Leaving the UAE – Part 2

In part 2 of our series Leaving the UAE we look at cancelling your residence visa.
Click here for Part 1

Canceling a residence visa

If you are moving from the UAE on a permanent basis it is important to ensure both your labor card and residence visa are officially canceled. This also applies to any family members and dependants. In fact it is illegal to permanently leave the UAE without canceling both and can affect your ability to return to the UAE or the wider Gulf region.

Under normal circumstances, your employer will arrange cancelation 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/dependants 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.

Assuming your company PRO does not get involved and you intend to cancel your visa yourself, there are two ways to do this.

In Person

Stage 1

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.

Stage 2

  1. Your sponsor initiates cancelation 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.
  2. Bring documents including your original passport and Emirates ID card, (and any dependants), 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.
  3. Inform the official at the typing office you wish to cancel, (your dependent’s visas first) and then your visa.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Stage 3

  1. As soon as the cancelation application has been signed by both parties, you need to visit the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA).  Directions are mentioned below.
  2. Ideally, you should visit the GDRFA office which initially issued your residence visa.
  3. Again – ensure you have your original passport and Emirates ID card in addition to a copy of the sponsor’s passport and visa page.
  4. 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.


It is now possible to initiate the cancelation of residency online.

To finalise the cancelation, you will need to visit the GDRFA with your original passport and Emirates ID immediately after submitting your application.

Click here to start an application online


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.