Leaving Dubai can seem like one big daunting (and complicated) task so we’ve created a timeline for you to make sure that everything is covered for you before starting your next chapter. Here’s what to check by timeline to see you on your way back home…

What to think about a year in advance 

Property

If you own a property, are living in it and want to sell before you leave, now is the time to start researching agents and market prices to put your property on the market. If you rent, then be sure to check when your lease expires. You can ask your landlord if he/she will give you an extension (without a full term) and if there’s an early break clause (if needed) and the details around getting your deposit back. 

Schooling

If it’s a public school place you are after, you really can’t do much until you move home, however good schools fill up quickly and so there’s nothing to stop you from contacting schools or local councils before you move to ask about places. If they do have any, and you are otherwise eligible for admission (e.g. will be living in its catchment area, satisfying requirements etc), then they will tell you what to do from there. 

If you can’t find a school with places, contact the education department of the Borough you will be living in and ask for advice. Make a shortlist of schools by looking at Ofsted | Find an inspection reports and school performance tables on the Department for Education website.

If it’s a private (fee-paying) school place you are after, contact the individual school or Independent Private Schools, Independent Private Education – ISC. Let your children’s current school know of your plans around 3 months prior to leaving to ensure you have enough time to receive supporting documentation of reports from your existing school. 

Flights

You might want to get a few things sorted before committing to booking a date but the sooner you know, the better in terms of getting the best price on flights. However, you may want to return for a holiday so a return flight would be ideal as single flights are notoriously expensive. It may even be financially beneficial to book a return flight without using it however check your airlines cancellation policy. Some airlines will charge no shows whereas some have a charge for cancelling your flight but don’t charge for a no show. Its best to be completely clear before booking anything.

Pets

So many families get caught out by this and it can be a heartbreaking process for the whole family to have to leave a pet behind so If you have animals that need relocating you will need to start thinking about this now, not only for ensuring you have the funds but also for the veterinary process that, depending on breed, can take up to 7 months to complete.

Your flight might be booked months in advance but confirmation of your pet’s flight, even if it’s the same airplane, can only be officially made a week beforehand and an export certificate is only valid for ten days. If you change your flight details, it must be within the ten days. Incorrect paperwork will prevent your animal from flying.

The cost of transporting animals varies and it is dependent on the volume of your pet rather than the weight. Contact a relocation agent to obtain an estimate now so you have a figure in mind.

Crate training, no matter how old your animal is, is advisable. All animals will be transported out of the UAE in crates in the cargo hold of the airplane. If your pet isn’t used to a crate, get training now so they are as comfortable as possible when it’s time to leave the country. They could be in their crate from a couple of hours through to 48 hours, and you don’t want their first experience of this new environment to be when they are boarding and don’t know what is happening. You can find advice on crate training via Youtube and the RSPCA website here.

You should know as soon as possible if your pet is actually allowed to fly as some breeds are restricted, and others are completely banned from export/import.

Snub-nosed dog for example are often restricted because of health reasons. Several airlines prevent or restrict if and when pugs, bulldogs, boxers and other short-nosed, or brachycephalic, dogs can fly in airplane cargo. This varies from airline to airline, and the weather conditions.

Check with IATA and IPATA for advice if you are concerned about your dog’s breed or if it is a cross breed. Be aware that pregnant dogs in their third trimester cannot fly.

If you are using an agent, they will provide water but double check. A good tip is to freeze your dog’s water bowl and it will slowly defrost.

Several UAE pet shops allow you to bring your pet in to try crate sizes out. Call up in advance to arrange an appointment.

The UK requires your pet to be micro-chipped, and health checks and vaccinations are only valid if they are done after the microchip has been implanted. A record of the date the micro-chipping was done must be clear in their vet book or you need a vet letter to confirm when the chip was implanted. They also require worming medication and front-lining.

If you really cant make the move possible for your pets then contact the Dubai kennels and catery here to get advise about rehomeing before you leave.

For more info take a read of

How to relocate your pet from the UAE 

What to plan 6 months in advance

Employment and visas

Find out how much notice you need to give your employer if you are leaving your job, as you will be required to fulfill the contractual notice period for the visa cancelation to run smoothly.

If your contract is coming to an end anyway, you will need to hand over your passport temporarily to your employer who will cancel your residence visa. Failure to do so could delay your departure or mean you are marked on the immigration system as an ‘absconder’.

Request your gratuity payout statement and payment from your employer. The Embassy does not get involved in employment disputes so for advice contact the Ministry of Labour here. However generally you do not need to worry about the procedures much. The PRO of the company will handle it in most cases and do make sure to leave the country within the grace period in order not to accumulate fines, and request a bank clearance letter for your employer and leave a forwarding address for any future correspondence.

Teachers and civil servants may require a Police Clearance Certificate if returning to the UK to work. Wherever possible this should be obtained prior to leaving the country by attending Khalidiyah, Mina or Al Shabiyah police stations or by selecting the ‘Criminal Status’ icon in the MOI app; For information on obtaining a Police Clearance Certificate / Certificate of Good Conduct once out of the country click here.

 Housemaid 

If you have a live-in housemaid give her time to find another job and think about how to transfer her visa if she stays in Dubai.  If your maid is transferring to a new job rather than returning to her home country, you are responsible for transferring the maid’s residence visa to the new sponsor. The housemaid’s visa may also be transferred from a UAE-resident family to a public sector job, to a new family sponsor and residence, or from an employer’s family to another. 

The procedure is fairly straight forward; Complete a residence visa transfer form at any typing centre; both you and the new sponsor must be present. Submit all documents to GDRFA’s Residency section along with your housemaid’s passport and labour card. Their new sponsor must pay 5,080 AED * to issue a new residence visa with sponsorship, plus a 2,030 AED * security deposit. Once your housemaid’s sponsorship is cancelled/transferred, the refundable cash deposit of 2,030 AED * is returned to you, not the new sponsor.

Be aware that you will need your Emirates ID to close contracts with Etislat and DU.

Tax

Research the tax implications of moving back home. It is probably best to contact an accountant to verify any tax you may owe along with paying national insurance etc. If you are planning on working as self employed on your return to the UK you will be required to register as self employed here. If you haven’t opened offshore accounts and want to, now is the time as this can take up to 6 weeks.

What to think of at 3 months before leaving

Schooling

Now is the time to give your childrens school a terms notice and ask for leaving certificates.

Furniture and belongings

Start to decide whether to ship or sell your furniture. With furniture and white goods, work out the cost effectiveness of shipping and then buying new again. Be aware that if you’re leaving at the end of the school year typically at the end of June, the market is flooded with second hand goods so you may wish to sell some non essential items now. 

Request quotes from different international moving companies in order to find the best price and the best offer. Remember when reading a quote, to pay close attention to what is not included. Exclusions such as quarantine fees, handling charges and customer import documentation will cost you a large sum of money and a lot of headache.

Don’t forget to get insurance too. This is generally 3 to 3.5% of the value of your goods and make sure to do your research and keep an inventory list of all the contents of every box. Also note the fine detail of moving insurance – for example, whether you need insurance for “pairs and sets.”

If you’re undecided on where you’re moving to check out storage options and short term accommodation and bare in mind that most companies will take around 10-13 weeks to deliver boxes, unless you are prepared to pay for a quicker service. Consider packing items that you wont need for a while like home decoration items and seasonal clothing.

Car

Check for outstanding traffic fines and remember to cancel your Salik tag if you have one. Your insurance company may offer a rebate when the car is sold. You can advertise your car for sale on Dubizzle (at a charge) or the British Mums website (here) for free. If you haven’t sold your car or house and you are worried about running out of time before you leave, get a friend, relative or real estate personnel authorised as your power of attorney. This is relatively simple to do (but allow a couple of hours as queues can be quite long) and it allows them to act on your behalf to transfer ownership of your car. 

What to think of 2 months before leaving

Selling Items

Sell invaluable, non-personal and easily replaceable items that you have decided not to send back. This way you can make some money on easily replaceable items and save cost on shipping fees. You can use the British Mums Facebook groups (here) or list them on the British Mums website (here) which allows you to post anything you want to sell and quickly and easily find buyers near you through geolocation. 

Donate items that did not sell: Don’t throw away clothes, toys or even kitchenware that you were unable to sell. Instead find a local charity to donate those items to or contact a collection service called Take my junk or check out a whole host of places who accept donations here:

Where to donate toy, clothes and furniture in Dubai (here)

Property final details

For those selling a property, start your processes now as it will take at least 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.

Money

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.

A bank transfer can be an expensive and lengthy procedure. Some banks may charge up to 6% of your assets. Avoid losing a significant portion of your savings on transfer fees and currency conversion by using IFX (here) Simply transferring your money and leaving your bank account empty is not the same as closing it. 

Your empty bank account will incur service charges that you will be accountable for upon re-entry to Dubai or UAE, so be sure to complete the proper procedures of closing your account. Close bank accounts when you have received your final payment from your employer. Bank accounts left open without any money in them may be quietly incurring fees. 

UAE Central Bank regulations mandate a fixed penalty of AED25 per month if a minimum balance of AED3,000 is not maintained. To close your account, empty your bank account first and then visit the nearest branch and complete a closure form in person. Cancel any credit cards, loans and overdrafts with the bank must be cleared first and It can take up to 2 months to complete all the paperwork. Don’t forget to keep copies of all documents relating to closed accounts.

Within the last month

This is where things get a bit tougher! As you work your way through Dubai’s bucket list and prepare for the big move. There’s still much to be finalised:

DEWA and phone contracts

In order to get your deposit back, you need to disconnect your DEWA account. The disconnection takes up to 2-3 days. This process unfortunately can involve multiple trips to the DEWA office. Disconnecting DU or Etisalat is easier and involves a simpler procedure. You will need to go to the office with your contract, your Emirates ID and the equipment that was provided to you originally if you’re disconnecting your contract. 

Final bits to remember

Get quotes for filling holes and repainting of your rental property then book for them to come in last week before you move out or once you have moved out if required.

Get copies of all medical and dental records from hospitals and clinics. 

Check the cost of airline excess baggage and what luggage allowance an upgrade gives you, as it may well be worth it.

Join British Mums UK Facebook group here as it’s made up of British Mums who have lived here and relocated back to the UK. It means you have some built in support from day one!

And finally arrange a get together in your favorite Dubai hang out with your favorite Dubai people. As hard as this will be, its nice to feel like you got to say goodbye and start your new journey properly.

Get a Certificate of Good Conduct. You need your Emirates ID number and can print one out online on Dubai Police website. It is quick and easy.

Good luck – Bon Voyage British Mums!

Read more:

When it’s time to say goodbye

British Embassy Advice for leaving the UAE

How to relocate your pet from the UAE

Which Expat Tribe Are You?

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