Before Your Move Checklist
Find a job
Known for its hospitality and safety, the UAE is committed to providing a prosperous life for all. In turn, Abu Dhabi – the capital city – is brimming with high-quality education and plenty of job opportunities to support its knowledge based economy. In order to move to Abu Dhabi, expatriates must be employed and sponsored by their employer. This mandate ensures that newcomers are able to earn a desirable living and enjoy life in Abu Dhabi.
Obtain a residence visa
Expatriates must obtain a residence visa to legally reside in Abu Dhabi. A residence visa allows you to live freely and enjoy benefits such as opening a bank account, acquiring a driver’s licence and enroling your children into private schools among others. In order to obtain a residence visa you must have a sponsor, undergo medical screening, pass a background check and apply for an Emirates ID.
Getting employed by a company in Abu Dhabi
Employers apply for and sponsor your Residence Visa for the duration of your employment contract. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) works tirelessly to ensure increased job opportunities and a fair job market for its diverse population of workers. The government is committed to the implementation of strategies which protect workers’ rights with special provisions for women and people of determination. Labour laws ensure that workers are treated fairly with regard to wages, hours, annual leave, safety standards and end of service gratuity. Frameworks such as the Wage Protection System and eComplaint service help to make this possibly (Types of Visas)
Learn more about employment laws and regulations.
Apply for an Emirates ID
The Emirates ID is an identity card issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. It is a legal requirement for all UAE citizens and residents to apply for one and carry it at all times. The Emirates ID is required for government services such as establishing household accounts (water, electric, cable, internet service, etc), opening a bank account, applying for a driver’s license and enrolling children into school.
Learn more about the Emirates ID.
Health Insurance for Residents
In Abu Dhabi, employers and sponsors are responsible for providing health insurance coverage for their employees and their families (1 spouse and up to 3 children under the age of 18 years). The extent of coverage for employees and their dependents is determined by the terms of the employee's contract such as salary and designation. The type of policy selected by the sponsor determines the cost of your medical services. For example, co-payments for doctor visits and pharmaceuticals may vary across plans. Once registered for a health insurance policy, you will receive a health insurance card to be presented when receiving medical care. The Department of Health maintains a full list of registered insurance companies in the UAE.
Investing in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is an ideal home for you and your business thanks to strategic initiatives rolled out by the government. The emirate’s recent steps to enhance the economic climate and stimulate private establishments include reducing the number of requirements to start a business and slashing set-up fees by over 90%. Due to entitlements initiatives such as 100% foreign ownership, access to incubators and free zones offering tax exemptions, Abu Dhabi is counted among the fastest emerging hubs for international business. Establishing a company in Abu Dhabi allows you to apply for your own visa under the sponsorship of your own company.
Learn more about Set up in Abu Dhabi, an easy-to-use platform that facilitates the entire process of starting a business in Abu Dhabi.
Buying a property in Abu Dhabi
You’ve decided to move to Abu Dhabi, and now plan to stay long term. Expatriates are allowed to own residential properties. Ownership deeds are granted for the structure only and does not include land rights. Foreign ownership is allowed in nine of Abu Dhabi’s most sought after neighborhoods including Yas Island, Saadiyat Island, Reem Island, Al Mariya Island, Al Raha Beach, Sayh Al Sedairah, Al Reef and Masdar City. Purchasing property in Abu Dhabi allows you to apply for your own visa under the sponsorship of your property (Where-To-Live)
Learn more about property ownership in Abu Dhabi.
Attending university in Abu Dhabi
Students who choose to study in Abu Dhabi may be eligible for a Student Visa. The student must be at least 18 years old and pass a medical fitness test. The applicant can be sponsored by a parent, relative or the university itself. The student visa is given for a term of one year at a time and it is renewable provided that proof of continuation of studies is provided. Outstanding students may be granted a long term student visa, valid for a period of five years. To qualify, students must graduate with at least 95% from secondary schools or at least a 3.75 GPA from a university within or outside the country. Admission into a university in Abu Dhabi does not guarantee that a Student Visa will be issued.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) maintains an innovative school system with the goal of producing knowledgeable, globally competitive leaders for the jobs of the future. Consequently, there is a large network of government and private schools in Abu Dhabi, offering a wide range of curriculums. All public schools teach the curriculum set by the UAE Ministry of Education which includes classes such as Arabic, UAE social studies and moral education. Private schools offer the following curriculum options: UAE MoE, British, American, Japanese, Indian, Canadian, SABIS, Philippine, German, International Baccalaureate (IB), French, Bangladeshi, Iranian and Pakistani.
Most expatriate students attend private schools with some, but not all, employers covering school fees as part of the employee’s benefit package; however, terms and conditions vary from one employer to another, so be sure to discuss school fees during contract negotiations. The academic year in Abu Dhabi starts in late August or early September depending on the school and finishes in July of the following year. Exact dates for opening and closing vary according to the curriculum.
Find schools in Abu Dhabi.
Find a Place to Live
From luxurious high-rise buildings overlooking the Arabian Gulf to villa communities with lush gardens and full amenities, there are many options for accommodation throughout Abu Dhabi. Rental rates depend on the location and size of the property. Property owners expect to receive the full amount of rent for the year in one cheque, however there is room to negotiate multiple payments. It is also customary for rental agents and brokers to be paid a fee of 5% of the total amount of rent.
Learn more about communities in Abu Dhabi.
Select a Relocation/Shipping Company
There are plenty of shipping and relocation companies in Abu Dhabi. Sometimes employers may have a preferred provider, but rest assured that relocation specialists can be hired to handle every aspect of your move. There are strict rules on what may and may not be brought into the country.
Learn more about restricted and prohibited goods.
Popular Relocation Companies in Abu Dhabi