Living and working in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

So you want to live and work in Dubai? There’s so much you need to know about living in the UAE….where to start?

Visa & Immigration Process in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The first thing you need to be aware of, is to live and work in Dubai, you are required to have a residency visa. 

 The residency visa allows you to:

  • Legally live in the UAE
  • Obtain a labour card to legally work in the UAE
  • Sponsor your family and dependents to live in the UAE
  • Find permanent accommodation in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or the other Emirates
  • Open a bank account in the UAE
  • Set up a phone, internet & TV account in The UAE
  • Obtain a driving license in the UAE

How do I get a residence visa to work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi? 

You need to be sponsored by your employee to work in the UAE and you will have to undergo a medical examination. Only once you have a residence visa, can you sponsor dependents. EVERYONE over the age of 18 has to have a medical examination.

Medical test:

  • You will be tested for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV in order to get your residence visa.
  • To take your test, you will need:
  • Test form filled out in Arabic (from the typing offices near the hospitals).
  • Two passport photos.
  • Receipt for the 310 AED that you paid for your health card.
  • Fee of 210 AED.

(Any persons testing positively to these diseases will not be allowed to reside in the UAE) You will also need to undergo a chest X-ray to test for TB.

What documentation do I need to bring with me?

There are a number of documents you will be required to bring with you; the amount will depend on your circumstances. See below.

  • Original passport
  • Birth certificates (for children)
  • Marriage Certificates (for married couples)
  • Education Documents
  • Degree certification
  • Original Driving Licence – issued in the home country

RELOCATEME TIP: Make sure all your documents and certificates are attested by the UAE Embassy in your home country, or country of issuing. It is then required that the documents be certified by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai.

UAE Licenses & ID’s

Once your UAE residency visa has been processed, you can now apply for a UAE driving licence and alcohol licence.

Emirates ID

The UAE requires all residents to be in possession of an Emirates ID card.  Application forms can be printed from the EIDA website and brought along to an EIDA registration office. Alternatively visit any Emirates Post Office, purchase a pre-printed envelope, fill the form and submit to the post office. Then await an appointment at the nearest EIDA service centre in which biometric and fingerprinting will be done.

Your ID will be ready in 7-10 working days. You could either collect it from the service centre or Empost would deliver it to your home.


  • 100 AED for UAE Nationals.
  • 100 AED per year of visa validity.
  • 40 AED purchasing of Emirates Post envelope.
  • 20 AED Empost delivery.

Do I need an Alcohol License in the UAE?

To buy, carry or have alcohol in your home in Dubai, you need (by law) to be in possession of a valid alcohol license. This is available from Dubai Police through licensed liquor merchants  located  throughout the city. 

The legal age for alcohol consumption is 21 and this is strictly adhered to. In Dubai underage drinking is blamed on the parents and unfortunately they may suffer the consequences of their children’s actions. Also there is a zero tolerance policy in Dubai for driving under the influence of alcohol. If caught breaking this law, there will be a severe penalty, possible followed by deportation.

Driving License Requirements in the UAE

Only citizens of Automatic License Transfer countries can hire a car while on a visit in Dubai, and only if they present a valid international license.

Expats going through the process of obtaining their residency visa may drive a private vehicle only if they have obtained a temporary driving license, and as soon as that residency visa is ready they will have to switch to a Dubai driving license.

If you are in possession of a valid international license then you simply go along to the RTA License section of an RTA Office and there are several located across the city.