As of July 15, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will enforce a decision waiving the tourist visa fees of children under the age of 18 who are travelling to the UAE accompanied by their parents.
This comes in line with a cabinet decision issued in July of last year, which stipulates this waiver for the Under-18 category from July 15 to September 15 every year.
The waiver is for children under the age of 18 on the condition that they are accompanied by one of their parents coming to the UAE on a tourist visa irrespective of the validity of the visa, be it a short or long-term visa.
The authority called on tourists planning to visit the UAE this summer to benefit from this waiver, which saves money and encourages people to choose the UAE as a tourist destination.
Major General Saeed Rakan Rashidi, director general of the Foreigners Affairs and Ports Authority, said tourists could apply for the visa through its smart app (ICA UAE e-channels) in the category of family tourist visa, or through its website www.ica.gov.ae.
Those booking flights through national carriers Emirates, Etihad, Fly Dubai and Air Arabia, and licenced travel agencies, provided they buy tickets from their offices and UAE hotels, subject to a reservation.
The authority issues two types of tourist visa, short term for 30 days at Dh200 single entry, which can be extended twice for 30 days each time, and long term for 90 days at Dh550 that can be extended twice for 30 days each time. The fee to extend costs Dh600 each time.
These facilities support the UAE’s competitiveness as a leading tourist destination able to attract families and visitors from all over the world to enjoy its heritage, culture, entertainment and beaches as well as its world class hospitality and hotel services.
This scheme was initially announced on June 19, but more details and an official start date ready for tourists to apply has only been announced now.
In the meantime, most travel agencies in the UAE had been unaware of the initiative, with many enquiries declined.
A representative from Cozmo Travel in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News last week: “We are not aware of any such tourist visa fee waiver and all customers have to pay the fee in all months of the year. In fact, we didn’t receive any official instruction from immigration.”
Representatives from Musafir.Com, Make My Tour and Greenline Travel and Tourism agencies in the capital said they also didn’t get any information regarding this from immigration.
However other agencies claimed they received a communique on this last year and started issuing free visas to Under-18s accordingly, while accusing other agencies of pleading ignorance in order to take the money.
Tarun Soni, managing director of Soni Travels in Abu Dhabi, said, “We’ve used the Under-18 visa fee waiver since last year and have processed many applications. Many families with children under the age of 18 have already travelled to the UAE without paying visa fees for the children.”