Since 01.01.2023, the rules of import and export deliveries to the UAE have changed, and with them the import duties have changed. For some types of goods they have become mandatory, for others their size has increased, but many products have decided to exempt from import tax. The country still has strict bans on the import of products of a dubious and dangerous nature, and some of its types can be imported in limited quantities under special conditions.
Passengers crossing the UAE border in any direction are required to declare funds exceeding the amount of 60,000 dirhams. Also, monetary funds in other currencies, precious metals and stones, the value of which in translation into dirhams exceeds 60 thousand, are subject to declaration. The declaration is submitted to the ICP – the Federal Agency for Identification, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security. You can issue a document through the official website or the Afsh application, available on Google Play, as well as in the App Store.
The available amount for passengers under the age of 18 will be added to the permitted limit of their parent, guardian or accompanying person.
Goods exempt from customs duties
According to the ICP, travelers can import the following items without paying any taxes or duties:
- film projection devices, related accessories;
- radio, CDs, as well as players for them;
- personal video cameras, digital cameras, cassettes to them;
- portable musical instruments;
- cell phones;
- TV and receiver (one unit each);
- baby strollers;
- sports equipment intended for personal use;
- laptops, printers;
- wheelchairs, other vehicles for people with special needs;
- medicines for personal use that comply with current regulations;
- clothing, toiletries, jewelry, as well as personal luggage;
- used wearables, not intended for resale.
In addition, products are not subject to duty:
- transported under the program “Approved coordinator of the World Customs Organization”;
- imported through diplomatic and military departments, charitable organizations, as well as Arab countries, but with a certificate of origin.
Products imported from abroad are considered local, provided that they were imported from an Arab country, and raw materials were used in the production process that were extracted or produced in one of the Arab states.
Personal items are allowed to be imported and are exempt from customs duties if they meet the following requirements:
- the cost of gifts, perfumes, personal luggage does not exceed 3000 AED;
- luggage and gifts are not intended for commercial purposes, and their quantity is limited;
- the passenger is not a person who regularly travels with cargo, or a member of the crew of the vehicle.
According to the individual passenger guide issued by the Government of Dubai, the following items are exempt from customs duties with the right of free import:
- 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500 g of tobacco (crushed or pressed for pipes or pure) or hookah molasses;
- alcoholic beverages with a volume of no more than 4 liters or 2 boxes of beer, consisting of 24 cans with a capacity of no more than 355 ml each.
If a passenger tries to import tobacco or alcohol products into the country in excess of the established limits, a customs duty will be levied on the quantity and value in addition to VAT.
The rate of customs duty in the UAE
Starting from 2023, the import conditions in the UAE have changed. For most commercial goods, customs duties of 5% of their value, including freight or insurance costs, have been introduced. The rate for alcohol is 50%, and for tobacco products, vapes and liquids to them – 200% (until 2023, this figure was two times less).
From 01.02.2023, businessmen engaged in import deliveries are obliged to certify all invoices, the amount of which exceeds 10 thousand AED, in MoFAIC and pay 150 dirhams for each. Some product categories are exempt from this fee. For example, invoices relating to imports to the FEZ, from the Persian Gulf countries, for products intended for the army, police or passing through charity. The fee is not levied on bills related to personal imports.
In some cases, benefits apply to customs duties. They depend on:
- places of business registration: on the mainland or in the free zone;
- product type;
- points of departure and destination;
- conditions for concluding trade agreements with the exporting country.
In order not to pay the duty, the entrepreneur can organize the storage of cargo under the supervision of the Customs Department. To do this, you need to issue documents, deliver the cargo to the warehouse, pay for services from 25,000 to 150,000 AED (the amount depends on the volume and type of products, as well as on whether the warehouse is private or public). From the documents you will need:
- certificate of ownership;
- audit results;
- warehouse license (issued upon application).
From January 1 of this year, the duty will have to be paid to all residents of the country who buy things more expensive than 300 dirhams on the Amazon market. Its amount consists of a customs fee of 5% of the order value and 5% VAT.
Prohibited and restricted goods
- any types of drugs and narcotic substances;
- pirated content;
- fake currency;
- items used in black magic, witchcraft or sorcery;
- publications, works of art that contradict or challenge Islamic teachings and values;
- tools and machines for gambling.
Restricted goods are products whose import and export are restricted in accordance with the individual passenger manual, which has already been mentioned above. In order to import or withdraw such products, it is necessary to obtain special approval from the relevant authorities. The table below contains the main commodity items and the bodies controlling their movement:
|Live animals, plants, fertilizers and pesticides||climate and environmental changes|
|Weapons, ammunition, explosives and fireworks||Defense; internal affairs|
|Medicines, medicines and medical equipment, devices and instruments||health care and prevention|
|Publications and products in the media||culture and youth|
|Alcoholic beverages||Internal Affairs; Dubai Police|
|Cosmetics and personal hygiene products; electronic cigarettes and electronic hookah||industry and advanced technologies|
|Nuclear energy products||Federal Office for Nuclear Regulation|
|Transmission and wireless devices||state regulatory authority in the field of telecommunications and digital technologies|
Forms of smuggling and types of punishment
The Customs Service regards as contraband:
- hiding items;
- failure to appear at the customs office with cargo upon entry into the UAE;
- concealment of any items intended for commercial activity;
- export of cargo from customs without declaration;
- transportation or storage of items included in the list of prohibited or restricted items without providing legal evidence of import;
- submission of false documents or use of false indicators in order to avoid payment of import duties or to circumvent the rules of the UAE in respect of prohibited or restricted items.
Depending on the severity of the crime, penalties are provided in the form of:
- confiscation of contraband items;
How to return the deposit?
The procedure for exporting to the UAE involves paying a deposit, in the amount of a customs fee, which can then be refunded. To do this, you need to write an application and provide a package of documents proving the fact of re-export. It includes a certificate of entry (exit), as well as photocopies:
- export declaration;
- air waybill.