Moving to the UAE is attractive for so many reasons – the sunshine, the lifestyle, and the tax-free salary being just three. However, apart from accommodation with private pools and universal gym facilities for residents as standard, the massive number of luxury sports cars and SUVs which seem to be the norm rather than the exception and endless days of sunshine, there are a number of things to be aware of when planning your move, which we have highlighted in the checklist below.
Whether its birth, marriage or qualifications, be sure to get your certificates attested in your home country before you travel. This will involve attestation by a solicitor, stamping by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and legalisation at the UAE Embassy. Upon arrival in the UAE, when you need to use these certificates, you will need to ensure that they are stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Abu Dhabi and subsequently legally translated.
Employment Visa and Emirates ID
To live and work in Abu Dhabi its essential to have an employment visa. This will be arranged by your employer and usually takes a few weeks to complete the process. As part of this process, you will be required to have a medical comprising of a blood test and X-ray. You will also need to give your biometrics as part of the application for your Emirates ID card (finger prints and laser eye scan). Furthermore, your employer is obliged to supply health insurance and this is mandatory as part of the visa process. Once your visa is stamped in your passport, you will usually receive your Emirates ID card within a few weeks. You must carry your Emirates ID card at all time. Once you have your visa, you can then sponsor your wife and children and process their visas.
Once you have your visa you will need to open a bank account. This is essential for your monthly salary to be paid into. There are a selection of international and local banks to choose from. It’s worth researching the rates to ensure you get the best deals on fees. Click here for a quick overview. Banks are usually open between 8am – 2pm/3pm. Branches located in shopping malls are usually open until 10pm. Banks offer the standard facilities. Internet banking is common. ATMs are widely available, but beware of minimal fees if you are withdrawing cash from an ATM that isn’t your own bank. To open an account you will need your passport with visa and a salary confirmation letter from your employer.
Once you have chosen which area you wish to live in, be aware that it is customary to pay the rent in advance, usually six or 12 months in advance. Ensure that your landlord provides you with a Tawtheeq lease – this means that the property is registered with the Abu Dhabi Municipality.
Take some time to also understand your rights as a tenant and your obligations. Also, keep an eye on the local media as reforms to the Abu Dhabi rental regulations are expected imminently. It’s also worth noting that you can’t usually lease a property until you have your visa, so it may be necessary to stay in a hotel apartment temporarily. Suggested websites to look for accommodation include www.dubizzle.com and www.propertyfinder.ae. Alternatively, approach a reputable real estate agent directly.
Taxis in Abu Dhabi are very cheap, but ensure the driver sets the meter. It is also worth having a rough idea of where you need to get to in case the driver isn’t familiar with the destination. Buses are also commonplace and very cheap. Alternatively, you can hire a car. There are many international and local leasing companies to choose from and you can use your driver’s license from your home jurisdiction to arrange this. You will also need to take your passport and have a credit card so that the company can block a deposit until such time that the car is returned. However, once you have your visa, it will be necessary to obtain a UAE driver’s license. You will need to take your original drivers license and a translated copy, along with your passport and visa, two passport photos on a white background and a letter of no objection from your employer to the Traffic and Licensing Department, which is open from 7:30am – 8:00pm. Remember to always carry your drivers license with you when you are driving.
Getting a Mobile Phone
Etisalat and Du are the two mobile providers in the Abu Dhabi. You can choose between a monthly post paid contract (only available when you have a visa) or pay as you go. The two providers have shops across the city, often in shopping malls and all of their current information relating to packages can be viewed on their websites: www.etisalat.ae and www.du.ae
Tourists can drink alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants at hotels. However, as a resident, you will need to obtain a liquor license to legally drink alcohol or purchase it from the various specialist liquor stores. Non-Muslim residents can apply for a license and will need a no objection letter from your employer, passport copy, visa copy, work contract, and two passport photos. The application can be made online and its free: www.auhsl.ae.
If you are interested in the UAE or would like to lean more about how NRL can support you, please visit our International page for more details on our global capability.