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How To Move To Dubai As A UK Citizen - UAE Immigration 2024

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Migrate To Dubai from the UK


Dreaming of a vibrant life in Dubai? British citizens, here’s your guide on  How To Move To Dubai As A UK Citizen!  


Dubai crawls with expats from all around the world. And the United Kingdom is no exception! Calling a large expat community home, Dubai offers a unique opportunity to experience a vibrant, multicultural city life. With a sizable British expat population of around 240,000, Dubai can provide a familiar and welcoming environment while still offering the thrill of living in a cosmopolitan hub. English is widely spoken throughout Dubai, so you won’t need to be fluent in Arabic to get by. This makes Dubai an attractive option for British expatriates looking to expand their horizons while still feeling a sense of connection to home.


A host of UK citizens are making their way to Dubai. And this doesn’t surprise us. How can one not want to live and work in a city that delivers a clean, safe and contemporary environment with fantastic shopping, dining and nightlife, and leisurely access to beaches and outdoor activities that too without putting a dent in their bank account in the name of income tax?! Without a doubt, Great Britain offers a high standard of living with access to quality healthcare, education, cultural amenities, and social services, but we all know all of this comes at a premium which is obviously taxes. The country, particularly its capital city London, is often ranked as one of the world’s most expensive places to live. From its progressive tax system to notoriously high housing prices and utility bills to pricey food and groceries, the country can rip you off craving financial freedom to enjoy your life. Moreover, when you have an opportunity to easily move to a tax-free country boasting a luxurious living standard and state-of-the-art amenities without surrendering your UK citizenship, which is a piped dream for many, then why won’t you?! Don’t worry, we got you during this sliding doors moment with all the assistance you need in Dubai for a smooth migration from the UK. Let’s start with this informational blog to make your migration journey to Dubai as a UK citizen in 2024 as smooth as possible.

UAE Immigration 2024_

Things to consider before immigrating to Dubai from the UK

Immigration to Dubai from the UK is an exciting endeavor, but it’s essential to consider various factors to ensure a smooth transition and successful adaptation to your new environment. Here are some key considerations before making the move:


1. Visa Requirements: 

Research the visa requirements for living and working in Dubai as a UK citizen. Determine the type of visa you’ll need based on your purpose of relocation, such as employment, investment, or residency. Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and gather all necessary documents for the visa application process.


2. Dubai vs UK: Cost of Living Comparison

While Dubai is known for its luxurious lifestyle, it can still be a budget-friendly option compared to major cities like London. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Overall Cost:  On average, Dubai offers a 25% lower cost of living compared to London (as of 2023). This can give you more financial freedom to enjoy the city’s many offerings.

  • Tax Advantages:  The United Arab Emirates boasts a tax-free income and minimal sales tax, putting more money directly in your pocket.

Keep in Mind:

  • Accommodation: Housing costs can vary depending on location and property type. However, you might find that your housing budget stretches further in Dubai compared to some UK cities.

  • Transportation: Dubai has a well-developed public transport system, making it an affordable way to get around.

Overall, Dubai presents an attractive cost of living proposition, particularly when you factor in the tax benefits. Remember, careful budgeting is key in any city, but Dubai offers opportunities to enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank.

3. Job Opportunities: 

Explore job opportunities in Dubai within your industry or field of expertise. Research companies, recruitment agencies, and job portals to identify potential employers and vacancies. Network with professionals in your industry and leverage online platforms to expand your job search.

4. Housing Options: 

Finding the right accommodation is key to a smooth transition from the UK to Dubai.  Dubai’s booming real estate market offers a treasure trove of options, from luxury apartments and upscale villas to cozy studios – there’s something for every budget and taste!

  • Apartments, Condominiums & Villas:  Whether you seek a modern apartment, a spacious condominium, or a luxurious villa, Dubai has it all. Furnished or unfurnished options are available, and flexible payment plans often include monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual installments.

  • Renting vs. Buying:   Dubai caters to both renters and aspiring homeowners. Renting a serviced apartment is a popular option for newcomers, allowing them to explore different areas before settling on a long-term solution.

Cost Considerations:

  • Rental Market: Expect to pay approximately £1,230 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, while a three-bedroom option averages around £2,300 (based on 2023 figures). Rents become more affordable on the outskirts, with one and three-bedroom apartments available for £790 and £1,600 monthly, respectively.

Many communities boast a large Western expat population, making it easy to find a place to call home and build friendships. Some popular areas for British expats include Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, and the family-friendly Arabian Ranches.


5. Cultural Differences: 

Prepare yourself for cultural differences between the UK and Dubai. Dubai is a multicultural city with diverse expatriate communities, but it also has its unique customs, traditions, and social norms. Take the time to learn about local etiquette, religious practices, and cultural sensitivities to facilitate cultural integration.


6. Healthcare and Insurance for Expats: 

Dubai prioritizes the well-being of all its residents, offering a sophisticated and accessible healthcare system:

  • Advanced Care:  Dubai boasts a highly developed healthcare system equipped with modern facilities and skilled professionals, ensuring access to quality care.

  • Public & Private Options:   The city offers both public and private healthcare options. Public hospitals provide subsidized or free services to Emiratis and expats with a health card.

  • Mandatory Health Insurance:  For expats, having private health insurance is mandatory by law. Many employers provide health coverage as part of the employment package.

  • Tailored Insurance Options: If your employer’s insurance doesn’t meet your needs, you can choose from a variety of affordable private health insurance plans to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Dubai’s commitment to healthcare provides expats with peace of mind, knowing they have access to quality medical services whenever needed.

7. Education Options: 

Dubai boasts a world-class education system, offering a wealth of choices for your child’s future. Gone are the worries about finding the right curriculum, language, or location – Dubai has it all! Here’s why Dubai shines:

  • Diverse Curriculum:  With over 60 schools offering the UK curriculum, you’re sure to find the perfect fit. Fees often start lower than private schools in Western countries, with primary education beginning around £1,000 per year (AED 4,000).

  • Highly-Regarded Schools:  For those seeking a prestigious British curriculum, with fees ranging from approximately £6,500 to £12,500 annually (AED 29,000 to AED 56,000).

  • Beyond British Curriculum:  Dubai caters to a global community, offering a variety of international schools with diverse curricula and programs.

  • Special Needs Support:  While less common, specialized schools cater to students with special needs, although fees tend to be higher (around £15,700 per year or AED 70,000).

  • Higher Education Hub:  Dubai International Academic City, located just outside the city center, houses prestigious universities from around the world, providing seamless access to higher education opportunities.

With its diverse educational landscape and affordability compared to some Western countries, Dubai empowers you to provide your child with an exceptional education that sets them on the path to success.

8. Legal and Financial Considerations: 

Seek professional advice on legal and financial matters related to relocating to Dubai. Consult with legal advisors, tax experts, and financial planners to understand legal requirements, tax implications, investment opportunities, and financial planning strategies in Dubai.


9. Taxes in Dubai, UAE: 

It’s not a secret that UK personal income taxes can be as high as 45%, depending on the person’s location and earnings. Doesn’t it seem like music to your ears that Dubai does not levy personal income tax on individuals? This means that UK expats in Dubai do not have to pay taxes on their salaries, wages, bonuses, or other forms of income earned in Dubai or any other emirate of the UAE. In addition, Dubai doesn’t have property taxes as well. However, you may need to cough up registration fees or other costs linked to a purchase or sale.

Additionally, 5% Value Added Tax or VAT (started from 1st January 2018) and 9% federal Corporate Income Tax (CIT) (commenced after 1 June 2023) in Dubai also are lower than most countries the world over.


10. Climate and Weather: 

Dubai has a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. It’s essential for UK citizens considering a move to Dubai to research and understand the climate and weather patterns to determine if it aligns with their lifestyle and preferences. Additionally, taking measures to stay cool and hydrated during the hot summer months can help make Dubai’s climate more manageable. Think how the climate may impact your lifestyle, outdoor activities, and wardrobe choices. Prepare for the weather by staying hydrated, using sunscreen, and dressing appropriately.


11. Social Support Network: 

At present, about 250,000 British expats call Dubai home. Find your community or build a social support network in Dubai to help you adjust to your new surroundings and connect with like-minded individuals. Attend social events, join clubs or groups, and participate in community activities to meet new people and make friends. Connecting with the British Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi and The British Business Group in Dubai also can be a great idea.


12. Ties to Your Home Country: 

You definitely don’t want to burn your bridges to your home country when relocating overseas until you have no intention to come back. We simply mean that if you have a property in the UK, you could consider renting it out for additional income, which can help cover mortgage payments, property maintenance costs, and other expenses associated with homeownership. Consider hiring a property management company to handle tenant relations and property maintenance while you’re enjoying your stay in the most vibrant city of the UAE. On the other hand, you may also sell it or leave it vacant. Selling, renting, or maintaining ownership while living abroad, whatever your decision regarding your UK property is, do not forget to evaluate the tax implications. We advise that you consult with tax advisors or financial experts to understand the tax obligations, capital gains tax, rental income tax, and other relevant taxes associated with your property and residency status in the UK and Dubai.


13. Maintaining UK Pension Contributions & Exploring QROPS: 

As a British expat living in Dubai, you can generally continue contributing to your UK pension scheme for up to a maximum of five tax years while enjoying tax relief. This allows you to maintain your retirement savings and benefit from the tax advantages of UK pension contributions. If you plan to stay in Dubai for an extended period beyond the five-year tax relief period or prefer to consolidate your pension savings in a foreign pension scheme, you may consider transferring your UK pension benefits to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). QROPS allows British expats to transfer their UK pension funds into a foreign pension scheme while retaining certain UK tax benefits.


Furthermore, don’t forget about your entitlement to the UK State Pension, which is based on your National Insurance contributions. To ensure you receive the full amount of the UK State Pension when you retire, consider making voluntary National Insurance contributions while living abroad. This will help maintain your eligibility and maximise your pension entitlement.


Visa Options in Dubai for UK Citizens

UK citizens wanting to move to Dubai, the most happening emirate of the United Arab Emirates can opt for any of the below listed visas depending on their purpose and duration of their stay. There are 7 main types of visas commonly sought by UK citizens relocating to the UAE.


1. Tourist Visa: 

Also known as a visit visa, a UAE tourist visa allows UK citizens to visit the UAE for leisure, tourism, or visiting friends and family. Tourist visas are typically valid for 30 to 90 days and can be obtained through UAE embassies or consulates, airlines, or authorised travel agencies. Extensions may be possible in some cases.

2. Residence Visa: 

A residence visa lets UK citizens live and work in the UAE for an extended period. To obtain a UAE residence visa, individuals usually need to be sponsored by an employer, a family member who is already a resident, or a property owner in the United Arab Emirates. UAE residence visas are typically valid for up to three years and are renewable.

3. Employment Visa: 

An employment visa, also known as a work visa, is required for UK citizens planning to work in the UAE. To obtain an employment visa, individuals need a job offer from a UAE-based employer. The employer usually acts as the sponsor and is responsible for obtaining the visa on behalf of the employee. Employment visas are typically valid for one to three years and can be renewed.

4. Investor Visa (Investor Residence Visa): 

UK citizens who wish to invest (at least 435,000 sterling pounds) in businesses or property in the UAE may be eligible for an investor visa, a type of UAE Golden Visa. Investor visas allow individuals to live and work in the UAE and are subject to specific eligibility criteria and investment requirements depending on the emirate and specific circumstances of the investment. Prospective UK investors are advised to seek guidance from qualified legal and immigration professionals such as LFL Group to navigate the investor visa application process effectively.


5. Student Visa (Student Residence Visa): 

UK citizens who plan to study at educational institutions in the UAE require a student visa. To obtain a student visa, individuals usually are required to enrol in a recognised educational program in the UAE. The educational institution or sponsor assists in obtaining the visa, which is typically valid for the duration of the academic program.


6. Family Visa (Family Residence Visa): 

UK citizens who have immediate family members residing in the UAE, such as spouses, parents, or children, may be eligible for a family visa. Family visas allow individuals to join their family members in the UAE and live together. The sponsor, typically a UAE resident family member, is responsible for obtaining the visa on behalf of the family member coming from the UK.


7. Golden Visa: 


The UAE Golden Visa program has been introduced to offer long-term residency to certain categories of individuals, including investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents, and high-net-worth individuals. While the Golden Visa program was initially targeted at specific nationalities, it has since been expanded to include citizens of various countries, including the United Kingdom. To be able to obtain the UAE Golden Visa as a UK citizen you must meet specific criteria as an investor, entrepreneur, talented professional, researcher, or outstanding student. The eligibility requirements may vary depending on the category of the Golden Visa.


The Process of Migrating to Dubai from the UK for Business Formation

Migrating to Dubai from the UK for business purposes involves several steps and considerations. Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to migrate to Dubai for business as a British expat:

Step 1. Research Visa Options: Hit the ground running with the right choice of visa available for business purposes in Dubai. The common visa types that Dubai offers to individuals include the investor visa, entrepreneur visa, and employment visa. Determine which visa category aligns with your business goals and circumstances.


Step 2. Understand Visa Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and eligibility criteria for the chosen visa category. Depending on the visa type, you may need to meet certain investment thresholds, demonstrate business experience, or secure a job offer from a Dubai-based employer.


Step 3: Develop a Business Plan: If you intend to establish or invest in a business in Dubai, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your objectives, strategies, financial projections, and market analysis. This plan will be crucial for visa applications and attracting potential investors or partners.


Step 4. Secure Funding: If your business plan requires investment capital, explore funding options available to you. This could involve self-funding, seeking investment from venture capitalists or angel investors, or applying for business loans from financial institutions.


Step 5. Establish Legal Structure: Determine the appropriate legal structure for your business in Dubai, such as setting up a limited liability company (LLC), free zone company, or branch office. Each legal structure has its own requirements, benefits, and restrictions, so choose the one that best suits your business objectives.


Step 6. Register Your Business: Once you’ve decided on the legal structure, proceed to register your business with the relevant authorities in Dubai. This may involve obtaining licenses, permits, and approvals from government agencies, depending on the nature of your business activities and location.


Step 7. Apply for a Business Visa: If you’re planning to be actively involved in managing or operating your business in Dubai, apply for the appropriate business visa. This could be an investor visa, entrepreneur visa, or employment visa, depending on your role and involvement in the business.


Step 8. Prepare Required Documents: Gather the necessary documents for your visa application, which may include your passport, business plan, financial statements, proof of investment or employment, educational certificates, and any other relevant documents specified by Dubai immigration authorities.


Step 9. Submit Visa Application: Submit your visa application through the appropriate channels, such as Dubai Immigration’s online portal, authorized visa service centers, or through your employer’s sponsorship. Ensure that you provide accurate information and complete all required forms to expedite the visa processing.


Step 10. Comply with Regulations: Once your visa is approved and you’ve migrated to Dubai, ensure that you comply with local regulations, including visa renewal requirements, business licensing and compliance, tax obligations, and other legal responsibilities.

Considering a Move from the UK to the UAE? Here’s How We Can Help


It’s essential for UK citizens moving to the UAE to get to grips with the specific visa requirements, application procedures, and any applicable fees or documentation. Additionally, visa regulations and requirements may vary, so it’s advisable to consult with UAE immigration authorities or seek assistance from qualified professionals such as LFL Group for guidance throughout the visa application process.

Making the leap from the UK to the UAE can be an exciting adventure. LFL International Group is your one-stop solution for a smooth and successful transition. Here’s how we can empower you:

  • Stress-Free Relocation: We handle the complexities of relocation, from visa processing to finding schools and suitable housing for you and your family.

  • Expert Business Setup: Our multilingual team streamlines the business setup process, including DED registration, trade licenses, and ensuring compliance with local regulations.

  • Tailored Support: We offer comprehensive consultations to understand your vision and guide you towards the ideal business structure and licenses.

  • A-Z Partnership: Consider us your trusted partner throughout your journey. We provide assistance with everything from legal formalities to marketing strategies.

Don’t let the relocation process hold you back! Contact LFL International Group today and unlock your full potential in the UAE.

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