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Customs Clearance -
What is it? How Does it Work in UAE?

When shipping over borders, your consignments must comply with customs laws, regulations and duties. This means having the appropriate paperwork in place, meeting the laws on goods and paying the specific duties for the contents of the package, for both imports and exports. 


Generally, clearance takes a matter of minutes or hours. This can be extended to days, weeks and months if the correct paperwork is not present or the goods need to be inspected. 

Charges and Documentation

Customs charges are made up of duty, the charge applied to imported goods, usually equating to a percentage of the value. VAT, again, charged at the value but with shipping costs included, known as a taxable import. Additional charges can occur if the goods need inspecting, handling or storage fees and even Xray charges if goods need to be inspected thoroughly.

In the UAE, each Emirate has its own customs compliance governed by the federal customs authority. This compliance represents the UAE both in and outside of the country. The 7 Emirates within the UAE are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Khaimah and Fujairah and each develop, initiate and regulate their own customs laws.

The documentation required to import goods is:-

  • Certificate of Origin

  • Commercial Invoice

  • Import Permit

  • Packing List

  • Letter of duty exemption (where needed)

  • Bill of Landing

  • Original Health certificate (food)

  • Original Halal Slaughter Certificate (food)

Controlled and Prohibited Goods

You will need special permissions for the following:-

  • Pet animals

  • Live animals (birds/fish)

  • Meat/beef/poultry products

  • Weapons/arms

  • Pharmaceutical products

  • Beverages/alcohol/cigarettes

  • Media products

All the above will fall under the guidelines and policies of the importing country. Decisions will be made in relation to the nature of the goods and the trade agreement between the two countries.

Items that are prohibited across the UAE are: -

  • Pirated media

  • Counterfeit goods and currency

  • Gambling machines and tools

  • Any artwork or publications which challenge or contradict the teachings of the Islamic faith

  • Items associated with witchcraft, sorcery and black magic

You can find a more in depth overview of the clearance process and banned/prohibited/restricted items on the UAE’s government website here.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding customs clearance or any other aspect of importing and exporting of goods, you can get in touch through this link.


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