The process begins with the administrative matters. Do not put them off. In fact, this is the only part of the moving process you cannot put off, as the UAE is strict about its bureaucratic procedures and you don’t want your transition to be interrupted by a preventable hiccup.
Visas and documents:
Before you arrive, it’s a good idea to prepare photocopies of your passport and up to twenty passport photos (you’ll be amazed at how many you’ll need for various applications and documents). You should also make sure you have, if applicable, copies of your marriage certificate, birth certificate, driving licence and National ID card. When you start work, ask for an ‘NOC’, a No Objection Certificate. You’ll often be asked to produce this when undertaking activities such as renting a flat, applying for an alcohol licence or opening a bank account. The certificate or letter should say that the company sponsoring your employment visa does not object to this, and should be stamped and signed by a representative of your company. Citizens of many countries, including the UK, the US and Australia, are granted a tourist visa on arrival. This is valid for 30 days, extendable once by another 30 days without leaving the country, if you get it stamped at the Immigration Department and pay a fee of Dhs500. The next step is to apply for employment and residence visas; these are almost always taken care of by the company (this is one occasion when those passport photos will come in handy). The Human Resources department should arrange the paperwork and application on your behalf, and your company is legally obliged to pay all the visa fees. If for whatever reason this isn’t the case, visit www.abudhabi.ae for detailed information about the visa application process and to download all the essential forms. Sponsoring your family may or may not be taken care of by your employer. To do so you need a minimum salary of Dhs4,000 a month. Sons can only be sponsored up to the age of 18, unless they’re enrolled in full-time education in the UAE; after that they must be transferred to an independent sponsor. However, daughters can be sponsored for longer. Your company is legally obliged to cover your health insurance, and once you’ve been set up on a scheme you’ll be given a medical card which you’ll need to bring with you on all trips to the hospital. (See Health care section).
Once your medical card and visas are taken care of, your company will then apply for a Labour Card. You might not receive this for a few months after you begin working, but you have to have one or be in the process of applying for it in order to be legally employed in the UAE. It’s valid for up to three years.
Address and phone:
Upon moving to Abu Dhabi, it’s important to alert all banks and bill issuers of your relocation – failing to do so could result in credit/debit cards being blocked and the subsequent hassle of reactivating them. Since only PO box addresses are able to receive post in the UAE, it’s best to provide the address of any temporary accommodation you will be using in advance (a hotel or hotel apartment for example), before switching to a company/office address if and when possible. Avoid supplying a residential address, since any important correspondence simply won’t reach you. You should have no problems using your current mobile phone in the UAE, but you’ll find that the cost of calls makes bills incredibly high. Therefore, it’s best to pick up a local sim card as soon as possible – see Getting connected for full details on the various options. Depending on the type of contract, you should be able to suspend your old mobile phone plan until you return, or at least reduce it to the cheapest available tariff.
Needless to say, taking care of your finances while abroad can be extremely tricky. However, thanks to the modern marvel of online banking you can make life much easier for yourself. Chances are your bank will have a system in place that allows you to perform at least the most basic banking procedures over the Internet, meaning setting up payments to credit card companies and other direct debits should be no problem. You should also make arrangements for any tax or pension plans you hold back home to be processed during your absence. Procedures for transferring money back home can vary, so it’s best to speak to your bank to find out what you need to do.