Can Your Employer Hold Your Passport? – Factors to Know!

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The world is full of opportunities. Some cities and countries are dream workplaces for people while others are just they are bound to live in for the rest of their lives. Considering the lands of opportunities, UAE holds a significant place in that list. And this is beyond all sorts of doubts or suspicions.


The job market is soaring in the UAE, and for tens of thousands of aspirants, working in the UAE has become a longing. People come to the UAE intending to get great jobs, while others to build an empire for themselves. However, if you are an expat willing to work in the UAE, it is pivotal for you to note that you might have to hand over your passport to your employer – as it has become a common practice for the employees and employers.


For foreigners, a passport is the sole document of identity in a foreign land, while giving away your passport to the employer just for the sake of job insurance is nothing but a narrow approach to deal with this matter. Despite how careful your employer is with your passport or what promises they make, the real safety of your sole identity remains if you are carrying it yourself.


However, if you genuinely search deeply about this practice, you’ll come to know that holding the passport of your employees in the UAE is, in fact, illegal practice and would strictly be dealt with if found guilty. The law constituted by the government of the UAE doesn’t allow anyone to take charge of others’ critical documents in exchange for a working guarantee.

 Employer Taking Custody of your Passport in UAE – The Legal Solutions

There are tons of different happenings in the UAE. And one most likely to happen is that several employers take custody of their employees' passports and other documented belongings by coercion. According to the top law firms in UAE, the Labour Law in the UAE strictly says against it and considers it as an act that must be punished. Still, it is happening at large.


In 2002, the UAE Ministry of Interior passed a law that clearly and succinctly made it clear that a passport is a personal belonging and an important document. Therefore, the passport owner holds the complete rights to own the custody of their passport. Moreover, they must present their passport to the concerned authorities. No other authority or employer holds the right to detain the passport of their employees as per the judicial declaration and UAE’s Labour Law.


Although the authorities or their employers can ask their employees to submit their passports and other documental belongings if they need them for any legal purpose, illegal detaining would be punishable under the law of the United Arab Emirates.

When can or can’t the Employer Hold the Custody of Their Employee’s Passport in the UAE?

Employers taking forceful hold or custody of their employee's passports is usually a common practice in UAE, but following the law and regulations, it is illegal and must be punished.


However, there are some legal permissions through which employers have the right to ask for employees' passports or other essential documents for purposes like applying for a new visa, canceling a visa, or renewing a visa. After the requirement is done, the employer is legally obliged to return the passport to the employee.


However, with the massive number of expats coming from all over the world in the UAE, this illegal detention of passports has become a normal practice, which in the eyes of the authorities is beyond any forgiveness.

How to Register Complaints?

It is indeed clear that the employer can only hold or ask for their employees' passports if they require them for any documentation. Detaining the documents to demonstrate their superiority is an unforgivable crime in the UAE.


However, if your employer has taken illegal custody of your passport, it is right of you to ask in a normal and polite tone for it. Once you are done with many requests and the employer still doesn't give hold of your belongings, you are the right to take any legal proceeding against them. With that said, here are a few actions you can take against the stubborn employer;


·         The first step is to contact the embassy or consulate to report his complaint against the employer. For this, you can take a letter from the embassy mentioning the employer's details to lodge a formal complaint about the illegal detention of your passport.

·         You can also ask the embassy to keep your passport for you and have a receipt for it.

·         Another step is to contact the Ministry of Interior in the UAE to complain to your employer.


The Final Takeaway

This practice of detaining the passport of your employee without any legal consent is against the rules, regulations, and laws. Remember that this offense is punishable by a jail sentence and a fine of up to AED 20,000. So, keeping an eye on the details and taking vigilant steps is what you should seek in the first place.  



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