Sooner or later, most of us will move out completely from the UAE and prepare to start the next chapter of our lives elsewhere. If this prospect is now before you, read on.
First, relax! The UAE has a sophisticated system that allows you to conveniently execute many of the steps online or via phone help lines.
Broadly speaking, I had to concern myself with the following five parties / areas, and chances are these apply to you as well:
- My employer
- My landlord (actually, my real estate agent)
- Various utilities & service providers (DEWA, gas provider, district cooling company)
- My local bank
- My household stuff
Factors that made my exit easier were that I have no children, didn’t own a car, knew of my exit from Dubai several months in advance, and went from my vacated apartment into an employer-arranged accommodation before I finally proceeded to the airport.
To give you a rough idea about when you should start each step, I have given an approximate time reference (‘T minus X’, where ‘T’ is your planned date of departure, and ‘X’ is the number of days prior to departure) when you should consider initiating that step.
Area 1: Process with the Employer
- T minus 30: Resign! Email your boss, copying HR, informing him of your final work date. I did this around two months prior, even though I was contractually obliged to serve a 30-day notice.
- T minus 21: Prepare the handover. Start preparing your handover notes. In my case, this step also required training my replacement.
- T minus 21: Learn how and when you are to receive end-of-service benefits. Ask HR. This information will help you plan for any dues you may receive, manage any overseas fund transfers, and close your bank account. And if you need an experience letter, make sure you get this from them now.
- T minus 21: Cancel your UAE visa. It takes 5 to 7 working days for the visa to be cancelled, so keep in mind you won’t be able to travel out of the UAE in this period. To begin this process, submit your passport, emirates ID and labor card to HR.
Ensure you keep scanned copies of the iD page of your passport, just in case you need this while your passport is away.Once your visa is cancelled, I had a 30-day grace period to exit the UAE. Please note that you cannot travel out and return to the UAE on your cancelled visa.
Area 2: Process with the landlord
- T minus 90: Serve notice. Do this by email. Always have written records.
- T minus 5: Schedule your apartment inspection. This is usually mandatory and helps the landlord assess how much he should charge you for any damage that may have occurred during your stay. The inspection itself is a 10-minute process; at its end, the inspector may give you a fair idea about the amount that would be deducted from your security deposit for the required repairs.
- T minus 0: Give up the apartment. This includes emptying the apartment and handing over the keys / access cards to the real estate agent/ or any other individual they may authorize.
- T plus 5: Collect your security deposit. Once you have settled all your final utility bills and proof of payment, scan and email them to your real estate agent. After a few days, they should inform you that your security deposit refund check is ready for collection.
Area 3: Say bye-bye bank!
This process mostly applies if you are planning to permanently close your bank account in the UAE before departure.
- T minus 60: Prepare for funds transfer. Your account with your UAE bank will likely have money coming in during your final days in the country (final salary, gratuity, etc.). Give a thought about how you will transfer the funds offshore.
- T minus 60: Prepare for account closing. Note that most banks in the UAE require you to be present in person at their branch while closing your account. It isn’t something you can do via the phone or email.
- T minus 60: Prepare for your incoming final salary. On receiving the final salary, most banks in the UAE will freeze your account temporarily to the extent of your outstanding loans or your credit limit, IF you have any active loans or credit card with them. This is why you need the following step.
- Clear off all your loans and consider cancelling your credit card. Clear all your bank loans and consider cancelling your credit card at least a week before your final salary comes in. (My bank informed me that in case my account was frozen, the bank could easily unfreeze the account in 2 working days once I had settled all their outstanding dues.)
- T minus 2: Close bank account. Just days prior to my flight out of the UAE, I closed my bank account in the UAE permanently. Before I did this, I transferred offshore all my funds (gratuity, final salary included), so the account was empty. As I’ve already said, closure of the account will require you to visit the branch in person.
Area 4: Tackle your household items
This is a complex process and requires advance planning.
- T minus 60: Assess all your belongings, if possible, two months in advance. Keep in mind the following mantra: THROW, GIVE, SELL, WRAP.
THROW what is utterly useless, GIVE away stuff that can be re-used by others, SELL stuff that has some market value, and WRAP the stuff you wish to carry.
- T minus 60: Decide on the key questions. Is it practical – effort wise and cost wise – to ship stuff out? Are there any customs / duties / documentation that you may have to handle? Is it worth hiring professional movers? Understand your options.
I decided I would sell most of my furniture and appliances, taking back only smaller items of higher value) in my check-in luggage.
- T minus 55: List & categorize all your belongings. For example, my stuff fell under five broad categories.
- Furniture (sofas, beds, tables, chairs)
- Kitchen appliances (fridge, washing machines, ovens, crockery)
- Accessories (electronics such as TVs,, laptops, tablets, DVDs and books.
- Fixtures (drapes, bed sheets, towels)
T minus 14: Get on to Dubizzle. This is a good option and worked for me. Setting up the Dubizzle account in a few, easy steps using their dedicated app. Simply photograph each item, uploaded the photo, write a small description including the expected price. Activate your classified. Rinse and repeat.
A few tips to sell better on Dubizzle that should make your life easier:
- List your stuff in two phases, whereby you sell your non-essentials first (such as that extra set of crockery, the spare sofa set, or the table you hardly use) and reserve the essentials to be sold last (such as your bed, fridge, microwave, blender etc.)
– Phase 1 listing should be done earlier (say, T minus 10) – Phase 2 should be done closer to your date of vacating the apartment (say T minus 4)
- Activate your classifieds over a weekend or a holiday. You will need to focus on the (hopefully) plentiful customer queries that will immediately come your way.
- Wherever possible, include dimensions and specs of the listed item.
- Upload good, clear pictures of the entire item, with a view of the interior, if applicable.
- In the classified, make it clear that all interested parties need to make their own pick-up arrangements to collect the items from your apartment.
- Certain kitchen appliances may need prior physical disconnection. For example, your gas oven or your washing machine.
- Do prepare yourself for some funny Dubizzle enquiries. I had one interested party asking me to send him pictures of my wall mirror from different angles!
- Accept only cash; give away nothing on credit, unless you are know the party very well or are prepared to lose your money.
- Make it clear that it’s “first come, first served.” Be careful of parties that promise to “take the entire lot, but next week, please!” Decline such offers, unless you know the party very well.
- For all leftover stuff, there are companies that take junk. TakeMyJunk is one such company that come and take away your junk for free, but the downside is that they may not pay you any scrap money for it.
Area 5: Settle final bills with all utilities and service companies
All utilities and service companies have help lines. Contacting such help lines should be your starting point. They explain the entire process to you, and are quite helpful.
With each utility or service you deal with, you will, more or less, undergo three steps:
- Schedule a service disconnection date;
- Request a final bill and make final payment
- Recover your security deposit, if there is any.
- T minus 31: Call up their help line. They will direct you to the nearest DEWA office, where you need to submit your photo-ID and state the date on which you want the service disconnected.
Think about this date beforehand, because you will likely need your electricity connection right up to the last day in your apartment.
- In 2 to 3 working days following your DEWA disconnection, they will email you the final bill. With your photo-id (or copy), walk into your local DEWA office where they will stamp your bill as “paid”, and refund your security deposit, if any.
With Lootah BCGas
Only a qualified technician appointed by your gas service provider should be allowed to make the disconnection process.
- Call up the helpline. They will direct you to write an email in which you need to raise a request for final bill and inform them the date by which you want the gas disconnected.
- They will soon call you to schedule a time when their representative can visit your apartment and disconnect the gas.
- A few days after disconnection, you will receive an email advising you on your final bill amount, and the amount of security deposit (if any) that would be refunded at their nearest office. You will need to walk-in with your ID proof to collect your bill acknowledgement and your refund.
For Du Home Service
By this I mean my land-line, my broadband and my TV services.
- T minus 3: Call up their helpline, and place a request for service disconnection on the date you require.
- Within a day or two, you will receive a call from them confirming your request and advising you of imminent disconnection.
- Because I wanted to recycle my modem, phone, settop box and remote, I handed over my old equipment to the nearest Du office when I went there to settle my final bill and recover the refund.
With Palm Utilities
This step assumes that you are being billed for the air cooling – not your landlord.
- T minus 15 days. Call up their helpline, requesting a disconnection. You will be required to settle the last generated bill that is closest to your requested date. After making online payment of this bill, print out your payment receipt.
- Write to customer care, informing them that you have cleared your last bill, and that you need your name deleted from their records. This will ensure that the next bill is generated in the landlord’s name, not yours.
As a final step, scan and email of all your final bills to your landlord. This will enable him to release your security deposit money.
Congratulations! You made it! Hope these guidelines were helpful, even though your circumstances are likely to be different from mine! Wishing you all the best in your next stage in life!