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Are you newly arrived in Abu Dhabi?

UAE checking in

If you are newly arrived in Abu Dhabi then welcome!

We hope your first few weeks in the capital of the UAE have been fun…..maybe you are also rather overwhelmed with how much there is to contend with? Well, help is at hand with this guide to checking in written by the British Embassy. Their information will apply to other nationalities too.

You may find your employer has many areas covered but many people need Consular assistance because they do not check in properly when they first get here. Don’t let it be you! Remember, if you’ve just arrived in the UAE there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be completed to ensure you stay legal.

1. Residency Visa Your employer is responsible for obtaining a residency visa for you and your family.   This may take some time and you will need to surrender your passport temporarily. You cannot travel out of the UAE whilst your visa is in process. You will need 6 months validity in your passport to obtain a residency visa and travel around the region.

2. Health insurance All medical services must be paid for in the UAE so make sure you have adequate medical insurance in place when you arrive. If this is not initially provided by your employer you should consider travel insurance from your home country until your employer’s health insurance commences. Make sure you have brought all your vaccination certificates and children’s health records.

3. Emirates Identity Card. This is mandatory for all UAE residents and you are wise to always carry it with you. This website gives information on how to get one. Tip: Have plenty of passport photos available for registration.

4. Driving Licence Driving in the UAE on a UK driving licence is only allowed if you are a non-resident of the UAE. It may be the same for other nationalities. Therefore once you receive your residence visa you must immediately obtain a UAE driving licence. British nationals with a UK driving licence can apply for an automatic driving licence transfer in the UAE. For more information click here.

5. Alcohol Licence You need an alcohol licence if you wish to consume or purchase alcohol. You can apply for this once you have your residence visa. For Abu Dhabi apply online.

6. Salik Tag If you are driving in Dubai you will need a Salik Tag which automatically collects toll money for the various toll points in Duabi. You can find out more information on Dubai’s road toll collection system here.

7. Legalisation of your Documents Legalised and translated marriage and birth certificates may be required by sponsors.  The British Embassies in the UAE do not provide any legalisation services and this may be the same for other embassies too. For UK citizens further information can be found here.

8. Attestation of documents e.g passport, school records and/or degree certificates. The British Embassies in the UAE do not provide this service but a list of lawyers who specialise in UAE and UK laws and who provide notarial services is available on this website.

9. Accommodation Finding a new home is an exciting time when arriving in the UAE. If you are thinking of renting a property you may be asked to sign a non refundable lease so consider you options especially if you are on a probationary period. You may be financially liable for the annual rent. Our ‘For Info’ section has a whole host of useful information on real estate companies as well as the details of water, electricity etc.

10. Bank accounts and credit cards UAE Residents are able to open a local bank account. Visit this website for more information.

A range of credit cards are available to residents but do remember that bouncing a cheque is illegal in the UAE. If a cheque is presented without adequate funds to cover the amount, you will face criminal and civil charges. After you have served your jail sentence you will not be able to leave the country until the funds have been paid in full.

For future info…

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in your home country are considered controlled substances in the UAE and can’t be brought into the country without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. If you arrive in the UAE without this permission and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the UAE and you may be prosecuted under UAE law.

Do check whether your medication is on the controlled list. You can find a list of registered and controlled medicines and details on import regulations on this site.


We really hope this has been a useful checklist and our thanks to the British Embassy for supplying the information to us.


For news on everything else you need to know about what is happening in Abu Dhabi for families then you are in the right place! Yalla is the know it all family guide to Abu Dhabi. We are also on Facebook, Instagram and also as a printed directory that is distributed for free three times a year at the start of each term through international schools, nurseries and other family friendly places as well as through embassies, corporates and relocation agencies and all Aldar residences.






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