Country Guide: United Arab Emirates

Print Friendly and PDF
Updated: November 23, 2016

Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of residence permit / visa
  • Employment visa with entry stamp of UAE if residence visa not ready / Emirates ID copy / Emirates ID application form
  • Bill of lading (express release) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Detailed packing list in English
  • Letter from Ministry of Foreign Affairs for exemption from the payment of Customs duties (diplomats)
  • Copy of diplomatic card (diplomats)
  • Letter of authorization / undertaking

Specific Information

  • All documents must be in place prior to shipment arrival.
  • Without a residence visa or passport, shipments will not be cleared, nor will the shipping line release shipment.
  • Import shipments may be intensively inspected by Customs authorities with charges incurred.
  • The importation of household goods and personal effects into the UAE is exempted from Customs duties. 
  • If any prohibited items are found during the Customs inspection, severe punishment will be imposed including fines, imprisonment, or both. All import duties are charged based on the costs, insurance, and freight (CIF) value of the shipment.
    • All import duties are changed at 5% of the value of the item.
  • Do not send insurance or any other documents showing the true value of the goods with the shipment to avoid the payment of heavy customs duties.
  • It takes approximately 4 - 7 work days for sea shipments, 3 - 5 days for air shipments.
  • All sea shipments coming into Jebel Ali port are subject to approximately 5 - 7 days at port with free port storage and demurrage charges (depending on the shipping line).
  • Shipments not cleared within 10 days from the arrival date at the port will not have a free port storage period granted and the shipment will attract port charges from the first day of arrival.
  • Shipments that arrive before the weekend will automatically lose two days of Customs clearance and the shipment can become more susceptible to incurring port storage charges.
    • Please note that Friday / Saturday is a weekend in Dubai and for Dubai Customs.
      • Hence, no customs clearance and inspection can take place during these two days.
  • Shipments are also susceptible to demurrage charges; however, they will only start incurring after the fifth day of shipment arrival.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of residence visa on passport
  • Copy of diplomatic card (diplomats)
  • Residence permit
  • Original / express bill of lading
  • Authorization letter
  • Original title / Copy of certificate of origin / registration card from origin country vehicle certificate must include detailed description, including engine number, year of production, color, etc.
  • Copy of commercial invoice / copy of purchase invoice
  • Insurance policy / proof of ownership

Specific Information

  • Owner of the goods must be in UAE at the time of shipment’s arrival and all documents must be in Customs possession prior to the arrival of the owner of the goods’ shipment.
  • The length of ownership is not applicable when deciding duties.
  • Duties of 5% are charged on all motor vehicles.
  • Customs will issue vehicle clearance certificate in 2 - 3 days; this document is required for registration with the traffic department.
  • Jebel Ali has tremendous port congestion, therefore, be aware of delays in clearing shipments, the time frame is approximately 1 - 2 weeks from the arrival date of shipment.
  • Owners of the goods that are bringing cars must be able to provide a copy of their UAE residence visa or no clearance and release will take place.
  • The vehicle can be older than 10 years with approval of local agent.
  • Vehicles with tinted glass restricted for import.
  • Only left handed cars are allowed.
  • Details needed for Customs clearance:
    • Model of the vehicles with the model number
    • Color of the vehicle
    • Year of manufacture
    • Current market value
    • Engine and chassis number
    • Weight of the vehicle (if applicable)

Pets

Documents Required

  • Owner’s passport
  • Owner’s UAE residence visa
  • Certificate of vaccination
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Import permit

 

Specific Information

  • Permission from the embassy is required for importation.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • The following items may qualify for free import if within the limits indicated:
    • Cigarettes (400), cigars (50), tobacco (500)

Prohibited Items

  • Weapons of all kinds
  • Military uniforms
  • Alcohol and spirits
  • Narcotics of all kinds, including poppy seeds, flowers and leaves
  • Banned substances, including drugs and medicines
  • Radio transmitters, wireless transmitters and communication equipment
  • Gambling games
  • Statues and figures of animals with religious undertones
  • Carvings and statues of humans (especially nude)
  • Pornographic materials
  • Controversial political and religious literature and materials contrary to Islamic principles
  • Toxic and radioactive materials
  • Items manufacture by Israeli black-list and of Israeli origin
  • Food items containing pork
  • Articles made from endangered animals or made of ivory or rhinoceros horn
  • Any other goods, the importation of which is prohibited under the authority of U.A.E. Customs laws or any other laws in the country
    • Contact local agent for more specific details

Consignment Instructions

Recommended:  Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.

 

Helpful Website(s):

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5444.htm

http://www.uae-embassy.org

 

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.