Now, pay your bank dues at immigration

Now, pay your bank dues at immigration

UAE residents have expressed elation at the introduction of a new electronic pay-as-you-go system that clears unpaid credit card bills and loans, which in the past had prevented people from leaving the country due to travel bans.

By Lily B. Libo-on

Published: Sun 24 Mar 2013, 9:48 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:29 AM

Launched this week by the Dubai Court and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), in cooperation with the Dubai Police and Emirates NBD, the service provides residents with the opportunity to clear any financial claims against them at the immLily B. Libo-on igration counter before boarding their flight.

Francis Sese, an expatriate working in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times that the new system will be very helpful to all expatriates who are exiting the country: “People can leave without any hassle provided they pay their obligations first... at the place of departure.”

Lilibeth Resurreccion lauded the police and the immigration department for introducing the new system as it will enable residents to clear their travel ban instantly on departure without having to go to the court and avoiding a jail-term: “Travel bans have stopped people from going home as scheduled. Many have not been able to (leave due to) emergencies because the immigration stops them from leaving and turns them over to the police where they are languishing in jail for days before they are able to clear (their debt) with the banks.”

However, residents are hoping that the banks will update their records. Sese said banks need to do their part in updating and informing the people of their payable status in order for them to be aware and be ready to pay and avoid further financial surprises. “Also, banks should update immigration and other authorities so that records will be updated to avoid misinformation.”

He recalled an incident some years back where he was stopped at immigration and turned over to the police because his bank did not update the authorities that he had paid his bills earlier: “It was humiliating and it took me three days to follow up with the court, the police and the bank to update my records. And the bank representative simply said “sorry” for the failure to update the information. A friend bailed me out (in the) meantime so I could be released from jail and follow up with the bank. It was very humiliating. I was travelling with my wife, and she was crying when she left the airport alone, and I was whisked away by police officers.”

Cecille Alcaraz is another Dubai resident who welcomed the pay-as-you-go system: “This new system is really very helpful. People can leave at once with a clean record. But, banks should see to it that their records are updated and inform the authorities of the same, so that when residents transact with other banks, they will not encounter any problems at all.”

The new system will enable a traveller with a travel ban to approach the immigration counter during which the officer issues a letter reflecting the outstanding amount, which is then sent to the bank’s counter at the airport along with the case file number and the amount to be paid.

As a procedure, two copies of the payment receipt are made, one is kept with the bank for record while the other is sent to the immigration counter where the payment details are matched with the case file. After verification, the payment receipt is sent to the Dubai Police who then lift the travel ban, allowing the person to board the flight.

Egyptian Mohammed Ali said that at least the new system is an alternative to all court hassles.

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