Can my Employer keep my Passport?

Passports held by employers in UAE!!

Rasha sent me and email which had the Subject “Can my employer keep my Passport?”

The answer is NO, a company or employer can not keep the passports of their employees.

A passport is a personal document which is issued by the holder’s government as a means to prove the identity of the holder and to help the holder cross geographical borders.

Since it is a personal document the holder is responsible for its safekeeping and present it to the concerned authorities upon specific request (such as Embassies, Immigration, Consulates, Police departments, Border control officials, etc.).


In UAE, it is rather a common practice here that the employer holds the passport of their employees in their custody. It is very common for employer in the UAE to keep their employees’ passport despite of knowing it is illegal!

The company or the employer keeping the passports of their employees is illegal as per UAE Law. Employers don’t have any legal right to keep the employees passport or any other personal belonging.

When can an employee hand over the passport to the employer?

Visa Formalities: Employees can only handover the passport to the employer to proceed with visa formalities (such as stamping of residence visa and cancellation). Once the visa formalities are done, the employer is supposed to return the passport to the employee and employee should keep it in safe custody and present it to the concerned authorities upon request and employer does not have the right to retain the passport for any reason.

An employee can ask the employer to return his or her passport. If the employer forcefully keeps the passport, then an employee can approach the police station, respective consulate/embassy or MOL. However, in very specific cases, such as position of trust, those handling cash, employer may keep the employees passport but can’t forbid them from travelling outside the country.

If an employee chooses to handover the passport to her/his employer for safekeeping then it is not illegal. But an employee is to check with his/her embassy or consulate to confirm that whether it is permitted to do that or not.

Most of the employees are not aware of their rights!

Understand that your passport is the property of your respective Government. Whoever is holding the passport of any resident in the country without a court order does that in violation of the UAE Law.

So beware of your rights!


Deepak is a passionate blogger with interests in bitcoin, online marketing, and writing.

66 thoughts on “Can my Employer keep my Passport?

  1. i want to book ticket but company not give my passport , what should i do , they already cancel me

    1. First of all, passport should be with you all the time. It is illegal for your company to hold your passport.

  2. Hi sir i am working in callessal Al barsha 4 star hotel in kitchen commi 1 form 2012 to Intel now my viza expired so my H R 7 days before sand me for medical and my passport valid 5 month 20 days and for new viza need 6 month valid so company sand me Pakistan for passport renewal now I have every thing ready but now company not have visa and I am 6 months in Pakistan for weating for visa my 5 year graduate and my money with company so what i can do please sir answer my request…… Thanks forUAE law

  3. Hi Deepak , Please advice should the employer give back the passport back to the employee after Visa cancellation formalities or should retain it till at the time the employee exits the country (UAE).Also during visa cancellation, Emirates id also will stand cancelled.Then till he exits the country within the grace period of visa cancellation what proof is to be carried .

  4. Pls advise me I am working with my company with tourism visa they promised me that they we give me employment visa after two months of my working with them they finished my tourist visa they now ask me to go back to my country that company don’t have money to do my visa pls what can I do.

  5. I need your help about my passport hold my employer they give rilis to finding a new job but my passport they hold and he give me dealine untill augost 31 to find a new work and my employer they ‘ll go in UK for a few months then my passport they give in the PRO please help me what I do to taken my passport

  6. Hi,
    First i came dubai on a visit visa , later i joined a company for near about two months now , i want to leave this company , my visa status has.been changed but medical is yet not done, i asked company to cancell my visa they told me to pay money and they are not ready to give my passport intill i pay & even when i shall pay they.will give my passport only in airport.
    i wanted to ask that is it legal to ask money?
    Can company hold my passport untill i exit?
    may i have anyban ?
    what if i got job in freezone can i stay in dubai?
    even after cancellation how long can i stay in dubai?

  7. Need help

    I am working under security company from 25aug-2014 as a security officer. Last month 26may2016 i gave emergency resign because of my father cancer problem. He is very serious. They have deducted all my gratuity but not releasing me. They said your case already forwarded to immigration for visa cancellation but i checked with immigration dept. There is nothing. They are bothering me too much. Pls let me know how i can get my passport and visa cancellation as soon as. Pls help me.

  8. (NEED HELP)
    Sir, I am working under security company for last 21months and my contract for 3years.last month 26may-2016 i gave emergency resign because of my father cancer problem. They have deducted all my gratuity but i am still here after 36days. They said already forwarded your case to immigration for visa cancellation. Today i checked with immigration dept. But they have nothing for my visa cancellation. They are bothering me too much. My father is very serious please let me know how can get my passport from them and visa cancellation. Please help me.

  9. please advise me i ‘ve resigned from my previous company. .my grace period has exceeded but before then my ex employer demanded for my new offer letter and spoke my new employer that they will take care of my over stay before my visa comes out. ..but my visa is on process now but my ex boss is threatening to file an absconding case on me question is can they file me absconded as my new visa is on process my name on system already?
    again my new employer told me immigration called him as my ex boss filed the absconding case on me…and he told them that my visa is on process he told them my MB number can immigration contact my new boss?

  10. i have worries about my near grace period this coming march 18, 2016. is it possible for me to wait the processing of my employment visa if my new employer will start processing march 12, 2016. my employer didnt process my visa last week bcuase I found out that my passport validity is 5mos. so I ask an advice and search wt to do.. en luckily I heard I need to request early renewal of passport frm my new company and go to consulate en finaly they allow me to renew. nt the prblm is there is no extension anymore in passport which iv knwn each case to case basis only. so I go back to my new employer en giv her the receipt of my passport renewal bt my old employer asking me to return my passport. evn I already giv them an open letter. and my new employer already talk the PRO that she wil support me for fines en overstay for visa processing purposes. is it possible for me to overstay en my old company stil have the right to force me exit til I dnt habe copy of employmwnt visa or exit tiket?. please advice. tnx.

  11. Hello,

    My question is, does a company has the right to keep my passport even if they hire me outside dubai? Or can they insist that i need to exit uae in exchange with my passport? After several request can i call the police assistance regarding the witholding of my passport?



  12. good day sr deepak

    i just want to ask i work in 10 months to my company i have offer a new job which is good i decided to resign to my old company i give 1 month notice then i finish 1 month but my employeer till now not cancelled my visa and also my passport no giving to me..they not give also my 1 month salary.what should i do now pls.i want my passport back to is possible my employeer file me a complaint about my resignation?

  13. sir good afternoon,
    i under of unlimited contract llc.i just wanted to know if employer can complaint to employee,if the employee cannt removed the filed complaint in MOL,regarding cancellation…they wants to cancel me after i finish to pay all cost of the visa etc…but they cannt coz i hve filed complaint in mol….so what complaint possible given of company to me in the labour? they hve rights to keep my passport also ?pls reply

  14. sir deepak,…i resign 11 months unlimited contract….i pay all cost in the compny (visa,id’s,health card,insurance card etc.2,800 they deduct my salary 1,650,so that my balance 1,215) didn’t cancel me after my resignation,bcouse they said pay before cancellation. (i file complaint the MOL…company dont know) they said if im not pay the all cost they call police…so i pay everything what they wants….after that they wants to cancel my visa but they cannt becouse i have file complaint to MOL… the company wants i remove my complaint so that they cancel me as soon as possible.but even i pay the company, even they cancel my visa,they dont want to give my passport …they wants to give only once i leave uae,…if i remove my complaint in the MOL ,what possible given problem my company to me…its is law of goventment , employer to hold the passport of employee?give me advice what i will do pls.i continue my complaint or i remove as company wants…

  15. Sir
    I have to ask that, I was just in entry permit visa and I hvnt done any medical or not yet stamped in passport now I hv been cancelled from my company and my new companie visa is on process bt my employer is still keeping my passport after cancellation. am in freezone dmcc. Is it legal he us asking me 3800dhs and he not yet pay me 20 days salary. What should I do? Now I hv only 6 days from today to exit.

  16. sir,
    my company cancel me i hve ban,i pay everything what they wants…but my passport they keep…they give only once i leave dubai.or if i find another job that time they turn over in the cmpny..this is policy of labour?bcoz the employer said if i cnnt exit b4 my last day they give in the immigration or call police then they file abscon.

  17. hello,
    im chris and i am a supervisor in a restaurant im holding my passport right no cause i get it just to renew it few months ago. Now they are forcing me to give it back to them. they said they will give me a memo if i will not give back my passport. is it legal that they are getting it back?

    thank you sir.

  18. Deepak,
    My labour contract will expire december 21 2015 and my joining date to the company is november 30 2013 when can i stop working. And which one i will follow, i will stop november 30 or december 21, pls just answer it ., i am just confused. Thanks a lot.

  19. my company is owning me 2month and 2weeks salary and it already closed down,i want my money and look 4 another job but they are not doing anything about the money.please what can I do

  20. Hi!

    I am working in a position handling money (in restaurant). I currently got my passport back with me from the company, yet now the company is pushing hard on me to return it back. Can the company force me in such matter because I am handling cash?

    Thank you!

    1. Alejandro,
      Although it is illegal to keep employee’s passport, for critical positions, it may become necessary!!

  21. Hi sir, im initiating my cancelation to my present company im under probationary for 4months already
    then they asking me to pay 5000aed for my cancelation Is it right for them to ask me this much charge for the cancelation?

  22. hi , i just want to ask if there is a category of visa fore i immigration visa the possible is keeping my passport ..its that illegal or no???thank you because they telling me that immigration visa have a rights to keep my passport ..

    1. Joe,
      Nothing like that and it is a blatant lie that if you have immigration visa, the company keeps the passport.

  23. hi any want can help me how to check information about visa online i check how many time why its not showing.

    1. Hana,
      Please read:

      Be part of a community at Emirates Diary Forum. Browse, ask a question at the latest feature of Emirates Diary. Visit:

  24. My brother’s visa is now expired and his employer didn’t release his passport. What should we do? please advise.

  25. Hi
    Thank you for the reply. I have one more query. I read an article of khaleej times dated 2012 mentioning that there is an urgent petition which employee can file against employer for payment of 110 aed in court of first instance and then orders are released to police to release passport within a few days . Do you know if this is still applicable and if it can be done as I know the MOL will take time and I need passport for change status to avoid further penalty . Thank you

  26. I am terminated. I am under probationary almost 3 months. Mu employer told me that my visa is cancelled. Then why he did not give me a copy and my original passport. One month finish then now why he still not sending me to my country with free ticket I am trying to ask him but always busy and said wait. For how manu times waiting I dont want to pay penalty.

  27. Hi
    I resigned from my company while still on probation. I already got a new job and also got a new pink entry visa . But my previous company is not releasing my passport and want me to pay for expenses (visa, medical, etc.).I want to know is it legal and how can I get my passport back. Please help it’s urgent . Thank you .

    1. Bilal,
      that is not legal.
      You should file complaint with the MOL or Police about the company not giving your passport.

  28. Sir, I am on 2 months Still on probi, I asked my employer to cancel me but they are not taking me seriously, my questions are;
    1. IF i resigned and theybaccepted should I serve the 1 month notice period?
    2. Can they file me absconding? – they always tell me they will give me.
    3. they told me if I cancelled on labour office I will get an immigrarion ban as well.

    I just wanted to cancel my work and look for another job as this company is too much
    they are 15 days delayed in salary
    too much worK no specified job description. They also put me in diff. Works lile HR, accounting, typing and others.
    always bullying and degrading me.

    I want it to stop but they tell me if I cancel in labour i will get immigration ban as well.

    They told me remove the complain and we will cancel you. i know they will not do that in easy way as 2 of my colleagues did serve 1 month and paid a lot still he is not cancelling. He is delaying and kept on bullying them asking money.

  29. Why need to exit if I do have 5000aed offer salary from my new employer? Do my previous employer need first to see my new visa from new company before he gave me my passport?or no need just an offer letter? Do my new company has the right to get my original passport even there is no new visa yet?

    1. Sherly,
      How will your old company be sure that you will stay here legally. Till you exit the country, it is the responsibility of the old company to make sure that you do not fall under watchlist or else their system will be blocked in MOL as well as immigration.

  30. Hi deepak
    My employer let me signed the cancellation papers of my employment visa since last week and it is almost 11 days he said he still not submit it to the immigration and MOL to process the cancellation. I DO have offer letter from my new employer 5000aed salary. Do i have to exit or no need? If I got my copy of cancellation is it possible to get my original passport from my previous employer? What is the possible reason for him to hold my passport?

  31. Hi Deepak,

    I’m already cancelled and i have grace period to stay in UAE until June 1, 2015 i have a new freezone employer but they need my original passport, My old employer want to release only in airport immigration to exit in the UAE is it possible to release in the airport and to be stamp to exit? or my old employer needs to release only in the office since im not going yet to exit in UAE

  32. I signed in the offer letter as office administrator but my entry permit visa states receptionist as my position. After working for 6days, I notified them verbally that I wont be continuing my job with them. They are asking me to stay until they find my replacement, is this right for them to ask me?? Note: I haven’t go for medical neither my passport was stamped. How can I ask them also to cancel me immediately??
    Thank you

    1. May,
      It is up to you to honour their request.
      Your entry permit will need to be cancelled. You need to request them to cancel.

      1. Good day

        1 week a go i was to the labour to remove the ban with a NOC LETTER from the company where i worked before and from the labour they tell me that in 5 days i will receive a massage if the ban has been removed or not but i did not recived nothing and the ban its still there i want to ask why the ban has not been removed the company give me NOC LETTER what should i do to go again?thank you

        1. and i want to ask if the company they are allowed to keep my paspport since my visa was cancelled and i pay evrything and please tell me why i didnt received any messagewith the ban

          1. Valentina,
            No, companies can not keep passports.

  33. My visa has been canceled on 11th of March. Now my employer is asking air ticket to my country and he wants to deposit my passport to airport instead of giving me directly. I told him this is illegal to hold my passport, i haven’t done anything wrong and i am no more under your visa then why you want to deposit my passport to airport ! He replied me that he has right to hold my passport.
    Please suggest me solution for this. I do not want to collect my passport from airport as i haven’t done anything wrong.

    1. Christina,
      No one except Government authorities have right to hold your passport!

  34. after 3 years in a company i resigned and just finished my notice period to my company and will start my next job and waiting for my visa… but my previous company is holding my passport saying that they need to see my new visa slip only than they will release my passport.. suggest me what should i do?

    1. Rabeel,
      They can not hold your passport for whatsoever reason! That is illegal.
      yes, they could request for new Entry permit/pink visa.
      But they can not hold passport.
      You should request the passport immediately.

  35. Hi how can I check my labour contract online and if there are a ban on my visa.

  36. Hi,

    Im Holding a TCOM Visa, Working in the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority. I have completed 4 1/2 Months in my current Company.
    I would want to go on Emergency leave to my county for 4 days . (Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri) I will be resuming services on Saturday. (My company has a 5 and half Day Working i.e. Sun- Thur is Full Day , Friday is a weekly holiday and Saturday is Half Day)

    My Question is : 1) According to the UAE LAW – If I take leave for 4 days do i have loss of Pay 4 Days or 3 days since one Day is Friday.

    My company tells me that according to the UAE Law I will have a Loss of pay even for Friday. I feel this is very Unfair. If its according to the Law could you refer me to a supporting article.

    2)Also could you tell me how do I find my contract online.

    3) If I leave the company before the contract, and want to Join another employer , Will there be a Ban/Penalty.


    Please help

    1. Antoine,
      1. Under probation usually companies follow unpaid leave rule.
      2. Not sure about TCOM companies.
      3. I think since TECOM is freezone area, there may be not ban.

  37. Employer is not giving me back my passport if there is an article of that to show. can someone help me and send me please this article?

    1. There is nothing mentioned in labour law with this regard. However, please note that a Passport is a personal item and should be held with the person it belongs to. No one else other than the issuing country has the right to keep it or demand it.

      1. Now when i asked from comany on offical mail because they are not giveing me so the involve higher management & blame me that you missused company money which is fake statement & terminate me with immidiate effect with artical 120 even i replied then that you are blaming & this is fake either prove it or i will go to court but they sent me terminantion letter now plezse guide what i have to do

        1. IF they blame someone, there should be proper proof of the wrongdoing. Better to approach MOL.

  38. I have the same issue and the employer is not giving me back my passport if there is an article of that to show. can someone help me and send me please this article?

  39. hi,
    i have the same issue and the employer is asking if there is an article of that to show. can someone help me and send me please this article?

  40. Hi SHalita,

    my visa stamping done by SAIF Zone . and working for a private company . and they are asking for passport , saying that SAIF zone will retain the passport . my question , why should i give my passport to them , and why they want my passport ., and they are saying , if not handover 10 Dh per day will be fined . please kindly suggest to whom i need to complaint abt this.

    1. As per the Law employer has no right to keep the passport of employee. However it is depend on company policies.

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