Updated August 2022
It’s common knowledge that Dubai appeals to expats, professionals and entrepreneurs seeking to advance their careers and to take advantage of its income tax-free policy. Additionally, Dubai has also established itself as an ideal place to live for people at all stages; from school to retirement.
Lately, with the UAE government further facilitating retirees to enjoy the fruits of their hard work in a relaxed and comfortable environment, many internationals are considering Dubai as their ideal place to retire.
Here’s all you need to know about the UAE retirement visa.
What is the retirement visa UAE?
The retirement visa UAE is essentially a 5-year renewable visa granting expat retirees residency status within the UAE.
The UAE defines an expat retiree as someone who is older than 55 years old and in possession of a letter of retirement from their previous employer or company.
The retirement visa reflects the UAE government’s commitment to welcoming everyone to live within its borders.
Who is eligible for the retirement visa?
Generally, the retirement visa UAE is available for all retirees able to meet its requirements including their spouse and dependents. Among the requirements are the age of the applicant which must be at least 55 years old and is able to fulfil certain financial criteria.
What are the financial criteria?
An applicant will be considered eligible if they are able to meet ANY ONE of the following financial criteria:
- Option 1. An income of at least AED 180,000 (approx. USD 49,000) a year or AED 15,000 (approx. USD 4,100) per month.
- Option 2. AED 1 million (approx. US$275,000) savings in a 3-year fixed deposit
- Option 3. AED 1 million (approx. US$275,000) mortgaged/unmortgaged property for which the payment to date is at least AED 1 million.
- Option 4. A combination of Options 1 and 2 valued at a minimum of AED 1 million (approx. US$275,000) in a 3-year fixed deposit and property, worth AED 500,000 each.
How do I apply for the retirement visa?
The application process for the retirement visa would depend on the option that you’ve chosen to pursue. There are two options as follows:
- For Options 1 and 2, which is the income and savings applications, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) will be the determining authority.
- For Options 3 and 4, which relate to property applications, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) will be the relevant authority.
- Visit the GDRFA portal
- Select the ‘Individuals’ login option
- Register and log in to your dashboard to start a new application
- Follow the prompts to complete and submit the online form
Visit the real estate regulatory agency’s office in person to proceed with your property application
Upon a successful application, all retirees are required to purchase medical insurance as a condition of completing the process. As for the documents, the following are the general requirements:
- Current visa copy: for UAE residents and their dependents
- Passport copy: for the applicant and their dependents, including their spouse and children
- Marriage certificate: in case the applicant is sponsoring their spouse
- Emirates ID copy: an applicant who is UAE resident will need to provide copies of their Emirates ID (including their dependents ID’s).
Apart from these, there are additional documents required for each option:
Proof of income letter
You must provide documents confirming your chosen financial route. The document should have the beneficiary’s name and the date of commencement. You can either provide:
- A letter from the relevant entity which provides the source of income (e.g., pension scheme); or
- A letter from your previous employer if they are providing you with monthly income after retirement; or
- Supporting document to prove that you have a sustainable income.
Minimum deposit of AED 15,000 monthly or AED 180,000 yearly from the pension scheme/social service in your account on a monthly basis for the last 6 months (stamped by the bank). You can still submit your documentation for consideration if you cannot satisfy this explicit requirement.
Proof of retirement letter
You must prove that you are an eligible retired individual who has worked in the past with the following:
– End of service letter issued by your last employer with details such as the number of years of service, and it must validate that you are a retiree or;
– A letter from your social services or an equivalent entity detailing that you are a retiree.
Proof of savings letter
For applicants who apply via the savings route (AED 1 million), it is required that the AED 1 million be secured as a 3-year fixed deposit in a UAE-based bank. Applicants must obtain a stamped letter to that regard from the bank, addressed to GDRFA in Arabic (both Arabic and English on the same letter is acceptable).
For applicants that apply via the property route, please note that the property must:
- Have a minimum value of AED 1 million as per the title deed
- Have a minimum share value of AED 1 million by the applicant (and spouse collectively), in case there are multiple owners
- Be in the name of the applicant (not the applicant’s spouse); if owned by a company, the company must be 100 percent owned by the applicant
- Be fully paid, if unmortgaged
- If mortgaged, the payment amount to date should be no less than AED 1 million
- Not be off-plan
- Located in Dubai
Multiple properties with a combined value of AED 1 million may be used, as long as they meet the above criteria. Please provide a copy of the title deed(s).
Copy of title deed
Your property should fulfil the following criteria:
- Property should be located in Dubai and issued by DLD
- The property value (and not mortgage value) as per the title deed must be at least AED 500,000.
- The property should be 100% owned by the applicant.
- If there are shared owners, the applicant’s and spouses’ share must be at least AED 500,000.
- The property should not be off-plan.
Proof of savings letter
Applicants who apply via the savings route (AED 1 million), it is required that the AED 1 million be secured as a 3-year fixed deposit in a UAE-based bank. Applicants must obtain a stamped letter in that regard from the bank, addressed to GDRFA in Arabic (both Arabic and English on the same letter is acceptable).
What is the cost of the retirement visa?
The initial non-refundable fee of the retirement visa application costs USD 25 per applicant and dependent. In the event the application is approved by the GDRFA or DLD, then a total amount of AED 3,714.75 (approx. US$1,011) per applicant and dependent must be paid.
The total cost covers the entry permit, visa status adjustment and residency stamping, as well the Emirates ID, medical examination and management fees.
Note that this does not include any costs associated with health insurance, which is mandatory.
How long will the process take?
Once you’ve been notified that your application is complete, the application process may take up to 15 working days.
What are the benefits of the retirement visa?
Apart from being able to live in Dubai and enjoy the privileges of a resident, holders of the retirement visa may also take advantage of the following.
Sponsor their spouse and children
Retirees are allowed to sponsor their spouse and children with no limit to the number of children. Note that to be able to sponsor your children, they must be under the age of 18 for boys while girls can be sponsored until the age of 21. If they are older than the specified ages, they are not eligible for the sponsorship and will need to apply for their own visa. Sponsored children will be eligible for study in Dubai.
Multiple entries to the UAE
Holders of the retirement visa are fully regarded as a resident of the UAE. Thus they are entitled to enter and leave the UAE at their convenience for as long as the retirement visa is valid. Additionally, unlike a standard residency visa, retirees will not be required to spend a minimum period of days in the UAE within the year.