x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

British citizens living abroad can register as overseas voters

Plus questions about cremation services and producing medical documentation from our consumer advocate, Keren Bobker.

I moved to Abu Dhabi from Scotland last year, but I would like to know if I am still able to vote in UK elections. I plan to return in a few years’ time, so am still interested in what is happening in my home country. AM Abu Dhabi

British citizens living abroad can register as overseas voters providing they have been registered to vote in the UK at any time during the past 15 years. You have the option to vote by post or to arrange for someone else to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote, but are only eligible to vote in general or European elections and not local ones. You will also be eligible to vote in referendums. To register, you need to go to the About My Vote website (www.aboutmyvote.co.uk), where you can download and print a registration form. The form must be witnessed to confirm that you are a British citizen living abroad. The witness must be another British citizen living outside of the UK and cannot be a close family member. Once registered, a postal vote is usually issued a week or so before an election, so if living in a country where the post is slow or erratic, it is usually best to use the proxy option. You should choose someone you trust and that person can either go to a polling station or register for a postal vote on your behalf.

 

According to statistics, four people die in Dubai every day, of which three are expatriates. I read some time ago that there are cremation facilities in Jebel Ali suitable for expats who do not wish for their remains to be repatriated. Do these facilities still exist and what are the contact details and procedures required? I also heard recently that a visitor from the UK took ill while on vacation and died in a Sharjah hospital. No funds were available for repatriation and cremation was decided as being the preferred option anyway, but the Sharjah authorities have refused to release the body for such a process, insisting on repatriation. Is it correct that Sharjah will not permit the transfer of a body to Jebel Ali for cremation? IS Dubai

This is a specialist subject, so I contacted Vivian Albertyn, the managing director of the Middle East Funeral Services, for his comments. He confirmed that an average of four people die in Dubai each day, three of whom are likely to be expats. Of these, one is probably western and the other two Asian. With regard to the question of cremation facilities, he says: "There is a cremation facility in Jebel Ali, called New Sonapur cremation grounds. This is managed by the Hindu community, but they also allow Christians to use the facility. You can contact them directly or go through a funeral company like ours to arrange everything [police, embassy, municipality, transportation, coffin hire, priest and church] and we can also facilitate and arrange the actual cremation."

When a person dies in Dubai, the first step is to notify the police. If the death did not occur in a hospital, the body must be taken to one to obtain a death report. The body is usually transferred to the main mortuary at Rashid Hospital, where a death certificate declaration can be obtained following submittal of the death report and the deceased's passport. All of these documents must then be taken to the police, which will issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC) addressed to Al Baraha Hospital. This is when you also request NOCs for airline transportation, embalming (as appropriate) and for the release of the body. You then need to go to Al Baraha Hospital to obtain the formal death certificate. The process for registering a death varies depending on nationality and religion, so for expatriates the next step is to contact the relevant embassy or consulate to confirm the steps required, in addition to the standard UAE procedure. Middle East Funeral Services can be contacted via its website (www.mefs.ae) or by calling 04 273 0313.

 

I have recently joined a new company in Dubai and the HR department has asked me to provide something they call a "certificate of credible coverage", so I can be covered by the health insurance scheme that it provides for employees. Because I have moved from the UK, I did not have a private scheme and used the National Health Service (NHS). One option that has been suggested is that I ask for a full printout of my medical records, but I am not sure that this is even possible. Do you know what I can do? Surely this must be common for expats from countries who don't tend to have health insurance? HC Dubai

The NHS does not issue such printouts and the document you are referring to is only issued by private medical insurance companies and can be requested if continuous coverage is required on moving from one private insurance scheme to another to assess claims history. For larger group schemes, this is usually not required because they are generally set up on a "medical claims disregarded" basis, but can be requested for smaller schemes or new individual plans where there is a 24-month period during which pre-existing conditions are not covered. There is no legal requirement to provide such a document, but it could affect the terms of the cover you are offered.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.

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