Your Ultimate Guide To Leaving Dubai in 2020

They say “All good things must come to an end”. Regardless of your circumstances, preparing to leave Dubai is hectic; with several loose ends to tie spanning your professional and family life.

So what does leaving Dubai involve? Where do you start?

The secret to leaving Dubai is to identify and prioritise the tasks you are faced with and make certain everything you need to accomplish is progressing smoothly and concurrently. This is important because certain goals are often intertwined with related tasks being fully completed? So if you want to avoid being bounced around read on for your Ultimate Guide for leaving Dubai.

Let’s start by taking a look at home life.

Rental Agreement

How do I cancel my rent and utilities in Dubai?

If your home is rented or leased, you will need to resolve a number of matters before officially departing from the UAE.

The first issue is to clarify exactly when your current rental contract runs its due to expire, and whether there are any unusual conditions which may apply. Under normal circumstances, you will likely be presented with three likely options.

1. See out your current contract

Ideally, the end of your rental contract matches your planned departure date.

Generally, you will need to provide written notice, (60 or 90 days prior to the end of the contract), to the landlord that you intend to vacate your home, making it clear you will not renew the contract, (the real estate company will normally handle this on your behalf).

2. Cancelling your contract early

The more likely scenario is a person may not be afforded 3 months notice in advance of an international move, and this means through no fault of their own they are unable to provide 90 days notice to their landlord in violation of the contract.

Sadly, residential laws in the UAE do not cover early contract termination with absolute clarity. The tenancy contract will make reference to penalties for exit clauses. It’s likely to be a two or three months rent penalty.

Individual circumstances might apply here, but this a good stage to try and speak face to face if you can with the landlord, the real estate company might be able to facilitate this.

Many landlords might be flexible; however, they are not obliged legally to compromise, so get into negotiation mode and try to hammer out an amicable solution.

Irjari is a contract between the tenant and the landlord, disputes can often can be referred to this document.

3. Look for a replacement tenant

If option 2 fails and the landlord is not too understanding, (this is not uncommon), there is always the final option. You might be fortunate enough to find a new tenant, perhaps a friend or co-worker who is able to move into your home immediately upon, or soon after your departure.

Some landlords may be willing to disregard any outstanding payments if you introduce someone who is willing to take on the rent, ensuring the landlord will not be out of pocket.

In this scenario, you need to transfer the agreement officially with the relevant authorities and make certain any post-dated cheques and/or deposits are returned.

So, hopefully, that's the rent situation sorted out. Now let’s focus on the other issues related to closing down your home, which you need to deal with before leaving the UAE.

  • Pay off and cancel all utilities (look below for more detail). Ensure you obtain certification/receipts confirming the cancellation and collect any deposits which are due

  • Cancel mobile, internet and cable TV services. Get receipts and deposits.

  • Cancel Ejari - Your tenancy contract is registered in a government portal known as Ejari. It is very important to clear the record from the Ejari system (this is done online through a portal). A screenshot is the usual method. Failure to do this can be really problematic since your personal details will be legally linked to the property until the record is cancelled.

  • Hand your house/apartment back in good condition – Patch up any holes, clean or even repaint marks from walls, repair any wear and tear about the property. Leaving this to the landlord is likely to attract a huge bill which will be deducted from any deposit you are due, so it is highly advisable to attend to this personally or bring in a handyman to complete the work. This is by far the more cost-effective option.

  • Get your deposit back, and handover keys – The real estate company will most probably deal with this on your behalf. Do not forget to get back any post-dated cheques which may be required if the contract has been prematurely terminated.

And of course, do not forget the three vital documents that no intrepid tenant should be without

  1. Copies of your passport (lots of them)
  2. Copies of your Emirates ID
  3. A ‘letter of no objection’ from your landlord

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Cancelling Utilities

How to close Internet service providers in the UAE?

The two service providers Du and Etisalat, can be cancelled quickly and relatively painlessly with a phone call.

Cancelling your Du Account

Du can be contacted on 800 155. A customer service rep will contact you within 2 days to help complete the process. Once completed, visit one of the many customer centres to complete payment and claim back any deposit. Centres are spread throughout the country, many located in shopping malls. Du store locations in the UAE

Cancelling your Etisalat Account

Terminating a post-paid mobile contract early results in a financial penalty which will be deducted from your deposit. Start the process by calling 800 101. As with the DU service, visit any Etisalat store is required in order to finalise the process – Etisalat store locator.

Du and Etisalat have stores dotted throughout the Emirates

How to close Cooling Services (Emicool)

You can close down your Emicool service by submitting the documentation highlighted below, which are dependent on your status.

Once you have submitted the documentation to an Emicool office, the final bill will be processed within 3-4 days. The final bill is deducted from your deposit, and cheque will be issued in the name of the named tenant.

If your property is rented in the name of your employer, then authorisation from the company will be required in order for a person to collect the cheque. This involves an official letter on company letter-headed paper, with a company stamp and the full name and Emirates ID number of the person authorised.

If the named tenant is an individual:

  • Cancellation Form (signed by tenant & landlord - the cutoff date needs to be indicated)
  • Copy of Tenancy Agreement (first and last agreement if tenancy longer than one year)
  • Passport Copy including the signature page and also the UAE Visa Page of the Tenant (not required if UAE nationals)
  • Copy of Emirates ID (both sides of the card)
  • Receipt for the original security deposit 
  • Emicool Contract copy

If the named tenant is a company:

  • Cancellation Form (signed (with company stamp) from tenant & landlord - the cutoff date needs to be indicated)
  • Copy of Tenancy Agreement (first and last agreement if tenancy longer than one year)
  • Valid Trade License Copy
  • Passport Copy including signature page + Visa Page of the Authorized Signatory as mentioned on the Trade License
  • Receipt for the original security deposit 
  • Emicool Contract copy

How to close electricity and water in the UAE?

In order to officially vacate your residence, you must disconnect water and electricity. The easiest way to do this is online. Log-in to your account with DEWA if you live in Dubai. You can log in using UAE Pass. This enables you to select a disconnection date (usually executed no more than a day or two from your chosen date), and while doing this, you can request your final bill.

Once disconnected, visit the relevant office (DEWA in Dubai, ADWEA in Abu Dhabi and SEWA covers Sharjah). Then it is a case of collecting your deposit.

Make sure you are clear on whose name the utilities are registered under

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Cancelling Visa

How do I cancel my/my family’s visa?

Residence visa

Once you start the process of leaving the UAE on a permanent basis cancelling your residence visa and labour card is essential, in fact, it is a legal obligation. Failure to do this properly could result in problems if you return to the UAE, or even transit through the country, or any other GCC country.

In most cases, your company can take care of all cancellation issues in the weeks leading up to your final days of work. However, not all companies are efficient and/or in the unfortunate situation where you may be leaving your company under acrimonious circumstances, it is good to know you have the ability to act independently. The process involved submitting your documents to the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA). A couple of points to observe.

  • Before you are able to complete cancellation of your own visa, (assuming you are the breadwinner of the family), you need to ensure the cancellation process of your family members/dependants visas is completed.

  • It is important to ensure you have been paid your final settlement, including gratuity and your final month’s salary. Generally speaking, you are entitled to 21 days’ pay for your first 5 years and 30 days’ pay for every subsequent year. To reiterate – Make certain this has been paid to you before you sign any paperwork.

How can I personally cancel my residence visa?

If your company does not get involved, how do you cancel your own visa? There are two ways to do this.


Stage 1
In a situation where your employment ends, and on the provision, you have honoured any transitional/notice period; it is very important to clearly determine your final financial settlement with your employer

Ideally, you should ask for a clear breakdown of figures in writing. Assuming this has been done and the figures are accurate, it is absolutely vital that you avoid signing anything until your final payment is cleared and in your pocket or bank account. You should qualify for a payment commonly referred to as gratuity, but other dues might be a balance of leave pay, shares or other dividends, a relocation/repatriation budget, plane tickets etc.

Stage 2
Your sponsor initiates the process of cancelling your visa by displaying relevant documentation to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), this leads to a clearance statement being issued.

Then take the MOHRE clearance statement you have just received along with passports (and Emirates ID cards), for you and any dependants, and copies of your sponsor's passport, to a typing office (located throughout the UAE and commonly found near government department buildings). Ask the official there to process your dependents documents first and yours last. Each one should take around 10 minutes. When signing this form, you officially confirm you have received your financial settlement in full from your employer. The application form, once completed, will need to be stamped and signed by your employer.

Stage 3
Finally, once the application form has the two signatures and company stamp, and armed with your Emirates ID card, original passport, and copy of your sponsor's passport; you need to visit the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA).

The process will be completed when the GDRFA official retains you Emirates ID and cancels the residence visa in your passport. You will then have a 30-day time limit to remain in the UAE, and you should exit the country within that time frame.

Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) located in Al Qusais, Dubai

How to cancel a residence visa online?

If the above seems like too much work, then an increasing number of people are taking action to deal with the application online. Start your application.

To finalise the process, as with Stage 3 (above), take your original passport and Emirates ID along with other related documents in person to one of the GDRFA branches as soon as you complete the online application.

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Leaving School

How to move kids out of school in Dubai?

It is a good idea to notify the school of your move with as much advanced warning as possible. The school will provide a ‘student leaving certificate’ which will officially recognise the length of time your child has participated at the school. This will be very important when it comes to enrolment at the new school at destination.

It is also important to provide the school with a reasonable timeframe to oversee any refunds which you may be entitled to should the child be removed from the school mid-term, which, in some cases, may qualify for partial reimbursement of prepaid tuition fees.

Finding Movers

How is the best way to find Movers in Dubai

With over 150 companies in Dubai alone offering moving services, it is hard to know where to start

Wise Move can arrange 6 competitive quotations from reputable movers in Dubai, and you can complete our simple form in less than 1 minute.

If you are like the majority of ex-pats, you may be leaving Dubai with more possessions than you arrived with. In some cases, people arrived 10 or 15 years ago with a suitcase, and they are leaving with a spouse, children and a full household of furniture. 

Regardless of your situation, it is important to take stock of what you are taking and what you will leave behind and decluttering your home is a significant step towards achieving this.

Cancelling Bank Account

How do I close down a bank account in the UAE?

Clearing debt before you leave the UAE is very important, and the implications of not clearing debt is widely recognised. Something that is not discussed to the same degree is the importance of cancelling your UAE Bank account.

Unless you do this, accumulating bank charge fees, albeit small amounts, may result in potential problems should you visit or even the GCC region in future.

Guidelines change from bank to bank, but the following suggestions are probably a good rule of thumb.

  • The most important thing is to clear any debt related to the account, this would include a mortgage, overdraft, credit cards or a car loan. This takes time, and so you need to start this at least a couple of weeks, or preferably 1 month, before you are due to leave the country.

  • Once this is completed, visit the teller and physically withdraw the remaining funds from your account(s).

  • Advise the teller that you wish to complete a bank account closure form. As always - make sure your original passport and Emirates ID is on your person.

  • Ask the bank to issue a clearance letter stating the account has been closed. Keep this document safe. It is possible your employer may require this as part of your final settlement.

  • Calculate the amount of cash you will require for the remaining duration of your stay in the country and then add 50% just to take care of any contingencies.

  • If you want to be absolutely certain you have not inadvertently overlooked any financial loose ends, you can check with the police that there are no outstanding issues related to debt which have remained unresolved.

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Selling my CAR

Can I ship my car from Dubai?

You have probably noticed there is a thriving car culture in Dubai. This is even more obvious in the used car sector. We will cover the process of selling your car in a moment, however, have you considered taking your car with you? Adding a car to a container with your furniture and personal effects, might be financially viable and is an option many people take. 

Questions you need to research before shipping your car from Dubai;

  • Do any restrictions apply at destination? Restrictions may include engine capacity. Left hand or right-hand drive, and/or the age of the car?
  • Will the car attract import tax/duty? In certain countries import duty can exceed 100% of the value, making it extremely expensive.
  • Have you owned the car long enough? Some countries may permit you to import your vehicle free of duty and tax if you have owned and used it for at least 6 months.
  • The cost of running the car at destination. Fuel costs differ with Dubai being relatively low. Vehicles which are not fuel-efficient and attract additional tariffs and road taxes may be too expensive to run.

Read more about shipping your vehicle

Dubai has a thriving car culture with many cars featuring powerful engines

How do I sell my car?

There are a few options from a plethora of car dealers to used car auctions, or selling in a classified section. Probably the easiest to arrange and set up is to advertise it online on Dubizzle for example. We strongly advise you to try and sell your car directly to another individual.

My car is paid for in full, how do I sell it?

In a scenario where you own a car outright, and there is no outstanding loan, the process is fairly straight-forward. Selling your vehicle directly to another person is almost certain to yield the best financial return. You can make use of social media, put up an ad on a notice board in a local supermarket. Make sure the car is clean and provide some quality images to show your car in the best light.

There is an ever-growing band of online car dealers, some are good and some not. You are unlikely to gain the best price using this option, and it may be best to consider this as a last resort.

Regardless of the option you decide to take, upon receiving full payment, you need to transfer the car (see details below) at a Road & Transport Authority (RTA) center - many are located throughout the country.

Encourage the buyer to meet you in the morning. The RTA centers are much busier in the afternoons and particularly in the evenings.

Wise Move Tip

Avoid situations where car dealers agree to a price and encourage you to keep the car until the day before you leave the country.  Often dealers will regnage on the agreement and offer you a lower price.

My car has a loan, how do I sell it?

A high percentage of cars are purchased by way of a bank loan, with monthly payments spread over 2-5 years. It’s important to understand that legally the bank owns your car until the last monthly instalment is made to the bank.

So the first task is to settle the outstanding loan with the bank. Once this is completed the bank will notify the RTA who update the record in their system, this usually takes a day or two and you are notified of this via SMS. You are then clear to meet up with the buyer and transfer ownership.

RTA test certificate is required at the time of transferring ownership. This will be valid for 30 days and will cost AED 120.

If you have an outstanding car loan, settle it before you visit the RTA

How do I transfer ownership of my car in the UAE?

Make sure the seller is present when you transfer ownership of the vehicle (bring your original Emirates ID and the test certificate).

The buyer needs to bring original and copies of:

  • UAE driving license
  • Emirates ID
  • New insurance policy for the vehicle
  • Passport with residence visa stamp
  • Registration fees (330 AED) paid for by the buyer.

Wise Move Tip

Avoid situations where car dealers agree to a price and encourage you to keep the car until the day before you leave the country.  Often dealers will regnage on the agreement and offer you a lower price.

Can someone sell the car on my behalf?

Yes - a power of attorney can be granted enabling an individual to sell and transfer ownership of your car on your behalf. However, obtaining the power of attorney takes some time to set up. It involves the translation of documents and a lot of paper shuffling.

The advantage with a power of attorney allows the same individual to deal with several different areas on your behalf if it is required.
Provided there are no outstanding loans or fines (as discussed above) your appointed representative should be fairly unhindered and can be invaluable should you need to travel.

In order to pay off my loan, I need to sell my car – what do I do?

Briefly, confirm the outstanding amount due on the car loan, (including any forfeits or penalties).  Sign a ‘seller’s agreement’ which essentially enables the buyer to transfer ownership to their own name, as soon as the loan is cleared from the system at the RTA.

The buyer should accompany you to your bank. The buyer pays you the agreed amount, and you clear the outstanding loan. Once the RTA receives confirmation from your bank that the loan is cleared, you will be notified by SMS, and the buyer is free to register ownership in their name.

Check out this very informative blog on Car Switch for a more in-depth explanation.