Leaving the UAE – Part 3

In the third part of our series Leaving the UAE, we look at the process of closing bank accounts and also the potential minefield of selling your car. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Is it worth Selling your CAR?

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.

  1. Is your vehicle permitted to be imported to your destination country? Are there any restrictions such as engine size/type. Steering wheel position (left/right), or is the age of the car an issue?
  2. 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!
  3. Many countries will allow you to import vehicles which you have owned and used for 6 months.
  4. The additional cost of shipping the vehicle.
  5. 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.

Read more about shipping your vehicle

Selling my car – I own my car with no loan, what is the process?

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 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 RTA centres 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.

Selling my car – I still have a bank loan against the car, what is the process?

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.

Transferring ownership

Seller needs to be present at the time of transfer (bring original Emirates ID and the test certificate).

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.

Tip – Make sure there are no outstanding fines. You can check the status of this using the Police App IOS and Android

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.


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 a sufficient time from 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 eradicates the chance anyone or anything has been inadvertently overlooked.

Leaving the UAE – Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.