Leaving Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the UAE for that matter presents some unique challenges. Preparation and planning ahead is crucial when the time comes to leave the UAE. Cutting corners is very likely to add unnecessary stress and leave you out of pocket. However, in a worst-case scenario, any loose ends could leave you legally compromised, possibly preventing you from visiting or transiting through the UAE or the wider Gulf region.
Let’s get started on this Essential Guide to leaving the UAE and begin by focusing on your home and utilities.
How do I cancel my rental contract and utilities?
If your house/apartment is leased or rented and you are leaving the UAE, there are some issues you will need to address.
Firstly, you have to clarify when the rental period specified in your contract runs its course. Depending on your circumstances you will be faced with one of the following options.
1. Wait for your contract to end
In an ideal scenario, your departure dates coincide with the end of your rental contract. First – notify your landlord in writing at least 90 days prior to the end of the contract of your intent to vacate the premises, and that you will not be renewing the lease, (this is normally done via the real estate company).
2. Terminating your contract early
In many cases people leave the UAE at short notice, or with less than 3 months warning, often meaning that through no fault of their own they are unable to complete the full rental term stipulated in the contacts. Unfortunately, rental laws in the UAE do not provide a specific rule for early contract termination. You will need to refer to your tenancy contract for any penalties for exit clauses in relation to breaking the contract. There is likely to be a 2 to 3 months (payment of rent) penalty and so at this stage, you need to talk with your landlord (or have the real estate company do so on your behalf). The landlord is not legally obliged to do you any favours so exhaust all avenues of reaching an amicable agreement.
3. Look for a replacement tenant
Assuming negotiations do not go well as you had hoped, there is one more option which may prove worthwhile. Some landlords may be willing to overlook any penalties mentioned in the contract if you are able to provide a new tenant. Again the landlord is not obliged to accept this, however, this has worked for many people who plan on leaving the UAE at relatively short notice. It is important to ensure the transfer of the agreement with the relevant authorities is completed and deposits and post-dated cheques are returned to you before you complete the process.
Regardless of which option you end up putting into place, you will need to ensure the following list of things to cancel when you leave the UAE are completed.
Pay off and cancel all utilities *see below for more details – Make certain you receive certification/receipts to confirm everything has been finalised and that you have received any outstanding deposits.
Cancel TV subscription/internet and mobile services – Again ensure everything is documented and deposits have been refunded.
Ejari – Your tenancy contract will have been registered with Ejari (the online portal which the government requires all tenancy contracts to be registered with). It is important to obtain proof the contract has been terminated and cleared from the Ejari system. A screenshot of the system is commonly used for this purpose. This is important because it legally frees you from any financial obligation in future to the property.
Handover your house/apartment in good order – Patch holes, clean/repaint marks from walls/repair any damage/wear and tear. It is going to be cheaper to arrange this personally or subcontract a handyman, rather than leave this to the landlord, who may charge an exorbitant fee which will be deducted from any deposit he/she is holding.
Return keys and get your deposit – This is often handled by the real estate company and may involve the return of any post-dated cheques if the agreement has been ended before the end of the contract.
*More information on cancelling utilities: Make sure you have plenty of copies of your passport (especially residence visa pages) and your Emirates ID. You are going to need these (at least) in order to close any services down. Another document which may be required is a letter of ‘No objection’ issued by your landlord
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How do I close Internet & mobile service providers in the UAE?
Both available providers Etisalat and Du will allow you to initiate the process of cancelling services by telephone.
You will be penalised if you are terminating a post-paid mobile contract, which will be deducted from your deposit. Call 800 101 to start the process. You will need to visit any Etisalat store to complete the process – Etisalat store locator.
Start by calling Du on 800 155. A member of their customer service will contact you within 48 hours to assist you in completing the process. Once this is done you can visit a customer care centre to finalise your bill and claim any remaining deposit. There are several centres dotted around the country including most of the major shopping malls and also Dubai Media City – all Du store locations in the UAE.
How do I close Electricity and water in the UAE?
Part of the process of vacating your home is to officially disconnect your electricity and water from the grid. The easiest way to do this is to initiate the process online. You will need to login to do this. At the same time, you can request your final bill and also request the disconnection date (normally, the disconnection will occur within 24 hours of your requested date).
Finally make arrangements to visit the relevant office (DEWA in Dubai, SEWA in Sharjah and ADWEA in Abu Dhabi). From there you will be able to collect your deposit (the final bill will be deducted from the deposit).
Finalising your account with Emicool requires you to visit one of the Emicool offices to submit the documents mentioned below. After submitting the required documents, Emicool will conclude your final bill within three to five working days. The final bill amount will be deducted from your security deposit. The remaining amount of the security deposit will then be refunded to you by cheque. Security Deposit Refund: Please be informed that the remaining amount of your security deposit will be refunded by cheque. This cheque can only be issued under the tenant’s name. In cases where the tenancy was under a company’s name, kindly note that the cheque will be issued under the company’s name as well. Therefore, an authorization letter on company letterhead is required stating the name and Emirates ID number of the authorized person collecting the cheque. This letter, as well as the Emirates ID, has to be presented to our Customer Service Representative at the time of collecting the cheque.
If tenant is an individual:
- Cancellation Form (signed by tenant and landlord with cut-off date)
- Tenancy Agreement Copy (first and last agreement if tenancy longer than one year)
- Valid Passport Copy including signature page + Visa Page of the Tenant (in case of UAE nationals, visa page is not applicable)
- Emirates ID copy (front & back)
- Original Security Deposit Receipt
- Copy of Emicool Contract
If tenant is a company:
- Cancellation Form (signed and stamped by tenant and landlord with cut-off date)
- Tenancy Agreement Copy (first and last agreement if tenancy longer than one year)
- Valid Trade License Copy
- Valid Passport Copy including signature page + Visa Page of the Authorized Signatory as per Trade License (in case of UAE nationals, visa page is not applicable)
- Original Security Deposit Receipt
- Copy of Emicool Contract
How do I cancel Visas for me and my family?
Cancelling a residence visa
If you are moving from the UAE on a permanent basis it is important to ensure both your labour card and residence visa are officially cancelled. This also applies to any family members and dependents. In fact, it is illegal to permanently leave the UAE without cancelling both and can affect your ability to return to the UAE or transit through the UAE and indeed the wider Gulf region.
Under normal circumstances, your employer will arrange cancellation during the final month of your employment. However, it is possible for you to submit documents yourself to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Irrespective of who completes this process it is good to know how the course of action for your own peace of mind.
A few things to bear in mind.
- Visas for spouse/ children/dependents need to be cancelled before your formalities can be completed.
- If your company provides accommodation proof that all utilities have been closed may be required before gratuity can be finalised. This may involve moving into temporary accommodation for a few days before everything is concluded.
- If you are employed in one of the free zones your sponsor is different from your employer. In cases like this, it is the responsibility of the sponsor which is the free zone authority to cancel your visa.
- It is important to ensure you have been paid your final settlement including gratuity and your final month’s salary. Generally speaking, you are entitled to 21 days’ pay for your first 5 years and 30 days’ pay for every subsequent year. To reiterate – Make certain this has been paid to you before you sign any paperwork.
What about cancelling the visas personally?
Assuming your company PRO (Public Relations Officer) does not get involved how do you cancel your own visa? There are two ways to do this.
Cancelling your residence visa In-Person
As soon as you have submitted your resignation, (ensuring you meet the required period of notice), make certain you clearly establish the amount of your final settlement. It may be a good idea to have this amount broken down and in writing. Do not sign anything until your final payment has been received, this should include your final salary, any kind of repatriation allowance, such as moving expenses and plane tickets, and also your gratuity.
Your sponsor initiates cancellation of your visa by submitting required documentation to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), this results in the issuance of a clearance statement.
Bring documents including your original passport and Emirates ID card, (and any dependents), copies of your sponsor’s passport incl. their visa page copy and the MOHRE clearance statement to a typing office – these are located all over the UAE.
Inform the official at the typing office you wish to cancel, (your dependent’s visas first) and then your visa.
The application form will be prepared for you within 10 minutes or so. This application form needs to be countersigned and stamped by your employer.
In signing this form you are legally acknowledging you have received your final settlement, so ensure all of this has been received before you sign it.
As soon as the cancellation application has been signed by both parties, you need to visit the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Directions are mentioned below.
Ideally, you should visit the GDRFA office which initially issued your residence visa.
Again – ensure you have your original passport and Emirates ID card in addition to a copy of the sponsor’s passport and visa page.
Your Emirates ID card will be retained by the GDRFA, your passport will be stamped and returned to you. You have a 30-day time limit to exit the UAE.
How to cancel your own residence visa online
It is now possible to initiate the cancellation of residency online.
To finalise the cancellation, you will need to visit the GDRFA with your original passport and Emirates ID immediately after submitting your application.
Dubai – Whilst there are a number of branch offices dotted around the city, it is best to utilise the head office. Take the D88 exit off the Trade Centre Roundabout onto Shk Khalifa Bin Zayed Rd. Make a U-Turn at the crossroad with Shk Rashid Rd, and head back along Shk Khalifa Bin Zayed Rd. Take the second exit onto 36th St. Parking is on the right.
Abu Dhabi – From the Corniche, take Shh Zayed St. head south following signs to Dubai. Pass under the Shk Zayed Tunnel and filter right turning into Saada St. (look for the two pine cone buildings). Continue straight, passing two crossroads. The GDRFA is on your right.
Important note: In 2009 a number of ministries throughout the UAE were renamed the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). Some people still seem to be confused by this and continue to make reference to the Department of Immigration or the Department of Naturalisation and Residency. Do not be concerned if you hear this.
How is the best way to sell my car?
The easy answer to that question is Dubizzle. However, before we look at the process of selling your car, have you considered the possibility of taking your car with you? Shipping a car in a container – especially if combined with your personal effects, can be more economical than one might imagine. However, you need to consider the following points.
- Is the vehicle permitted to be imported to the destination country? Restriction may include engine size/type. Steering wheel position (left/right), or perhaps the age of the car an issue?
- Is the car subject to import duty? Import duty in certain countries can exceed 100% of the value which customs authorities attribute to the vehicle – in other words, it can get very expensive!
- Many countries will allow you to import vehicles which you have owned and used for 6 months.
- The additional cost of shipping the vehicle.
- The cost of running the car at destination – remember fuel costs vary greatly in different countries, so cars which are not fuel-efficient may not be financially viable.
I own my car with no loan, what's the process for selling?
If there is no outstanding loan/mortgage/finance the process is fairly simple. Selling the car directly to another person is likely to net you the most money. This can be done via social media, putting up a sign in a local supermarket or a classified site such as Dubizzle. Ensuring the car is clean and well photographed using just a smartphone is likely to help in the sale.
Another option is to visit a used car market, such as the one located in Al Awir. Dealers may offer you immediate cash and whilst this may be convenient, the trade-off is their offers may not meet your evaluation.
There are online firms as well as car dealers who will make similar offers, some are good and some not too good, again you may need to be flexible on the price you are willing to accept.
Tip – Avoid a situation where the dealer agrees on a price and then suggests you keep the vehicle until a few days prior to your departure. Whilst this might seem a generous offer, it inevitably leads to the dealer ‘noticing a problem’ with the car and reducing their offer dramatically. If you only have a few days left in the country, you may not have another option.
Whichever option you take, once you have received payment in full from the buyer, you transfer the car (see details below) by visiting one of the may Road & Transport Authority (RTA) centers dotted around the country.
Tip – encourage the buyer to meet you in the morning. The RTA centers are much busier in the afternoons and particularly in the evenings.
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I have a bank loan on my car, what's the process for selling?
Many people purchased their car with a bank loan which they repay over a number of monthly payments. UAE law interprets this as; the car belongs to the bank until all payments have been cleared by you. So you need to deal with this before you sell the car. Once you pay the balance due to the bank, they will inform the RTA who will clear the loan from their system. The RTA will confirm the procedure is complete via SMS to the owner (note this may take up to 48 hours).
Tip – It is a good idea to obtain the RTA test certificate at this stage – it will be required at the time of selling and transferring ownership of the vehicle. This will cost AED 120 and will be valid for 30 days.
How do I transfer ownership of my car in the UAE?
The seller needs to be present at the time of transfer (bring original Emirates ID and the test certificate).
The buyer should bring original and copies of:
- Emirates ID
- UAE driving license
- Insurance cover for the vehicle
- Passport with residence visa stamp
- The registration fees (330 AED) should be paid by the buyer.
Can someone sell the car on my behalf?
It is possible to grant power of attorney to an individual to essentially sell the car and transfer ownership on your behalf. The added benefit of this is the authorised party can deal with other areas of your affairs if required. However, bear in mind, this needs to be set up, complete translated documents in Arabic along with lengthy governmental paperwork and will take some time to initialise.
Make sure there are no outstanding fines on the vehicle and obviously ensure there are no unpaid loans. This should clear the way for your appointed representative to proceed if you are travelling or in some other way unavailable.
I need to sell my car in order to pay off my loan – what do I do?
Essentially you need to confirm with your bank the final amount due which pays off the loan including any early settlement penalties. Once this is established, sign a ‘seller’s agreement’ which allows the buyer to transfer the car to his/her name, once the loan has been cleared in the RTA system.
Take the buyer to your bank and ensure he/she brings cash. The buyer pays you and you either a). clear the loan completely or b). top up the amount with your own cash. Once the bank clears the loan form the RTA system, you will be notified via SMS, (this normally takes a couple of days), and the buyer is free to register the car.
For a more detailed explanation and an alternative solution, check out this very informative blog on Car Switch.
How do I close down a bank account in the UAE?
Clearing all debt before you leave the UAE is obviously very important. But equally, properly cancelling your UAE Bank account needs to be treated seriously since many banks charge monthly fees which can, albeit a small amount, leave you with a potential problem in the event you visit or transit through the country in years to come.
Here are some guidelines, and whilst it is acknowledged policies may differ, these suggestions would generally apply to most banks.
Firstly it is wise to start the process of cancelling any debt connected to the account. This would include credit cards, loans, overdrafts, car loans, mortgages etc. This can take time, (potentially weeks), so give yourself sufficient time in order to complete this.
Once this is done, withdraw the remaining funds from your account. Visit the teller to do this regardless of the remaining balance you need to withdraw.
At the same time inform the teller you wish to complete a bank account closure form. Make sure you have at hand your original passport and Emirates ID.
Request a clearance letter from the bank stating the account has been closed/cancelled. Your employer may ask you to provide one of these.
Keep copies of any documents you may have relating to finalised loans/closed accounts.
Ensure you have sufficient amounts of cash to tide you over until you leave. As a rule of thumb, it is good to calculate your total anticipated expenditure and then double it.
To be absolutely safe, you may want to check with the police that there are no outstanding cases of unpaid debt connected to you. This eliminates the chance anything has been inadvertently overlooked.