Unexpectedly, leaving Dubai is more difficult than moving here. So before you board the plane, here's some advice for a stress-free and successful moving day
8 November 2016| Last updated on 28 September 2020
Your essential guide to leaving Dubai and the UAE
Strange as it may seem, leaving Dubai and the UAE is, in so many unexpected ways, more difficult than it is to get here in the first place. With a long check-list of things to tie-up before you board your plane to your next destination.
Navigating through the choppy waters of the banks, your employment contract(s), school and housing commitments, and selling all your belongings can take up a lot of time, and it helps to have a little bit of know-how.
So to help you on your journey to leaving Dubai behind and onto your next adventure, here's how to leave Dubai with everything tied up nice and neatly, and hopefully, without it being too stressful...
Whether you have decided to leave, or if you have had that decision made for you, there is no time to waste. Allow yourself a day or two to adjust to the situation, but leaving anything until the last minute will be stressful, expensive, or you might even be denied boarding at the airport if the essential paperwork hasn't been taken care of.
Set yourself key deadlines using a smartphone app, online calendar or an old-fashioned diary! Make a note of your last day at work, and when you plan to exist Dubai. It's easier to work backwards from your intended leaving date.
A good contact in your HR depeartment will be worth their weight in gold. They should be able to talk you through the company's exit procedure, which can usually be set in motion straight away.
You're likely to be working your notice so make sure you have an agreed final working day. You will need to follow standard procedure for returning company hardware, such as phones and laptops, security passes and health insurance cards at the agreed time.
Visas and ID card
You will usually hand over your Emirates ID card and passports for cancellation at an agreed time.
Spouses and children/dependents have their visas cancelled first, and then the employee's. From the date of cancellation, you have 30 days to leave the country before accruing daily fines.
Final pay and end of service benefits
Your employment contract and the UAE Labour Law (found here) sets out the criteria for End-of-Service Benefits.
This is calculated based on the length of your service and the circumstances of your departure. Your HR contact will calculate this for you, and it's usually paid at around the same time as your final month's salary.
Banking and credit cards
To keep things running smoothly, you'll need to give your credit card provider some notice of your departure. To cancel the card, they'll require the balance to be paid in full. It's the same with an overdraft or loan.
Once final settlements have been paid, you can request a clearance letter from your bank, which states that you have no outstanding liabilities. This might be requested by your employer before they cancel the visa or pay your EOSB entitlement. It might also prevent your account from being frozen.
Banks often reassure you that they don't routinely freeze accounts, but we have all heard of the potential risks and stresses over this particular issue, and we don't recommend testing it out at the most hectic time during an international move.
Producing your clearance letter in the event of having your account frozen may speed up the process of having it open again. Sometimes it is a bank system default that freezes the account when the final pay and benefits is paid in, even if all liabilities have been cleared. Some banks offer international accounts in various currencies, which might be of help to you in your next home.
Schools often require a term's notice, or a term's fees in lieu of notice if you are leaving mid-term.
Speak to the school registrar or accounts as soon as you can to make arrangements for any deposits to be returned, as well as for a transfer certificate or school leaving certificate for your children's next school (if required) to be produced in time for your departure.
Unless your departure coincides with the end of your tenancy contract, you'll need to negotiate the terms with your landlord or agent.
You may have outstanding cheques and several months left on your contract. Successful talks with the landlord may depend on the speed with which the premises can be re-let to a new tenant, so it pays to co-operate as far as possible and show willingness.
Security deposits can be returned shortly after the final inspection, which is best done on the day you move out, or the day before. It is best to be there during the inspection and have your receipts and contract to hand.
RERA can be called upon (tel: 600 555556) to settle disputes as long as your rental agreement was registered with the Ejari service initially.
Phone, TV and Internet suppliers need one month's notice before they cancel your account. You'll need to pay them a visit in person at one of their customer service outlets.
Ensure your receive proof of your request and make a note of when the last bill is due. A month later, you'll need another visit to pay your final bill, return any hardware (receiver boxes, router etc.) and collect your receipt.
Your DEWA cancellation can be done online here, but a visit to one of their offices a few days before you need the service to be stopped is easy enough. You can request for Clearance Certificate from DEWA, here.
Request the service to be stopped and make sure you're paid up. On the day the service is stopped, return to the office to pay your final bill and collect your DEWA deposit (or use the deposit against your final bill, if wanted).
Other services such as OSN require a month's notice of cancellation, and this can be done on the phone to their customer service representatives. They will arrange a date to come and collect the receiver box from your accommodation.
Removals and storage
Once you have decided whether to have your household contents shipped to your new home or stored, contact some specialist removals companies for a quote.
A representative will usually visit your home to get an estimated volume and assess how easy the access to your home is (e.g. is there a lift, easy parking, permission from security required).
It is a good idea to get several quotes as they will vary. Remember to ask questions such as how often they have shipped to your destination country, whether boxes and packing are included, insurance options, and sailing duration. Removals companies will need a valid passport, visa page copy and full payment before they can proceed and book your move.
Allow at least a week between your belongings being picked up and the sailing date to avoid delays and avoidable storage charges. Prices will vary according to the time of year, the destination and the volume of your things. Sharing a container is a cost-effective way of shipping a smaller volume but it will take longer.
The four-legged members of your family will need to have all their vaccinations up to date and be micro chipped before they can be flown to your new home.
Check with IATA for the import requirements and quarantine regulations (if any) for your destination country here. Consult an IPATA-approved pet relocations agent like this one for assistance with paperwork.
Travelling with your pet as accompanied baggage is the cheapest way to travel with your pet, but manifest cargo is the only way pets can travel by air into UK, so allow a sizeable budget and enough time to arrange your pet’s travel.
About the contributor
I am Clare, a full-time Mum to Gregory who is 10 and really good at it. I am married to Gary, a Logistics Manager, and we have an unusually vocal rescue cat named Kassie.
I’ve dabbled in journalism and had stints working for magazines like the UK's Good Housekeeping and Country Living, and also The Guardian’s travel and obituaries desks as an assistant.
Dividing my time between the scorching sand of Dubai and the more temperate climes of Cornwall for the last six years has provided me with ample writing fodder.
Since the time of publishing, Clare has moved to Cambodia with her family