To enter the UAE, you and your family members will each require a passport, which must have a minimum of six months validity and sufficient pages for all the immigration/visa stamps.

It is mandatory to obtain an employment permit and residence visa to legally work and live in Dubai for all nationalities except UAE nationals. Employees will enter Dubai on an Employment Visa and the family will enter on Visit Visas. The Visit Visa will be either a full Visit Visa issued in advance of travel or a Visa issued on arrival (a stamp in your passport valid for 30 days), depending on nationality. 

Arriving in Dubai

Dubai Airport is a major international airport with regular flights worldwide daily (including BA from London, KLM from Amsterdam and Emirates from several cities worldwide).

The airport is situated close to town, and the drive to the main Sheikh Zayed Road area, where you temporary accommodation is likely to be, takes approximately 20 minutes (traffic permitting).

Team Relocations handle immigration procedures on behalf of Shell. 

Air Freight

Normal excess baggage entitlements apply to staff and their families travelling to Dubai. Air freight normally arrives within a week of dispatch and can take a few days for customs inspection.

Sea Freight

Sea freight can take several weeks, depending from where the freight is coming from, typically 6 to 8 weeks. On arrival in Dubai, your personal effects will be inspected by customs officials. Additional delays can occur at customs at certain times of the year, e.g. during Ramadan or the Eid holidays. 


Importing or exporting a pet is for personal account. Pets can only be imported as cargo. It is possible to use the services of a shipping agent to assist you with the process. Dubai Kennels & Cattery ( and The Doghouse ( are examples of companies who can help you.

Veterinary services of a good standard are available and are operated by qualified staff from Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Many cultures within the Emirates (including Arabic) do not welcome dogs; a short lead and respect are necessities when you are in public. Cats and dogs need to wear a Municipality ID disc (supplied on vaccination at the Veterinarian) on its collar at all times, to avoid it being trapped by the Municipality and put down as a stray.

For more information about importing pets into the UAE, please see our Fact Sheet.

Arrangements and Formalities After Arrival

Until you have received your residence visa, you will not be able to complete many formalities such as opening bank accounts in the UAE, obtaining a driving license, registering a car, or renting accommodation. The process is sequential and the first step is to obtain employee residency permit. Both employees and family members cannot leave the country and re-enter while their visa processing is underway. As this can take up a number of weeks, you should take this in to consideration if planning any business trips or family vacations. 

Health Checks on Arrival

According to regulations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, all expatriates working in the UAE, as well as spouses and children aged 18 and above, must have a medical examination undertaken at Government clinics, in order to process residence permits. Irrespective of any health checks done prior to arrival, it is mandatory to undergo the blood test for residency. The inoculations you should have will be provided by Shell Medical services in your Base Country. 

For more information about obtaining your UAE Driving License, please see our Fact Sheet.

For more information about obtaining your E-Gate Smart card, please see our Fact Sheet.

For more information about obtaining your Liquor License, please see our Fact Sheet.

Your first days in Dubai

You’ll find very quickly that life here is not all that difficult – much that was familiar to you at home can be experienced here too. If you’re completely new to the region, you’ll find Dubai a great place to start understanding and appreciating the Arab culture. And if/when Dubai starts getting a bit too ‘glitzy’ for you, there are some wonderful places to visit close-by in Oman and other surrounding countries. 

We’re sure you will have already Googled your way around the internet and talked to friends and colleagues already here, but arriving in Dubai is still going to take some adjusting. We have created this website to help you navigate your first weeks here as well as to be a continuing tool for reference. Below are some suggestions for things to do with us when you get here.

New Arrivals Information Morning and Cultural Awareness Workshop 

You and your partner are invited to attend a workshop on Living and Working in the Gulf. The presenter, a UAE national, will explain the local culture, customs and history, including “Inshallah”, negotiation, religious considerations in the workplace, gestures, social issues, the structure of Arabic family names, Arabic language, Five Pillars of Islam, clothing, Ramadan, festivals etc. There will be a Question and Answer session to give you the opportunity to ask anything you want to know about living in a Gulf State. Feedback on this workshop is always very positive. It really is worth your time!

Get-Togethers for Community Members

A chance to meet others, get advice, seek help, have a chat and build your network. Don’t be shy – Everyone Welcome!

Defensive Driving Course

Shell offers every employee and their spouse an defensive driving course. Outpost Iraq Dubai highly recommends this course. Attendance is compulsory for Shell Dubai staff and partners are also strongly encouraged to attend. This helps you to:

  • Understand the importance of, and how to apply, correct steering technique.
  • Learn how to brake correctly and avoiding obstacles without braking.
  • Appreciate the importance of “line of sight”.
  • Practice how to recognise and evaluate the potential for traffic hazards.

It’s a half-day course – with theoretical and practical training – provided free to Shell employees and their partners. Staff needs to enroll their partners in the program. Shell staff will receive automatically generated reminders.


Outpost Dubai

Focal point: Focal Point Outpost Iraq/Dubai
Office hours: Sun to Thurs 8:30 to 12:30 Weekend: Fri/ Sat
Languages: English, Dutch.
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