Leaving the UAE: Cancelling visas, paying debts, closing bank accounts, tax, farewell

You've enjoyed your time in the Emirates but decided it is time to say goodbye, so what now?

Tips for a smooth exit if you're moving out of the UAE

Tips for a smooth exit if you're moving out of the UAE
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Even though it is now possible to retire in the UAE through the Golden Pension scheme, not everyone will choose to remain in the country for the rest of their lives.

If you have decided to head home, or are simply leaving for a new adventure, there are a number of things to consider before booking your flight out of the Emirates.

Cancelling visas

It's important to properly cancel your visa, rather than just letting it expire.

Otherwise, you could face problems when attempting to re-enter the country on a visit visa as a conflict will be shown in the immigration system.

It is not complicated for a sponsor to cancel a residency visa and they can do so in any of the main Immigration Department branches of the emirate in which the visa was issued.

The sponsor needs their own passport as well as the passport belonging to the person they sponsor, although it can be done with a copy if the person has already left the UAE. The charges will include typing fees and amount to a few hundred Dirhams. You will have to hand over your Emirates ID card as the identity card is linked to the visa.

Under new rules that came into effect in 2022, residency visa holders have up to a six-month grace period to either leave the country or change their status once the permit has either been cancelled or expired.

Recovering your deposit

The UAE has strict laws stipulating that landlords should return the deposit if the tenant has not damaged the property.

Normal wear and tear is allowed, and should not mean the deposit is forfeited.

However, many tenants have experienced difficulties recovering their deposits in practice.

Here's our guide on how best to obtain your deposit from a landlord in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Paying off debt

Before you close your bank account, make sure all loans and credit cards are cleared and no money is left owing. Be sure to request a no-liability letter from the bank.

This should be done as soon as possible as the process to close the bank account can only begin once the no liability letter is received.

Closing bank accounts

People leaving the UAE should clear their dues and close their bank accounts before exiting the country.

Most banks require that you visit a branch in person to initiate the account closure request. If you are abroad, some lenders allow you to apply for account closure from your registered email address.

Some banks automatically freeze the gratuity payment due to the limit on a customer’s credit card, regardless of whether they have any payments owed or not. They may also place a lien equal to the outstanding loan amount on the gratuity payout.

As soon as the employer issues a clearance letter, the bank will release the gratuity payment and the amount will be credited to the customer’s account.

However, if you settle all dues, both with the employer and the bank, you should gain access to your gratuity payout.

Withdraw all your funds from the account you are closing. Banks can only close an account with a zero balance.

Your bank account should be closed within three to five working days from the date you request it. Customers can close their bank account in the UAE free of charge.

Ending tenancy

Check the fine print of your tenancy contract to ensure you are aware of any notice period you are required to give to your landlord if deciding to vacate the property.

While it can vary, tenants are often required to give 90 days' notice of their decision to not renew the lease. Failure to do so could lead to a landlord insisting the tenancy contract rolls over, leading to unwanted hassle and potential legal wrangles.

If you are leaving the country suddenly and need to cancel your tenancy early, there could be financial penalties to pay.

The industry norm is for a landlord to be compensated when a tenant needs to cancel the contract early. The penalty is usually between one and two months’ rent.

Maintaining a good relationship with the landlord can prove helpful in finding an amicable solution to such situations.

School transfer certificate

Your children's new school may require a record of their education.

A transfer certificate or record of education can be obtained from the Minister of Education or the school authorities in different emirates including KHDA, ADEK or SPEA.

Tax check

One of the many benefits of living in the UAE is the largely tax-free lifestyle. However, that does not mean that once you move on, there won't still be taxes to pay.

Consult with either a tax adviser or a lawyer specialising in tax from your home country – or where ever you are moving to – to check there are no measures you need to take before exiting the UAE.

After several years of living in the low-tax environment of the Emirates, it would be unwise to jet off without first assessing your tax liability.

A UAE resident should consider taking tax advice between 18 months to two years before they move.

Pets and cargo

Whether you arrived with a beloved pet, or you adopted one of the many in need of a home in the UAE, when it's time to go you definitely need to consider both the logistics and cost of relocating your pet.

Fortunately, by bringing a pet to the UAE you should already be in possession of a pet passport, and they are not hard to obtain for any rescue animals.

Ticking off the bucket list

Leaving any country is a big decision, and you'll want to make sure you've sampled what the UAE has to offer before you relocate.

If you can find time amid the logistics, take the opportunity to make some final memories enjoying activities across the Emirates.

From skiing in the desert to the world's fastest rollercoasters, check out our bucket list of the 30 must-do experiences in the UAE.

See you soon …

We hope this has helped you with everything you need to say farewell to the Emirates. Have a look at the previous guides in our series in case you have any friends and family undergoing the same journey to the UAE – or perhaps you plan to return.

Previous guides:

Before Moving to the UAE

Just Arrived in the UAE

First Month in the UAE

Settling in the UAE

Updated: September 11, 2023, 1:02 PM