Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Dubai

Ways to save money in Dubai as tourists

I moved to Dubai a while ago now, which I’m sure you’ll already know if you follow me on social media. Today I thought I’d share with you a comprehensive guide to moving to Dubai as there are a lot of things that need to be in place in order to get that all important visa in your passport. It involves a lot of work before you leave the country but also a lot of work once you are in the country – I’ll break that down for you.

When I moved here I was lucky because my husband had already had to complete everything but if you don’t have someone to help guide the way it can be quite challenging.

Let’s get started!

Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai

Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai

At this point I just want to mention that everything is written from the point of someone who owns a British passport, some of this information may differ if you have a different passport.

Before you leave


This is obvious but before you move to Dubai you’ll need to find yourself a job. Although it can be done while here, visa runs aren’t as easy as they used to be and it is a very expensive country to be in without any kind of salary. Both my husband and I found our jobs through colleagues and friends already in the city. That’s not to say it is impossible to get a job without knowing anyone but it will make it a lot easier. Once you have a job secured they will then sponsor your visa or if you have a spouse in the country with a visa then you can also be sponsored by them. There are some limitations of females sponsoring males but the main stipulation is that you are married.

You will also need photos for your visa application, these photos must be with a completely white background instead of the grey one UK passport booths offer. Any independent store that does passport photos should be able to provide this. If not it is possible to get them done in Dubai.


Heard of it? Don’t worry I’d never even heard this term until our move to Dubai. It means that your document has been seen by the UK and UAE embassy and they agree that it is a real and genuine document. It is needed for a range of documents but the two we needed were for our degree certificates and marriage certificate. There is one office in London (John Venn and Sons) that can help with this but it is also possible to do it yourself.

For our degree certificates they took copies and these were attested, however, for our marriage certificate they did this on the original copy – just something to be aware of for the future. I’ve heard the latter also happens for birth certificates.

This little process will cost a couple of hundred if done through the agency, you can save a little if you do it by yourself.

Job Paperwork

Once you’ve secured a job in Dubai there will unfortunately be a lot of paperwork to complete which will involve scanning and sending documents. The required documents will differ depending on your job and visa situation but be prepared to provide high quality PDF scans of the things they ask for. Sending anything that isn’t of a high quality will result in a delay to proceedings so much easier to have it done right first.

You may also find that your job overload you with useful information once you’ve been accepted, instead of trying to process it all just save it to come back to when you need it.

Prep for the initial few days

The other thing I’d suggest before leaving for Dubai is to make sure you have everything in place for those first few days, especially if you’ve never been to the city before. Know what the process is at the airport, where you’ll be staying, how to get there and when you are expected for your first day of work. Knowing all of this will mean there isn’t a stress when you have no internet and no one to help you.

Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai

This photo was taken at Madinat Jumeriah.

When you arrive in Dubai


Unfortunately the visa won’t fully be sorted before you arrive. Once you’ve received your entry stamp your work will need to arrange a few other appointments (or if you are being sponsored by a spouse this will be done through their work). This includes a medical examination and fingerprint reading. Once these things have been completed the visa can then be put into your passport and you’ll be able to get everything else sorted.

As I’m on a sponsored visa I also needed a translated marriage certificate, luckily my husband was able to do this before I entered the country but just be aware for things like this. If you are the spouse sponsoring you will also be required to provide a handful of documents including salary certificate, rental agreement and recent utility bill.

The PRO for your work should help with all of this but if things aren’t progressing quick enough then don’t be afraid to keep asking questions.


Some jobs will require you to get your attested certificates done with a final stamp in UAE. This is something the company can help you to sort and is a fairly straightforward process. Again like I mentioned for the marriage certificate above you may be asked to get it translated too.

Emirates ID

This is what you’ll need to do most things in the country and can be processed as soon as your visa, medical etc. is complete. In a way it is as valuable as your passport, so make sure you look after it. You will need to present an Emirates ID to get anything sorted, phone contract, driving license, accommodation, bank account etc. To get your Emirates ID you will need to have your fingerprints and photo taken at one of the offices in the city. Just remember the photo they take there is printed on your ID so don’t go with a messy bun and no make up like I did! This is something the PRO for your company should also help sort.

Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai

This photo was taken at the Dubai Miracle Garden.

Driving License

As a British driving license holder we are lucky that our test will also cover us in UAE. This means all we have to do is get a UAE driving license. To do this you will need your UK license and to get an eye test done – this can be done at any UAE opticians and you just ask for a test for driving. Once you have this paperwork you just need to present it at the driving license office to get your new license. There are offices in Al Manarah and Al Barsha (happiness wellbeing centre), both open into the evening despite what you may read else where on line. To make the process easier for yourself make sure you take copies of both sides of your UK driving license and Emirates ID as well as the hard copy for both and your passport.

Alcohol License

You will not be able to buy alcohol in shops without one of these and again you will need your Emirates ID to be able to get one.

Sim Card

Sim cards can be a little challenging as you cannot take out a phone contract until you have an Emirates ID but chances are you’ll need a sim card before that arrives. The problem you then have is that when you take out your new contract you will receive a different number. It is possible to get around this situation but it is not easy. You’ll also need a signed copy of your employment contract, a utility bill or rent agreement to be able to take out the contract.

Bank Account

Most companies will have a certain bank account they are affiliated with and will have a representative come to work to set this up. You will only need a phone number to actually open a savings account but to get a full account one that is cheque, savings and current you will also need your Emirates ID, visa and passport. You’ll also need a signed copy of your employment contract (make sure it is signed) as the type of account you get will depend on your income. You’ll also be able to get a credit card with your bank.

Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai

This photo was taken from the top of the Burj Khalifa.


Some people will be able to skip this step as your work company may just provide you with accommodation, other companies will give you an accommodation allowance in your salary and you’ll be left to find your own.

There are many things about accommodation that are similar to renting in the UK when it comes to finding a property but there are also lots of differences. The process of choosing a location, checking out prices etc. is all relatively simple. There are some big housing giants such as Emaar and Damac with properties all over the city as well as smaller developers. There are a few typical properties in Dubai, either an apartment with pool and gym facilities or a villa that has its own facilities. The former will be a lot more cost friendly, regarding rent prices the city is comparable to London and expect to pay for location.

Apartment or Villa?

Once you’ve found your apartment and got your contact sorted (don’t be afraid to negotiate) then the first step that is very different is the rental payment method. In Dubai, it is done using cheques and all of these will be signed and dated for the given intervals prior to moving in. In a way it’s much like paying a standing order in the UK but most companies will want your cheques to be fewer than one per a month.

Once you have the keys you’ll then need to start by getting things like the gas switched on, electricity set up, internet package sorted etc. Our apartment was a new build when we moved in so there were a few extras that had to be done as well as maintenance to make sure the place was ready to move in. Just like in the UK you can rent furnished and non-furnished apartments, if you opt for the latter they have an IKEA or expats leaving who are selling hordes of furniture on Dubizzle.

I think that hefty 1500 words covers the basics of moving here but if there is anything else you’d like to know about moving to Dubai just leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you.

Have you moved to Dubai? What advice would you give?

Want to know more about Dubai? You’ll find all my latest posts here.


Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai Everything you need to know about moving to Dubai


  1. Karen
    18th October 2018 / 11:17 am

    Very useful blog for the expats. Dubai offers a different experience, so it is important to know the procedures, etiquettes and places before anyone come here. Lifestyle would no be comprised. There are British branded fashion stores, diners and food available in Dubai. Carrefour supermarket in various nooks of the city offers fresh grocery. There are interesting lounge bars in various hotels for those who want a joyful nightlife.

  2. 2nd November 2018 / 11:55 am

    Before moving this gorgeous city his post will be helpful for peoples. Thanks a lot

  3. 7th November 2018 / 5:03 am

    That’s a very extensive list and a very very useful list! We have no plans to move to Dubai as of now but I’ll definitely remember to share it with friends who may want to.

  4. 22nd March 2019 / 2:16 am

    I always wanted to move to Dubai and to work – but it’s really hard to get a Dubai visa here in our country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Looking for Something?