Canada Lifts Visa Requirements on Travellers from United Arab Emirates

UAE flag waving

UAE travellers looking to take a trip to Canada just got a big break.

As of 5:30 a.m. ET on June 5th, 2018, United Arab Emirates (UAE) citizens no longer need a visa to travel to Canada for short stays (normally for up to six months) for business, to visit family and friends or for tourism.

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship, announced that the government would be lifting the visa requirements for UAE citizens on May 28th, 2018. The change means that UAE citizens will no longer have to participate in a lengthy application process to enter Canada.

Under the new process UAE citizens travelling by plane will be able to do so visa-free using the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). The eTA system allows Canadian immigration officials to screen passengers for any inadmissibility concerns – criminal or otherwise – before they board.

If travelling by train, bus, or vessel, UAE citizens simply need to bring their passport or travel documents to show immigration officials before entering.

The UAE is one of the many countries to be classified as visa-exempt. However, it is one of the first in the Middle East and Northern Africa to join that category.

The announcement follows a series of other recent visa-exemptions for UAE citizens from other countries including China, Paraguay, Ireland, Guiana, and Tonga.

Currently, there are approximately 40,000 Canadians who live and work in the United Arab Emirates, with approximately 150 Canadian companies doing business in the country.

In his remarks accompanying the visa exemption announcement, Minister Hussen pointed to the strong relations between the two countries. According to Hussen, those ties have made the UAE “a key strategic partner”. The Minister also noted that “lifting of the visa requirement will help reaffirm the strong relationship between [the two countries]” and “promote increased tourism, cultural, academic and study exchanges, as well as foster new business, trade, and investment.”

The numbers on trade and investment between the two countries highlight the importance of strengthening business relations through the visa-exemption.

At the moment, the UAE is Canada’s biggest export market in the Middle East and Northern Africa and is Canada’s 16th largest export market globally. Here in Canada, Foreign Direct Investment from the UAE totals 9.89 billion dollars.