Moving to Dubai from the UK: Checklist

Published Last Updated 11 min read

You’re ready for a new life overseas and have decided you’re moving to Dubai. Now it’s time to consider the various costs involved, from your visa and accommodation, to health insurance, shipping your belongings and bringing your beloved pets along too.

In this guide, we’re answering the question – how much does it cost to move to Dubai? We’ll factor in the additional costs of moving to Dubai from the UK with your family, and what you can expect to pay in the local currency dirham (AED), compared to British pound sterling (GBP).

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How to Move to Dubai from the UK

Visa and Tax

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

  • Employment
  • Remote work
  • Student
  • Investor
  • Property owner
  • Dependent
  • Retirement

Each type of visa has varying costs, specific requirements and documentation to include with your application.

Looking to move to Dubai with your spouse or children? You can do this if you have a valid residence visa and a minimum monthly salary of AED4,000 (£901.74) or AED3,000 (£676.30) plus accommodation. You’ll first pay a sponsor registration fee of AED268.90 (£60.56) and then a cost per person depending on the type of family visa.

If you have any moving to Dubai from the UK tax concerns, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s no income tax on salaries or wages paid in Dubai. However, you may still be subject to foreign taxation laws in your home country, such as income tax in your home country if you’ve lived in Dubai for less than one full tax year.

There isn’t a capital gains tax in the UAE either. Dubai does charge value-added tax (VAT) on tax-registered businesses, but at 5% compared to 20% in the UK. This applies to:

  • Entertainment
  • Electronics
  • Hotel services
  • Food and beverages
  • Utility bills
  • Private transport services
  • School uniforms
  • Commercial rent
  • Cars
  • Jewellery and other sectors

Certain industries such as financial services and local passenger transport are exempt from paying VAT. While tourists are exempt from paying VAT for products they take back home, they still have to pay VAT on 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).

A business will pay the Dubai government the tax that it collects from its customers. At the same time, the business will receive a refund from the government on the tax that it has paid to its suppliers.


Another one of the major costs to move overseas is your accommodation. A popular option for expats is ready-to-move properties in Dubai, which are homes that are already built or close to construction, ready for direct sale from the seller or builder.

When you move to Dubai from the UK, here are the typical property costs to expect:

  • Deposit – To buy a property, the minimum deposit for expats is 25% of the property price.
  • Security deposit – 5% of the annual rent for a furnished property, 10% for unfurnished.
  • Agency fees – If you’re renting through an agency or broker, you’ll pay an additional 5% of the annual rent for a residential property, and 7-10% for commercial property.
  • Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) – Exact cost depends on consumption, but for a 900 sq. ft. apartment, the DEWA bill is around AED600 (£135.24) a month.
  • Housing fees (Dubai municipality fee) – 5% of the annual rent paid in 12 parts, added to your DEWA bill.
  • Property management charges – Covering maintenance, repairs, security, cleaning.
  • Ejari fees – All tenants must be registered with the Ejari system, a contract registration platform administered by the Dubai Land Department (DLD), at a cost of approximately AED220 (£49.59).
  • Chiller fees – Air conditioning costs from either Emicool or Empower, which vary according to the provider, size of the property and usage.

Transporting Yourself

When you first apply for a work permit in Dubai, it will be valid for 30 days and can be extended for a further 30 days. You’ll initially enter Dubai with a pink visa and have 60 days for your employer to arrange for a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID, and your Labour Card.

These are the following fees for a work permit in Dubai:

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

You’ll need your Emirates ID for most transactions, such as opening a bank account, renting an apartment and enrolling your children in school. For an Emirates ID card, you’ll pay a processing fee of AED270 (£60.87).

One of the major factors to bear in mind about the annual cost of living in Dubai is medical insurance, which is mandatory for both residents and expats. While your employer will be governed by law to provide you with health insurance, it may not cover everything you require. It’s therefore worth looking into private medical insurance, which costs roughly £2,200 a year.

Moving Pets to Dubai

Looking to bring your pet over to Dubai? You’ll want to ensure they have a valid import permit. The permit will be valid for 30 days, so your pet must travel within this timeframe. The service charges for the UAE pet permit are:

  • Import permit: AED500 (£112.71) per dog/cat
  • Inspection fees: AED500 (£112.71) per cat and AED1,000 (£225.43) per dog

The documents you’ll need to bring your pet to Dubai include:

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

Your pet won’t have to be quarantined as part of their relocation, but they will need to be shipped in manifested cargo, as per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations.

Transporting Your Possessions

As part of your overseas move to Dubai, you’ll want to use an international removals company to make transporting your belongings as stress-free as possible.

Your used household goods and personal items will typically be treated as duty-free, as long as you have a Residence Permit. All new household goods are subject to duty tax, which is determined by customs officials.

Looking to ship your car or motorbike? You'll need to be a resident of the UAE and have a left-handed car to meet regulations. Your UK driving licence won’t be valid in Dubai, so you’ll need to get an international driving licence until your residence permit is issued. You’ll then be eligible to apply for a local driving licence at the following costs (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

To summarise, here are the main costs you’ll need to budget for when you move overseas to Dubai:

Costs to transport you

  • Visa fees
  • Private medical insurance

Cost to transport your family

  • Opening charge
  • Entry permit

Cost of property

  • Monthly mortgage or rent
  • Deposit
  • Security deposit
  • Agency fees
  • Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) fees, including housing fees
  • Property management charges
  • Ejari fees
  • Chiller fees

Transporting your belongings

  • International removal
  • Duty tax on new belongings

Transporting your pets

  • Import permit
  • Inspection fee

Key Takeaways

If you’ve made your decision and are ready to move to Dubai, here are your main financial considerations:

  • You’ll need a visa to live and work abroad in Dubai. It’s up to your employer to arrange your Residents Visa, your Emirates ID and your Labour Card during the 60 days you can work there with a pink visa.
  • There’s no income tax on salaries or wages paid in Dubai, and capital gains tax isn’t charged either. VAT is payable at 5%, compared to the UK’s 20%.
  • You’ll need to have private medical insurance when you live in Dubai, as there’s a limit to what your employer-funded healthcare will offer.
  • If you’re looking to buy a property in Dubai, the minimum deposit for expats is 25% of the property price. A favourable option is ready-to-move apartments, which are available in some of Dubai’s most popular expat communities.
  • When relocating to Dubai with your pets, they’ll need an import permit which costs roughly £112.71 per dog or cat, then an inspection fee at £112.71 per cat and £225.43 per dog.
  • The easiest and most effective way to transport your possessions is with an international removal company. You’ll pay duty tax on new household items, which is determined by customs officials.

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