Passport Law in UAE: How to avoid Passport Holding

Holding passport of employee is illegal in uae

Rules of passport law in UAE to be share in this guide, as per UAE law for passport keeping, holding passport of employee is illegal in UAE and the employer can be fined up to 20,000 dirham’s or three years of jail term.

Passport Law in UAE:

According to UAE labour law, advocates and legal consultants, employee passport cannot be submit to anyone unless upon order of public prosecution or court only.

The officials in UAE government have repetitively stated that no employer (company) should retain (keep) an employee’s passport, according to Mr. HUMAID BIN DEEMAS AL SUWAIDI, the assistant undersecretary of labour affairs at MOHRE explains the UAE passport law:

“The confiscation of passports is an illegal procedure as the passport is a personal document and is considered the property of the country which issued it, he more added “passports should not be confiscated until there is a court ruling stipulating that or in accordance with judicial or public prosecution orders”.

Orders of MOI (Ministry of Interior):
As per 2002 decree by moiuae: "As the passport is a personal document and as the law obliges its owner to keep and show when required by the governmental authorities, it is not allowed for any party to detain the passport except by the official parties with a judicial order and according to the law. Consequently it will be considered as an illegal action to detain the passport in UAE except by the governmental parties."

International Passport Rules:
Holding passport of employee without his/her permission is not only the violation of UAE law but it also violates the rules of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labour, to which the UAE is a signatory.

Holding Employee Passport after Cancellation:
Employer cannot hold worker passport after cancellation in both resignation or termination case, as the employer can only hold it for a limited period for the purpose of visa process either it is visa pasting or visa cancellation, employer should give your passport to you after completing visa process.

Fine for Holding Passport of Employee:
A case of passport confiscation in UAE would cost between 5000 AED to 20000 AED for the employer. The offense carries imprisonment of up to three years and/or fine amounting up to 20000 AED.

Can we Demand our Passport from Employer?
Yes you can, since it is illegal for company to keep employee passport except for the purpose of visa pasting, visa renewal or visa cancellation, you can claim and demand your passport from employer.

You have now enough knowledge about passport holding rules in UAE, when your employer ignore to give back your passport, you first need to tell them that holding passport of employee is illegal in UAE as per UAE labour law, show them the reference, request them politely, if they still ignore follow below legal steps.

Complaint for Holding Employee Passport in UAE:
If your employer refuses to return your passport after completion of your visa process, you can register a complaint at Ministry of Labour (mohre) through their website or by dialing the hot-line 800665 or you have an option to file a police case or court case.


“In case where an employer has confiscated the passport of an employee under any pretext, the employee has the right to go to court, according to the stated procedures.
“The UAE laws and jurisdictions guarantee the expatriate worker’s right to go to court. The UAE courts have issued many verdicts that obliged the employer to return the employees (worker) passport and to pay the court cost.

Think before Complain:
First try to convince your employer and tell him about your intension of complain because once the employer know about your complain he may react to it in an unpleasant manner.
If you are uncomfortable about facing such a situation, you may hire a lawyer before complain or read this guide before complaining against employer, it will definitely help you.

Precautions before Signing Job Offer Letter:
If you really want to avoid the retention of holding passport by companies in UAE ask the interviewer, hiring manager or directly the owner about their policy on detaining employee passport before signing the offer letter or employment contract, if they have a policy to hold employee passport, you can simply negotiate the job offer.

Why mostly employers still detain passports?
This is the sad fact despite knowing passport law in UAE many employers still hold the passport of their employees, another sad fact that this passport holding decree is not implemented seriously; I think every policy and rule must be enforced for it to be effective.

The question which is raised by employers is “why employees do not ask us before the visa process”, they mostly demand their passports after visa pasting, employers are right at this point and yes it is employee’s mistake as we mentioned in above precautions, it is better to ask before signing offer letter about company’s policy for holding passports, but I will not blame a job seeker for this because he/she badly need job to survive hence they come to UAE to work, to save money.

So, after knowing everything about passport holding in UAE, what is the most effective way in-order to avoid this issue? The answer is to take written document with sign and stamp from your employer mentioned clearly that they are holding your passport for safekeeping.
Such document should also mention that they will return the passport if required at any time.

Your employer may say verbally that he will return the passports back to you after visa processing, DO NOT BELIEVE until you have a good reason to do so.

Any other way to Avoid Passport Holding by Employers?
You can do this by contacting your embassy to report the illegal holding of your passport by your company and try to get a letter from your home embassy or consulate in UAE saying that unauthorized people or organizations should not hold your passport as per passport rule in UAE.

You can also deposit your passport with your home country embassy for safekeeping with receipt, and can take back at anytime.

If you want government authorities to review or look back again at the decree of Passport Law in UAE, we want you to share this guide, the more it went viral the more effective it will be.

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