Leaving Dubai can seem like a daunting task even with time to plan the move, however, with the current global pandemic happening many people are leaving Dubai with very little notice. We were some of those people and managed to organise leaving in just over 9 weeks. Today I wanted to share my ultimate checklist for leaving Dubai for anyone else in a similar situation.
Where to start
Knowing where to start with organising everything for leaving Dubai can feel overwhelming but hopefully this post will help to put your mind at ease and give you a starting point.
Speak to your landlord
This is one of the key areas you’ll need to organise with as much time as possible. Many landlords in Dubai like at least 2 months’ notice of leaving. Depending how you pay your rent will depend on the process for this. As we had paid all of our rent cheques for our rental year they were happy to let us leave when we pleased, however, this meant losing around 2 months rent as we didn’t get any reimbursement for leaving early.
Many landlords will charge around a 2 month fee to terminate your rental contract early. It’s also important to note the contract terms and conditions for leaving early as these may vary to leaving at the end of a rent cycle.
Speak to your Employer
Most HR departments in Dubai have a process for leaving the company and a handbook to further explain this. Being able to understand the system early on will be helpful. They will handle things like visa cancellation, labour card cancellation and Emirates ID cancellation.
This process will also vary for each company, for instance some companies will require a bank clearance letter 2-3 weeks before you leave others won’t require this until the day you leave.
Sell any ‘big’ possessions
As soon as we knew we would be leaving the country in the next 2-3 months we sold our car straight away. This was something that would have been stressful if we’d done it during the busy weeks of leaving but at this early point it seemed relatively hassle free. We were also concerned the market was about to flood with cars as many expats were leaving Dubai at the same time. Leave the smaller bits for selling until a little later.
We sold our car using Dubizzle and did the whole process ourselves although they also have an option for support with selling. You’ll also need to visit the RTA office to change over the ownership once sold and ensure all fines etc. are paid off.
If you have any pets to relocate this would be the next item to look at. I would advise looking around at different companies to check the price offered and services received for that money.
We looked at a range of different companies but booked with DKC Pet Relocations. They were one of the most expensive companies who came back to us but their reviews were amazing and gave us peace of mind. We’ve since received our cats back in the UK and were very impressed with the whole process with DKC which I’ll write a separate post on.
This is something you might not need but it’s a decision you’ll have to make fairly quickly when leaving Dubai. Once the decision is made I would suggest looking at a range of companies and getting a few quotes especially on shipment size. If you’re not sure which companies to look at, try asking on an Expat or community Facebook group.
We booked with Crown Relocations who had multiple recommendations from others and seemed to be the most comprehensive company to interact with. We’ve only had our shipment packed in Dubai so far but their service has been brilliant so far.
Cancel your Credit Card
Although this sounds like it should be straightforward on paper it was very much the opposite due to bank policy. The problem that arose from the credit card cancellation was the 45 day processing time. Add on to this 4 days that it takes for the bank to ring you back once you submit the request to cancel. You’re talking nearly two months before the whole process will be complete and you can request a clearance certificate for your bank account.
Things to do six weeks before
Once you’ve started the leaving process you’re likely to find there’s a lull in when things need to be done. You’ll have been super busy for the first few weeks and then there’s little you can do until the last two or so weeks.
Organise, Sort and Clear Out
If you’re anything like us you’ll have accumulated a lot more possessions than you arrived with so use this time to sort through and get rid of anything you don’t need to take home with you. We also found it was helpful to roughly pack the suitcases to ensure enough was put into the shipping container for flight weight allowance.
Sell Unwanted Items
Facebook is fantastic for this, most communities in Dubai have their own Facebook page for buying and selling stuff. Be prepared for an influx of messages but the likelihood is this will only last a few days. I found uploading photos of everything with prices made the whole process fairly easy but some people are likely to ask what else your selling so try to have all the items for sale together. I also priced everything a little cheaper and this seemed to shift things quickly.
Take My Junk UAE
These guys are perfect for getting rid of unwanted items that haven’t sold. Their website lists the huge variety of what they take and contact details. We found they were very easy to deal with and took everything we gave to them. It’s recommended to give them a small tip.
The Busy Period of Leaving Dubai
We found that the last few weeks were the busiest and threw up the most curve balls. Be prepared for everything to take a bit longer than anticipated and keep hassling people to achieve what you need.
Cancel your Internet and TV Package
If you’re with Du, expect to face multiple problems with this process especially if you are mid contract. We found the best way to get anything done was to book an appointment in the Media City branch. Be prepared to go back a few times and if you are still in contract you’ll need to pay the termination fee before they’ll even process the cancellation. Allow around 2 weeks for this whole process.
If you’re dealing with this over the phone note they will only take calls from the phone number registered to the account and wait times are extremely long.
Cancel your Bank Account
You’ll need to go into the bank for this one and take your cheque book/bank cards and passport. Depending on which branch you choose to close at they make ask you to wait until all transactions have processed on your account first. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve emptied all the cash from your account. As long as all of this is done the process is fairly straight forward and will take 3-5 working days to process. We left the country in this 3-5 processing time.
Some companies may ask for a clearance letter or no liability letter of your account. You can request this at any time before you close your account but it must be done 45 days after you cancel the credit card or it will be rejected. It can also take up to 11 working days to process so ensure you factor in this time.
Cancel Gas Contract
This process may vary depending on your gas company but we rang to book the engineer for the day we wanted the gas to be disconnected. Once this had been done we were told we would receive a final bill to pay. Our company only took bank payments (account had been cancelled) or cash so we had to visit their office in Business Bay to pay the final bill. Some companies may allow all of this to be done over the phone. We also hadn’t paid a deposit so didn’t need to receive this back, however, a previous gas company only supplied this in cheque.
You’ll also need to request a clearance certificate for your apartment checkout.
Cancel DEWA and Ejari
The DEWA website allows you to pick in advance which day the electric and water should be shut off and at what time. You should then receive a final bill within 24-48 hours after this. Our final bill was taken out of the deposit we were due.
Our bill did not come during that time frame and we had to ring countless times for this to be produced (there was some admin error on our account which could only be lifted by someone senior). We were able to request to receive our deposit in the UK using Western Union.
You’ll also need to obtain a clearance certificate for your apartment checkout. We were told this could take 10 working days but after the previous issues we managed to get it in less than 24 hours.
You’ll also need to cancel the Ejari for the apartment, ours was done through our landlord so I’m unsure of the process for this.
This is a standard procedure and was one of the most straight forward items to complete. We had both our DEWA and Gas clearances certificates for check out day. We’d also made sure the apartment had been cleaned and painted prior to check out. I feel this helped to make the procedure straight forward. We were able to request to receive our deposit back in our British bank account.
Cancel your Phone Contract
I had an Etisalat phone contract and the cancellation was fairly straight forward. As I was still in contract for another two months there was a fee to pay for termination which made it a little trickier. The whole process was done over the phone and then the payment could be made on the app or in store. I found this payment could not be with an international bank card which was a problem as I’d cancelled my UAE bank account. In store it was possible to pay in cash but the machine did not give change. The line was cancelled within 24 hours.
Top Tips for Leaving Dubai
Think carefully about the order you complete the tasks in, especially the later ones. For example, you’ll still need your phone contract until everything else has been sorted.
Be prepared to hassle companies, if they don’t get back to you in the given time frame contact them again, it’s not worth giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Book accommodation to stay in for the last week of being in the UAE, you’ll be having painters in, cleaners in and likelihood is you’ll have sold or shipped your furniture.
Make a master list with tasks to make it easier to keep on top of everything and record details given by companies.
It’s a good idea to take copies of pay slips and bank statements before leaving and no longer having access to these things.
Take photos of everything before you complete apartment checkout in case there are any discrepancies.