Customs formalities in Dubai

customs in Dubai
Updated 2020-04-28 13:56

If you are relocating to Dubai, you might be bringing some items in your luggage in addition to what you're shipping over. These are probably items that you use on a daily basis, such as personal hygiene products, clothes, etc. While it is possible to make use of your personal baggage allowance, you need to know that certain items are prohibited. Some items may be subject to restrictions, which means you are only allowed to bring a certain limit, for example, for alcohol. Check with your airline carrier for the list of prohibited items.

A lot of expats find it convenient to ship their personal effects and belongings to Dubai. This can take some time to arrive and clear, depending on the shipping conditions. You may use the services of a shipping company either by air freight or sea freight.

Personal items - exemption of customs fees and duties

For your personal belongings, there will be no customs fees to pay. You will also be exempted from customs fees for baby strollers, sports equipment, laptops, portable TV and DVD players, portable radio, wheelchair, and video cameras. You are allowed to bring gifts, provided that the value does not exceed AED 3,000. You can also take up to 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 500 grams of tobacco. For alcoholic beverages, this should not exceed four litres. Anything beyond these amounts will then have customs duty applied.

Gifts and personal belongings should be strictly for personal use and consumption, and not for commercial use. Please note that when you are travelling to Dubai, the customs agents have the right to inspect your luggage.

If you are importing goods from your home country to Dubai, you will be exempted from customs duty for your personal belongings. Anything that is a brand new item or in commercial quantities will have a 5% customs duty applicable to them.

For clearance of personal effects, you will require the following documents:

  • A copy of your resident visa
  • A copy of your passport
  • A written list of the imported goods

If you are importing a vehicle from your home country to Dubai, you should check the import regulations in effect at the time of your import. In general, you are allowed to bring your vehicle, whether used or a brand new one. To clear the vehicle yourself, you will need to bring a copy of your passport and the invoice of the vehicle. The Customs officers will then check and evaluate the vehicle. A customs fee of 5% of the value of the car will be applicable.

You might have to produce additional documents in case you are importing a car through a shipping company. Find out more in our article Shipping my stuff to Dubai.

Prohibited items in Dubai

As with any other country, there are rules that apply and some items are not allowed. The following lists a few of these items (you can find a full detailed list on the Dubai Customs website):

  • Narcotic drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, etc.)
  • Goods originating from Israel, and anything bearing Israeli trademarks or logos
  • Gambling tools and equipment
  • Forged currency
  • Firearms
  • Pornographic materials
  • Printed material (books, magazines, cards, photos) that contradict Islamic teachings
  • Goods whose importation is prohibited by UAE laws, or goods imported from boycotted countries
  • Items used in black magic, witchcraft or sorcery
  • Exotic, protected and endangered animals (including certain breeds of dogs)

Control on imported food for non-commercial purposes

You can bring food but only in small amounts. Here are the limitations of food products:

  • Yoghurt – 20kg
  • Litres of oil – 50 litres (including olive oil)
  • Fruits and vegetables – 10kg
  • Dates – 100kg
  • Sweets and bread – 10kg
  • Grains, cereal, red meat – 30kg
  • Fish and seafood – 10kg
  • Caviar – 500 gm
  • Eggs – 11 kg
  • Honey and sugar products – 20kg
  • Herbs – 5 kg
  • Saffron – 500 gm
  • Special purpose food (ex. Kids food) – 10 kg
  • Drinks and syrups including water – 20 litres
  • Juice concentrates – 5 litres
  • Canned food – 25 kg

Medicines and drugs

You can get in trouble for bringing prohibited medicines and drugs to the country. Check with the ingredients because some may contain substances that are banned in the UAE. Therefore, always carry with you a doctor's prescription or other documents to justify your need to medically intake the said medicine.

The list of medicines by customs authorities in the UAE is regularly updated, so make sure to check that as well prior to your trip to the UAE.

 Useful links:

Dubai Customs website
Controlled Medicines

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.