Most of us will leave Dubai eventually and, when we do, there will be a good many issues that we will need to deal with. But knowing what you need to do and working through a list can make a daunting process easier, as financial expert Keren Bobker explains…

Planning well ahead

Assuming you will move with more than just a suitcase, you will need to ship your possessions. The costs and service will vary between removal companies, so shop around and get recommendations. The lowest quote may not be the best and it is important to pay for comprehensive insurance. The removal company should take an inventory of your possessions but it is best to do this yourself too.

If you’re not returning to your home country, you should ensure you are aware of the customs regulations of your destination. Some countries require you to register and complete paperwork in advance of shipping and failure to do so can be costly.

If you have pets to transport, you must keep their vaccination records up to date, especially as some need to be done several months ahead of a move. Not all airlines will transport all pets year round so for this, and for importation rules generally, you’ll need to do a little homework. It is possible to handle it yourself, but you may find it easier to engage a pet relocation specialist.

If you want to break a tenancy early, you will need to negotiate with your landlord unless you have pre-agreed break clauses in your tenancy agreement. Many contracts specify a penalty for leaving early, which will be deducted from any refund.

If you own a property, will you keep it or sell it?

For anyone who has their own business in the UAE, there are steps that must be taken to cancel the trade licence. The exact requirements depend on the nature of the company and where it is registered, but expect to pay substantial fees.

Review your investments to ensure you will not end up with tax liabilities in your new country of residence.

A few weeks before you leave

If you have children, you will need to notify their school or nursery that you are leaving, and of his or her last day. The school should issue final report cards, education and immunisation certificates, but may need a little time to prepare this. These will usually be required when registering for a new school.

If you don’t want to take furniture or other goods with you, there are many places to sell them, especially online, but it can be time consuming.

If you employ any domestic staff, you must give them notice and will need to cancel their sponsorship. You will have to visit immigration and both the sponsor and maid must have their original passports with them along with other relevant paperwork. A new sponsor can employ the individual at this time.

If you need a Police Clearance Certificate now is the time to organise it, whilst you still have your Emirates ID card.

Shortly before you go

Residency visas should be properly cancelled before departure. Dubai visas are handled by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. An employer’s PRO should handle this, but you may need to deal with dependents’ visas yourself. These can be cancelled at the government office at the Al Manara Centre, usually taking just 30 minutes. There is a 30-day grace period after visa cancellation to exit the UAE, although if you hold a passport that permits a visa on arrival, you will have the option to do a ‘visa run’ if you need to stay a little longer.

Close utility and phone accounts. In order to get your Dewa deposit back your, account needs to be closed, and disconnection and settling a final bill usually takes two to three days. Be aware that your account can be cancelled within just a couple of hours of the request to cancel. Deposits can now be paid directly to a bank account.

Your Ejari should be cancelled as it does not expire automatically. Your landlord ought to handle this, but not all will do so.

You will likely want to sell your car, but if you have an outstanding loan it must be repaid in full before you can transfer ownership. Your bank has a process you must follow and you need to allow up to two weeks for this to be finalised.

Don’t forget to cancel your Salik tag and pay any outstanding traffic fines.

You may want to close your bank account if you do not plan to return. This is not essential, but if you want to retain it the type of account may need to change and you will have to use it at least once every six months to stop it being frozen. Any empty account is not a closed account, and may be subject to ongoing charges, so you should obtain written confirmation of closure from the bank.

Other issues

Keep copies of all documentation and back this up by saving copies to an email account you can access from anywhere. You never know when you might need something, and soft copies with information will often suffice. Once a bank account has been closed you will have great difficulty in obtaining statements, so download them in good time.

For any life assurance policies, you should inform the insurance company of a new address for cover to remain valid.

Depending on numerous factors, including where you are moving to, your nationality, investments held and property owned, you may have tax considerations. Moving part way through a tax year can land you with a bill if not done right, so it is important to take professional advice regarding potential liabilities. This is something to be considered as far ahead
as possible.

Some of the points may seem trivial but it is better to close all accounts properly to avoid potential fines and other problems should you return to the UAE. Whatever your reason for leaving, planning the process will lead to a smoother and easier departure.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser who specialises in advising expats about sensible money management.