Friday, October 14, 2005

Government Transaction Fees

The UAE is suffering from serious inflation these days, and it has just been announced that fees for several Government services will be increased soon.

I'm still reeling from paying for a bunch of services that are basically a money-spinner for the Government, related to renewing my wife's residence visa. Now, I know that in theory I could get these things done a bit cheaper if I went and queued at the various departments myself, but TECOM offers a very good PRO service that saves you all the time and hassle. But the costs mount up alarmingly. Like this:

Blood test/health card renewal: about Dhs 360.
Renewal pack (whatever that means): Dhs 350.
Entry permit typing: Dhs 360. For typing about 10 words in Arabic? Somebody's having a laugh.
Urgent stamping: Dhs 260. I asked what would happen if we didn't pay for urgent stamping. They said the application would just rot in a drawer.

And that's not all. There will be a fine of around Dhs 500 because the renewal is a bit late. Nobody bothers to use their wonderful computer systems to send out a reminder or anything, so when we did realise that the previous visa had expired (fortunately only a week previously) we had a bit of a panic. The passport is also due to expire in a few months, and they won't put a visa in a passport with less than six months validity remaining, so a new one had to be obtained before we could even begin the process. That took about ten days, and the cost of that has risen sharply too - just short of Dhs 500! Ouch.

I'm irritated by this because residence visas are only valid for three years. Why this should be I do not know. But basically what it boils down to is another invisible tax on expats.