x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Deadline looms for Emirates ID card

Regardless of the long waiting list, expatriates should at least have made an apppointment to get their Emirates ID card before the year ends.

Are you able to clarify the rules regarding the Emirates ID card? I heard that the deadline was the end of this month, but other people say there is no urgency. I haven’t sorted out a card because my residency visa is due for renewal on December 28, and there seemed little point in paying out for identification that would expire in a few months. RR, Abu Dhabi

The identity card is mandatory for all residents of the UAE over the age of 15. The Emirates Identity Authority has set a deadline of December 31. But there is a backlog of applications, so if residents have made an initial application for the card, that will be acceptable for the time being. It seems that recent applications have been given an appointment for February. After filling in the pre-registration form, you will receive an SMS advising you of the time and date of your appointment for photographs and fingerprinting. Shortly after this the card is issued.

As your visa will be renewed before the end of this year, it will be for a further period of three years and your identity card will be valid for the same time, at a cost Dh100 per year, plus service fees of Dh70. For more information on identity cards, you can visit www.emiratesid.ae.

My hometown in the UK has a neighbourhood watch, and one of the services it provides is to keep an eye on your house if you are away for a period of time. I have not come across anything similar here, and while I know that Dubai is quite a safe place, it would be useful to have such a service. Do you know of any security services like this?

SC Dubai

As far as I can find, there is only an online neighbourhood watch forum, but this is not active and does not offer any services. I suspect that most people are not aware that Dubai Police has a home-safety service. The programme was introduced by the General Department of Criminal Investigation and is for both owners and tenants of apartments and villas. The police will keep an eye on the property when the resident is away for an extended period by sending patrols and making sure the property is secure. There is no charge for the service. Details and registration are available at www.dubaipolice.gov.ae.

I have read some of your previous columns where you have written about being liable to pay tax in the UK and the issues surrounding property ownership there. My situation is a bit different. I am not British, but own property in the UK that is rented out. The letting agent is deducting tax from all of the rental income. As I no longer live there, I thought that I wouldn't have to pay any tax. Am I wrong, and if not, what can I do about it?

FC, Abu Dhabi

Income that is generated in the UK is normally taxable wherever you live in the world. If the property has a mortgage on it, the interest element of the payments can be offset against the rental income for tax purposes. You have not told me where you are from, which can make a difference. A UK national is allowed to earn a fixed sum per year without paying tax, which is £6,475 (Dh36,975) in the tax year ending April 5, 2011. This concession is also given to anyone within the European Union and any Commonwealth citizens. So, if you are from any of the accepted jurisdictions, you pay tax only on any earnings above £6,475. If you can claim this allowance, then you should contact Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs to obtain the paperwork for the Non Resident Landlords Scheme which may allow you to receive your rent without the deduction of tax and also to request a refund of any excess tax that you have paid in error.

I am a New Zealand citizen who has recently returned home from the UAE. For personal reasons (not financially related) I had to leave Dubai in a matter of days and so did not cancel my visa. I am now trying to cancel my visa through my ex-employer, but they are insistent that I must return to the UAE to do so. There are no financial issues and I am on good terms with the company, but it says that it needs to formally cancel the visa in the UAE. Can you please advise whether it is possible to cancel the visa from New Zealand and how to do this? I really do not want the hassle and expense of flying all the way back to Dubai just for this.

SE, New Zealand

Your ex-employer will want to fully cancel your visa so that it can have the bond returned from the Ministry of Labour. Your visa may have expired, but without formal cancellation it cannot be cancelled. If the visa isn't cancelled, it is likely that you will find yourself in difficulties should you ever wish to return, as the issue is likely to be flagged by UAE immigration. Your original passport is required to cancel a visa, so you will either have to forward it to your employer or through a trusted friend who can help deal with the matter. Assuming you take this course of action, please use a recognised courier company and not standard post.


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