Relocating is often a way of life for expats. Moving to another country offers exciting new opportunities, but it also presents challenges that include several financial aspects.
Forward planning is therefore essential to get the practicalities right. Here are some critical factors that expats relocating from the UAE should take into account before departing.
45-day credit-card closures
UAE-based banks need up to 45 days to cancel a credit card and provide a clearance certificate in the event of any new purchases or potential defaults.
Since some payments are only presented to the bank several days after purchase, banks use the 45-day time frame for closure requests to ensure there are no dues outstanding.
Closing bank accounts
Bank accounts that remain open without a minimum balance could be continually incurring fees. According to UAE Central Bank regulations, there is a set penalty of Dh25 per month if at least Dh3,000 is not kept in the account. So ensure all bank accounts are closed by visiting your branch, emptying the account(s) and filling out an account closure form in person.
Any loans or overdrafts must be settled primarily. Remember, non-payment of debt is considered a criminal offence in the UAE, which can lead to arrest and perhaps a prison term. Outstanding debt could also lead to people being unable to leave the country or facing arrest when trying to re-enter, even in transit. Therefore, it’s advisable to allocate at least two months before leaving to get all financials in order.
Transferring your financial assets
There are several ways to send funds from your bank in the UAE directly to a bank in your new country of residence — whether directly through the bank, an online brokerage firm or an exchange house. Using your bank to transfer large sums of money can result in extortionate fees. However, by using a regulated currency broker, you could benefit from a better rate of exchange and lower transfer fees. Indeed, should you have a favourable currency rate, it may be possible to secure that rate for a number of months.
Furthermore, you can also execute international payments quickly and efficiently, which is ideal for people who are on the move and need to transfer from one currency to another. Compare providers to determine the best rates and fees before making a final decision.
Making property work for you
If selling your home, you need to ideally start researching estate agents and market prices 12 months before you plan to leave the UAE.
During the sale process, a minimum six weeks is required to clear a mortgage, block the property with the land department, obtain a no-objection certificate from the developer and arrange the transfer of title deeds.
If you’re a renter, ensure you give the required notice as stipulated in the contract, or you could be liable for additional payments. Rental contracts are based on legal mutual agreement between the landlord and the occupant. Should there be a need to terminate a tenancy contract due to relocation, it’s important to check the contract for cancellation clauses.
Selling your possessions
Allow sufficient time to sell furniture or vehicles. It’s a good idea to sell your car before leaving, or if there’s no time, leave a Power of Attorney with a friend. Don’t forget to check for unpaid traffic fines.
By planning well in advance, ensuring you cover all bases and have everything in order before you depart, you can look forward to a hassle-free life settling into your new destination.
— The writer is Regional Director for the Gulf at deVere Group