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Leaving the UAE is probably going to be a stressful time. It pays to carefully plan the steps and follow an order that works best for you. Here’re some main points to consider.

1. Give notice to your landlord

As soon as you decide to leave the country for good, find out how much notice is required to terminate your tenancy. Speak with your landlord or agent to work out the best terms to end the lease. If you are in Dubai and suffering hardship due to the impact of Covid-19, you may be able to claim a force majeure exemption to giving notice. Contact the Rental Disputes Centre at Dubai Land Department for more information. 

At the end of the notice period, you will need an Ejari clearance certificate and one from your utilities company to cancel your tenancy contract. You may also need to show proof that gas, TV and cooling services have also been paid in full and disconnected.

2. Transfer your UAE number

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Cancelling your UAE mobile number is one of those things that you’ll have to get the timing right. You’ll need to keep a number for shipping companies, buyers, and potential employers to reach you on if you are still looking for a job, as making and receiving calls from a home-country service is expensive.

Etisalat has taken the sting out of this step with the launch of the Homebound pack. By transferring to any of the three packages of Dh105, Dh420 or Dh630 inclusive of VAT, customers can keep their UAE number active for 30 or 60 days and stay in touch without any hassle.

To learn more about the Homebound pack, click here

3. Ship, sell, donate and dispose of belongings

If you’ve been in the UAE for a number of years you may have accumulated a lot of possessions. The first step is to think about what you will take home, what you can sell, what you will donate and how to dispose of the rest.

To transport items to your home country you can engage the services of a relocation company who will manage the process for you end-to-end, for a fee. Alternatively, if time (and patience) is on your side, you can commit to doing the legwork and paperwork yourself. Depending on how much stuff you have, you may need a twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) shipping container, or just a few cases sent as unaccompanied baggage. Look for reviews online when searching for a shipping service and make sure to get several quotes to compare the value.

To convert your goods to cash, there are several options. You can hire a stall at a market and sell your items in person, or use an online marketplace. Think about how much you have to sell and how long you have to do it. Listing items in multiple forums will give your items the most exposure.

If you are left with quality items that you’re unable to shift, consider donating them to a UAE registered charity. Don’t gift any broken or soiled items, move these to the junk pile. Stop and Help is also a kindness exchange that matches donors to needy recipients of baby care items, children’s clothes and toys.

For the rest, book a visit by Dubai Municipality’s free bulk waste collection service by calling 800 900 or via the Dubai 24/7 Application. They’ll take furniture, electronic and electrical used devices. Sharjah’s Bee’ah offers a similar service too.

4. Sell the car

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There are several options for this, depending on how hands-on or hands-off you’d like to be. If you’d like to manage the process yourself, treat your car to some TLC with a full service and detail, then take some great photos. Post these on Facebook, Dubizzle and send them to your WhatsApp groups to maximise your reach. Offer a mates rates discount to friends to help the sale along.

If you’d like to get it sorted with minimal effort, consider using a car dealer who will buy your car from you at a reduced rate and take responsibility for the cost and effort of finding a new owner.

5. Get your child’s School Leaving Certificate

Schools will only provide a leaving or transfer certificate after all outstanding fees and charges have been settled.

Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) says that all schools in the UAE require a transfer certificate, but the process is different for those returning to another country.

“If you are leaving Dubai, you may need a student leaving certificate to prove the years of study in school in Dubai. In both cases, your child’s school can provide you with these certificates, as well as ensure they are verified by KHDA,” according to the KHDA website.

6. Clear utility bills

You would need to prove that your utility bills have been paid in full and the services have been disconnected before you can end your residential tenancy agreement, so make sure you coordinate these steps.

This is a simple process and can often be completed online. Abu Dhabi Distribution Company suggests it takes between two and four days to complete, while Dubai Electricity and Water Company says it will be done in 24 hours with a final bill sent via email.

7. Close bank accounts

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This one often catches people out because it can take several weeks to process, and it can usually only be done in person. The typical procedure involves withdrawing your funds; filling out an application to close the bank account; handing back all related cheque books, credit cards and debit cards; then waiting for confirmation. Make sure you receive a clearance certificate that states there are no outstanding liabilities. To confirm the exact requirements, it’s best to consult your bank early in the process and find out precisely what’s required.

8. Cancel your visa

If you have a visa sponsored by a family member or an employer, you must have your residence visa cancelled before departure. According to the UAE government, normally, only the sponsor can cancel the visa, either through a registered typing centre or online.

For employers, the first stop is the Ministry of Human Resources, but for a family member’s visa, go directly to the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).