Customs in the United Arab Emirates

Are you moving to the UAE to live and work? Are you packing your bags and wondering if you might have to pay import taxes and duties on some of the items you are packing? We can help you figure out what is authorized and what is not, and what is checked at customs on arrival in Dubai.

Ready for takeoff!

Dubai, here we come! But first, you need to get ready for the customs control. Certain items are allowed to be carried in your luggage, either in carry on or checked. These are the products you need on a daily basis: clothes, toiletries, small electronics (computer, tablets, etc.).
However, some products are strictly prohibited or restricted and you will not be able to take them with you on your flight. You will have to ship them by cargo with the rest of your belongings. We recommend that you take a look at the official website or call your airline for details on what you can and cannot take with you on your trip to the Emirates.

Most future expatriates opt for the cargo solution to send their personal effects. This solution is more secure, but requires more time for shipping, delivery and customs clearance. The best option is to use a company specializing in relocation to send your personal effects by sea or air freight. Sea freight is the cheapest, but slowest solution.

Once your plane lands in the Emirates, you will once again be subject to customs control, and the Emirates are uncompromising. Better to be informed of the rules in force.

UAE prohibited items

The UAE is very strict on the importation of prohibited items and the illegal importation of regulated items into the UAE.

While some items are restricted, others are completely banned from entering the UAE. Note that you are exposing yourself to very high risks as well as legal actions, and that your consulate will not be able to intervene in your favor under any circumstances.

The list of prohibited items includes (but is not limited to):

  • Hashish, opium, heroin, morphine, cocaine, poppies and its husks and seeds, khat (qat), cannabis and any other grain of similar effect
  • Counterfeit and fake coins
  • Authentic publication, oil painting, photographs, pictures, maps, books, magazines, stone sculptures, which contradict Islamic teachings, decency or deliberately involve immorality or turmoil.
  • Raw ivory (elephant ivory) and rhino horn.
  • Falcons are prohibited from April to August 31 of each year, except in the following cases:
    1. Falcons licensed under the CITES Convention.
    2. Falcons with passports.
    3. Sick falcons arriving for treatment after obtaining permits from the Environmental Research Authority
  • Tools and game machines
  • Candy cigarettes
  • Ozone depleting materials
  • Radioactive materials
  • Asbestos sheets and pipes
  • Red laser pointers
  • Dangerous waste
  • controlled/ recreational drugs and narcotics
  • pirated content
  • objects used in black magic, sorcery or witchcraft
  • exotic, protected and endangered animals and vicious dog breeds

UAE restricted items

Certain goods such as animals, medicines and weapons can only be imported/ exported after having received the necessary authorizations from the relevant authorities. Some of the restricted products are:

Pets and Domestic Animals

  • You can import cats and dogs to the UAE after receiving a permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
  • You will need to provide your animal’s vaccination card, health certificate, passport and details of this chip.
  • Some animals may need to be tested for rabies before entering the UAE.
  • For more information, check with UAE-based airlines on specific rules regarding pets allowed.
  • You can import, export, release and research the transit of horses and import live animals, birds and ornamental fish to UAE after receiving a permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

Agricultural produce

You can import seeds, tubers, outdoor plants and bees to the UAE after receiving a permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.


According to Ministerial Resolution No. 14 of 2016 on the Control of Food Imported for Non-Commercial Purposes, you can provide a maximum of:

  • 20 kg of yogurt
  • 50 liters of oil (including olive oil)
  • 10 kg of various types of fruits and vegetables
  • 100 kg of dates
  • 10 kg of sweets and bread
  • 30 kg of cereals and red meat
  • 10 kg of fish and seafood
  • 500 g of caviar
  • 11 kg of eggs
  • 20 kg for honey and sugar products
  • 5 kg for herbs and spices, including vinegar, orange blossom water and rose water
  • 500 g of saffron
  • 10 kg of special food such as children’s food is allowed
  • 20 liters of drinks and syrups with water
  • 5 kg of juice concentrates
  • 25 kg of canned food.

You cannot import cooked duck eggs (called balut) without permission from customs authorities. If you are importing eggs, you will need to present a health certificate showing the egg production and expiration dates and that the eggs were produced on farms free from salmonella and avian flu.


Tourists should be careful with the medications they are carrying from their home country. Some drugs may contain substances prohibited in the UAE, resulting in the arrest of those carrying them.

Therefore, travelers to the UAE should not only be able to provide a doctor’s prescription, but also ensure that the quantity of tablets justifies normal use for the intended duration of their stay.

Find out more about controlled drugs in the health section on THIS LINK.

There is zero tolerance for drug offenses, whether they are controlled drugs or recreational drugs.


Weapons, ammunition, body protection, and related equipment (such as cleaning kits, gun belts, etc.), in any quantity and for any purpose, all require authorization from the Ministry of the Interior before entering or transiting the UAE.

Technical equipment

Equipment such as satellite phones, listening or recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras or binoculars may require a license from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority for use in the UAE.


Passengers coming into the state must disclose cash in their possession exceeding an amount of AED 60,000 AED (sixty thousand dirhams), or the equivalent in other currencies as well as travelers’ checks. They should complete the disclosure form established in accordance with the applicable state disclosure law.

  • People under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter cash amounts over the limit, and any cash in their possession will be added to their accompanying guardians.
    Source: Federal Law No. 4 of 2003 regarding the Criminalization of Money Laundering and the resolutions of the UAE Central Bank.

Passengers arriving or departing from European Union countries with 10,000 euros or more in cash must disclose the amount to customs.

Personal property

Passengers’ personal effects are allowed in and are exempt from customs duties if the passenger meets the following conditions:

  • the value of gifts, perfumes and personal luggage does not exceed 3,000 AED
  • luggage and gifts must be in limited quantity and not commercial
  • the passenger must not be a frequent traveler with cargo on a regular basis, or a member of the respective transport team.

Cigarettes and Alcohol

You can import cigarettes and alcohol if:

  • you are over 18 years old
  • the quantity of alcoholic beverages and beers does not exceed 4 liters or 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355 ml for each can or its equivalent)
  • the number of cigarettes does not exceed 400; its value does not exceed AED 2,000
  • the value of cigars in the possession of passengers does not exceed 3,000 AED
  • A maximum of 500 grams of cut tobacco for smoking or for pipes or cut tobacco or molasses tobacco. In the event of an excess quantity, this quantity is subject to the prescribed duties.

In the event of an excess quantity, this quantity is subject to the prescribed duties.

What to declare and the amount of taxes:

When you exceed the authorized thresholds, the applicable customs duty rate is 5% of the value of the goods plus insurance for freight charges.

Customs duty for alcohol is 50% and 100% on cigarettes.

Find all the unified customs tariffs for the States of the GCC 2017: