Repatriation is inevitable for any expatriate living and working in the United Arab Emirates. At some point, you will leave the UAE and repatriate yourself and your accompanying family back to your home country. While this may seem simple, it can be fraught with pitfalls and problems unless you take steps to plan ahead.
For anyone, moving back to your home country after living and working abroad for years can be a challenging time. Whatever your reason for leaving, your return could have unforeseen consequences if you fail to complete your closure formalities before leaving the UAE.
Beware Of Legal Repercussions
Being detained at the airport due to an unpaid bill is every expatriate's worst nightmare and the stuff of folk legend. Outstanding fines, rents, credit cards, loans, and service and utilities contracts can have expensive and inconvenient legal repercussions when you attempt to pass through Immigration if you fail to do your due diligence on repatriation issues and close your liabilities out correctly.
Leaving the UAE for your home country or another expatriate post is rarely an overnight decision. Your outstanding liabilities and service contracts need to be listed, and the procedures for paying them out, transferring them, or closing them should be thought-out, planned, and sequenced.
Where possible, always insist on obtaining a clearance letter and receipts to demonstrate that you have paid out your liabilities and closed your accounts. Inevitably, this process will be time intensive, so plan your exit to leave sufficient time to settle your financial and legal commitments before your departure.
Finalising Your Work Contract
Cancelling visas in the UAE is a significant aspect of repatriation and leaving the UAE. If you are opting to resign prior to your contract ending, you should notify your employer well in advance of your intended departure date. You may be required to complete your notice period or pay in lieu of it. If your contract is coming to its end, your employer will need your passport to cancel your residence visa.
Ensure you give your employer sufficient time to cancel your residency visa including your dependants as this could delay your departure or worse; Immigration could flag your name in their list.
Similarly, finalize your final payout and gratuity with your employer. If a dispute arises over the terms of your end of contract entitlements, contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization. You will need to return your health card(s) to the employer so they can facilitate the cancellation of your medical insurance.
Bank Loans And Credit Card Liabilities
Bank disputes are the single biggest cause of problems at the airport departure gate. Before closing your bank account, you need to ensure you have paid all your outstanding loans and credit cards, and that the bank has returned your post-dated cheques. Again, always request a clearance letter from your bank confirming discharge of all your liabilities before leaving the UAE.
Leave sufficient time to close your bank account. Do not merely transfer the funds from it and leave it empty as you may incur monthly fees if the balance is zero. You might be in, for failing to close your accounts and pay out your loans and credit cards which could provide an unwelcome surprise the next time you visit or transit through the United Arab Emirates.
Closing Out Your Lease Or Renting Your Property
If you have been renting while working and living in the UAE, you need to honour the required notice period specified in your rental contract. If you need to extend your lease for a short time, you should renew your contract. Where you end your lease with your landlord and are moving out, return the keys to the landlord and collect your deposit.
If you own a property in Dubai and are looking to sell or rent it, it may prove sensible to engage a property manager prior to your departure. You need to issue a power of attorney to your agent authorizing them to let the property to prospective tenants or sell it on your behalf.
While time pressure may tempt you to move out of your apartment without informing your landlord or finalizing your lease, this can result in you incurring significant expenses. In some cases, the lease is auto renewed upon expiry of the original lease, and the tenant is held responsible for non-payment.
Sort Out Your Utilities
Unless you want to run the risk of being stopped at the airport, its best to ensure the cancellation of all your electricity, water, and air conditioning services and settle any outstanding balances. If you fail to cancel your utilities, you may discover that you are liable for the default monthly expense. Don't forget to get your deposit back and be sure to keep your original receipts.
Cancel Your Telephone Contracts
Similarly, before you leave, you should cancel your contracts with your mobile and home landline phone operator, Internet, and cable television providers. Usually, there is a refundable deposit linked to these services, so do not forget to collect them. Similarly, you should cancel your newspaper, drinking water supplier, utility services, and other home delivery services.
If you have the luxury of the time to do so, consider planning at least 12 to 18 months prior to relocating back home. Depending on where you are moving to, returning expatriates may want to realize any capital gains they have made while living and working in the UAE so these don't become liable to tax in their home country.
Consider planning a year in advance, work out your cash flow, and look at the orderly disposal of assets such as cars and furniture and capital gains in the tax year prior to departure.
Savvy foreplanning is a critical aspect of the repatriation process for any expatriate returning home from an overseas job. Closing out the numerous banking facilities, utility accounts, telephone contracts, and home delivery services takes time and is not a process departing expatriates can short cut.
Sound planning can help you avoid unexpected taxes, painful paperwork, financial penalties, and delays that come with moving your money and your household across borders. Good planning also provides the peace of mind that makes passing through Immigration on your way to leaving the UAE a hassle-free experience.
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