UAE property visas: What you must know before invest in UAE property market

The rules regarding property-related residency visas in the UAE have changed several times over the past 10 years, but these are the current regulations: either a six-month multi-entry visa or a two-year residency visa is available depending on the circumstances. In all cases, the property must be worth in excess of Dh1m and must be for one property only.
uae property visa
UAE property visa
The title deed is usually in one name and only that person can apply for residency, even if ownership is deemed to be joint. The property must be complete and suitable to live in. The six-month visa is easier to obtain and has lower costs, but must be renewed every six months at a cost of Dh1,100. These multi-entry visas are available to property owners in all seven emirates, but people should apply to the Immigration or Naturalisation and Residency Department in the relevant emirate. In this case it is the Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai.

I understand that those with a six-month property visa can sponsor family members at a cost of Dh250 a time and these must also be renewed every six months. My understanding is that exit and re-entry is required to renew and medical exams are also required. Because property-related visas are considered a type of visit visa, neither the principal holder nor the dependents are permitted to work.
In Dubai it is also possible to get a two-year visa related to property ownership, but this comes with stricter regulations.

The individual must own a property that is fully habitable with a value of at least Dh1m, but they must own it outright without a mortgage. A copy of the title deed proving there is no mortgage must be provided and there is a property visa fee of Dh1,100 and an administration fee of Dh400. Applications must initially be to the Dubai Land Department, which will then provide a certificate to the Department of Economic Development that issues an investor trade licence for Dh2,000 a year. This allows the property owner to then apply for residency visas and they can also sponsor family members. Please note that applications for property-related residency visas must be made to the relevant government department.

Can UAE residency visa be changed to property-related visa?

I am on an employment visa for a company in which I am a partner but I want to change the basis of my residency visa to one related to my property. I have two properties in Dubai and even after the mortgage costs there is capital in them of over Dh1 million. Can you advise me of the costs? Also, how long are the visas for and are there any limitations? PP, Dubai.

While property-linked residency visas are available to owners and valid for six months, if that person is working in Dubai, whether as an employee, partner or owner of a company, they must retain their work-related visa and are not permitted to swap it for one linked to a property. Similarly, if someone is on a residency visa linked to property ownership and gets a job in the UAE, or sets up a company, they must change their status. It is generally far more beneficial to be on a work-related visa, as these are valid for at least two years and must be paid for by the sponsor. On the other hand, a property-related visa is valid for just six months and must be renewed with a fee payable each time.

Leaving the UAE? Here’s how to do so the right way

Leaving the UAE can be time-consuming for expats – you need to be physically present to close down many accounts, and personal possessions, such as cars and furniture, can take time to sell. Here’s how to plan ahead and make your exit as smooth as possible:

One year before leaving : If you own a property and want to sell before you leave, now is the time to start researching agents and market prices. If you rent, check your contract for your notice period.
Six months : Note how much notice you need to give your employer if you are leaving your job. Research the tax implications of moving to another country, especially if returning to your home country or retiring. It is probably best to contact an accountant.

Three months: If you have children, give the school notice now and organise education certificates. Check what visas you will need in the country you’re moving to. Decide whether to ship or sell. With a car, for example, it’s not worth shipping to a country that drives on the left, but might be worth it if your destination still drives on the right. If selling, allow plenty of time for a sale – you can always hire for a short period. With furniture, again assess the cost-effectiveness of keeping over selling. Even Ikea furniture can cost up to four times as much to purchase again if you sell it on the second-hand market here.

If shipping, get quotes and decide if you want groupage (cheaper, slower) or an individual container. Remember to also check the cost of insurance. This is generally 3 to 3.5 per cent of the insured. Consider the cost of storage at both ends.

If you have pets, start looking at vaccines, pet passports and export costs. If rehoming here, search now.
If you haven’t opened offshore accounts and want to, now is the time. If you have a live-in maid, give her notice or notify the agency that employs her.

Two months
For those selling property, it will take six weeks to go through the process of clearing a mortgage, blocking the property with the Land Department, getting a no-objection certificate from the developer and transferring the title deed to receive your final payment.

Now is also the time to settle debts and make sure postdated cheques are returned to you. Keep all documentation after clearing debts and carry in your hand when you leave. You will be blacklisted as a debtor if a police case is opened over outstanding debts. This will set off an alert at immigration. Remember that as you have to give home country details for loans, debt collection agencies could track you down. You will also lose your gratuity if you leave with outstanding debt.

For car loans, remember it will take up to 10 days for the debt to be cleared. You will complete the transfer at the RTA and have to pay off fines.

Sort out visas and while you still have health insurance, organise vaccines and prescription drugs.
Check your end of service gratuity and benefits.

One month
Close bank accounts. Bank accounts left open without any money in them may be quietly incurring fees. UAE Central Bank regulations mandate a fixed penalty of Dh25 per month if a minimum balance of Dh3,000 is not maintained. To close your account, empty your bank account first then visit the nearest branch and complete a closure form in person. Loans must be cleared first.

Get quotes for filling holes and repainting of property then book for the last week before you leave.
Get copies of your medical and dental records. Cancel utilities, including home broadband and TV package.

Check the cost of airline excess baggage and what luggage allowance an upgrade gives you – it may be worth it.

Give yourself plenty of time to write your shipping insurance list. If you haven’t sold your car or are worried about any loose ends, get a friend or relative authorised as your power of attorney.

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