Guidance

Living in the United Arab Emirates

Official information British people moving to and living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Before you go

See our travel advice for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Local laws and customs

UAE laws and customs are very different from the UK – breaking the law can result in severe punishment, including the death penalty.

See local laws and customs in our travel advice for UAE.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for UAE in our travel advice.

See also the UAE Embassy in London and the UAE Ministry of Interior.

Everyone living in the UAE must have an Emirates ID card, which will be issued when you get your residency visa.

For information on sponsoring family members, contact the relevant authority in each of the Emirates:

Healthcare

See our travel advice for UAE.

UAE and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.

You should also make sure you’re covered by health insurance for UK treatment or you’ll be charged by the NHS for any care you receive in the UK. The NHS has information for people moving abroad.

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines in the UK are considered controlled substances in the UAE – you should check your prescriptions are legal in UAE and read drugs and controlled medicines in UAE.

Emergency treatment in government hospitals is generally free. If you use a private hospital, make sure you have a UAE medical card and/or comprehensive medical insurance.

For information on healthcare facilities and insurance, see UAE health and fitness.

For a list of government hospitals and clinics, see the UAE Ministry of Health.

Working in UAE

See getting a work and residency permit.

If you need a good conduct certificate from the UK, you should apply through the ACRO Criminal Records Office and then get it legalised for use in the UAE.

You can check with the British Council in the UAE if your UK qualifications are recognised in UAE.

The retirement age for expatriates working in the UAE private sector is 60, but you can apply for 2-year extensions to work up to the age of 65 through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

The UK does not have a double taxation agreement with the UAE – we recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in UAE.

There is no income tax on salaries or wages paid in the UAE. Depending on the Emirate, there may be taxes on some services and goods, municipal taxes and customs duties.

For information on corporation tax, contact the Ministry of Economy.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

If you’ve worked in UAE, see pensions and end of service benefits.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

The UAE government does not provide social welfare benefits to non-UAE nationals.

Driving in UAE

See driving abroad and road travel in UAE.

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

You can apply to exchange your UK driving licence for a UAE licence in:

Voting

See voting when you’re abroad.

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies and bereavement information for UAE.

Getting married

See getting married abroad for information and to book an appointment for an affidavit or affirmation of marital status for the UAE.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

UAE uses:

  • 999 – police
  • 998 – ambulance
  • 997 – fire department

See handling emergencies in UAE.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad and buying property in the UAE.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

Before leaving UAE, you need to:

  • cancel your residency status
  • cancel your work visa
  • close all your bank accounts and credit cards
  • pay off any fines or debts

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the United Arab Emirates authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 4 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  2. Changes is obtaining a work permit in the UAE for a new arrival.
  3. Update charities
  4. Update local websites
  5. Important changes based on rules of the UAE for foreign nationals in child custody and divorce cases.
  6. More information added to Living in the UAE - Drug section
  7. Small changes to 'In Summary' as per Consular.
  8. Spacing
  9. Update Dos and Dont's
  10. Adjustment to the page: Sponsorship of families removed and will be added to a new document
  11. amendments to text in sponsoring of family members, as per UAE consular team added Do's and Don'ts document
  12. First published.