A travel ban, in common terms, means restricting an individual who is inside the country to exit the country and prohibiting an individual who is outside the country to enter or re-enter the country.
The UAE courts enforce travel ban on several grounds, such as violation of immigration laws, having unpaid debts, or under personal status law matters. One of the most common reasons for a travel ban being issued is because of debts that are unpaid.
While there is no specific law which comprehensively deals with all kinds of travel ban and the procedures for execution of travel bans, a foreigner in UAE could face travel ban in case of outstanding debt. This is explained below.
The applicable law governing the procedure for recovering debt through court is set out in the Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 (UAE Civil Procedure Code) read with the Cabinet Decision No. 57 of 2018 as amended from time to time (Cabinet Decision).
Procedure of Travel Ban for Unpaid Debts
Under the UAE Civil Procedure Code read with the Cabinet Decision, if a creditor has serious concerns that the debtor will escape, the creditor is entitled to request a competent judge to issue an order prohibiting the debtor from travelling. This will happen in the following cases under Article 188 of the Cabinet Decision.
- The debt should be of at least AED 10,000; and
- If the debt is of a specific amount, accrued and not subject to any conditions; or
- If the debt is not of a specific amount, the judge will make an evaluation, provided that the claim for the right is based on written evidence and creditor submits a guarantee to the court.
Once the court issues a travel ban, the court may order that the debtor's passport be deposited at the court's treasury and the travel ban order is circulated throughout the state's outlets.
Under Article 188/4 of the Cabinet Decision, the person against whom travel ban order is issued may file a grievance against the travel ban order.
Once a travel ban has been issued, the creditor must file a claim before the competent courts or in case a final judgement has been delivered in the creditor's favour, file an applicable for enforcement of the final judgement.
Period of Travel Ban
The travel ban order will continue to be effective and in force till the time the debts are not repaid. That said, the travel ban can be removed by the court in some cases under Article 189 of the Cabinet Decision. These include:
- Conditions applicable for travel ban are no longer available.
- Inability of the creditor to give the judge evidence of filing of debt action within 8 days of issuance of travel ban.
- Non-enforcement of final judgement issued in creditor's favour within 30 days from date of becoming final.
- Submission of a bank guarantee to the court by the debtor.
- If the creditor agrees to take back the order.
- Deposit of the debt amount by the debtor to the court.
If an individual is concerned whether there is a travel ban order issued against him/her, he/she should get in touch with a local lawyer who will be able to guide the individual on finding any outstanding travel ban orders issued in the UAE and advise on the appropriate legal steps.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.