How to Set Up the Al Hosn App for Abu Dhabi Travel

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One of the reasons life and travel in Abu Dhabi have remained relatively “normal” is because most businesses in the emirate require proof of vaccination and a recent negative covid test in order to enter. With everyone vaccinated (and masking), risks remain manageable.

Like several cities, Abu Dhabi uses a proprietary app to verify your vaccination and testing status. Before you can go anywhere, you’ll need to set up your Al Hosn Green Pass. Though it seems complicated before you get started, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

street in abu dhabi

What is the Al Hosn App?

Al Hosn is an official Covid-19 app used in Abu Dhabi to verify your Covid-19 health status. It shows your vaccine certificate and/or negative covid test results at a glance.

Once you download the app, you’ll have the chance to create a profile and link your vaccination and testing records. Once those are input, you’ll have a QR code to display when entering businesses to display your status at a glance.

Most public establishments require “green” status on the app to allow entry, which designates that you’re both fully vaccinated and recently tested. If so, your QR is displayed in green (hence the name).

green qr code on al hosn app
QR code has a green border when your health status has been confirmed.

Al Hosn Status Colors

There are three colors that may shown on your Al Hosn app:

  • Green: Fully vaccinated with a negative PCR test result in the past 14 days OR unvaccinated individuals with a negative PCR test in the past 3 days
  • Gray: PCR test validity has expired, with or without vaccination
  • Red: Recent positive PCR test (no entry to establishments)

As you can see, fully vaccinated travelers will not need to test as often as unvaccinated travelers in order to maintain green status.

Only PCR tests administered in the UAE can be linked to your Al Hosn app. If you took a PCR test in your home country before arrival, you will need to test again within the UAE in order to get green status.

How to Guide: Al Hosn App for Visitors

Register Your Arrival with ICA

Before you enter the UAE, you will need to register your travel with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. This is a simple online form that asks for your passport information, where you’re staying in the UAE, and requires you to upload proof of vaccination. Your vaccine info will be migrated over to the Al Hosn app after you arrive.

You will need to include a phone number for two-factor authentication. Ideally, you’ll have a phone number that works in both your home country pre-arrival AND in the UAE during your trip. If not, enter your primary number and use the workaround below.

On Arrival, Ask Your Immigrations Officer for Your UID Number

Everyone entering the UAE, including tourists, is assigned a UID (United Identification) number. You will need this number to set up your Al Hosn profile and the easiest way to get it is to simply ask the immigrations officer to write it down on a piece of paper when they scan your passport.

If you can read Arabic — or can ask someone for assistance — you can also look for the nine digit number on your passport stamp.

Lastly, you can look up your UID on the government website after arrival. Click the option to search by passport number. The “Passport Express Date” is your passport expiration date. Note that it can take up to 12 hours for the database to be updated so if you choose this option you may need to be patient.

government website screenshot to look up uid
Easily look up your UID

Buy a Sim Card & Update Your ICA Profile (If Needed)

If your normal sim card doesn’t work in the UAE, you’ll need to obtain a local sim card with a UAE number so you can receive texts for two-factor authentification. Then, you’ll need to update your ICA profile to reflect your updated phone number.

Heads Up: You can use the same phone number for your children/dependents, though I don’t know if you can use the same phone number for multiple adults in a single household.

After arrival in the UAE: Download the Al Hosn app

al hosn app icon

The Al Hosn app is available from the Apple App Store, Google PlayGalaxy Store and Huawei App Gallery in English, Arabic and Hindi. The English version leaves a lot to be desired but is technically functional.

You’ll need to register on the app using your UID number and local phone number, followed by the one-time password sent to your phone.

Once you’ve registered, you will likely see your status displayed with a gray background, indicating that you don’t have a recent negative PCR test result linked yet.

gray al hosn test result
Note the grayscale throughout my Al Hosn pass (before I tested in the UAE)

Obtain a PCR Test Within the UAE

Some travelers may need a PCR test at the airport on arrival. If not, you’ll need to make other arrangements. Thankfully, testing is widely available within the UAE with nearly all results being returned in 24 hours or less. Faster results are available at a higher cost.

You will need to provide your passport, UID, and phone number when testing. Results will be added to your Al Hosn app automatically using this identifying information at or near the same time you personally receive results.

In Dubai, I tested at Aster Clinic (numerous locations citywide). It was easy to make an appointment online. My test cost 150 AED (about US $40) and my results were returned in about 5 hours, even though I had only paid for/requested 24 hour turnaround.

aster clinic reception
Inside an Aster Clinic

In Abu Dhabi, I booked a test using the JustLife service which sends a clinician to your hotel or other preferred option. They offer a promotional price of 79 AED (US $21) for your first test and my results were returned in about 12 hours, despite booking a 24-hour turnaround.

There are dozens of other testing locations, including some that are free, but these were the easiest for my circumstances.

Enjoy Green Status

Assuming your test results are negative, your Green Status should be automatically applied on the Al Hosn app. Both mine and my sister’s tests were added without a hitch.

You will need to pull out your Al Hosn app to prove green status for entry to nearly all establishments in Abu Dhabi — this includes restaurants, attractions, shopping malls and even the beach! Because of this, setting up Al Hosn is nearly non-negotiable if you intend on staying in Abu Dhabi for awhile.

All of the restaurants (as well as the beach club) in Mamsha al Saadiyat checked my green status.

Thankfully, hotels do not require the Al Hosn app for you to check into your room so you should be able to wait in relative comfort until your test results arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions About Al Hosn

Is There a Workaround to the Al Hosn App?

Officially, the Al Hosn app isn’t mandatory but it’s the only way to enter some businesses. You’ll be limited on your sightseeing, and even dining, if you don’t use the app.

Some places may allow paper records if you don’t have the Al Hosn app: I noticed this option at Hakkasan restaurant inside the Emirates Palace hotel as well as entry to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

sheikh zayed grand mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

However, many businesses couldn’t be bothered with the extra time required to look at paper records issued by a hundred different countries and some simply don’t trust them due to the risk of counterfeits. Don’t rely on carrying paper copies, even if they make work in a pinch while you’re awaiting your Al Hosn green status.

Do You Need the Al Hosn App in Dubai?

No, most places in Dubai do not require proof of vaccination or testing at all in order to enter.

There are a few exceptions: for example, the Dubai Expo requires proof of a recent negative test in order to enter. There, paper copies are accepted, though the Al Hosn green pass will make it faster.

Bottom Line

The Al Hosn app is a one-time annoyance to set up but once you have it up and running, it works flawlessly and allows access to businesses. It also brought me peace of mind knowing that all other patrons at an establishment were either fully vaccinated or recently tested. There’s no way to avoid covid risks altogether, but this is one way to mitigate your chances of catching covid and still enjoying all that Abu Dhabi has to offer.

Read More About the United Arab Emirates

17 thoughts on “How to Set Up the Al Hosn App for Abu Dhabi Travel”

  1. I have a uk SIM card but it wont register my number on the app how do I get it to work I arrive tomorrow and worry I will not be allowed into the country

    1. @Susan, You do not need the Al Hosn app for entry into the United Arab Emirates. The app is used for entry to private businesses and establishments after arrival. You will not be able to complete the app registration until you have arrived in the UAE and gone through immigration control. Even then, you will need a phone number with UAE service to complete registration (this may be your UK number, or you may need a separate UAE sim card if you don’t have international service).

  2. I have a US mobile number that works in the UAE. However the ICA questionaire will only accept a +971 UAE mobile number which I do not have, so I cannot complete the questionaire. Is there a work around so that I can use my +1 US mobile number?

  3. Hello Becky,

    Thank you for your very clear article.
    Two additional questions:
    1/ Is the PCR test done at the Abu Dhabi airport upon arrival sufficient to obtain the green status?
    2/ As a tourist, even with a green status, must we take another PCR test on day 6 after arrival?

    Thank you

    1. @Nancy,

      1 – Yes, the Abu Dhabi airport test is sufficient. Please make sure they have either your passport number or UID number when they administer the test so that it’s properly tracked and added to your file.

      2 – Currently, tourists must take a PCR on day 6 regardless of vaccination and green status (subject to change as Abu Dhabi re-evaluates things in the future). You are exempt if you’ve already left Abu Dhabi before day 6, for example if you’ve packed up and moved to Dubai instead.

  4. Hi Becky!

    This is a great blog and very helpful! Do you know if you’d need to get tested again when travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai by bus?

  5. Aloha, I will be arriving mid-March. Has there been recent discussions about dropping the requirement to provide a negative PCR test for tourists if they are vaccinated?

    1. @Elyse, You’ll need to verify before your official trip dates as things change frequently. I’ve heard pre-arrival testing is being phased out for vaccinated travelers but Abu Dhabi airport still requires a test once you land at AUH and you’ll still the Al Hosn green status to enter most establishments.

  6. Aloha,
    May I ask more questions?
    When I arrive in Dubai as my final destination via San Francisco with a stop in Frankfurt, which app do I download my negative test results?

    I’ve seen COVID-19 DXB smart, UAE ICP. And you’ve stated in a previous answer that the Al Hosn is to enter business establishments.

    And our US. Vaccine cards do not have QR code so what do I do?

    Thanks much!

  7. Hi Becky

    Thank you for the information above, its very helpful.
    Can i ask
    1. on the ICA form it asks for a personal image. Does this have to be like a passport photo, or can you just take it with your phone?

    2. Will a UK number work or do you definitely need a UAE number on the Al husn app setup?

    1. @Nadeem,
      (1) Your photo should be something that looks like a passport photo, for example just your head and shoulders on a plain background. It does not need to be a formal passport photo though (there are many apps that will help you take one with your phone at home).
      (2) A UK number will work as long as you continue to have phone service while traveling in the UAE.

      1. Thank you Becky.
        So sorry to disturb you again. Ive tried filling in the ICA form. I have selected that i am currently OUTSIDE THE UAE. but…when using my mobile to complete the form it does not give me an option to use my UK mobile number. I wonder if i can use a local UAE Residents number for this?

        Regards
        Nadeem

  8. The Al Hosn application is a one-time disturbance to set up yet when you have it ready, it works perfectly and permits admittance to organizations. It likewise brought me true serenity realizing that any remaining supporters at a foundation were either completely inoculated or as of late tried. It’s basically impossible to keep away from Coronavirus gambles through and through, however this is one method for moderating your possibilities getting Coronavirus despite everything partaking in all that Abu Dhabi brings to the table.

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