STOCK Dubai skyline / Burj Khalifa / Downtown Dubai
The return permit issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFAD) is only open to Dubai residents who have stayed outside the UAE for over 180 days for a valid reason. Picture used for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: X/Dubai Media Office

Dubai: If you are a Dubai resident and have spent more than six months outside the UAE because you were studying abroad, undergoing treatment or for other unforeseen circumstances, you can re-enter the UAE with a return permit issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFAD).

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Normally, a UAE residence visa does not stay valid if you stay outside the UAE for over six months, unless you have a Golden Visa. If you do find yourself in such a situation, instead of applying for a new residence visa, you can submit an application – ‘Return permit for resident outside UAE more than 6 months’, through the official GDRFAD website -, and provide a valid reason along with supporting documents for your prolonged stay abroad.

What you need to know about the permit

Eligibility: Open to Dubai residents who have stayed outside the UAE for over 180 days for a valid reason.
Application: Submit online via the GDRFAD website ( with supporting documents.
Processing: Typically two working days, but may vary based on application details.
Validity: “The return permit validity is one month from the approval date provided that it does not exceed the residence expiry date,” the website states.

How to apply

If you want to apply for the application faster, you can create an account with UAE Pass, which is the national digital identity for citizens, residents and visitors to the UAE. Learn how to create an account, by clicking here.

With the UAE Pass you can log into any UAE-based government platform without creating multiple accounts or passwords. Also, when you fill out the application for the re-entry permit, all your basic information, like your passport, visa, sponsor and Emirates ID details will be automatically filled in by UAE Pass.

Once you have created an account, follow the steps below:

1. Visit the official GDRFAD website - and click on the login icon at the top right corner of the page.
2. Next, click on ‘Individuals’ and select ‘login with UAE Pass’. You will need to verify your identity through the UAE Pass app on your phone.
3. You will then be transferred to a personal dashboard. Click on ‘Create New Application’.
4. Next, select the ‘Return Permit for Resident outside UAE More than 6 months’ service.
5. Then start filling out the application form. If you used your UAE Pass account to log in, you won’t have to manually fill in any of the details, except for the ‘Reason’ and contact details. If you logged in with a GDRFA online account, you will need to enter the following information:

a. Sponsor details
• Sponsor name
b. Passport details
Passport number
• Passport issue date
• Passport expiry date
c. Applicant details
• Current nationality
• Profession
• Mother name in English
• Mother's name in Arabic

6. Next, enter the reason you stayed outside the UAE for over six months.
From the drop-down menu select one of the options:
• Study
• Health
• Crises or disaster
• Other

Select the arrival emirate – Dubai is the only option on the drop-down menu.
e. Contact details
• Email address
• Mobile number
• Also, provide an alternate email address, for a copy of the approval permit and receipt.

6. Upload the required documents.
You will then be required to attach a copy of your Emirates ID and passport, along with the necessary documents supporting your request for the permit to be issued. This may include proof of the reason for staying outside the country for more than six months.
7. After uploading the documents, you will have to pay the application fee with your debit or credit card. Once that is complete, click ‘Submit’.

You will then receive a transaction number to follow up on the status of the application and a confirmation email. It will take two working days to issue the return permit, however, sometimes it may take longer than that based on the information in the application.

Once GDRFAD has approved the reason and permit, you will receive the permit via email, at the address you have provided in the form.

I am not a Dubai resident, how can I apply for the return permit?

If you have stayed outside the UAE for more than six months and have a residence visa issued in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, you must apply for the re-entry permit through the ICP smart services portal - For a complete step-by-step guide on the application process, click here.