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April 1, 2024
7 min

UAE Golden Visa: Complete Guide on Residency in the Emirates

Kenley Henderson - Golden Visa Expert

The UAE Golden Visa program was first launched in 2019. It allows foreign investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents and skilled professionals to get residence permits for 10 years and live, study and work in the country.

To get the 10-year UAE Residence Visa by investment, you need to buy real estate for AED 2 million ($545,000). You may also obtain a 2-year residence permit by spending AED 750,000 ($204,200) on the property.

UAE Golden Visa: Complete Guide on Residency in the Emirates

Who can apply for the UAE Golden Visa

You are eligible for a UAE Residence Visa if you fall under one of the following categories of possible applicants:

  1. Investors in real estate or government projects and services.

  2. Entrepreneurs who own a registered start-up, have their start-up idea approved or are previous founders of a successful project.

  3. Exceptional talents, that is, people who work in culture, art, sports, or digital technology, inventors and innovators. They do not have to prove their educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional level.

  4. Scientists in engineering, technology, or life and natural sciences with a Master’s or PhD and substantial research achievements.

  5. Professionals in medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, or culture and social sciences. They need to have a Bachelor’s degree and an employment contract in the UAE with a salary of over AED 30,000 ($8,170).

  6. Outstanding students and graduates, that is, best-performing students in secondary schools, best graduates from UAE universities, or graduates of the best 100 universities worldwide.

  7. Humanitarian pioneers, that is, distinguished members of international and regional organisations, outstanding members of associations of public benefit, recipients of recognition awards in humanitarian fields, or distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts.

  8. Frontline heroes who have shown themselves in a crisis such as Covid‑19.

Requirements for investors who apply for the UAE Golden Visa

The main applicant, that is, the investor, must be over 18 and be able to prove the legality of their income.

The investor may add to the application:

  • their spouse;

  • unmarried daughters of any age;

  • unmarried sons under 25 years old;

  • disabled children of any age and sex;

  • any number of household helpers such as nannies, housekeepers and butlers.

All applicants over 18 must have no criminal records or socially dangerous diseases.

Required documents for applying for the UAE Residence Visa:

  • passport;

  • birth certificate;

  • certificate of no criminal record from the country of citizenship;

  • medical insurance;

  • Medical Fitness Certificate;

  • UAE Good Conduct certificate addressed to the Dubai Land Department;

  • current UAE visa;

  • 1 photo per applicant.

If the investor’s spouse and children are included in the application, a marriage certificate and a certificate of non-marriage for children over 18 are also needed.

Costs of the UAE Residence Visa

Here we will focus on obtaining a residence permit by investing in real estate, as it is the most straightforward way to get residency in the UAE for high-net-worth people.

Property purchases in the Emirates can be profitable investments, as UAE real estate tends to rise in price continuously. In the last 10 years, real estate prices in Dubai have increased by 1.5 times.

The property owner does not need to pay taxes when renting it out because the UAE has no income tax.

There are two main options for obtaining a UAE Residence Visa by investing in real estate.

10-year visas. You can get the UAE Golden Visa for 10 years by buying real estate with a minimum investment of AED 2 million ($545,000). A mortgage in a UAE bank with a down payment of 50% is permitted.

Applicants may purchase properties only in Freehold Zones. Residential apartments, hotel rooms, villas, townhouses and offices are available for this visa type.

The additional costs may include the following:

  • registration fee of $21,800+ (AED 80,000+);

  • application fee of $41 (AED 150);

  • state fee for visas and identity cards of $1,043 (AED 3,830) per applicant;

  • medical test for $220+ per applicant;

  • insurance policy for $400+ per applicant;

  • translation and notarisation of documents for $1,000+ per applicant.

Investment property for the UAE Golden Visa

The new residential complex in MBR City, Dubai has its own infrastructure. Apartments of 75—187 sqm cost $504—864 thousand

2-year visas. Aside from the Golden Visa, foreigners may also obtain a 2-year UAE residence permit in exchange for a real estate purchase. This option is more affordable.

To apply, investors can purchase properties for AED 750,000 ($204,200). If spouses buy property in joint ownership, the minimum investment amount increases to AED 1,000,000 ($272,280). Investors can also take a loan with a down payment of 50%.

Consider that 2-year visa applicants may add children only younger than 18 in the application, unlike Golden Visa applicants.

Investment property for the UAE 2-year residence visa

Apartments in the premium hotel complex in Dubai can be bought in full or shared ownership. The minimum investment is $330,000

How to obtain the UAE residence visa

1

Preliminary Due Diligence check

The applicants undergo an initial check to identify possible issues and raise the chances of obtaining a visa. The process is entirely confidential. A Certified Anti-Money Laundering Officer verifies the investor’s documents.

2

Preparing the documents

The investor prepares all of the documents that are required for application. Before they are submitted, the documents must be translated, notarised and legalised by the consulate.

3

Getting a short-term visa

The applicant receives a 6-month visa to enter the UAE, see the properties they plan to buy, pass a medical checkup and apply for a Golden Visa.

4

Buying real estate

The investor chooses the property they want to purchase, buys it and registers ownership. For this step, the investor’s presence in the UAE is not required so the lawyer can act on their behalf.

5

Medical checkup

The investor and their family come to the Emirates to pass a medical examination in a UAE clinic. They get a blood test to check for infectious diseases and undergo fluorography. After that, they receive a health certificate.

6

Due Diligence and receipt of the UAE Golden Visa

The last step is to apply for the Golden Visa and submit biometrics to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. This is when the Due Diligence procedure starts.

In most cases, the application processing takes five to seven days. However, some additional information about the investor can be requested, and in this case, the procedure can take up to 30 days. After the application is approved, the investor and their family obtain Golden Visas.

Benefits of the UAE Residence visa

UAE Golden Visa holders enjoy various benefits, from the opportunity to optimise taxes to access to quality healthcare and education.

Virtually no taxes. In the UAE, residents are exempt from taxes on income, capital gains, interest, dividends, wealth, luxury, inheritance, gifts and properties. Moreover, foreign residents do not pay pension taxes.

For companies, there are no taxes for dividends and capital gains, as well as intragroup transactions and reorganisation.

No minimum presence requirement. The UAE does not make its residents stay in the country permanently. Investors with the UAE Golden Visa can visit the country once or twice a year to maintain their status.

Moving to the UAE. The Emirates is one of the world’s wealthiest and most developed countries. In World Happiness Report 2023, the UAE placed 26th, while Dubai ranked 5th in the top 100 cities to live, work and invest in 2023.

Investors and their families can move to the country, leave, and return anytime, even if the borders are closed due to epidemic, political or economic issues.

UAE Golden Visa benefits | Downtown Dubai

The UAE has a developed infrastructure for living and resting and is one of the safest countries to live in. Though the country is in the desert, they try to make it green and vivid

Quality healthcare. The UAE healthcare system is ranked in the top 50 in the world. The high level of healthcare is one of the reasons why foreigners choose to get treatment in the UAE: the country is one of the most popular medical tourist centres. Foreigners with residence visas can access the country’s public medical services and insurance.

Prestigious education. Investor’s children may go to UAE schools and universities, which are some of the best educational institutions in the world.

In 2022 Spear’s Schools Index, ten private schools in the UAE have been ranked among the top 100 schools in the world. Eleven UAE universities have been included in QS World University Rankings 2023, with three in the top 500.

Full access to the banking services. Holders of the UAE Residence Visa can open accounts in the UAE banks in dollars, euros, dirhams and other currencies. It is possible to use these accounts for savings or international transfers.

Banks offer investors reduced mortgage rates and attractive rates on savings accounts. For example, the First Abu Dhabi Bank offers UAE Golden Visa holders exclusive five-year fixed mortgage rates starting from 2,49% per year with a fee waiver.

Easy to get a driver’s licence. Holders of the Dubai Golden Visa with a driver’s licence from their home country can take a UAE driver’s test without taking extra lessons. Investors with a driver’s licence from the UK, the US, India, and other approved countries are automatically eligible for a UAE driver’s licence.

Financial benefits and discounts. Golden Visa holders in Dubai can get the UAE Esaad Privilege Card which was previously issued only to citizens of the country. The card entitles holders to exclusive offers, bonuses and discounts up to 70% in government agencies, service companies, shops, medical clinics, language schools and travel companies.

UAE citizenship prospect. Investors can renew the Golden Visa several times and apply for UAE citizenship by naturalisation after 30 years of living in the country. The UAE passport allows holders to travel visa-free to more than 170 countries, including the Schengen Area, the UK and Canada.

UAE Golden Visa benefits | Museum of the Future in Dubai

Dubai is often defined as the City of the Future as it is one of the most innovative, investor-friendly, and smartest destinations worldwide. The town even has the Museum of the Future

UAE tax residency rules

On March 1st 2023, the following rules on determining tax residence came into force:

  1. Any foreigner is considered a UAE tax resident if they have been physically present in the country for 183 days or more in a year.

  2. For UAE citizens, UAE resident permit holders and Gulf Cooperation Council nationals, the period is reduced to 90 days per year — if they hold a permanent residence or run a business in the Emirates.

  3. A company is to be considered a tax resident if it has been established, formed or recognised in the UAE or is effectively managed and controlled in the country.

UAE Golden Visa holders can apply for a tax residency certificate to get tax relief in another country or other benefits under the applicable tax treaty.

Mainland taxation. As of now, there’s no corporate tax in the UAE, but companies earning more than AED 375,000 ($102,000) will have to pay 9% corporate tax starting from June 2023. Yet, businesses with revenues of AED 3 million (≈$816,000) or less can claim a “Small Business Relief” and be exempt from the corporate tax.

Free Zones taxation. Companies registered in Free Zones have special tax and customs regimes. They are exempt from corporate tax for 15—50 years after company registration and do not have to pay VAT and customs fees.

Revenue generated from the international business is not subject to taxes in the UAE and can be withdrawn from bank accounts freely. An investor can be the company’s sole owner, unlike having to give 51% of shares to a local partner when registering a company outside of Free Zones.

Latest changes in the UAE Golden Visa Program

The recent changes in the rules in October 2022 have affected the duration of the visa, the categories of foreigners who can apply and family members who can be included in the application.

Major changes are the following:

  1. From 5 to 10 years has changed the validity of the Golden Visa.

  2. From 3 to 2 years has changed the validity of the residence visa for the property purchase.

  3. From 18 to 25 years has changed the age of unmarried sons that can be added to a Golden Visa application.

  4. The age limits on including unmarried daughters and disabled children have been lifted at all.

  5. The restrictions on staying in the UAE to keep a valid Golden Visa have also been lifted.

  6. The fee for the 10-year Golden Visa has increased from AED 50 to AED 150 (41$).

Abu-Dhabi will grant Golden Visas to new categories of foreigners: scientists and researchers, senior scholars and clerics, skilled professionals, elite specialists in the industry, the 4th industrial revolution, health fields and education.

Main points about the UAE Residence Visa

Two options for getting a visa by investment in real estate:

  1. Golden Visa for 10 years by investing AED 2 million ($545,000).

  2. Residence permit for 2 years by investing over AED 750,000 ($204,200).

Short obtaining period: a record two months or a bit more.

Major benefits for visa holders: the ability to move to the country or use it as a safe haven and access its healthcare, education and banking services.

Tax optimisation for individuals and companies. The UAE is considered a tax haven because its residents do not pay taxes on income, capital gains, inheritance, gifts and properties. If the company is registered in one of the many Free Zones, it has the most favourable conditions, such as special tax and custom regimes. It is exempt from corporate tax, VAT and customs fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a UAE Golden Visa?

    UAE Golden Visa is a 10-year residence visa for investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes.

  • Who is eligible for the UAE Golden Visa?

    Investors older than 18 years old with legal income, no criminal record and no dangerous infectious diseases are eligible for the UAE Golden Visa. They can include their spouses, unmarried sons under 25 years old and unmarried daughters of any age in the application.

  • What is the cost of the UAE Golden Visa?

    The cost of the UAE Residence Visa depends on the option you choose: a 10-year Golden Visa for AED 2 million ($545,000) or a 2-year residence permit for AED 750,000 ($204,200).

  • What are the benefits of the UAE Residence Visa?

    The holders of the UAE Golden Visa have the ability to visit the UAE anytime, live there and make use of the county’s healthcare system and developing infrastructure. It is also beneficial to do business in the UAE due to its low taxes.

  • What documents are required for the UAE Golden Visa?

    To apply for the UAE Golden Visa, an investor must submit a passport, birth certificate, medical insurance, a photo of each applicant, entry permit, certificate of no criminal record from the country of citizenship, medical fitness certificate and UAE Good Conduct certificate addressed to the Dubai Land Department.

  • How to apply for the UAE Golden Visa?

    Firstly, investors choose the program. After fulfilling its requirements, for example, purchasing real estate worth $545,000 for a 10-year Golden Visa, investors and their family members pass a medical examination and get a long-term residence visa.

  • Is the UAE Golden Visa permanent?

    No. The UAE Golden Visa is valid for 10 years, after which it can be renewed.

  • Can I stay outside the UAE with a golden visa?

    Yes. The Golden Visa holders can stay outside the UAE for as long as they want and visit the country once or twice a year to maintain their residency status.

  • Is the Dubai Golden Visa worth it?

    Definitely. The Dubai Golden Visa gives talented and promising foreigners the opportunity to live, work and study in the UAE, run a business there as well as enjoy some other benefits provided by this status.

  • Does UAE Golden Visa lead to citizenship?

    Unfortunately, this residency route does not directly lead to citizenship. However, foreigners can renew the Golden Visa several times and apply for UAE citizenship by naturalisation after 30 years of living in the country.

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