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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

How To Import Goods Into The UAE

5th February 2018

Guest post from Saurabh Bhalla, Managing Director Middle East at Airland Logistics LLC, about the documents required for a seamless clearance of goods into Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Ensuring a seamless clearance of goods into the UAE requires the documents to be accurate. This will ensure the clearance is done at the earliest and prevent any fines or penalties at a later stage when the documents are audited by the audit department.

Documents required for standard cargo clearance in Abu Dhabi

  • Original commercial invoice - manually signed in blue ink and stamped by the shipper, must specify currency of sale, must specify terms of sale Ex-works, FOB, C&F, CIF etc and country of Origin must be mentioned on the invoice.

  • Original certificate of origin issued by the chamber of commerce from origin country.

  • Packing list - this must specify the total number of packages and gross weight. It should tally with the House Air Way Bill (HAWB).

  • Bank endorsed bill of lading for bank through shipments. (Only applicable for bank through shipments.)

  • Personnel effect cargo: Passport copy with visa page and Emirates ID, for personal shipments.

  • Marine Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for dangerous goods cargo.

Documents required for standard customs clearance in Dubai

  • Duly endorsed original/express or sea way bill of lading.

  • Original signed & stamped shipper’s invoice on shipper letterhead. (Pro-forma invoice is not accepted.)

  • Original certificate of origin, issued/certified by Chamber Of Commerce at the origin.

  • Original Packing list on shipper’s letterhead, stamped & signed.

  • Shipping documents must reflect currency, the value of goods, the number of packages, weight, H.S. code number.

How long does it take to clear shipments through customs?

Normally we file the declarations and can get the approval immediately for standard shipments. Special products requiring additional clearance could take longer. Normally clearance can be done in a couple of hours and delivery is normally next day if not the same day.

What is the Customs Duty in the UAE?

The standard rate of duty is 5% for most items. Certain IT products attract only 1% duty. However, it is worth checking the rates for specific items.


  • The consignee must have its valid importer code and VAT/TRN. (This is an importer code number which all consignee’s need to register with Customs and obtain and renew every year.)

  • Approvals are required from specific governing bodies on certain goods, e.g Dubai Municipality controls all food imports in Dubai, whilst in Abu Dhabi it’s the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. Pharmaceuticals are controlled by Ministry of Health.

  • Some goods are banned, such as pornographic materials and narcotics.

Written by Saurabh Bhalla, Managing Director Middle East

Airland Logistics LLC


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