Obtaining 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 highest level of quality of life, healthcare and safety.

The UAE issues a residence permit to foreign pensioners aged 55 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.

In this article, we discuss how you can apply for a UAE residence permit if you are a pensioner, how pension savings are formed, as well as how retired expats spend their time in this country.

How to apply to the Retire in Dubai program?

The Dubai Retirement Visa is a great relocation option for those who have retired in their home country or have reached the required age threshold. You can apply for this residence permit under the Retire in Dubai program, which allows foreigners over 55 years of age to apply for a visa to stay in Dubai for a long-term. Residence permit for pensioners gives the opportunity to stay in Dubai for five years and can be extended.

According to the program, a pensioner is defined as a person who has a work experience and has a document from the employer confirming their retirement. For example, a housewife cannot be considered a pensioner, but she may be a dependent of the main applicant who is retired.

In addition to the age criterion, applicants need to meet the following requirements:

  1. A minimum income of AED 180,000 (USD 49,000$, CNY 321,300) per year or AED 15,000 (USD 4,100, CNY 26,700) per month;
  2. Having AED 1 million (USD 272,200, CNY 1.78 million) in a three-year fixed-rate savings account;
  3. Owning property in Dubai worth at least AED 1 million (USD 272,200, CNY 1.78 million), purchased without using a mortgage loan. If an applicant for a retirement visa in the UAE owns real estate purchased with a mortgage, at the time of application, they must pay the bank at least AED 1 million;
  4. Combination of requirements 2 and 3. The total amount of the bank deposit in the account for a period of at least three years and the value of the property must be at least 1 million AED (USD 272,200, CNY 1.78 million). Moreover, a retired expat can own several properties, but in this case each home must be valued at least AED 500,000 (USD 136,100, CNY 892,600).

Obtaining a retirement visa makes its holder a resident. This gives the right to freely travel around the country, cross its borders any number of times and stay in the country for an unlimited time. In addition, the Retire in Dubai program in Dubai allows you to sponsor your spouse and dependent children. A pensioner can also apply for a one-year renewable visa for their parents.

Applying for a visa includes the following costs:

  • Medical examination – AED 753 (USD 205, CNY 1,344);
  • An Emirates ID for 5 years – AED 573 (USD 156, CNY 1,022);
  • A new five-year visa – AED 2,288.75 (USD 623, CNY 4,085);
  • A service fee – 100 AED (USD 27, CNY 178).

Total: AED 3,714.75 (USD 1,011, CNY 6,631).

A similar amount needs to be paid for a visa for each family member. For elderly parents, each visa will cost AED 6,821.25 (USD 1,857, CNY 12,100).

Can a retired expat work in the United Arab Emirates?

According to the Government, 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 employed residents in the UAE is 60. However, with special permission from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, you can continue to work for additional five years. For employees of private enterprises, the threshold is 65 years. This applies to both locals and expats.

The maximum age limit, however, may be waived if the employee has a large and rare experience in their field of specialization, and their skills are needed by the company for which they work.

Retirement for expats in the UAE

The size of the pension in the UAE varies depending on how many years of work experience the employee has. So, you can apply for remuneration after 20 years of work. In this case, it is 70% of the salary. Every year the amount will grow by 2%, and by the time the service reaches 35 years, the pension and salary will be equal. The average salary in the UAE is about AED 15,100 (USD 4,100, CNY 27,000).

You can apply for a pension in the UAE if you:

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

Expats, even those with official jobs, do not meet the first requirement. There is an exception only for citizens of member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. Obtaining Emirates citizenship is extremely difficult, and the process itself takes a long time. Experts recommend expats to rely on themselves and save money, for example, to a local bank account. In addition, you can earn money by running a business both in your home country and in the Emirates if you decide to open your own business here.

In addition, foreign employees may be eligible for retirement benefits from a local company or government organization if they have worked continuously for at least a year. Benefits in this case are calculated as follows:

  • one month of basic salary for each year during the first five years of employment;
  • one and a half months of basic salary for each year of service for the next five years;
  • two monthly basic salaries for each subsequent year of service.

Healthcare for pensioners in the Emirates

The Emirates is in 34th place in the world health ranking with an index of 68.73. The cities have world-class medical 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 in the UAE are required to have health insurance, with which they can apply to local hospitals. Its cost will depend on the set of included services. However, many insurance companies offer special terms for customers over 60 years. For example, emergency hospitalization, coverage of inpatient treatment, day care and outpatient therapy, home care, a chronic disease treatment program, and even payment for organ transplants or coverage for the cost of airfare for treatment in another state.

How do pensioners live in Dubai and other cities in the UAE?

In the overall ranking of cities in terms of quality of life, Abu Dhabi and Dubai occupy 84 and 95 places, respectively. A high cost of living stops them from getting ranked higher.

Pensioners have access to the whole range of services and facilities such as beach holidays, restaurants and cafes, shopping, health centers and spas, museums, art galleries and concert halls, national parks and aquariums. Large cities have huge parks and promenades that are great for leisurely walks or bike rides. Retirees are actively involved in sports, have pets and travel a lot.

Dubai is the most open emirate for expats. Here foreigners make up almost 90% of the population. There are plenty of expat communities which help newcomers during the adaptation stage. 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 pages on social media.

Are the borders open in the UAE?

The state is open for entry of both tourists and holders of resident visas. From February 26, 2022, passengers traveling to Dubai from any country must provide:

  • A valid certificate of full vaccination with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the United Arab Emirates;
  • A valid COVID-19 PCR test certificate 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.

Obtaining a residence permit by property investment as well as a retirement visa is an opportunity to legally reside in Dubai and other UAE cities. The Ax Capital team will answer all your questions, help you prepare the necessary documents and accompany you at all stages of buying a property and applying for a visa.