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Essentials for an Easy Expat Move to Dubai

If this time last year, you had told me that I would be embarking on my first Ramadan experience as a newbie expat in Dubai, I would have said you’re crazy. But here I am, sitting in an air-conditioned apartment in Dubai Marina, reading up about Ramadan and how best to conduct oneself during the holy month.

After what feels like years of preparation and planning, I arrived in Dubai on the 15th June, with two suitcases and a stomach full of excitement. The humidity hit me as soon as the doors of the airport opened on my new life and I was glad I had stocked up on deodorant.

The sweaty feeling that washed over me, which felt not dissimilar to standing fully clothed in a hot, steamy bathroom while someone blasts a hairdryer at your face, has not gone. Right there and then, in those few moments post-flight, I had second thoughts about this whole moving to Dubai thing. But the enormous pros of this city soon become clear and being constantly sweaty is a drop in the ocean.

Nearly a month later and I am already acclimatizing both physically and mentally. This city, a combination of Cyprus’ climate and London’s imposing skyline, seems to have won a place in my heart already and dare I say it, it feels like “home”.

Sure, the journey to get to Dubai has been rather long and at times confusing, but to be reunited with my family and to be embarking on a new expat life in Dubai feels like a new chapter in our book. Before I get too emotional, I better get to the point and that is sharing with you some useful information about my expat move, in the hope of making your expat move to Dubai an easy one.


Let’s start way back in February 2014; my partner had been offered a job in Dubai, a city we had never dreamed of living in and knew nothing about. Before we could even think about accepting the offer, I needed to know more; what is the cost of living in Dubai, is Dubai dog friendly, what are the visa requirements for a UK citizen entering Dubai, where is the best place for an expat to live in Dubai, and is Dubai safe for women.

Our expat move to Dubai started with a lot of research, trying to find answers to all those burning questions that kept popping into my brain. What I found was that the Internet is a scary place and many negative stories about Dubai arose. But you can skip those because as I have found out, they aren’t true.

Taking Care of the Paperwork

Moving to Dubai involves a lot of paperwork, so hone those organization skills and start as soon as you make the decision to move. You will need your passport with at least six months validity on it and several passport photographs, which you should get in standard British sizing and one in the UAE sizing, which is 5x5cm.

The Typing Center

If your company is completing the visa process for you then they will visit the typing center (a typing center in Dubai is where they create and add to your records in the central database for all official procedures such as visas, Emirates ID card etc.) to organize the relevant entry visa.

If a husband or wife is sponsoring the family, they can visit the typing center themselves, to obtain an entry visa for their spouse and children, but they will need photocopies of passports, passport photographs, an attested marriage certificate, attested birth certificates for children and their own employment contract. It is important to note here that I am not an expert and there are also different rules when it comes to a wife sponsoring her spouse.


Attesting documents is an important part of the process when it comes to moving to Dubai and something that needs to be done before you leave your home country. If like me you are coming from England, then you will need to get documents certified by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and then attested by the UAE Embassy. If you’re in doubt about what documents to get attested, call the UAE Embassy, but as a general rule you will need your degree certificate and relevant educational qualifications and a marriage certificate. If you are travelling with children, I would assume that the child’s birth certificate would also need to be attested.

While a marriage certificate, for example, is already a legal document, a degree certificate is not. And before the Foreign Commonwealth Office will certify a degree certificate, it will need to be authorized by a Notary Public. You can find a local Notary Public through the association’s website.

The Foreign Commonwealth Office website has a handy document checker which outlines the guidelines for a whole range documents. Once the Foreign Commonwealth has returned your documents, which usually takes about 3 working days, you will need to visit the UAE Embassy in person to have the documents attested. When visiting the UAE Embassy, I recommend arriving as early in the morning as possible, to ensure the documents are ready for collection in the afternoon.

Attesting a document is a pretty tedious process and it isn’t as confusing as it sounds, but it is necessary since it signifies that a document has been certified in the country of its origin, for legal use abroad.


Once I arrived in Dubai, the immigration process was relatively pain free. At the airport your entry visa will be stamped, they will take photographs of you and update your record in the central database, which will have been created when your original visa application was made.


If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

Global Expat Guide