Applying for a residence permit in the UAE for pensioners

More and more Europeans and citizens of the Middle East decide to retire to Dubai. Expats are attracted by the high standards of living, healthcare, and safety in this emirate.

The UAE issues residence permits to foreign pensioners aged 55 years and over. The share of people who have crossed this age threshold in the country is 7.88% (about 800,000 people) of the total population. The average life expectancy in the United Arab Emirates is 79 years.

In this post, we discuss how you can apply for a UAE residence permit if you are a pensioner, how pension savings are calculated, and how elderly people spend their time in this country.

How to join the Retire in Dubai program?

A Retirement Visa in Dubai is a comfortable relocation option for people who retired from the workforce in their home country or reached the required age. You can apply for this type of residence permit under the Retire in Dubai program, enabling foreigners over 55 years old to apply for a visa to live in the emirate. A retirement residence permit grants you the right to stay in Dubai for five years and can be extended if certain conditions are met.

In this case, a pensioner is defined as a person who has worked before and holds a document from the employer confirming their retirement from the workforce. A housewife, for instance, is not considered to be a pensioner but she can be a dependent of the main retired applicant.

Besides being of a certain age, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. An income of at least AED 20,000 (USD 5,500) per month
  2. Having savings of at least AED 1 million (USD 272,500)
  3. Owning property in Dubai worth at least AED 2 million USD 544,500)

Persons holding Retirement Visas are residents with the right to travel around the country freely, cross its borders any number of times, and stay in the UAE for an unlimited period. Under the Retire in Dubai program, an applicant may also sponsor a spouse and dependent children. A pensioner can apply for a renewable one-year visa for their parents. 

These are the costs of procuring a visa:

  • Medical examination – AED 753 (USD 205)
  • Emirates ID valid for 5 years – AED 573 (USD 156)
  • New five-year visa – AED 2,289 (USD 623)
  • Service fee – 100 AED (USD 27)

Total: AED 3,715 (USD 1,011).

You will have to pay a similar amount for each family member. A visa for each of the elderly parents costs AED 6,822 (USD 1,857).

May a pensioner work in the United Arab Emirates?

According to the Government of the UAE, citizens of the country working in the public and private sectors are entitled to receive pensions and other benefits after reaching the retirement age of 50 years or working for at least 20 years in total.

The official retirement age for residents employed in the public sector is 60 years. However, you may continue working for hire for 5 more years under a special permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The retirement age for employees of private enterprises is 65 years. This applies to both locals and expats.

The maximum age limit, however, may be waived if the employee has extensive and rare experience in their profession and their skills are required by the employer.

Retirement payments for expats in the UAE

The size of the pension in the UAE varies depending on how many years the employee has worked. You become eligible for retirement payments after working for 20 years. The pension will then equal 70% of your salary. This amount will increase by 2% each year. When you have worked for 35 years, your pension will equal your salary. The average salary in the UAE is about AED 15,000 (USD 4,000).

You are eligible for a pension in the UAE if you:

  • Are a citizen of the United Arab Emirates
  • Are from 18 to 60 years old
  • Meet medical requirements

Expats with official jobs are usually not eligible for a local pension because they do not meet the first requirement. Exceptions are made only for countries – members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. It is extremely difficult to become a citizen of the Emirates and this process takes a lot of time. Experts recommend that expats rely on themselves and save money, for instance by depositing it on a local bank account. You can also receive income from a business in your home country or in the Emirates if you decide to start up a company.

Foreign employees may also be eligible for retirement benefits from their local company or public organization if they have worked there continuously for at least a year. Benefits are calculated as follows in this case:

  • one month’s worth of basic salary for each year during the first five years of employment
  • one and a half months’ worth of basic salary for each year during the next five years
  • two months’ worth of basic salary for each subsequent year of employment

Healthcare for pensioners in the Emirates

The Emirates are in the 34th place in the global health ranking with an index of 68.73. Local cities have world-class health centers offering the highest quality of services. Some are located in popular residential communities. This makes living in large cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, even more comfortable.

Nationals of other countries living in the UAE are required to have a health insurance, enabling them to seek care at local hospitals. Its cost will depend on the package of services included. Many insurance companies offer special terms for customers over 60 years, covering, for instance, emergency hospital admittance, hospital stay, inpatient and outpatient treatment, home care, a chronic disease treatment program, and even payment for organ transplants or air travel to receive treatment in another country.

How do pensioners live in Dubai and other UAE cities?

In the overall ranking of cities by quality of life, Abu Dhabi and Dubai occupy the 84th and the 95th place respectively. A high cost of living prevents them from ranking higher.

Pensioners have access to the whole range of services and pastimes in Dubai, such as beach leisure, restaurants and cafés, shopping, wellness centers and spas, museums, art galleries and concert halls, national parks, and oceanariums. Large cities have huge parks and sprawling waterfront promenades that are great for leisurely walking or cycling. Retirees are actively doing sports, have pets, and travel a lot.

Dubai is the emirate with the highest number of expats. Foreigners account for almost 90% of its population. You don’t have to speak Arabic to live in the UAE but basic knowledge of English will help visitors feel free, comfortable, and independent.

There are plenty of expat communities that help newcomers to adapt, meet fellow thinkers, and discuss the most relevant issues. For example, you can find a list of emergency numbers, post ads, rent real estate, and even find or offer a job on the communities’ accounts on social media.

Is international travel to the UAE permitted?

The country admits both tourists and holders of residence visas. From February 26, 2022, passengers traveling to Dubai from any country must provide the following:

  • A valid certificate of full vaccination with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the United Arab Emirates
  • A valid PCR test certificate for COVID-19 with a negative result no later than 48 hours from the date of sample collection
  • A valid medical certificate of recovery from COVID-19 no earlier than one month before the document is presented at the airport

Getting a residence permit for property investment, as well as a retirement visa is an opportunity to legally reside in Dubai and other UAE cities. The team at AX CAPITAL, a real estate agency in Dubai, will answer all your questions, help you to prepare the necessary documents, and walk you through all stages of closing the deal and applying for a visa.