Entry and Exit
The UAE has lifted all COVID-19 entry restrictions and most public health measures as of 7 November 2022. Entry requirements for the UAE are the same for all international arrivals, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. However, masks are still mandatory in certain areas such as health facilities and centres for people with disabilities.
Singapore passport holders are issued a 30-day visit visa-on-arrival for free. Travellers whose passports only bear a single name (i.e. just one name with no middle or surname) should note that they will not be allowed entry into the UAE in accordance with guidelines set by the UAE Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security. Travellers who require further information on this policy are advised to approach the nearest UAE Embassy.
As the UAE authorities may revise or implement additional measures at short notice, travellers are advised to contact the nearest UAE Embassy for up-to-date information.
Safety and Security
The UAE is generally safe and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, travellers should ensure their personal items and travel documents are secure at all times.
Given the global threat of terrorism, travellers are advised to remain vigilant and maintain a high level of security awareness especially in large public places, such as shopping malls, commercial areas, and tourist attractions.
Road accidents are commonplace. If you are driving, always stay alert and drive carefully. Unlike Singapore, road traffic drives on the right. All road accidents must be reported to the Police.
Before planning a trip to any destination, it is prudent to be familiar with the basic laws and regulations of the destination you plan to visit. In the case of arrest or imprisonment, visitors will be subject to the criminal justice system of the UAE.
While the UAE can be viewed as modern and cosmopolitan, local laws and social norms may be more conservative than what visitors might be used to.
As in other Gulf States, the legal system in UAE is a mix of Sharia (Islamic Law), Civil and Criminal Laws, implemented by the Federal Judiciary, comprising courts of first instance and Supreme Courts. The Federal Supreme Council is the highest legislative and executive body in the UAE. It draws up general policies and approves various federal legislations. However, laws and decrees may differ within each individual Emirate.
Ignorance of the law is not acceptable in Court as a defence. Hence, it is advisable for all visitors to acquaint themselves with the laws of the country. Here are some basic laws and information on the UAE which may be of help. However, the information below is not exhaustive and travellers are advised to undertake their own research.
Working Illegally: Any attempt to work illegally is considered a crime and can result in imprisonment or deportation. Expatriates seeking to reside and work in the UAE are required to present authenticated personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates, adoption and custody degrees, and other educational documents. The authentication of documents can involve federal and local offices and may take several weeks for completion.
Military/Police Equipment: Visitors should avoid the transport of any firearms or military/police equipment, such as weapon parts, tools, ammunition, body armour, or handcuffs. People carrying such items, even in small quantities, will be arrested and may face stringent criminal penalties, including huge monetary fines, imprisonment, and forfeiture of the items.
Medicines and Drugs: Approval for the carriage of controlled medicines and drugs may be obtained online from the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention (MOHAP). For more information on the types of controlled drugs, the allowed quantities, and the online approval process, please refer to the webpage https://mohap.gov.ae/en/services/issue-of-permit-to-import-medicines-for-personal-use.
Traffic Laws: Throughout the UAE, stringent penalties are imposed for certain traffic violations, particularly for drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol. Violators are often jailed and may be given demerit points and substantial penalties. A driving license is mandatory for driving in the UAE.
Smoking & Alcohol: Alcohol can only be consumed privately or in licensed public places. It is an offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. The legal age for alcohol consumption in the UAE is 21. Alcohol cannot be transported in public without a proper license. Smoking is banned in public offices and all indoor places such as shopping malls. This also applies to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping.
Behaviour/Dress Codes: The behaviour and dress code in the UAE basically reflect the Islamic traditions of the country and are more conservative than those of western nations. Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are very strict, in comparison to western and European nations. Any public display of affection or immodesty is not tolerated in the UAE and may be subjected to imprisonment.
While dancing with a few friends after a night out may not be considered offensive elsewhere, dancing in public is considered indecent in the UAE. However, dancing at home, or at official clubs, is accepted.
Emiratis dress conservatively and expect expatriates to also dress conservatively when in public. While beachwear is allowed at beaches, any form of nudity is not accepted. Cross-dressing is considered a crime.
An expatriate man addressing a local woman in public, taking a picture of her without permission, or bothering her in any way, is considered unacceptable behaviour.
Drone-flying and/or taking photographs of military and potentially sensitive civilian sites or foreign diplomatic missions is not allowed. Taking pictures of other people, especially women, without permission is also illegal. Posting or circulating sensitive or controversial materials online/on social media/in chat groups can be considered a crime punishable under UAE law.
While Islam is the main religion in the UAE, there is also strong acceptance of other religions. However, anything that is anti-Islam will not be tolerated at any level and can result in fines and imprisonment. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Eating, smoking, or drinking in public places during this month are not acceptable. However, restaurants can stay open for non-Muslims.
General Travel Advice
Overseas Travel – Be Informed & Be Safe [Updated on 14 October 2021]
Singaporeans planning overseas travel are reminded to take the necessary precautions, including being prepared to deal with accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Singaporeans are also reminded to be familiar with your destination’s local laws, customs, and COVID-19 regulations.
Demonstrations do occur in major cities across the world. Such demonstrations can sometimes escalate into violence. It is important for Singaporeans to keep abreast of local news, avoid any protests or demonstrations and heed the advice of the local authorities.
When participating in outdoor leisure activities overseas, Singaporeans should be mindful that certain sporting activities, especially in open seas, may carry risks. Besides ensuring that one has the physical competencies and appropriate condition to undertake the activity, every effort should be made to ascertain if the trip organiser or guide is reliable and competent, and that appropriate safety and contingency plans are in place. When in doubt, Singaporeans should consult the relevant professional bodies or sporting associations for specific advice.
For those planning to travel, here are some tips:
- Familiarise yourself with our network of overseas missions.
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance and be familiar with the terms and coverage.
- Equip yourself with research about your destination’s entry requirements, current situation, local laws and customs.
- eRegister with us on our website (www.mfa.gov.sg) so that we may reach out to you during an emergency.
- Always take care of your personal safety, remain vigilant and monitor local weather news, advisories, and security developments.
- Exercise caution around large gatherings and avoid locations known for demonstrations or disturbances.
- Be prepared for possible delays and last-minute changes in travel plans especially during unforeseen events such as natural disasters, social unrests or terror attacks.
- Stay connected with your friends and family. Inform them of your whereabouts and provide them with your overseas contact details.
- In the event that you require consular assistance, please contact the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission or call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office at +65 6379 8800/+65 6379 8855.
Advisory: Email Scams
There have been reports of individuals receiving scam emails/messages purportedly sent from friends in distress overseas. These emails/messages typically originate from an email address/social media known to the receiver bearing claims of the sender getting into trouble overseas and urgently requesting financial assistance. The sender would also claim to have approached a Singapore Embassy/Consulate and the local Police for help to no avail.
MFA takes the safety of all Singaporeans very seriously. Singaporeans in distress approaching our Overseas Missions for assistance will be rendered with all necessary consular assistance. If you receive such emails/messages from purported friends seeking funds transfers, we strongly advise you to call them first to verify the authenticity of the emails/messages before responding to their request. It is also not advisable to give out any personal information such as NRIC/passport nos., address, telephone number, etc. Any form of reply, even one of non-interest, could result in more unsolicited emails. Members of the public who suspect that they have fallen prey to such scams should report the matter to the Police immediately. Should Singaporeans abroad require consular assistance, they can contact the nearest Mission or call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 24-hr Duty Office at +65 6379 8800/+65 6379 8855.