How to apply for a digital nomad visa in Dubai

Work remotely from one of the world’s best cities
How to apply for a digital nomad visa in Dubai
Dubai is one of the best places to live for remote workers

A nomad traditionally refers to a person without a permanent home. However, in the modern, digitally connected era, this term has evolved to describe “digital nomads” or people who leverage technology to work remotely from various locations. Although remote working has been a trend for several years, it truly surged in prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. When Estonia introduced the world’s first digital nomad visa in 2020, this movement gained more popularity. 

Today, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says that nearly half of global destinations, including Dubai, already offer this entry permit. This article discusses how to get a Dubai digital nomad visa.

What is a Dubai digital nomad visa?

Dubai’s digital nomad visa permits remote workers to live in the city for about a year. The city launched this visa under the Remote Working Visa Scheme in 2021. This program is open to nationals from any country outside the United Arab Emirates, provided they either work remotely for a company registered outside the UAE or own a company registered elsewhere.

Holders of this type of visa have access to the same standard services that residents have, such as telecommunications, utilities, housing rentals and school enrollments. It provides an opportunity to connect with a diverse and skilled workforce while enjoying other things that make Dubai a great city to live in — top-notch healthcare, reliable internet access, a robust transportation system and a wide array of leisure and entertainment options.

dubai digital nomad visa

How to apply for a Dubai digital nomad visa

The global population of digital nomads could reach about 60 million by 2030. And among this populace, Dubai stands out as a sought-after city. In fact, Dubai topped the list of Savills’s 2023 Executive Nomad Index. The property consultancy evaluated cities for long-term remote workers based on internet speed, quality of life, climate and connectivity among others. 

Furthermore, Dubai was ranked third globally by the Harvard Business Review in terms of talent flows, credited to its business friendliness, cost efficiency and affordable lifestyle.

Want to experience the beauty of Dubai while working remotely? Here’s how to apply for the city’s digital nomad visa.

Step 1: Check if you are eligible and secure all requirements

You must meet specific requirements to apply for Dubai’s digital nomad visa. These include the following:

  • A passport valid for 6 months
  • A recent colored photo with a white background
  • Proof of health insurance with coverage validity in the United Arab Emirates
  • Attested police clearance certificate from your country of origin
  • For employees:
    • Proof of employment from your current employer registered outside the UAE, with a contract of at least one year
    • Proof of a minimum monthly salary of $3,500
    • Bank statements for the last 3 months
    • Your most recent payslip
  • For business owners:
    • Proof that you have owned your business for a minimum of one year
    • Proof that your business is outside the UAE and that you can conduct work remotely
    • Proof of a minimum monthly income of $3,500
    • Bank statements for the last 3 months

If you’re applying for family members, you must submit each family member’s passport, valid health insurance, and proof of payment for processing fees for each individual.

Step 2: Create an account on the GDRFFA website and fill out the form

Visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) portal and register an account to start your application process. 

On the website, you can access the digital nomad visa application form by clicking on the “Services” tab on the menu, then “Entry Permits,” then “Issuance of a Residency Visa,” and “Visa Issuance (Virtual Work).”

Provide all the personal details required by the form. Ensure that you accurately complete all mandatory fields. Next, upload the necessary documents, including a scanned copy of your passport, passport photos, proof of income, health insurance and other relevant requirements.

Step 3: Pay the application fees

Once you’ve checked all the information on your application form is correct, you can proceed with the payment. The total fee is around $611. This amount already covers the application and processing costs, the pre-application medical exam, and the fee for your Emirates ID. You’ll need the Emirates ID to access essential services like housing, banking and phone lines. If you have children with you, you’ll also need the ID to enroll them in schools.

Step 4: Wait for your application’s approval

The Dubai digital nomad visa application typically has a processing time of 30 to 60 days. You will receive a phone call or email notification once your application is processed. Upon approval, you can now travel to Dubai with your visa. 

Step 5: Complete residency formalities

Upon arrival in Dubai for your digital nomad residency, the first essential step is to arrange a mandatory medical check within the first month of your stay. After completing the medical check and receiving the results, you will get a list of offices to go to for your biometric registration. Authorities will stamp your passport following the biometric process. Afterward, you will receive an SMS notification indicating where to pick up your Emirates ID or residency card.

Read: Economy Middle East explains: Outsourcing for your business

dubai digital nomad visa

Tips for applying for a Dubai digital nomad visa

Ready to experience Dubai as a digital nomad? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Ensure accurate and complete documentation. Securing all necessary documents is essential to your digital nomad journey in Dubai. When completing your visa application, you must faithfully conform to Dubai’s specific requirements.
  • Know local laws and cultural etiquette. When in Dubai, do as the locals do. So, it would be best to research the city — and the UAE’s — cultural and social norms governed by Sharia law. Be especially mindful when it comes to how you dress. Also, avoid public displays of affection. Obeying local laws is crucial to prevent severe consequences like fines, deportation or even visa revocation.
  • Keep yourself updated. Dubai’s remote working visa scheme is relatively new, and we expect that there could be changes in the future (e.g., in the requirements). It’s vital to consult official sites to double-check updated information. You may also seek guidance from professionals like lawyers or legal representatives before starting your visa application process. 

Final thoughts

Dubai is a leading destination for remote workers. If you want to learn first-hand why many choose this city, you must first get a Dubai digital nomad visa. Getting this entry permit is a straightforward process, and the key is to be thorough and truthful in all the requirements you submit. Then, once in Dubai, be mindful of laws and cultural etiquette. Doing so will help you enjoy the city while having an outstanding work-life balance.

For more miscellaneous stories, click here. 

Related Topics:
The stories on our website are intended for informational purposes only. Those with finance, investment, tax or legal content are not to be taken as financial advice or recommendation. Refer to our full disclaimer policy here.