World events like COVID-19 can mean personal circumstances change suddenly and the plans of many of those working overseas are impacted. Now expats in the United Arab Emirates are planning to return home earlier than expected and leaving the UAE.
For anyone preparing to leave the UAE, there are costs and fees associated with an early departure that you might not be aware of. Here are some tips on how to avoid them and unexpected costs you might overlook:
Know your timeline
Setting a departure date and planning back from your remaining time in the UAE will be important. Maybe now is not the time to buy a car or sign a new phone contract if you might need to move home sooner than expected. Also due to COVID-19 restrictions, ensure you are free to travel home or to a new country. Find out what quarantine obligations are in that place with which you must comply with when you arrive.
For example, do you need to start saving for the cost of an Airbnb or a hotel (if hotels are open there) to stay in when you arrive? How long will you need to stay in quarantine? If you are transporting household items and furniture, do you need to send these earlier to have them arrive in time? Are there new requirements for people travelling with pets from the UAE?
Renting? Give sufficient notice
Renters in the UAE must give written notice of at least 90 days in advance of when they intend to move out. If they are unable to simply transfer the lease over to a new tenant and have to break their lease to leave before the 90 days are up, the landlord and/or agency can choose to enforce clauses in their contract in accordance with the rules of the tenancy board for renters in that emirate.
Such clauses may include renters having to forfeit their security deposit or will having to continue to pay rent on the apartment for the remainder of their notice period. Don’t forget, even if you give plenty of notice and leave on good terms, you have to ensure you meet the requirements of the lease in order to get back your security deposit in full. This can also mean paying for minor paint work, repairs or professional cleaning services.
Selling furniture or household items online before you leave could help recoup any costs you have to incur to get the property looking its best.
TIP: Ensure your tenancy is fully cancelled with the authorities so as not lead to problems when you are leaving the country. If you have provided rent cheques until the end of 2020 or longer, make sure they are returned to you or the agency that arranged your lease. Also, ensure you get email or visual confirmation that you have been removed as a tenant from the “Ejari” or tenancy board of that emirate.
Disconnect utilities the right way
Request a final bill from your electricity and water supplier and let them know when you intend to disconnect. Don’t forget to ask for a deposit cheque back if paid (save the original receipt of payment) and request a clearance certificate once your bills are all paid so there are no issues at the airport when you are leaving or if you return in the future, even for a holiday. Cancellation can be done online or in customer centers that are open to appointments or walk-ins .
When leaving the UAE, check if there is more to the process to deactivate water and electricity in your particular municipality. For instance, do you need a clearance certificate from that municipality for the disconnection to show that you have ended your tenancy contract first?
TIP: there could be fees to disconnect from the grid. For example, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) charges a nominal fee of AED 100 towards disconnecting small meters and AED 300 for large meters. In addition, there are also charges to complete the disconnection including the government Innovation Fee (AED10) and the Knowledge Fee (AED10).
For an express disconnection service like with Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA), you will need to pay 100 AED for cancellation and 100 AED for your deposit cheque if you want it to be arranged quickly and sent to you that same day.
With a CurrencyFair, you can securely exchange AED to over 20 currencies at lower-margin rates.
Settle your bills before leaving the UAE
Evidence of non-payment of a debt when leaving the UAE can lead to an arrest and even a prison sentence. To avoid being stopped at the airport or having to pay hefty fines, expats preparing to leave the UAE should:
Repay loans and close all active credit cards
Leave with no outstanding balances or liabilities Clear outstanding balances on your bank accounts, TV, internet, water, electricity and phone plans and close the accounts in full
Confirm what services you need to disconnect in person or online and if clearance certificates are needed to complete disconnection
Close your bank accounts and cancel standing orders in good time and ensure there are no additional fees to pay before you leave.
REMINDER: Having a cheque bounce on your UAE bank account can lead to criminal prosecution in the UAE.
So make sure closing your bank account in the UAE is done so correctly, read tips on where to start to do it the right way here.
Cancel your visa before leaving the UAE
Once you plan to leave the UAE, inform your employer in writing and in person. The process of cancelling your visa as well as your dependents’ visas will then begin. Be aware – you may have to hand over your passport (temporarily) while your visa is cancelled so ensure you have a copy of your passport saved to use during this time.
Residents have 30 days to leave the UAE after their residence visa has been cancelled. Staying in the UAE after this time could lead to large fines and problems reentering the UAE in the future.
Tips to keep money transfers stress-free
Exchange rates rise and fall throughout a trading day. Tools to manage the financial uncertainty brought about by these market fluctuations enable expats anywhere to manage, plan and save. Consider using these to help you save time, save money, reduce the stress of leaving the UAE and to gain control of your money transfers especially in the uncertain times.
CurrencyFair offers ways for expats in the UAE to gain control of their international money transfers:
Rate Alerts: allows customers to be notified of when their favourite currency pairings are at their desired rate
Our peer-to-peer marketplace allows customers to exchange with other customers at even better rates
When relocating some costs are overlooked. However there are no nasty surprises with a CurrencyFair account. A transparent flat-rate fee for all transfers means more control of FX costs
Easily access your account on any device, at any time, even if you’ve moved to another country
A multilingual team that offers 24/7 world-class support from real people
Access our platform from any device at any time.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from CurrencyFair Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
The gov.uk website for British citizens in the UAE
The website for the Australian Embassy in the UAE
The website for the Irish embassy in the UAE website
The website for the German embassy Abu Dhabi website