Can unpaid UAE telecoms bill lead to travel ban?

Keren Bobker advises a worker on the consequences of an unpaid telecommunications bill.

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Will I receive a travel ban from the immigration department because I have not paid a bill with a UAE telecommunications provider? PP, Abu Dhabi

The simple non-payment of a bill cannot result in an immediate travel ban; the system is more complicated than that. If an individual fails to pay a bill, such as for a utility company, the first step is for the company to chase for payment, and if none is forthcoming the service will be cancelled. They will continue to try to collect the monies owed, following up with the individual several times. If there is no communication and no payment forthcoming, the company can then take action against the individual. Any creditor can choose to register a police case for non-payment of a bill or bouncing a cheque, but companies, such as a telecommunications provider, are only likely to do so where the amount owed is substantial. When a police case for debt is registered against an individual, that person will usually be contacted by the police so that they have an option to settle any debts before the matter goes further. Information can be passed to the Department of Immigration, but in many cases must also be subject to a court hearing before a decision is made as to the course of action and whether a ban will be applied or there is any other penalty. This can mean that a person attempting to leave the UAE can be prevented from leaving and detained until the matter is resolved. In all cases, it is best to make arrangement to repay bills, loans and credit cards to avoid potential serious consequences.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.