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Moving to Dubai from the UK: Checklist

Property Saviour » Moving » Moving to Dubai from the UK: Checklist

You’re ready to start a new life abroad and have decided to move to Dubai. It’s time to take into account the costs involved, such as visas, accommodation, health insurance, shipping belongings, and even bringing your beloved pets.

In this guide, we’ll answer the question: “How much does it cost to move to Dubai?” We’ll include extra costs for moving from the UK with your family and what you can expect to pay in dirham (AED) compared to British pound sterling (GBP).

Table of Contents

How to Move to Dubai from the UK?

When you’re looking to live and work abroad in Dubai, one of the first things to consider is your visa. As an expat, you’ll need one of the following visas to move to Dubai:

  • Employment,
  • Remote work,
  • Student, Investor,
  • Property owner,
  • Dependent or Retirement.
  • Each visa has its costs, requirements and documents for the application process.

If you’re looking to move to Dubai with your family, you can do so if you have a valid residence visa and a minimum monthly salary of either AED4,000 (£901.74) or AED3,000 (£676.30) plus accommodation.

You’ll also need to pay the sponsor registration fee of AED268.90 (£60.56). After that, you’ll have to pay a fee per person, depending on the type of family visa.

When it comes to taxes, expats in Dubai will be pleased to know that there’s no income tax on salaries or wages. However, you may still be subject to taxation laws in your home country.

Dubai doesn’t have a capital gains tax either, but it does charge a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5%, which is less than the 20% in the UK. This applies to:

  • Entertainment,
  • Electronics,
  • Hotel services, food and beverages,
  • Some utility bills,
  • Private transport services,
  • School uniforms,
  • Commercial rent, cars and jewellery.
  • Financial services and local passenger transport are exempt from VAT.
  • Tourists are exempt from paying VAT for products they take back home, but not for products they consume during their stay.

Businesses in Dubai must register for VAT if their taxable supplies and imports exceed AED375,000 per annum (£84,342.59). VAT is optional for businesses whose supplies and imports exceed AED187,500 per annum (£42,171.29).

The Dubai government will receive the tax that businesses collect from their customers, and will also refund the tax that businesses pay to their suppliers.

Move to Dubai from UK checklist
You'll need to consider the cost of accommodation, healthcare, and schooling when budgeting for relocating to Dubai from the UK.

Cost of Living When Moving to Dubai from the UK

Dubai is a city with a high standard of living, meaning the cost of living is higher than in the UK. Fortunately, expats don’t pay taxes on their salaries, which can offset the higher costs.

You’ll need to consider the cost of accommodation, healthcare, and schooling when budgeting for relocating to Dubai from the UK.

The following table provides a comparison between the cost of living in London and Dubai in various aspects:





AED 5,000 – AED 10,000 per month

GBP 1,500 – GBP 3,000 per month


AED 400 – AED 500 per month

GBP 100 – GBP 200 per month


AED 500 – AED 1,000 per week

GBP 200 – GBP 400 per week


AED 500 – AED 1,000 per month

GBP 200 – GBP 400 per month


AED 10,000 – AED 20,000 per year

GBP 5,000 – GBP 10,000 per year


When you’re moving overseas, accommodation is a major cost to consider. Dubai has lots of ready-to-move properties available, which have either been built or are close to completion. They’re ready to buy directly from the seller or builder.

If you’re moving to Dubai from the UK, here are the typical property costs to expect:

  1. Deposit – To purchase a property, expats must pay a minimum deposit of 25% of the property value.
  2. Security deposit – A furnished property requires a 5% security deposit of the annual rent, while an unfurnished property requires 10%.
  3. Agency fees – If the property is rented through an agency or broker, there is an additional fee of 5% of the annual rent for residential properties and 7-10% for commercial properties.
  4. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) – The cost depends on consumption, but a 900 sq. ft. apartment would have a DEWA bill of approximately AED600 (around £135.24) per month.
  5. Housing fees (Dubai municipality fee) – This fee is 5% of the annual rent, to be paid in 12 instalments, and added to the DEWA bill.
  6. Property management charges – These cover maintenance, repairs, security, and cleaning.
  7. Ejari fees – All tenants must be registered on the Ejari system, a contract registration platform administered by the Dubai Land Department, for a fee of approximately AED220 (around £49.59).
  8. Chiller fees – Air conditioning costs from either Emicool or Empower vary according to the provider, size of the property, and usage.

Transporting Yourself

When applying for a work permit in Dubai, it is valid for 30 days, and can be extended for an additional 30 days.

Upon entering Dubai, you will receive a pink visa, and have 60 days for your employer to arrange for a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID, and a Labour Card.

The cost of a work permit in Dubai can vary, depending on the category:

  • Category 1 is AED300 (£67.48).
  • Category 2 can range from AED500 (£112.46) to AED2000 (£449.85), depending on whether the worker is skilled or unskilled.
  • Category 3 is AED5000 (£1,124.63), and a Dubai work visa for 2 years is between AED3000 (£674.78) and AED7000 (£1,574.49).

You will need your Emirates ID for most transactions, such as opening a bank account, renting an apartment, and enrolling your children in school. This will cost a processing fee of AED270 (£60.87).

When considering the annual cost of living in Dubai, medical insurance is a major factor to keep in mind. This is mandatory for both expats and residents and while your employer is required to provide you with health insurance, it may not cover everything you require.

It is worth looking into private medical insurance, which costs around £2,200 a year.

Moving Pets to Dubai

Looking to bring your beloved pet to Dubai? You’ll need to make sure they have a valid import permit.

The permit is valid for 30 days, so you’ll need to make sure your pet travels within this time limit. Here are the service charges for the UAE pet permit:

  • Import permit: AED500 (£112.71) for each dog/cat
  • Inspection fees: AED500 (£112.71) for cats and AED1,000 (£225.43) for dogs

You’ll also need to have the following documents when bringing your pet to Dubai:

  • A copy of your/the pet owner’s passport (if different)
  • UAE pet import permit
  • The original vaccination card or animal passport, including a valid microchip number
  • A valid original health certificate from the exporting country
  • An original certificate for the Rabies Serum Neutralization test (RSNT)

No quarantine is required for your pet during the relocation process. However, they must be shipped in manifested cargo as per the regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Is it worth it to move to Dubai
If you're looking to ship your car or motorbike, you must be a resident of the UAE and have a left-handed car to meet regulations.

Transporting Your Possessions

As part of your move to Dubai, an international removal company can make transporting your belongings stress-free.

Your used household goods and personal items can be duty-free, provided you have a Residence Permit. All new household items, however, will be subject to duty tax, as determined by customs officials.

If you’re looking to ship your car or motorbike, you must be a resident of the UAE and have a left-handed car to meet regulations.

Your UK driving licence won’t work in Dubai, so you’ll need an international driving licence until your residence permit is issued. Then, you’ll be able to apply for a local driving licence. The costs for this are as follows (RTA):

  • AED200 for opening a file (£45.04),
  • AED600 for issuing a licence (£135.12),
  • AED50 for the handbook manual (£11.26),
  • AED20 plus knowledge and innovation fees (£4.50).

Moving to Dubai Checklist

When you move overseas to Dubai, there are several costs you will need to budget for.

These include:

  1. Costs to transport you and your family
  2. Visa fees
  3. Private medical insurance
  4. Opening charge
  5. Entry permit
  6. Cost of property
  7. Monthly mortgage or rent
  8. Deposit
  9. Security deposit
  10. Agency fees
  11. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) fees, including housing fees
  12. Property management charges
  13. Ejari fees
  14. Chiller fees
  15. Transporting your belongings
  16. International removal
  17. Duty tax on new belongings
  18. Transporting your pets
  19. Import permit
  20. Inspection fee.
How long can a UK citizen stay in Dubai?
There are many amazing places to visit in Dubai; driving is usually the best way to get around, though other forms of public transport can be just as good or even better.

Culture in Dubai for UK Expats

Moving to Dubai from the UK can be a difficult transition, but once you get used to the differences, you’ll be able to experience the grandeur of life in Dubai. You’re sure to be amazed by the spectacular sights of this city.

To make your adaptation to life in Dubai smoother, here are some key cultural points to keep in mind:


As for the language, Arabic is the official language of the UAE, but most of the residents speak English fluently. There are also a lot of expats from different countries living in Dubai, so language won’t be a problem.

Getting Around

There are many amazing places to visit in Dubai; driving is usually the best way to get around, though other forms of public transport can be just as good or even better.

Remember that roads are on the left side, which may take some getting used to. Traffic levels are typically the same as during peak times in London.

Dubai famous food
There are countless restaurants from all around the world to choose from, so you'll find something to suit your tastes


Rest assured that you won’t have to worry about food in Dubai. There are countless restaurants from all around the world to choose from, so you’ll find something to suit your tastes.

If you’re after a taste of home, there are plenty of British restaurants to choose from. Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, The Nine, The Croft, Rhodes W1, and Harvesters Restaurant are just a few of the options.


Being an international city with a large number of expatriates, Dubai is quite relaxed when it comes to clothing choices. As long as you don’t wear anything excessively short or revealing, people generally don’t pay much attention to what you’re wearing.

Women can wear sleeveless tops and shorts or skirts, although wearing hot shorts and short tops may draw some stares in urban areas.

However, these are much more commonplace at beaches and nightclubs. When visiting a mosque or other religious site, it is recommended that you wear trousers and avoid wearing very short sleeves.


In Dubai, you don’t need to worry about your winter clothes. January temperatures rarely drop below 15°C and the rest of the year is mostly hot and sunny. August can get up to 43°C, so make sure you’re prepared for the heat!

Moving to Dubai
Marriage is the only legal bond that allows a man and woman to start a family in Dubai, as the UAE follows Sharia Law.


Marriage is the only legal bond that allows a man and woman to start a family in Dubai, as the UAE follows Sharia Law. Here are a few points regarding marriage rules in Dubai:

For non-Muslims, the same marriage laws from their home country will apply. However, one of the parties must possess a valid residence visa in Dubai. Both parties must also have a pre-marital medical examination.

Afterwards, the marriage certificate must be attested at the British Embassy in Dubai.

Birth and Death

To give birth in an Emirati hospital, you should open a maternity file at that hospital by the seventh month of your pregnancy.

Public hospitals will issue a birth certificate automatically, whereas a private hospital will require you to apply for one at the Ministry of Health. After that, you can contact the British Embassy to get your child’s passport.

In the unfortunate event of a family member’s death, you would be required to obtain a death certificate and notify the UK Embassy in Dubai.

Work Environment

Working in Dubai from a UK citizen’s perspective can be quite satisfying. The professional atmosphere in the city is palpable, and you can expect your co-workers to be well-educated and competent, particularly at larger companies.

On top of that, you may also receive a higher salary and be entitled to more benefits.

Generally, the working hours are nine hours a day or 47 hours a week, in accordance with UAE labour law which grants you 22 days of annual leave. You should also be mindful of the public holidays in Dubai, which account for about 14 days in a year.


Dubai offers world-class healthcare facilities, but they come with a costly price tag. To avoid any hefty medical expenses, you’ll need invest in a good health insurance plan.

Below is a list of the average prices of health insurance plans in the UAE:

Individual (AED)

Family of four (AED)

Basic Health Insurance 

600 – 800


Comprehensive Health Plan



Premium Health Plan

10,000 -15,000 


Essential Benefits  Plans

550 – 600


Education in Dubai is of great importance, with a range of international schools available.

Here is a look at the average fees for schools in Dubai:

School Type

Min Fee (AED)

Max Fee (AED)

Public School (for expats)



American Schools



British Schools



Indian Schools



Do you Need To Sell Your Property?

If you need to sell a property before moving to Dubai, here at at Property Saviour we can help:

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.

Sell with certainty & speed

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