New to UAE

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Just moved here, or about to? Among the countless things to sort, financial practicalities should top your list. Until you have a bank account, for example, other processes are hard to complete.

Below are four key initial steps. You’ll soon discover the first is essential. The UAE is fairly structured when it comes to administrative matters: you’ll need to carry a lot of paperwork, and spend time in government customer service centers.

This summary gets you started, and focuses on those first steps. There’s obviously much more to organise, from renting somewhere to live, to buying a car and so on. More detailed guides are available in bookshops, and your employer should assist you too (especially if they have a PRO – Personnel Relations Officer).

Prepare your documents

You’ll have to show this for most procedures, and provide photocopies of the photo page and – once you have it – residence visa.

You’ll need plenty of colour passport-sized photos, obtainable from any photo shop.

No Objection Certificate
Many procedures require a letter from your sponsor or employer, saying they don’t object to you renting a home, buying a car etc. NOCs should be on company headed paper; state your name, position and passport number; and be signed and stamped with the company stamp.

Salary Certificate
Certain services, including financial ones, require you to prove your earnings. As above, salary certificates should be on company paper, signed and stamped. Your Labour Card and Ministry of Labour employment contract are also helpful.

Other documents
You may also need originals and copies of your birth certificate, marriage/divorce certificate, driving licence, and education certificates (attested).

Apply for your residence visa immediately.

To stay beyond a holiday, you need a residence visa. There are two types. One for people here to work, and therefore ‘sponsored by an employer’, and another for residence only (i.e. family members). Every visa lasts two years.Most of the application process will be done directly by your employer, though you’ll need to take a simple medical test. As soon as your visa is underway, you can begin other procedures.

Open a bank account

You need a local bank account for your salary, and to pay rent (always cheques). The sooner you apply, the better.

Fortunately, opening a bank account here is straightforward. Most people tend to visit a branch in person, though some banks send a representative to you with the paperwork.

At Mashreq, we offer several accounts, from a straightforward Current Account to others that pay interest on spare cash, and so on. Our account opening process is also particularly easy and quick.

Each bank has specific prerequisites, but in the main you must:

  • Be a UAE resident.
  • Be in full or part-time employment.
  • Earn a minimum monthly salary (usually AED 5000).


To apply, you need:

  • Your passport (original and copy).
  • Your residence visa (original and copy), or proof your application is underway.
  • Your Resident ID card, or proof your application is underway.
  • Salary certificate.


Once you’ve applied, your account is activated, and any card(s) couriered within 3–5 days.

Please note:

  • Overdrafts are not widely available in the UAE, but can be obtained.
  • Most banks open Sunday to Thursday 8am – 3.30pm, and Saturday 8am –2pm. Larger branches in malls open longer.
  • Most banks offer online and phone banking services, such as credit card payments, international transfers and utility payments.


Apply for a Resident ID card

All expats need to register for a Resident Identity Card (previously the Emirates ID Card). It’s now an official source of identification. If you don’t sign up, you could be fined. Each card contains your address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints.

For more information, visit

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