Dubai Move

Moving on, more specifically moving from Dubai? Here's our guide on a Dubai move, choosing a moving company and what to check.

Updated 11-December-2014  

We’ve all moved at some point in our lives and we’ve certainly moved to Dubai or would like to move to Dubai! The Dubai move experience may have been fantastic, good, mediocre, bad and very bad! Moving can be (and is) very stressful. All our personal possessions are in someone else’s hands for a period of time but what’s the best practice in the removal industry?

We’ve tried to break it down to make it easy for you to check the various stages.

A Dubai Move or Moving within the UAE

If you are moving within the UAE there are plenty of small moving companies (or even just a van with a driver and his friends).  You should check their license and insurance details as there are a lot of ‘fly by nights’ out there.  Charges vary so make sure you get a written quotation and read the small print carefully.


If you have home contents insurance in the UAE which you purchased here (insurance policies are not valid in the UAE if purchased outside the UAE) then your belongings are insured as long as you use a registered/licensed moving companies. You can check their license through the Dubai Economic Department website and the license information should be the same as on the DED website. The company’s registered licensed activities are listed on the left hand side of the webpage. If you can’t find the company name ask the moving company for their license number and/or a copy of the license.

Keep a written list of all items which you are moving.  If there are any items which are value take photographs of their condition and keep these in case you are required to make a claim.

It would be wise to take any personal items, e.g. jewellery, documents (birth certificates etc) with you for their safekeeping.

Moving from Dubai

As nearly 80% of the resident population of the UAE are expats then international moves are the norm however it takes knowledge and expertise to ensure that your move goes smoothly.   The company you choose will depend on cost, apparent professionalism of the staff/representative and their open, honest approach.  The company should be able to advise on your move and provide a written quotation with insurance costs (for moves outwith the UAE).  You can then compare the costs with a few other moving companies.  You can only compare costs if you give exactly the same information to all companies otherwise you can end up with quotations that are skewed.

There are fairly typical steps which are followed by most companies when moving from Dubai to another part of the world.

Pre-Move Survey

If you ask for a simple quotation over the phone/email then the surveyor does not get a chance to check the volume of your goods or to discuss any queries you may have. A simple quotation can be provided on the basis of the size of your apartment or villa. It is much better to have a surveyor visit your home and carry out a pre-move survey. Most companies provide this service for free. At this point you will be able to discuss your move, the location of your new property (and access to it – remember some streets can be narrow and are unable to accommodate a large truck with a 20′ or 40′ container), and any other thoughts. A visit to your property to carry out a survey will allow the surveyor a chance to ensure that they take into consideration any concerns you may have, e.g. shipping times etc. Best practice in the industry would be for the surveyor to discuss the items you are taking with you and make a detailed inventory to ensure that the estimated volume of your belongings is as accurate as possible. This information will help in ascertaining the size of the container which obviously affects the cost.


This can look intimidating!  You need to read customs forms, insurance forms, customs restrictions etc etc etc.  Remember to check the small print.  Some of these documents use shipping jargon which you may not fully understand.  Call the surveyor and ask.  The company wants to ensure that you are comfortable and trust them.

Shipping Schedule

Once you have agreed to use a particular moving company they will expect information relating to your departure date and your arrival date at destination.  This information is required to ensure that packing of your belongings and the shipping schedules are as efficient as possible and will also determine whether storage is to be a consideration.

Information is important to ensure that the move goes smoothly.  If possible, use Google Earth to print out or send an image of the access to your new home and mention any specifics that you may know of including parking restrictions – in some instances a parking permit may be required from the local authorities.  The moving company will have a partner company in the destination location however the more information you can provide the better!


You should expect to receive a comprehensive quotation giving written details about your move.  Check the quotation carefully.  You want to make sure everything is covered including insurance.  If you have any queries always contact the surveyor and let him/her know of your concerns.

Most moving companies expect you to sign-off,  to show acceptance of, the quotation which you should do before the removal date to ensure you are booked in to their schedule.

You should then receive formal confirmation from the moving company with relevant dates, e.g. packing date, shipping date and delivery date.  Storage dates should also be mentioned, if required.

Packing & Labelling

The packing team should arrive at your property at the time agreed between you and the surveyor.  You will have been told the length of time it will take to pack your belongings.  Once packed, boxes should be labelled.  Some companies have printed labels other just write on the box.  Ask the surveyor how the company you choose labels boxes, or how do you know the total number of boxes.  It can all be a bit of a rushed day so make sure you have this information from the surveyor prior to the actual packing.  If you decide to pack some boxes yourself do not seal the boxes so that the packing team can ascertain the contents for customs and label appropriately.

A good team will have tool kits and be able to remove certain wall hangings.  This is something you should discuss with the surveyor though.

Some buildings ask for a deposit to ensure that if any damage occurs to the building during your move.  If this is the case make sure the management of the building are aware of your move.

Dubai Move Out and Dubai Move In Permits

Most buildings and developments in Dubai insist on a Move Out Permit (or Move In Permit if you’re coming into Dubai) being issued – this is to ensure that all the bills have been paid and that the landlord/agent is aware of your move.  Make sure you speak to security or the management office in your building/development prior to your Dubai move date.  You will need to provide certain documents and information about the removal company.

It is  recommended that the DEWA connection remains in place until the removal work is finalised.  You can approach DEWA and request your final bill but ask them to disconnect the electricity and water the day after your contracted date with the removal company to pack and load your goods.   The date of the electricity and water disconnection must be on or before the end of your contracted tenancy so your move will need to take place before the expiry of your tenancy contract.  It is often best to approach one of the DEWA service offices to ensure that the final bill is provided to you without any delays, i.e. they will be able to advise regarding final paperwork, dates of disconnection etc.


All boxes should be accounted for when they are being loaded onto the truck.  Sometimes the boxes are loaded directly into the 20’/40′ container.  A full list of boxes and other items should be given to you on completion.

When loading is complete you should check the property to make sure that nothing has been left.  A member of the moving team should do this but it’s always better to double check yourself.  The moving company should remove any rubbish before finally leaving the property.

The team leader will be carry out a final check to ensure that the property is empty.  You should then secure the property.

In Transit

Now it’s the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ scenario!  The moving company should be working with premium air and sea carriers so relax!  The company should update you if there have been any changes to any of the timings.  Ask the company about the carrier’s online tracking scheme.  In this day and age these schemes are commonplace and will give you peace of mind especially if there are changes during the transit period. Of course, delays can occur for reasons outwith the moving company’s control e.g. bad weather, port congestion etc.  An efficient moving company will keep you updated.

Customs Clearance

What normally happens is that the partner company at destination will have received the shipping documentation and the customs paperwork prior to delivery to ensure that the customs clearance procedure is as efficient as possible.   Any complications relating to visas etc will have been discussed prior to customs clearance. Most countries require you to have residency of the country to which you are moving to process the customs procedures. Remember to double check this aspect with the moving company.


The delivery date will be confirmed to you by the partner company at destination.

Once a delivery date has been established the goods will be delivered to your residence and unloaded.  The earlier packing list will be checked against delivery.  As mentioned, please ensure that the initial company is fully aware of any possible problems, e.g. narrow streets, parking restrictions, any elevator or other building issues and of course that the location can take large trucks both in height and width.  The partner company will be able to identify these problems but if you are aware of any such issues please let your surveyor know – makes life easier all round!  There could be additional charges if issues haven’t been identified early in the quotation process.


Usually, the partner company will unpack and re-assemble basic furniture.  The packing materials are normally removed for recycling, if such facilities exist in your destination location.

All moving companies want to have zero claims against their insurance policy and work to ensure that packing standards are high.  Occasionally, damaged or broken items are noted, often through no fault of their own.  It is wise to keep a record of this information including a photograph if possible.  The moving company should be able to assist you with claiming against the insurance company.

What to check

When you meet the moving company surveyor you want to make sure that the surveyor:

  • appears to know the industry
  • can answer your questions easily and efficiently
  • is informed about the destination and schedule of packing, transit etc
  • is able to establish a good relationship with you

Professional moving companies are usually members of the IAM or FIDI groups.

One very important check regarding the quotation relates to the exclusions.  These should relate to charges which cannot be pre-determined.  So double check everything and if you have any concerns contact the moving company.


  • What are the approximate transit times?
  • What are the approximate customs clearance times?
  • The volume of the goods should be on the quotation and if there is any excess you should ask for some idea of the additional costs
  • Ask for the name of the partner company at destination and their contact details
  • Ask for the insurance costs and what the insurance covers.
  • Do the packing crew work full-time for the company?  Are their visas held by the moving company?

Good luck!  If you would like to tell us about your move please contact us.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate independent legal advice.

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