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How to open Import and Export Business in Dubai

How to open Import and Export Business in Dubai

Since ancient times, the UAE has been considered to be a powerful center of trade due to its convenient geographical location. Routes were laid through Dubai followed by cargo from Europe to Asia and vice versa. 100 years ago, the country exported mainly fish, fish delicacies and natural pearls. A large income came from the sale of raw materials. Favorable conditions have influenced import export business in Dubai. It attracts not only local entrepreneurs, but also businessmen living far beyond the borders of the country.

Thanks to it, the Government has managed to establish mutually beneficial ties with developed countries. The management has been working for a long time to create an impeccable trading system. It became like this when she managed to solve the main problems:

  • create a modern IT platform and ensure its smooth functioning;
  • generate a list of business projects that will be of interest to potential partners.

Why Dubai for Import Export Business in the UAE

Attractive visa policy, beautiful beaches with velvet sand, modern skyscrapers providing a high standard of living, favorable tax conditions, developed road infrastructure – all this attracts people to implement business ideas. A large number of people from different parts of the world come here every year to make a dream come true. Their goal is to establish a prosperous and profitable Dubai import export company.

The efficiency of it can be explained by:

  • developed logistics links;
  • favorable location of companies that allows establishing business links with global markets;
  • existence of free trade zones with favorable tax conditions;
  • impressive natural reserves of oil and gas, which will last for more than one generation.

The UAE successfully connects Europe and East Asian countries. Besides, it has all the necessary modern equipment. It is considered the most popular city in the country for living and implementing business projects. Therefore, it is not surprising at all that import and export companies in Dubai are known all over the world. Electronic services have been launched to facilitate their work.

Representatives of Dubai Customs have developed a special online portal where you can place any requests for conducting trade projects and get answers from specialists. The current free trade agreement with a number of countries has served as an excuse to reduce taxes levied on goods that are imported and exported from them.

The Most Imported & Exported Products in Dubai


Since April 1996, the UAE has been a full member of the WTO. It means that the owners of business projects registered in the Emirates can become partners for representatives of different countries that are members of the organization. Among them there are such countries as Germany, the USA, Austria, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and others. The goods that are imported and exported from Dubai will be listed below.

Goods that are sent for export:

  1. Energy resources – mainly oil and natural gas (about 40%).
  2. Liquid mixtures of high-boiling hydrocarbons (petroleum oils) and petroleum products obtained from bituminous rocks.
  3. Pearls, precious metals, precious and semi-precious stones (28%).
  4. Gold and gold semi-finished products.
  5. Diamonds with and without processing (unmounted).
  6. Sound recording devices and their accessories (9%).
  7. Motor transport (6%).
  8. Development of the national Electrical code.
  9. Transmitting equipment for television and radio broadcasting.
  10. Salt, sulfur, stone, plaster materials (cement).
  11. Computer equipment.
  12. Different types of plastic.
  13. Copper and aluminum.

As for imports, it concerns primarily such goods as:

  1. Different types of technological equipment.
  2. Food (about 80-90% of all food consumed is imported from other countries).
  3. Dairy products, poultry and other animals.
  4. Inorganic substances (6%).
  5. Machines and mechanisms.
  6. The spacecraft.
  7. Textile products and footwear.
  8. Leather and accessories for leather production.
  9. Metals.
  10. Minerals.
  11. Tools, various plastic products.
  12. Pearls, precious and base metals, stones (31%)
  13. Electronic equipment (18%)
  14. Furniture products.
  15. Engines for cars.
  16. Ceramics.
  17. Alcohol.
  18. Medical devices.
  19. Pharmaceutical products.

Things to Know Before Starting the Import-Export Business in Dubai

Businessman in port

It’s no secret that every product imported or exported from the country passes customs inspection. If you are planning to start a business, you should register your company with Dubai Customs. Now this function is possible online using the Mirsal 2 declaration system.

On the official website, the entrepreneur can use the instructions for registration and getting started. After registering online, you need to provide all the necessary documents in person for customs representatives. In addition, according to the current laws, an entrepreneur does not have the right to start an activity until the export import license Dubai is issued. You can do this by submitting documents to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It is important to note that the Free Trade Zone is not part of the customs territory of the UAE. When exporting goods from any free zone, they will not be subject to fixed taxes. Regardless of where the company is registered, there are requirements for entrepreneurs:

  • when sending the goods, the entrepreneur must specify the code of the exporter/importer;
  • contents of the cargo must not differ from the goods specified in the license;
  • shipment must be delivered to the destination within 72 hours.

Import/Export Clearance Procedure in Dubai

In order to avoid any problems related to the law, foreign companies engaged in trading activities in Dubai must comply with the requirements of the procedures. What documents should be provided to customs representatives for import:

  1. Completed Customs declaration form.
  2. Certificate of origin of the goods.
  3. Import permit.
  4. Confirmation of the completed delivery order.
  5. DFSA Declaration (the Dubai Customs Service is responsible for providing the document).
  6. Invoices.
  7. Trading license.
  8. Packing list.

The package of documents for export is established in accordance with the requirements of the current customs legislation. For the clearance of goods traveling by sea or by air, the exporter must prepare the following documents:

  1. Invoice for the sale of goods for export.
  2. Packing list.
  3. Original invoice.
  4. An entry waybill issued by the customs.
  5. Original invoice.
  6. Certificate of origin, which is approved by the Chamber of Commerce.
  7. If there is an exemption from payment of duties, you need to provide a special form.

Prohibited & Restricted Items in the UAE


There is a classification of goods that cannot be imported into the country and exported outside it. Prohibited goods include:

  • any types of narcotic substances;
  • nylon fishing nets;
  • gambling machines;
  • live pigs;
  • some types of plants, such as patsan and betel;
  • tires that were in use, but have since been restored;
  • any consistencies contaminated with nuclear substances;
  • objects and materials that contradict the Islamic faith;
  • goods released illegally;
  • antiques;
  • electronic devices for smoking.

What has import and export restrictions:

  • representatives of the plant and animal world, as well as different types of fertilizers;
  • fireworks and explosives, various types of weapons;
  • diamonds that have not been processed;
  • alcohol;
  • media sphere products;
  • instruments for surgical interventions;
  • pharmacology;
  • electronic devices for smoking;
  • nuclear energy products;
  • radio broadcasting equipment;
  • food products;
  • some personal hygiene products;
  • drinking water;
  • car tires that were not in use.

Thanks to the conduct of international trade, the country manages to significantly replenish its budget every year. According to statistics, a third of the state’s income is generated due to the fact that it is a powerful re-exporting center. Re-export involves the export from the UAE of goods that were imported earlier. It is done for the purpose of resale to other countries.

The Process to Apply for an Import-Export Licence in Dubai

Department of Economic Development

An entrepreneur wishing to engage in trade in Dubai is required to apply for a license to the Department of Economic Development. It is important to know that any import-export activity is allowed in the UAE after receiving a special code. You need to get permission from the port and customs to conduct international trade.

A businessman who plans to export must submit a package of documents to customs representatives and pay the necessary fees for registering an export declaration. This is necessary to obtain a customs declaration certificate. What steps are advised to follow for performing it:

  1. Choosing the type of entrepreneurial activity.
  2. Definition of the form of an import-export company, fixed in a legal way.
  3. Notification of the DED about the company name and its registration.
  4. Submitting a request for DED approval to move to new stages of business registration.
  5. Prepare and notarize the MoA or LSA agreement. The documents are signed in the presence of partners and the national sponsor of the UAE (this rule applies to companies owned by non-residents of the country).
  6. Rent or purchase of an office located at the physical address of the enterprise. Obtaining documents confirming the commercial lease, including EJARI.
  7. If necessary, obtaining permits from government representatives.
  8. Payment of fees within the specified time after the voucher from the authority is issued.
  9. After receiving DED approval, you need to issue a trade license. You can do this in the service center, or online.
  10. Applying for visas (not only for yourself, but also for your family members and employees).
  11. Opening an account in an international bank.
  12. Registration of business insurance according to the current requirements.
  13. Hiring staff, promoting the company by any available means.

What is the cost of an import-export license in UAE?

The cost of a license varies depending on the type of activity. It is typically around 3,000 dirhams in the UAE. But in some cases it can exceed 25,000 dirhams. The specified price includes a license fee, which is 2000 dirhams UAE. The license can be renewed annually for a fee. The cost of such a service will be 1000 dirhams UAE.

Documents required to get an import-export trading license


After payment of the fee, you need to get confirmation of the approval of the license from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Then you should get a letter of guarantee from a banking organization in Dubai. You will also need copies of the entrepreneur’s passport and a residence visa. If you have the listed documents, you will be able to apply for an import-export trading license.

How to get an import export license in Dubai?

Procedure of actions:

  1. Fill out the application form and send it to the Department of Economic Development. The form can be found on the website or requested at the office.
  2. Provide confirmation of the license approval from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a letter of guarantee from the bank.
  3. Provide with a full package of documents to the DED.

Entrepreneurs should know that the trade license is valid for one year. The document is subject to annual renewal. At the same time, it is assumed that the businessman will have to go through the same procedure as at the initial receipt.

Don’t Forget About a Visa

In the UAE, it is impossible to deviate from compliance with all the requirements for the organization of transportation of goods. To engage in international trade, which means to send or receive goods from business partners from other countries, you need to get a permit. It can be of two types:

  • a document confirming the legal crossing of borders – transit visa;
  • permission to participate in international trade – import-export visa.

The first variant of the permit document is valid for 14 days. And the import-export visa is valid twice as long: 30 days. The holder of both types of documents receives the right to transport goods during the specified period of validity of the visa. If you plan to live and work in the UAE, it is preferable to apply for a residence permit.

Port in Dubai

When applying for a visa, an entrepreneur must submit the following set of documents:

  • questionnaire data;
  • an identity card with an emirates ID – a plastic card on which the owner’s basic data is stored with an indication of the period of the resident visa and the type of insurance;
  • a copy of identity document;
  • personal photos.

You can apply either online or at the UAE Consulate. If you wish to obtain a transit visa, you will also need a copy of the travel itinerary. Request processing usually takes 2-3 weeks. The review period may be extended or shortened depending on the submitted documents. As soon as you get approved for a visa, you will be able to start processing cargo at the port.

Top 10 Import & Export Business Opportunities in Dubai

Why are entrepreneurs given more opportunities in the UAE compared to many European and Asian countries? This question was asked by many people who are engaged in international trade. The state has an agreement regulating free trade. According to it, duties have been significantly reduced. The main goal was to simplify trading activities. Double taxation can be avoided by every business owner there.

Export business Agent

Export business Agent

To activate your skills and knowledge in the field of international trade, you can master the profession of an export agent. By doing it, you can get the necessary business skills that will be useful in the future. No investments will be required. The risks will also be minimal. It is important to be responsible and ready for hard work. The agent receives a commission for assistance in the registration of goods.

Art Exports

If you are a connoisseur of works of art and understand how to evaluate them, then why don’t you try to organize a project that will specialize in the piece of art export. Due to the high standard of living in Dubai, there is an increased demand for luxury goods. They include international art, which has become a universal property.

According to the current laws, the import of works of art is subject to a duty of 5%. Also, VAT in the amount of an additional 5% may be charged from the cost, even if the work of art is imported into the country for personal use and does not imply resale. Therefore, the conclusion of deals on the import and export of such expensive goods is considered a good opportunity for the development of business projects.

Product Sourcing Agent

Product Sourcing Agent

Knowledge of the market and the ability to build business relationships with suppliers and customers will help you become a successful product sourcing agent. Such kind of business can be started without investment. For its development, you will need a good organizational approach and the ability to pay attention to small details. You will have the opportunity to cooperate with local purchasing agents and sellers of goods.

Electronics Product Provider

A large number of electronics and components are supplied to Dubai. Entrepreneurs who are well versed in modern electronic devices can create a profitable business by importing goods to the UAE.

Freight Brokerage Company

Freight Brokerage Company

Providing freight broker services is one of the business options in the UAE. The company acts as an intermediary assisting in the conclusion of a freight transaction, and will help to find a suitable vessel. Brokerage companies are also called forwarding agents. Exports in Dubai are developing rapidly, so there is always a demand for the services of a freight broker.

Precious Metals Marketing

The most profitable business in Dubai is the export of precious metals. According to statistics, in one quarter it is possible to sell precious metals worth over $ 6 billion. This type of activity includes not only the sale of gold, platinum, silver, but also precious stones, including expensive diamonds. Precious metals from Dubai are in demand in different countries, so an entrepreneur can always make money on their sale.

Vehicle Exports

Vehicle Exports

The high level of development of the automotive industry implies favorable conditions for entrepreneurs to conduct export business. First, it will be necessary to establish contacts with manufacturers. And then businessmen will be able to search for buyers outside the country. Some of the most luxurious car brands are produced in the UAE. As statistics show, the demand for them is constantly growing. Luxury car brands represent their products on the domestic market. Although there is always an opportunity to sell several luxury cars to buyers from other countries.

Auto Parts Exports

Why not try yourself in selling car accessories and repair tools. Cars periodically fail regardless of the class to which they belong. Therefore, the demand for spare parts is always high. The production of accessories can become an investment opportunity for the future.

Activated Carbon from Coconut Shell Export

Port UAE

It would be wrong to say that Dubai is the largest producer of coconut in the world. However, coconut palms grow on the territory of the UAE. Therefore, coconut is often exported to other countries. Activated carbon is extracted from the coconut shell. It is used to purify water and extract precious gold from cyanide solutions. 

Aluminum Import Export

It is believed that aluminum ingots produced in the UAE are distinguished by the highest breakdown. It is equal to 99.8%. Raw materials are in demand among buyers living abroad. Metallurgy is a potentially profitable business because the demand for products remains stable.

In conclusion, it should be said that favorable conditions contribute to the development of import export business in Dubai. Experts say there are promising prospects for the current year. Therefore, it is important not to miss the opportunity to join the entrepreneurs of a technologically developed country in time.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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