Michele Carby takes a look at the planning expats should make when they are preparing to leave Dubai.
For expats in Dubai (and anywhere around the world) comings and goings are a constant part of life. Even if you stay put, there will be a continuous stream of new arrivals and departures in your social network or workplace. For many people leaving can be a traumatic experience fraught not just high emotions but also the risk of running into several bureaucratic hurdles and other issues that arise. It is certainly not uncommon, but most problems can easily be avoided by getting well organised and following the correct procedures.
If you are leaving, I hope this information will help make it as pain-free as possible and ease your transformation to the next chapter of your life.
Employment and Visas
Your employment situation and visa should be top of your priority list. Whether your employment contract is coming to an end or you are resigning, you need to provide the required notice and arrange for the cancellation of your visa. In many cases, your employer’s HR department will arrange this for you, but timing is crucial, so make sure you stay on top of this process.
You must cancel your visa (and those of your dependents) before leaving the country. Failure to do so might lead to an enforced delay in your departure, which can cause a problematic (and costly) situation. You may even be listed as an absconder on the system and find yourself blacklisted from entry and banned from future employment in the UAE.
Timing is also crucial. Once cancelled you have just 30 days to leave the country. Overstay penalties can mount up and also result in you on ending up on the blacklist.
Clear your debts
Non-payment of debt is a serious criminal offence in the UAE, so ensure your accounts are cleared in full before you board the plane. I am sure you will have heard of horror stories of debtors being arrested at the airport and thrown into jail. It is not a situation in which you want to find yourself, so get those debt paid.
Collect your gratuity
Most people who have worked in the UAE are entitled to a gratuity payment on termination. If you have been here for several years, this can be a substantial amount. Work with your employer to ensure you receive your full due.
Close your bank accounts
If you are leaving permanently, I advise you to close any bank account you hold in the UAE. The procedure is straightforward and requires a visit to the bank with your passport and ID card.
Plan transfers or savings and assets
Many people acquire substantial savings or assets while working in the UAE. If you have significant sums your savings could be subject to punitive levels of taxation upon repatriation to your home country. This can cause a severe dent in your wealth and undermine your hard work. Seek expert advice before transferring your savings to ensure tax-efficient investments. Contact me for more details.
Settle your accommodation situation
If you own a property, you should make an early decision on whether you want to sell or keep and rent it out. There are pros and cons to both, but whatever decision you make it will require advance planning and organisation so think as far ahead as you can and put the wheels in motion. It takes a minimum of six weeks to clear the mortgage and get a no-objection certificate from the developer.
If you live in rental accommodation, make sure you work within the terms of your lease and give your landlord the required notice period. If you are leaving before the contract expires you may incur penalties, but maintaining excellent communication with your landlord will help this process run smoothly.
Sell your car
If you own a vehicle, arrange for its sale. Ensure arrange for purchasing finance ensure it is fully paid from the proceeds.
Inform the school
If your children have attended a school in the UAE, you will need to arrange a school transfer certificate and ensure all fees are up to date and paid in full. Some schools offer a refund on tuition fees for less than a ful academic year so that is worth checking out to see if it applies to your situation.
Look after your maid
Inform your maid as soon as you have made your decision to leave to give her the time to find new employment. You are responsible for transferring the maid’s new sponsor. You can complete the form at any typing centre. You and the new sponsor will need to be present and the documents must be submitted to the GDRFA’s Residency section along with the maid’s passport and labour card.
If you are shipping your home contents, again plan well in advance and find a reputable shipper. Ensure you check on the import regulations and customs duties payable at your destination country. You don’t want to face an unexpected customs bill, but it can happen.
Moving on and packing up your life can be difficult and stressful, but it is exciting as well. Make sure you take the time to say your goodbyes and take a moment to celebrate the time you have spent in Dubai with your friends.