Leaving the UAE can be time-consuming for expats – you need to be physically present to close down many accounts, and personal possessions, such as cars and furniture, can take time to sell. Here’s how to plan ahead and make your exit as smooth as possible:
One year before leaving
If you own a property and want to sell before you leave, now is the time to start researching agents and market prices.
If you rent, check your contract for your notice period.
Note how much notice you need to give your employer if you are leaving your job.
Research the tax implications of moving to another country, especially if returning to your home country or retiring. It is probably best to contact an accountant.
If you have children, give the school notice now and organise education certificates. Check what visas you will need in the country you’re moving to.
Decide whether to ship or sell. With a car, for example, it’s not worth shipping to a country that drives on the left, but might be worth it if your destination still drives on the right. If selling, allow plenty of time for a sale – you can always hire for a short period. With furniture, again assess the cost-effectiveness of keeping over selling. Even Ikea furniture can cost up to four times as much to purchase again if you sell it on the second-hand market here.
If shipping, get quotes and decide if you want groupage (cheaper, slower) or an individual container. Remember to also check the cost of insurance. This is generally 3 to 3.5 per cent of the insured. Consider the cost of storage at both ends.
If you have pets, start looking at vaccines, pet passports and export costs. If rehoming here, search now.
If you haven’t opened offshore accounts and want to, now is the time.
If you have a live-in maid, give her notice or notify the agency that employs her.
For those selling property, it will take six weeks to go through the process of clearing a mortgage, blocking the property with the Land Department, getting a no-objection certificate from the developer and transferring the title deed to receive your final payment.
Now is also the time to settle debts and make sure postdated cheques are returned to you. Keep all documentation after clearing debts and carry in your hand when you leave. You will be blacklisted as a debtor if a police case is opened over outstanding debts. This will set off an alert at immigration. Remember that as you have to give home country details for loans, debt collection agencies could track you down. You will also lose your gratuity if you leave with outstanding debt.
For car loans, remember it will take up to 10 days for the debt to be cleared. You will complete the transfer at the RTA and have to pay off fines.
Sort out visas and while you still have health insurance, organise vaccines and prescription drugs.
Check your end of service gratuity and benefits.
Close bank accounts. Bank accounts left open without any money in them may be quietly incurring fees. UAE Central Bank regulations mandate a fixed penalty of Dh25 per month if a minimum balance of Dh3,000 is not maintained. To close your account, empty your bank account first then visit the nearest branch and complete a closure form in person. Loans must be cleared first.
Get quotes for filling holes and repainting of property then book for the last week before you leave.
Get copies of your medical and dental records. Cancel utilities, including home broadband and TV package.
Check the cost of airline excess baggage and what luggage allowance an upgrade gives you – it may be worth it.
Give yourself plenty of time to write your shipping insurance list. If you haven’t sold your car or are worried about any loose ends, get a friend or relative authorised as your power of attorney.
Last few days
Leftover items of all sorts can be donated to TakeMyJunk. Save important documents to the cloud and ensure originals are kept out of shipping.
Leave your property, return keys to landlord and get your deposit back. Cancel your mobile phone contract.