x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

When does a bank file a travel ban for loan defaults?

Reader is up to date with payments and still willing to pay them but has concerns over situation regarding being offered a new job in the UAE

Abu Dhabi courts. Reader is concerned about returning to the UAE. Andrew Henderson / The National
Abu Dhabi courts. Reader is concerned about returning to the UAE. Andrew Henderson / The National

I took out a loan when I was living and working in the UAE but six months later I was made redundant from my job there and I left the country. It has now been one and a half years since I left but I have been paying all the EMI (equated monthly instalments). I am up to date with payments and am still willing to pay them. I have now been offered a new job in the UAE but am concerned whether this will affect me or if I will have a defaulter case or any issues if I try to come to the UAE. I have spoken to the bank and they say they have not issued a travel ban but I am concerned it is a trap. Can I really come to the UAE without being arrested? RR, India

Firstly, I commend you for continuing to make all the monthly loan repayments as that is the right thing to do. If all the repayments are up to date the lender cannot take any action against you and would have no reason to as you have not broken the terms of the loan agreement. In accordance with the guidelines issued by the UAE Central Bank, a borrower needs to have missed three monthly repayments before a lender can register a police case and a bank cannot issue a travel ban on a person; that can only be done by making representation to the courts, which would simply not happen in a case like this.

The bank has confirmed to RR that there is no problem but if he is still worried then the best course of action would be to get someone from the bank to put in writing that the loan repayments are up to date and that there are no problems. I do not believe there is cause to be worried if payments are up to date and the banks are too busy dealing with people who have defaulted on their debts to be concerned about someone who is actually making payments, even if from outside the UAE.

Can you advise me if my wife is able to open a local bank account in her own name, as she will not be working here in the UAE, but continue manage her own business back home remotely? Can you recommend a bank that is willing or able to do this? CJ, Dubai

Provided CJ’s wife has a UAE residency visa she can open an account with a number of banks and it is not necessary to have a regular salary in the UAE to do so. She simply has to ask for a non-salary account. These generally provide a cheque book, ATM card and online banking although no credit or loans will be permitted. They are offered by a number of banks including RAK Bank, Union National Bank, and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

I am a US citizen and wish to own a car for the few weeks I visit Dubai to see my ageing parents. I have a number of questions about this. 1. Can I drive a resident’s private car while visiting and will I be covered under their insurance. 2. Can I get my own auto insurance in Dubai? If so, can I get it for just two weeks per year only? 3. Am I allowed to own and get auto insurance in Dubai when I am just a tourist for 2-3 weeks per calendar year. 3. I do not mind getting UAE driving licence but do I have to be a resident for that purpose? SJ, USA

The question of whether a tourist can drive a private vehicle is something of a grey area and I have been given varying answers but I would generally advise that the Roads and Transport Authority does not approve. Even if agreement is obtained from the RTA it is then subject to additional approval from the insurance company. Any tourist wanting to drive a privately-owned vehicle must check RTA policy at that time and also obtain insurance company approval, ideally in writing.

In the UAE, the insurance is linked to the vehicle, not the driver, so anyone with a UAE driving licence can drive any vehicle. No one can take out stand-alone cover and short-term cover is not available.

UAE driving licences can only be obtained by individuals who have UAE residency visas so this is not an option. The most sensible course of action would be to hire a vehicle for the duration of a visit to the UAE and there are a large number of companies that offer a car hire service to tourists. Depending on which country issued SJ’s current driving licence, he may need to obtain an International Driving Permit in order to hire a car in the UAE.