track app or web portal. The following passengers are exempted from this requirement:

o Passengers below 12 years.

o Disabled passengers.

o High level international delegations.

3. Fill out the health declaration form – All passengers and crew members travelling to Pakistan must fill the Health Declaration Form provided at the airport.

Travel from Pakistan to UAE

Pak consul general
Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

Steps to follow

1. COVID-19 test – Emirates passengers originating their journey from Pakistan can visit any Pakistan Government approved testing facilities for COVID 19 testing. To find the list of registered labs, visit http://covid.gov.pk/ and click on ‘Facilities’ and then ‘Testing Facilities Pakistan’. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from COVID-19 PCR testing.

For Etihad Airways, your test must be carried out at one of these approved labs:

• Chughtai Lab

• Pure Health labs

• Islamabad Diagnostic Centre (IDC) lab

• Excel labs

• Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre

• Aga Khan University Hospital

Test results issued by any other clinic will not be accepted.

According to flydubai, passengers must contact their local customer centre or local travel shop as soon as they receive their negative PCR test result from one of the approved laboratories listed below. This negative result must be noted on the booking at least 24 hours prior to flight departure. Passengers without this note on their booking will not be accepted for travel.

• Excel Lab

• IDC – Islamabad Diagnostic Center

• SKMH (Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital)

• Aga Khan University Hospital, Clinical Laboratory

• Essa Lab

• Medikay Lab

• Citi Lab & Research Centre

Important note: If you are transiting through the UAE, the list of approved labs may differ based on your final destination. Always check with your airline as well as the airports at which you will transit through and arrive at, to ensure all requirements are met.

Passengers without authorised COVID 19 test certificate which doesn’t fulfil their destination requirement will be denied boarding. Depending on the airline you are travelling from, you may or may not get a refund or redeemable points for future travel.

2. Approval – If you are a UAE resident, you would need to get an approval from GDRFA or ICA.

3. Transit passengers - If you are transiting through the UAE, check the final destination requirements for PCR tests as well as quarantine guidelines before you travel.

4. Passengers must carry a printed COVID 19 test certificate – SMS and digital certificates are not accepted.

6. Download the Al Hosn app or DXB smart app.