Moving Your Family To The UAE – The Complete Guide

Are you an expat planning on moving family to the UAE? There a number of processes and requirements you need to be aware of when planning to relocate and if you’re prepared, it will make the experience a lot less stressful!

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By Ashraf Vachhiat

March 10, 2022

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What documents are required?

Moving your family to the UAE can be a difficult process. To sponsor your spouse and any children joining you in the UAE, you will need to have completed your own visa processes and have your residency permit and Emirates ID issued to you. Once this is completed, you will require a series of documentation relating to your family members, including personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates, so ensure that you have these ready. Some of the documents required will need to be attested in the country of origin, which we have noted in the list.

If your family travelled to the UAE with you, you have 60 days from arrival to file an application to have their entry permit converted to a residency permit. The documents which will need to be provided by the resident sponsor include:

For dependent children, you will require the following additional documents:

If both mother and father of the children are becoming residents in the UAE, the father must be the initial choice as sponsor for children, as long as he meets the specified requirements.

The marriage certificate will need to be fully attested and also needs to be translated to English or Arabic if it has been issued in any other language.

moving your family to the uae

What is needed to settle your family into life in the UAE?

If your spouse chooses to work once they are settled in the UAE, they are able to do so but they must apply for their own work permit. If they later chose to do so, they will then be able to act as a sponsor.

If you are moving your family to the UAE from Australia, the UK, Europe, Canada or the USA your child will generally only require a school leaving certificate, or “school transfer certificate” to enroll in their new school if you are relocating to Dubai. This will need to bear an official stamp from the previous school. This will be accepted as their registration supporting document, but it’s always best to check with the school you wish to enroll at if this will be enough or other documents may be required.

For students enrolling from a school outside of these countries, this certificate will need to be fully attested in the country of origin, followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Ministry of Education (MoE) in the UAE.

Different Emirates also have different requirements, for instance Dubai is relatively lenient with these documents as discussed above. But if you are registering your child at a school in Abu Dhabi, they could still require a fully attested certificate even if you are relocating from the UK or Australia, for example.

In the UAE, you are unable to sponsor a partner to whom you are not legally married. This ties in to their laws around co-habiting with a non-marital partner and having children outside of wedlock, which are both illegal in the UAE.

Whilst a blind eye is often turned to the regulations around co-habiting, there are strict implications for having children outside of wedlock. You will be unable to access medical or maternity care if you can’t present a legalised marriage certificate when registering with a midwife in the UAE. Medical professionals are duty bound to report anyone who breaks these laws.

You are able to be a sponsor for other family members as long as your earnings are above the required threshold. The sponsoring of staff is also available if required, ie. drivers, maids, nanny.

Are there additional documents if having children in the UAE?

As with most things in the UAE, starting a family requires additional paperwork for expats. The most important thing that expats in the UAE need to know is that any pregnancy outside of marriage can result in prosecution and even deportation; the UAE is a Muslim country and any extramarital affairs or activities are prohibited by law.

In fact, if you are already pregnant upon arrival in the UAE, you cannot receive any prenatal care without a fully attested marriage certificate. Health professionals in the UAE are legally obliged to report any such occurrences to the government.

There are certain documents required to open a maternity file with a hospital in the UAE. If you have already sponsored your spouse to join you in the UAE, you will have the most important document already: an attested marriage certificate.

How can I get support in legalising my documents for the application?

If you have any documentation you need to have attested for any residency permits or school registrations, we can help. We can handle documents from over 140 countries for use in the UAE, so our team of specialists can assist your move wherever you’re from. Just get in touch today for advice, by giving us a call on +971 (0)4 871 6718, email us at hello@vitalcertificates.ae or get in touch via live chat on our website here. We’d be more than happy to speak to you!

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Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist for the Vital group, and has worked at the company for over 7 years. As well as working on all the technical complexities that make this blog come to life, he has built an intricate knowledge of the processes required for relocating to the UAE.

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