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Moving Tips dubaiAs relocation experts, at Move One we understand how important it is to familiarize yourself with your potential new home before making the big move, and of course to have a seamless transition when settling in your new destination.

Therefore, to make your relocation as hassle-free as possible, Move One profiles a country every month, providing an in-depth look at Relocation, Immigration, Moving and Pet Transportation issues, which could pose problems for expats. This month, we take a closer look at regulations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Like every other country, the UAE applies a set of guidelines for foreigners, returning citizens and diplomats to regulate the importation and exportation of household goods (HHGs). While there are no set guidelines concerning the volume of goods that can be imported to or exported from the UAE, it is strongly recommended that the amount be reasonable and corresponding to the owner as an individual or a family.

Things Expats Must Know

  • There is no set rule regarding the volume of HHGs that can be exported/imported
  • Pork, anti-Islam literature and anything originating from Israel and/or bearing the Jewish sign is prohibited from importation
  • The exportation of food is prohibited
  • Imported vehicles should not be more than 10 years old

Foreigners can import used household goods duty free, but are required to provide custom authorities with documents like a copy of their passport, copy of detailed inventory of shipment, valid UAE residence or work visa not older than six months at the time of the arrival of goods and original copies of signed authorization letters – one addressed to the shipping line and the other to custom authorities. If a valid residence visa is unavailable, an original letter from the sponsor company will suffice in having the goods cleared duty free. However, a refundable deposit worth five percent of the assessed value of the goods must be paid pending the visa is submitted to customs within 59 days. The same percentage will be charged as duties if visa is older than six months. The same documents will be required if shipping goods from the UAE.

Returning citizens are exempt from duties when shipping HHGs to the UAE but must provide copies of their passport, detailed inventory and two authorization letters – one addressed to the shipping line and the other to the Dubai custom authorities. This exemption only applies if goods and personal effects are cleared within a six month period. If exceeding this time period, a levy worth five percent of the value of the goods will be charged. When exporting goods from the UAE, only a copy of their passport is required.

Diplomats can also import goods duty free and will need to present the above mentioned documents including a diplomatic visa or letter from their embassy. If exporting HHGs, only a passport copy and a copy of diplomatic visa are required.

There are strictly enforced prohibitions on the import or export of certain items, which, if discovered, will be confiscated by the customs authorities. Consignees may be fined and could face possible jail time. These items include anti-Islamic literature, pornography, firearms, narcotics, toxic and radioactive materials, rifles, stuffed animals and ivory. Food cannot be exported from the the UAE and pork or anything originating in Israel and/or bearing the Jewish sign is prohibited from importation. Other than the documents required to import HHGs, no special permits are needed when importing carpets, paintings, musical instruments, art effects and antiques. The same applies when exporting such items. In case any of these items are being imported on a temporary a basis, a refundable deposit (reimbursed after the goods have been re-exported) worth five percent of the assessed value of the art work will be charged.

In the UAE, motor vehicles being imported are subject to duties worth five percent of the assessed value of the vehicle. Documents like a purchase invoice, valid UAE visa, passport copy and an authorization letter will be required. Consignees are limited to import one vehicle in one visa term and the car should not be more than ten years old. An original certificate from the Road Transport Authority (RTA), in addition to the aforementioned documents, are required if exporting a vehicle.

More importantly, there are stringent rules regarding the import and export of tobacco and alcohol and these sometimes have expats confused. The export of these items from the UAE in an unaccompanied HHG shipment is not allowed. However, these items can be imported as unaccompanied shipments, provided it is for personal use and the amount reasonable.

The information above is only for informational purposes only. While the information provided is accurate, it is subject to change. If you are considering a move to the UAE, you are advised to consult with relocation experts as they have more experience in dealing with such issue.

For further information on relocating or moving to the UAE, please contact Move One at or request a free quote by filling out our short online questionnaire.

One Response to “Moving”

  1. Rad. says:

    Really nice piece of information, thanks!

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