Live And Work Tax Free For A Year - Dubai's Digital Nomad Visa
Updated: Mar 17
16th March 2023
If you’ve ever dreamed of spending time in one of the world’s most future-focused and luxurious destinations, now you can, and what’s more? It’s TAX FREE! Take the opportunity of living and working remotely in Dubai for up to one year, and experience the unique Dubai lifestyle first hand.
In this blog post, find out:
What makes Dubai a great destination for digital nomads, and whether it meets the location criteria for your next remote working destination
How you can live and work in Dubai with a remote work visa
How much money you need to be earning each month to qualify
And, how to apply.
Firstly, let’s just put this in perspective
Just two years ago, there were only 21 countries offering nomad visas; but with the increasing popularity of remote working, travelling whilst working and ultimately not being tied to one location; at the time of publishing this blog post, the number of countries which have jumped on the band wagon, now sits at 52, according to Nomad Girl.
So how to choose the right destination for your next nomad visa, when there are now so many options available?
If living in an income tax free destination sounds appealing, you’ll be pleased to know there are a handful of such destinations offering nomad visas; but most are located in the Caribbean, so if you are wanting more than an island destination has to offer, then Dubai should be on your radar as a destination which offers a remote work visa with no local income tax.
In 2021, Dubai was one of the Top 10 most visited remote work hubs in the world. And, of those 10 destinations, whilst some offered tax free programmes for limited periods, Dubai was one of just two where there is no local income tax for digital nomads for the entire duration of the remote work visa, making it extremely attractive.
What does an experience in Dubai look like?
With a 12-month validity, Dubai’s remote work visa enables you to experience Dubai living first hand and enjoy all of the city’s iconic attractions, on your doorstep. In addition to the tourist attractions and water parks; you can explore the infamous shopping malls (there are well over 60) and numerous markets, splurging on luxury brands or supporting local artisans; indulge in the local culture in the heritage district; maintain an active lifestyle getting involved with sporting groups and events; feast on global cuisines and dining experiences at world class restaurants; and for quieter moments, just enjoy a coffee at the beach.
How much does it cost to live in Dubai?
A typical individual nomad’s monthly expenses in Dubai calculate at approximately $3,400, and renting a centrally-located one bedroom apartment is in the region of $1,960, so a total of around US$5,360 per month, as per the reviews from nomadlist’s members and Numbeo’s cost of living index. Depending upon where you are moving from, and which index you are referencing, your monthly expenses in Dubai could actually be lower because according to Numbeo, Dubai’s monthly living costs, including rent, are around 40% lower than New York!
What accommodation is on offer in Dubai?
Accommodation will be per individual preference and budget. Choose to live close to the beach or in the bustling Downtown area. Villas and apartments are generally leased for 12 months at a time. Shorter periods can be negotiated, but will be at higher rates. Alternatively, there are over 800 hotel apartments and hotels, providing accommodation from a modest one star through to opulent five star choices. And, don't forget there are Airbnbs too.
How much do co-working facilities cost in Dubai?
And you don’t need to stay cooped up in your accommodation whilst you work; you can take advantage of the numerous co-working facilities across Dubai, which will be a great way to boost your international business networking, meet other business owners and entrepreneurs and possibly even identify new opportunities. Current rates for co-working spaces in Dubai start from US$6.80 a day, US$34 a week, or US$68 per month. A free option is the A4 Space at Alserkal Avenue, but don’t take advantage of the space without spending in the café to support it.
What is the Internet like in Dubai?
Vital for remote working is the speed of the Internet, and the good news is that Dubai currently ranks number one globally on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index (February 2023) for having the fastest mobile Internet download speed of 229.57Mbps. Dubai’s fixed broadband download speed ranks 21st at 169.73Mbps.
So, if Dubai is ticking all of your boxes, let’s find out about the remote work visa and see if you qualify.
Dubai Remote Work Visa
Designed for digital nomads and remote workers, Dubai’s remote work visa enables successful applicants to live in the UAE for up to 12 months, enjoying similar benefits to residents, such as: renting accommodation; having the ability to open local bank accounts and being able to register for local telecoms and utilities; and, if you are coming as a family, you can even send you children to school in Dubai!
It’s a multiple entry visa, so you can take advantage of Dubai’s strategic location as a travel hub to explore the region and easily travel for business. One third of the world's population is within four hours flight time from Dubai! Just be aware, that to keep your remote work visa valid, you can’t remain outside of the UAE more than a six-month period, otherwise it will be automatically cancelled.
And, if you fall in love with Dubai's modern infrastructure and can't pull yourself away from the record-breaking skyscrapers and convenient, modern road networks, and want to stay longer than 12 months, you will need to repeat the application process at that time.
What are the requirements for Dubai's Remote Work Visa?
To apply for this visa, you will need to have:
A passport with a minimum of 6 months validity
Health insurance with UAE coverage validity, which can then be changed to UAE health insurance once your visa formalities have been completed.
You need to be earning at least $3,500 per month and supply bank statements for the preceding three months. (Note, this requirement has been significantly reduced - the previous requirement was $5,000 per month.)
If you are an employee, you will also need to supply:
1. your current employment contract with a year’s validity
2. your previous month's payslip.
If you are a business owner, you will also need to supply:
1. Proof of your ownership of the business for at least one year.
2. Proof of work/employment outside of the United Arab Emirates and that the work is conducted remotely.
Submitting a visa application does not guarantee approval, which is at the discretion of Dubai’s Immigration, for national security purposes.
Talking about security, we should also mention that Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, currently ranking 7th on Numbeo’s Safety Index by City.
And, remember, as there is no local income tax in Dubai; you’ll likely only be paying income tax on your earnings where you are a tax resident; and, corporate tax wherever your business is registered.
Apply for your Dubai remote work visa
Gateway Group - Who We Are & Why We Exist
With offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Gateway Group helps international companies get registered to do business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We are the authority on business licenses and visas for expats in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Founded and headed up by British husband and wife team, Nathan and Jenny Hunt, Gateway operates with it's core values at heart: Honesty. Trust. Integrity. We do what's in the best interests of our clients rather than what's best for our bottom line. After all, we are just like our clients - we've invested our own money into our business licenses, so we fully appreciate what a big investment a commercial license is. We believe this uniquely positions us to provide our services with understanding and empathy.
From our own first-hand experience and knowledge, generated from living and working in the UAE, as well as setting up companies and building relationships here, we are able to offer unique insight and guidance to help our clients successfully step into the market and do business in the UAE.
We value long-term relationships and our incredible client retention is one of our strongest assets, which is extremely rare in our industry.
Founding Partner, Jenny Hunt, has been setting up businesses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for over 10 years and is ranked in FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women In The Middle East!
Gateway Group's blog is ranked in Feedspot's '25 Best Abu Dhabi Blogs And Websites You Should Follow In 2023' (currently ranked 10th - 12th March 2023).
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Written by Jenny Hunt
Founder Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates
FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women In the Middle East