In September 2020, Dubai launched a new retirement program for eligible foreigners.
Our Dubai retirement guide covers all the necessary information about the new scheme and your eligibility.
Is it a good idea to retire in Dubai?
Dubai offers a lifestyle vastly different from anything expats might be used to. Even so, there are plenty of reasons why it would appeal.
Dubai is a modern and well-developed city thanks to its association with the oil industry. It’s seen massive growth over the last 30 years, which has led to an infrastructure boom.
It prioritizes convenience, quality living, and useful amenities. So, what does it offer for foreign retirees?
Overall, Dubai has plenty of exciting opportunities for retirees wanting a completely different lifestyle.
It’s all about glitz and glamour, opulent shops, amazing shows and music festivals, high-class restaurants, private beach clubs, cinema complexes, theme parks, golf clubs, and many other entertainment opportunities.
The retirement program’s early stages only covered foreign residents working in Dubai that had reached the state’s retirement age. However, in an attempt to attract investment and open Dubai up to foreigners, it was expanded to all countries.
How do I get a retirement visa in Dubai?
There are two major routes to qualify for a Dubai retirement visa: to show you have enough money or income (savings applications) or to buy a property in Dubai (property applications).
Savings applications go through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), while Dubai Land Department deals with property applications.
If you choose a property route, your estate agent will guide you through the whole process.
If you opt for a savings/income route, you can apply online on the Dubai government site. Select an individual login option, register, and follow the prompts.
After you submit your application, it is reviewed and processed. Providing you’re successful, you’ll then be issued your visa.
As with other retirement visa programs, there are eligibility requirements. You must be at least 55 years old and fulfill one of the following four criteria:
1. Have a monthly income of AED 15,000 from a pension or previous employer (per person).
2. Have AED 1 million in savings in a 3-year fixed deposit account.
3. Own unmortgaged property in Dubai valued at AED 2 million.
4. A combination of options 2 and 3 – AED 2 million in assets split between unmortgaged property and a 3-year fixed deposit savings account.
In the early phases of the retirement program, there was some confusion around eligibility criteria. Some institutions reported that you had to meet all four criteria, but this isn’t true. Dubai’s tourism website (linked above) states that it’s one of four, and you can find more information by visiting the link.
International applications have to be translated into Arabic and attested by your country’s UAE embassy before submission online.
Applicants can sponsor their spouse and an unlimited number of children, but sponsorship doesn’t extend to parents or other family members. Unfortunately, spousal sponsorship doesn’t cover same-sex marriages, even if recognized in your home country, as it’s illegal in the UAE.
Providing your application is successful, you’ll officially become a resident of the UAE. This will entitle you to a state-issued ID card and unlimited entrance and exit from the UAE. Your visa must be renewed every five years, but this happens automatically if you continue to meet the initial criteria.
To get a Dubai retirement visa, see the steps online via Dubai’s tourism website.
What is the cost of a retirement visa in Dubai?
As part of the application process, you have to pay a non-refundable processing fee of AED92 (£18/$25) per applicant and dependent. If your application is approved, you then have to pay a fee of AED 2,214.25 (£436/$600) per applicant. This covers the visa and ID costs.
How much do I need to retire in Dubai?
As a base cost for retiring in Dubai, you’ll need an income of £4,000 a month or roughly £200,000 in savings. This is unrelated to the actual cost of living and is necessary for the visa requirements.
Although there’s considerable disparity between goods and services (for example, beer is incredibly expensive, as are some foods), the overall cost of living in Dubai is not too bad.
Public transport in Dubai is efficient and inexpensive, and the city uses ride-hailing apps like Uber. That said, running your own car is fairly cheap (as you’d expect from a major exporter of petroleum products). On average, petrol is around 40p a liter.
Property prices sit between £1,750 and £2,400 per square meter, depending on where in the city you look. While prices will be much lower in the surrounding municipalities, you won’t get the same kinds of amenities there.
Importantly for expats, there’s no income tax in Dubai.
So, expats will benefit from the cost of living in Dubai in several ways. Not only are most products and services cheaper, but you also won’t have to give up much of your pension in tax.
Dubai retirement visa process
1. Submit your application via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application must include all relevant documentation (copy of passport, marriage certificate, proof of savings, property deed, etc.).
As mentioned, all letters must be translated into Arabic and attested by your country’s UAE embassy. This means they must sign off on your application in confirmation.
2. Once your documents have been received, you’ll get a link to a payment center. You submit the application fee of £18 per person.
3. Dubai’s immigration department will then assess your application. They will contact you for any further evidence they might need.
4. After the initial assessment, your application is passed to one of two departments. This will either be the General Affairs Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs for income and savings applications or the Dubai Land Department for property applications.
5. These departments contact you directly about your application. If you’re successful, you have to undertake a medical exam as part of the visa’s final stages.
After arranging the initial documentation, there’s not much you need to do. The processing time isn’t that long, either. Dubai’s tourism website states that assessment can take up to 15 working days after initial confirmation.
Dubai retirement visa health insurance
It’s mandatory to get health insurance in Dubai. Luckily, this provides you access to one of the world’s best public health systems, as you’d expect from such an affluent and modern city-state.
While you don’t need an active policy to begin your visa application, you will need medical cover in place to actually move to Dubai. If your visa is approved, you’ll be invited to a medical exam. Once this is complete, you’ll have to find a suitable health insurance provider.
There are numerous health insurance providers in Dubai, but you’re also allowed to use international health insurance. To do so, you must acquire a letter confirming it covers services in the UAE.
To make sure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal.
While costs will obviously vary depending on your age and health, the average price for one person can be around £3,900 ($4,700) a year.
Final thoughts on retiring in Dubai
Overall, Dubai could make a great country for retirement. It’s modern, has great amenities, and is well aware of its position on the global stage. The new retirement visa program makes it fairly easy for eligible foreigners to retire in Dubai.