Your To-Do Guide Before Leaving the UAE

Repatriation is highly common among expatriates who live and work in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”). Irrespective of the reason for leaving, it is essential to acknowledge and follow the closure formalities before the departure. Some of the most common precautions can be summarised as follows:

It is essential for each expat to do the due diligence and ensure that all outstanding payments arising out of fines, rent, credit cards, loans and utility contracts have been settled. If possible, expats may also opt to obtain a clearance letter and receipts to demonstrate that all such liabilities have been paid. Inevitably, this can be time intensive and therefore, sufficient time must be allocated for such procedures to be completed.

Failure to settle an outstanding payment may prompt a creditor to apply for a travel ban against the debtor-expat which may be followed by a substantive court case. This will not only place emotional and financial hardship onto the expat but can also cause significant delay to the repatriation process.

If an employee wishes to resign before the employment contract comes to an end, the employer must be notified well in advance of the intended departure date. This is necessary in order to:

  1. Complete the legal notice period or make a payment in lieu of the said period,
  2. Cancel the employee’s and their dependants’ residence visa,
  3. Collect the final pay out and gratuity, and
  4. Return health care cards to cancel the medical insurance.


If contract termination initiates a dispute between the employer and the employee, it is best to promptly contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization to either settle the matter amicably or refer the case to the court. At all times, the abovementioned steps should not be neglected as otherwise, the Immigration may flag the employee’s name which can adversely affect the likelihood of successful repatriation.

It is essential for all bank accounts to be closed. A mere transfer of funds will not suffice as a monthly fee may be incurred on any operational bank account which has no balance. This may result in an unwelcoming surprise or more importantly, detention of the expat on a return or transit through the UAE.

All expats must follow the notice period of the lease contract before traveling from the UAE. Lease contracts are frequently renewed automatically, and in such cases, the tenant will most likely be held responsible for non-payment. Therefore, it is essential for the expat to notify the landlord of the termination well in advance of the departure. Furthermore, upon termination, it will be the expat’s responsibility to return the keys to the landlord. Failure to do so may result in an extension of the lease, which in turn, attracts additional cost or even court proceedings.

All contracts with mobile and landline phone operators, water suppliers, internet, cable or any other utility service providers must be cancelled. It is important to collect the deposits associated with such services as well.

Planning is a critical aspect of the repatriation process for any expatriate who wishes to return home from an overseas job. Effective planning can help to avoid unexpected taxes, paperwork, financial penalties and delays that are usually associated with moving across borders. This can make the departure from the UAE  a hassle-free experience.