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Customs and Import Duties

United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Customs and Import Duties


Customs and Excise play a very important part in any country in preventing the entry by sea and air as well as overland of items that could be dangerous to the country or to individuals.

The following items can be brought into the United Arab Emirates in small quantities free of customs duty:

Gifts not exceeding a value of AED 3,000
No more than 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 500 grams of tobacco
No more than 4 litres of alcohol or beer

Various items for personal use are exempt from customs fees:

Video cameras and tapes, radios, CD and DVD players, projectors and slides
Telescopes, mobile phones, portable televisions, computers and laptops
Wheelchairs, prams and pushchairs, sports equipment

Cash and travellers cheques must have a value of less than AED 40,000 and the allowance is only for passengers over the age of 18. Any amounts over this must be entered on a declaration form.

Certain conditions apply and the most common ones are:

Items must be for personal use and not in large quantities
Passengers cannot be frequent travellers who carry goods on a regular basis or a member of any crew
Passengers must be over the age of 18 years to carry tobacco and alcohol

Some items are definitely banned and under no circumstances should be imported into the UAE:

Children’s toy dinosaurs
Any kind of narcotic drug, heroin, cocaine, hashish etc.
Any goods coming from boycotted countries
Goods with an Israeli log or design or of Israeli origin
Rhino horn and crude ivory
Anything to do with gambling
Fishing nets with three layers
Any form of material published, printed or otherwise that contradicts Islamic teachings
Tyres that are used or reconditioned
Anything that may have been exposed to radiation

The above are just UAE laws, don’t forget that there are laws that apply worldwide regarding things like forged currency and home-made or cooked foods.

Excess amounts over and above the allowed amounts will be detained and customs fees are payable within 30 days. It is possible on request to get a 30 day extension but after that the goods will sold off at public auction.

A three month supply of personal medicine can be imported by residents and non-residents. Any medicine must be accompanied by the original prescription, details of the patient and doctor and details of illness or disease. The prescription must be stamped by the official UAE embassy in the country of origin and the medicine must be in date and in the original container. Medicines like anti-depressants, sleeping tablets and mood stabilisers must be approved by the Ministry of Health prior to travel. Even the tiniest amount will be confiscated and the offence is punishable by law.

Applications to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water must be made and certain conditions met to receive an import permit for certain animals.

Generally speaking the import duty on most items is around 5% although alcohol attracts a rate of 50% and tobacco 100%. Presently there are 734 items on the duty free list, Including transport and accessories for the disabled, certain gold, silver and diamonds, plants, chemicals, vegetables and animals.

If you are planning on important goods and cargo into the UAE do your homework first. There are a lot of goods that perish on the dockside because of inexperience in the UAE trading laws. Whether you are a company or individual importing goods the valuation method is the same. The duty is calculated according to the cost of the goods, the cost of the insurance and the cost of the freight, commonly called CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight).

It goes without saying that weapons of any kind are not allowed and even finding a handgun on a ship can have the captain imprisoned and the vessel confiscated with harsh penalties. The UAE authorities have zero tolerance when it comes to anything that might threaten national security.

This is only a rough guide and should be used in conjunction with further research to find out the most up to date information before you travel.


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