Moving to the UAE: the ultimate checklist

Are you moving to the United Arab Emirates? Make your relocation as effortless as possible with our ultimate checklist.

Moving to UAE

Updated 19-4-2024

The United Arab Emirates is an increasingly popular destination for expats from around the world. With a good standard of living, high salaries, and plenty of job opportunities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have established themselves as two of the world’s most expat-friendly cities.

But if you are planning to move to the UAE, there are many things you need to arrange before you leave; from immigration documents to checking out the local schools. To help make your move easier, here is our checklist for moving to the Emirates. It includes the following information:

Orient Insurance

Orient Insurance provides a range of insurance products, including medical coverage, for internationals in the UAE. With over 40 years of experience in the country’s insurance market, they offer policies for your health, vehicle, home, and much more. When moving to the UAE, trust Orient Insurance to protect what matters.

Do your research

Before you move to the United Arab Emirates, it is essential that you do your homework first. For many expats, the UAE represents a completely different culture and way of life; therefore it is important you know whether this is the right culture fit for you and your family. This isn’t something you want to wait and discover once you’ve already made the move. To give you an idea of what to expect, read the following guides:

Arrange your visa

Do you know the UAE entry requirements for you and your family? One of the first things to consider when moving to any country is whether you are legally able to live and work there. Entry requirements for the UAE vary depending on individual circumstances; therefore, check that you have the right visa and immigration documents sorted before you leave. This ensures you avoid any inconveniences when you arrive in your new home.

Transport your belongings

Think you’ll be able to move all your worldly possessions to the UAE with just a suitcase? Think again. Moving you and your family’s belongings to the UAE can be challenging, so why not consider using a professional relocation specialist? As well as transporting your belongings, many relocation specialists also offer help and support for all aspects of your move; this includes storage and settling-in services. These services can be great at taking the stress out of your relocation.

Camels in Dubai

However, some expats prefer simply using a global logistics company to get their belongings to their new in the Middle East. Your options for relocating to the UAE include:

Finding the right international shipping provider can give you peace of mind while dealing with the other details of your move. Check ahead of time to avoid any last-minute surprises.

Manage your finances

When moving to the UAE, it’s essential that you get your finances in order to ensure you can support yourself and your family. This relates to any short-term money needs as well as long-term financial management, including:

To help you cover your finances in the short-term, you may also need to transfer money internationally quickly and easily. To do this, check out these international money transfer options:

  • CurrencyFair offers money transfers to over 150 countries and has exchange rates up to eight times cheaper than the banks, helping you avoid excessive bank fees.
  • Wise is an international money transfer provider available in 59 countries that offers transfers between cross-border bank accounts up to eight times cheaper than traditional banks.
  • XE allows you to view live currency rates online. They also support money transfers for more than 100 currencies to over 170 countries.

You can also use online comparison tools to save on fees, obtain the best exchange rates, and find the cheapest option for your international money transfers.

Move your vehicle

Are you planning on driving in the UAE? Or maybe you’re thinking about importing your own four-wheeled pride and joy? You will need to research the motoring law in your new home before you get behind the wheel. Every country has its own motoring laws and restrictions; so read up on how the UAE differs from your home country. Check out our guide to driving in the United Arab Emirates for more information.

Take care of your pet

If you are planning on relocating to the UAE with a four-legged family member, it is essential that you know the requirements for importing pets. The Emirates has certain restrictions on the importation of pets and animals that you may not be used to. Therefore, it is important that you prepare for the move well ahead of time. This will give you plenty of time to get all the required documents in order to avoid any delays or disappointment in the long run.

Sort out your health insurance

One of the most important things to do when moving abroad is making sure that you and your family have the right health cover in place. Not only will this give you peace of mind in your new home, but health insurance is now a legal requirement for all expats living in the United Arab Emirates.

Family in Dubai

So, protect you and your family against any unforeseen medical needs by looking into insurance ahead of time with one of these international health insurance providers:

For more information on getting the right cover for you, read our guide on health insurance in the United Arab Emirates.

Find a place to live

Do you see yourself living in a high-rise apartment building in downtown Dubai? Or maybe you would prefer to settle your family in a residential neighborhood in up-and-coming Abu Dhabi? Whatever your housing needs, the UAE has a whole host of options for all price brackets. For more information on neighborhoods and real estate agencies, read our guide on where to live in the United Arab Emirates.

Start looking for a job

Many expats moving to the United Arab Emirates will already have a job offer in their pocket, however, some will be making the move while still looking for work. The UAE has experienced significant economic growth in the last few decades, so there are plenty of opportunities for job-hunting expats. For more information on the local labor market and working requirements, read our guides to finding a job in the United Arab Emirates and tailoring your CV for the Emirati labor market.

Look into childcare and schooling options

Relocating to a new country with young children, and getting them settled into their new life, can be challenging at the best of times. Take some of the stress out of those first few weeks by researching primary schooling and daycare options before you move.

Primary school students

The UAE has a high standard of public education, although many expats opt for one of the many international schools in the United Arab Emirates. For more information, read our guide to the education system in the United Arab Emirates.

Start learning the language

They say that the best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it. However, that shouldn’t stop you from getting ahead of the game with some language learning before you make the move to the UAE. So, whether you choose one-to-one tuition or one of the many language learning apps, there are plenty of options. For more insight into the UAE’s official language, read our introduction to Arabic, the language of the United Arab Emirates.

Useful resources

For more information on all aspects of relocating to the United Arab Emirates, visit the UAE Government’s dedicated immigration portal.