x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Cost of debt-free car letter depends on your urgency

I have recently paid off my car loan with my bank. I need to get a letter from the bank to confirm that the car is debt-free so that I can sell it. I can't get an answer as to why the figures are different for what appears to be the same thing. Are you able to clarify this?

I have recently paid off my car loan with my bank. Apparently, I need to get a letter from the bank to confirm that the car is debt-free so that I can sell it. I have been told that I can either pay Dh150 or Dh350 for this letter, but I can't get an answer as to why the figures are different for what appears to be the same thing. Are you able to clarify this?

GJ, Dubai

You will require this document if you wish to sell your car because you must demonstrate that there are no outstanding debts on it. HSBC charges Dh150 for the letter, which is more of a simple form completed by hand that takes three or so days for it to be completed. However, you can pay Dh350 if you want it immediately.

I was hoping that you could help with a question regarding will writing in the UAE as an expat. If a will has been written, do creditors from your own home country have the right to claim any debt upon the death of an expat in the UAE? A family member is claiming that in the case of debt owed "at home", the best thing to do would be to not write a will, transfer cash to an offshore account and simply risk passing away intestate, or without a will.

ZS, Abu Dhabi

If someone dies, their creditors have the right to try to reclaim any monies owed, regardless of where either party is based, provided there is proof of the debt. The family member is giving incorrect advice. It is never advisable for anyone to deliberately die intestate as the individual's estate would then be distributed in accordance with the rules of their home country or country of residence, depending on where assets are held. Without more detailed information I cannot give further advice.

My new employer has still not issued my residency visa, so I have to do what I believe is known as a visa run. I intend to drive to Hatta on the Oman border to do this, but I am getting conflicting information about my hire car and whether I can take it. Can I drive into Oman to do this?

NP, Dubai

As you are a British national, you may indeed renew your visit visa at the border for a further 30 days, although strictly speaking you are not permitted to work on a visit visa. The only exception to this is if your application has been submitted to the ministry and is being processed. If this is the case, you have up to 60 days' grace before both you and your employer can be fined for breaching the law. To take your hire car out of Dubai, you must seek the authority of the rental company, even if you planning a quick turnaround without properly entering Oman. The company must give you permission and provide Oman insurance, usually at a cost of about Dh100. I have heard that some people have managed the trip without this, but you should be asked for proof of insurance at the border. If you do not have permission and the additional cover, then you would be in breach of contract and thus uninsured.

I will soon be changing my job. Can the transfer of my residency visa be sorted while I am serving my notice period, or is it normally done at the end of a notice period? Surely, this would mean that I would be either out of work for the time it takes, or the company would be employing me illegally. How does this get sorted, so I can stay here and work legally?

HC, Dubai

Your new visa cannot be processed until the labour cancellation is complete. The visa itself does not have to be cancelled, but your labour card must be. This means that the new company can apply for labour approval for you. Technically, a residency visa can be transferred, but it takes as long as a cancellation and the latter is easier to do and is generally the preferred route. The old employer will deal with the cancellation and the new employer will apply for a new one. This ought to take just a few days, so should not cause any delays in starting your new job. You also have a grace period while this is being sorted out - and you can start working for your new employer without delay.

I am currently looking at taking out a simple life-assurance policy, but I am confused as to which company to go with. I have been quoted similar costs for a local insurance company and one that is based on the Isle of Man. As I plan to live in the UAE for some time, is it better to pick the local company? Why do people use international companies and what is the benefit?

AE, Dubai

As you are British and not a Muslim, I presume you do not want the proceeds of the policy to be subject to Sharia law. If you take out a policy with a local insurer, the proceeds on death would be paid to your beneficiaries in the UAE and could be distributed in accordance with Sharia law. If you take out a plan with an international insurer, which is subject to all the regulatory rules of an Isle of Man-based company for additional protection, the proceeds can be paid into an offshore bank account or one in your home country and then distributed in accordance with the instructions in your will. You can also specify a beneficiary by way of the appropriate paperwork or put it in trust.

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.

Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae