Leaving Dubai for good? 8 things expats need to do before the big move

From paying off fines to cancelling visas and selling cars, here's a checklist that can help


Kirstin Bernabe

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Published: Sat 25 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 6:11 PM

Dubai is home to millions of expats from around the world. While some fly in with hopes of living in the emirate for as long as they can, there are those who find their 'forever home' elsewhere.

Choosing to leave or stay is a big decision, especially for those who have embraced the Dubai life for decades. But once you have made up your mind, you'll have to find time to settle all obligations before packing years' worth of memories into cargo boxes.

Some things on this to-do list can be done within a few minutes but others may take months — thus, it's best to create a timeline and make sure everything is covered.

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From visa cancellations and terminating contracts to selling your car, here's a checklist of eight things you need to do before leaving the emirate for good:

Cancel your residence visa

This step seals the deal — indicating that you are, indeed, making the big move. If you are employed, only your company can cancel your visa. You won't be able to do it on your own. You will be asked to sign a letter that confirms you have received your salary and all end-of-service benefits.

If you're sponsoring your family, however, you will have to cancel their visas —either through an Amer centre or online. Remember that this must be done before your own visa's cancellation is processed.

Terminate your rent contract

If you're leaving at the time of your rental contract's expiry, this process would be a breeze. However, if you won't be able to finish your contract, you'll have to negotiate terms with your landlord. Usually, extra fees are paid for early termination.

Once that is done, your Ejari or tenancy contract should be officially cancelled in the government's system. Some landlords would do this for tenants but if you have to do on your own, you may log into the Dubai Land Department's website and access the online service.

Settle utility bills, disconnect services

Have you paid your last Dewa bill? Get a final bill from Dewa, pay the amount, and make sure that you apply for disconnection of services. Here's how.

Clear all fines, debts

Nope, you cannot just leave fines and other financial obligations behind. These will pop up in the authorities' systems as you pass through immigration on your way out of the emirate. The good thing is that checking and settling these dues can be done in a few clicks.

On the website of the Dubai Police, you will be able to see if there are any fines you have to pay. Go to the 'Services' tab and under 'Traffic Services', click 'Fine Inquiry and Payment'. You'll just have to enter details like your vehicle plate number or licence number.

Close your bank account, cancel your credit cards

Avoid problems — as well as unnecessary fees and penalties — in the future by closing your bank account, cancelling your credit cards, and clearing your loans. Don't forget to secure a clearance letter or an official 'closure' letter.

Here's a quick guide to closing a bank account, including rules you have to take note of.

Cancel mobile plans

Your postpaid mobile plan is one of the contracts you signed during your stay in Dubai — hence, you'll have to officially terminate it, too. Forgetting to do this step may result in unpaid bills piling up under your name. The process varies from one provider to another, here's a step-by-step guide for Etisalat, Du, and Virgin Mobile users.

Arrange shipments, pet relocation

All the sorting and packing involved when moving homes within the city is already overwhelming — how much more when you're relocating out of the country? Organising things and putting them all in bags and boxes would take time, so do this well in advance.

Once you decide which 'big' possessions (perhaps a piece of furniture with sentimental value or a smart kitchen appliance you can't let go of) are going into your 'keep-and-ship' box, contact a movers and logistics company who can arrange the shipment.

If you have pets, there are service providers who can help your with all the paperwork, as well as the transport of your fur babies.

Sell your car, furniture, items you won't bring

While some ship their cars home or to the country they are moving to, others prefer to sell it. In case you're letting the vehicle go, ensure that its registration is transferred to the new owner's name. Click here for a guide.

Furniture, appliances, and other items that still have some life left in them could be sold in a number of ways — online or on-site. Here's how.


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