1. When you’re first pregnant

You’ll need to ensure your marriage certificate is attested if you got married anywhere other than the UAE. This is necessary because when you go to open a maternity file at any UAE hospital, you will be asked for the original and a copy of your (attested) marriage certificate. Attesting your marriage certificate will require authentication from a relevant body in the country where you got married, as well as attestation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in the UAE. It can be a complicated process, but for around Dh1,000 you can outsource getting your docs attested, which takes about two weeks. See Indexdubai.com, www.vitalcertificates.ae and www.blairconsular.com.

Please note that to be unmarried and pregnant is a criminal offence in the UAE.  If you are unmarried and pregnant, you should either get married or return to your home country for the delivery. 

If you are working and intend to return to work after you've given birth, you should tell your employer as soon as possible, and also be aware of your rights: according to the UAE Federal Labour Law you are entitled to 45 (calendar, rather than working) days of paid maternity leave, including the period before and after delivery. For 18 months after returning to work you are also entitled to two half-hour breastfeeding or breast pumping breaks. 

2. Opening a maternity file at the hospital

If you’re planning to deliver your baby in one of the emirates, you’ll need to have a maternity file opened at your preferred hospital.  It's recommended that you open a maternity file at your preferred UAE hospital by your seventh month of pregnancy in order to ensure smooth access to maternity services. To do this in Dubai, you’ll need:

  • A valid Dubai Health Authority Card if you plan to deliver in a public government hospital such a Latifa – you can get a card at Latifa itself or at Al Barsha Clinic. This is a cheaper option for anyone with limited maternity coverage or for anyone without maternity insurance (although as of June 30 2016 all employers are required to offer medical insurance for their staff, and the minimum requirement includes maternity insurance). It is not necessary to have the health card if you’re going to deliver at a private hospital.
  • Marriage certificate (original and copy, attested if you were married overseas)
  • Passports and copies of them (for both husband and wife)
  • Residency visas and copies (for both husband and wife)
  • Emirates ID and copies (for both husband and wife)
  • Valid insurance card if you will be relying on insurance coverage at a private hospital

3. Getting your baby's birth certificate

After you give birth you have 30 days in which to get a birth certificate before you start getting fined.

If you give birth in a government hospital, they will issue a birth certificate automatically. However, for babies born in a private hospital, parents will need to apply to the Ministry of Health for a birth certificate.

All private hospitals will automatically issue a ‘notification of birth’ in Arabic. This is NOT the same as the birth certificate, which you will need to get in Arabic first and then have it translated if necessary. Some public hospitals including Dubai Hospital (04 707 5805), Rashid Hospital (04 337 1111) and Latifa Hospital (formerly Al Wasl Hospital, 04 324 1111) have a counter that will issue the Arabic birth certificate. (If you do this then you can also apply for a temporary health card for your newborn at the same time, which will get you a health book/immunisation book, which you can then use to get free immunisation injections from a Dubai government health clinic.) Go the counter at one of the hospitals and hand over the documents and receive the Arabic birth certificate immediately. Documents required:

  • Original and copies of parents’ passports with residence permits
  • Original (attested) marriage certificate
  • Discharge summary from hospital for mother and child
  • Notification of birth (from the hospital)

For a British birth certificate, go to the Preventive Medicine Department at Al Baraha Hospital (04 271 0000). You’ll need to get both the Arabic and English certificates attested by the Ministry of Health (at Al Baraha Hospital) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See www.government.ae/en/web/guest/having-a-new-baby-in-the-uae for more.

If this all sounds a bit complicated then Baby Steps offers a very easy and reliable way of outsourcing the process of getting a newborn birth certificate, and they will collect and return all documents to your door. Its birth certificate service starts from Dh570 and takes two to three working days.

4. Getting your baby’s other documents

You have 120 days from the child’s birth to organise his or her passport, residency visa and Emirates ID (yes, newborns need all of these too!), after which you could face fines of up to Dh100 per day

a) Passport

As soon as possible, check with your respective embassy or Home Office website on what the procedure is for overseas passport applications. This, along with the fee, varies from country to country. You should allow up to 10 weeks for this process, although luckily most countries will process it more quickly. You will need passport photos of your newborn – it's best to have them professionally taken at one of the photo studios around Dubai (we used Fotofun at Mall of the Emirates), as otherwise you run the risk of them not being accepted. Requirements vary depending on your home country, but in order to get a UAE visa, you will need photos of your baby on a white background with his or her eyes open. Getting a passport is not a process that you can outsource to an external company, so get onto it as soon as you can.

If you are British and wanting to apply for a British passport for your child, you can start the process here.

b) The Visa

All newborns living in Dubai will need to have a residency visa. Baby Steps can also arrange this for you once you have baby's passport: the service starts from Dh1,750 and takes five to 10 working days. If you want to do it yourself then you must first get an application form at a Tasheel office, which the typist will complete for you. Take the completed application and the following documents to GDRFA (General Directorate Residency Foreign Affairs – which is also known as Ministry of Immigration):

  • Sponsor’s original passport (father)
  • Mother’s passport copy with visa page (coloured copy – high resolution)
  • Baby’s passport (eyes open and white background)
  • Typing of the Emirates ID for baby
  • Baby’s Arabic and English original birth certificates
  • Two photos of baby (eyes open and white background)
  • Tenancy contract registered with EJARI (www.ejari.ae)
  • Both parents’ original Emirates IDs
  • Original marriage certificate attested in MOFA UAE
  • Salary certificate from the company
  • Labour contract (Dubai visa/Non-Free Zone visa)
  • Salary certificate (From the Free Zone Authority if you work in one)

For more information on the visa process visit here.

c) The Emirates ID

Visit your nearest Emirates ID Authority and open an application for your newborn. You will require:

  • baby's birth certificate issued by the UAE's Ministry of Health
  • baby's passport
  • residence visa for the newborn issued by the UAE's Ministry of Interior
  • copy of father's Emirates ID card
  • passport photo of baby (eyes open and a white background)
  • application form for ID card
  • original birth certificate or father's original passport or Emirates ID

For more information see here