If you are like many expats in the UAE, you may be looking to send money back home to your family or to your home country for savings and investment reasons.  Here are some areas to research when selecting your banking methods and getting that hard-earned cash home:


1) UAE Bank Foreign Exchange Rate

This is the most important factor to research, especially if you are transferring large amounts of money.  Since this will have a percentage based reduction to your balance, you want to ensure you have found the best foreign exchange rate from AED to your home currency and that there is a minimal spread between the buy and sell rates published.  Some banks will also let you negotiate this rate, so understand what is possible before ruling the published rate out.


2) Bank Transfer Fees

All UAE banks will charge some amount of international transaction or wire fee with each transfer you initiate back home.  This could be a percentage based, or a fixed fee.  We have found many of the fixed fees at the currency exchange houses to provide the best rates of ~45AED per transfer.

In your home country, some banks will charge a fee to accept international transfers in from other accounts.  It is important to check if your bank does this and add it to the transaction cost.  Try to switch to a fee-free account type or perhaps look for another bank if the fees are adding up.


3) Required Documentation

Make sure you know exactly what documents are required to process the transfer, both at the UAE Bank and at the bank in your home country.  In Dubai, the Bank will typically require a copy of your Emirates ID and will need documented proof of the source of funds.  For example, if you are transferring cash Dirhams, the Foreign Exchanger will require a bank receipt showing that the source of funds were withdrawn from an account in your name.  Check with your bank in your home country, as some banks will not accept international wire transfers.


4) Transfer Timing

You should know approximately how long it will take for your funds to arrive in the receiving bank account.  Depending on the type of transfer and service you are using, this can range from less than 1 day, up to 7 business days.  Ask the UAE bank in advance what the typical transaction times are, before you make the transfer.  Make sure you’ve planned far enough in advance to ensure you have the funds available in the right country/account when you need them!


5) Online & Automated Options

If you have a common international bank in both countries, then you may be able to automate international money transfers on a reoccurring basis, to move a certain amount of your balance back home.  This helps to stash away that hard-earned cash and ensure it does not get spent at one of the many Dubai malls or brunches!


Good luck with your international money transfers!  Just remember to try to get the BEST FX RATE POSSIBLE, and keep your transfer fees AS LOW AS POSSIBLE!


Kelly Nobles is an Executive Finance Leader, Coach, Mentor, working-mom, millennial, and Champion of Diversity & Inclusion with over 12 years of multinational experience in leading teams and driving organizational transformation and process excellence spanning 50+ countries and cultures. Kelly is continually learning & loves to share her experiences to help others on their personal professional journey.

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(Disclaimer: This article contains information for your reference and explains options you may have, but it is not intended to be specific advice or a personal recommendation. DubaiPersonalFinance.com exists to provide general guidance and education, but your situation may vary from the one discussed here, so please seek a licensed professional for tax, legal, financial planning or investment advice.)


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