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What is Allowed and Forbidden to Bring in UAE


Page update - Sep 22, 2023

The customs laws of the UAE are complex and officially published only in Arabic. For the convenience of tourists, the Customs Authority of the Emirate of Dubai publishes a special document "Passenger Customs Guide" in English. The last 5th version of this document was published in September 2020 (this page was updated in September 2023). There are a lot of changes, for example in the limits of carrying currency and alcohol.

But you do not need to read this document, because it is faster and easier to read this page to the end. We have "chewed up" in detail all the problems of passing through the UAE customs.

Full document Passenger Customs Guide download.

Change in 2023

On January 1, 2023, Dubai Customs Notice 5 (2022) came into effect, which makes it mandatory to pay taxes and duties on goods imported from abroad over AED 300 (USD 81.5). WARNING! This new rule applies ONLY to courier companies. This rule does NOT apply to tourists or people in general who enter the border physically with their belongings.

Why are we focusing on this? Because you've probably already come across news headlines screaming, "Dubai makes you pay for imported goods" or similar. Don't worry and ignore it. Read the current rules below on this page.

An important and magnificent change in 2022!

In January 2022, Federal Decree Law no. 30 (2021) went into effect. This new law deals with the carrying, possession and use of drugs. Law no. 30 (2021) has a very important point for tourists!

Tourists are now exempt from criminal liability if they try to bring narcotic substances as part of their medications, drinks or food. This wonderful amendment was adopted in the interests of the tourism industry - so that tourists are less afraid of the strict laws of the UAE.

ATTENTION! THERE ARE CONDITIONS! First, exemption from liability occurs only for the first such violation. Secondly, the quantities must be within the concept of "for personal use".

The news is wonderful. Congratulations to all of us. It has become easier to travel to the UAE and there are fewer risks.

What is prohibited to bring in

The UAE has a long list of prohibited items. The Passenger Customs Guide does not contain the full list. The full list is available on the Customs Authority website (fca.gov.ae). We give you the full list:

- Radioactive, toxic and ozone depleting substances;

- Weapons and ammunition, explosives and fireworks;

- Any items contrary to Islamic ethics and morality. For example, theoretically, Playboy magazine is not allowed in the UAE;

- Items for gambling. This includes playing cards, dice, sets of poker chips and so on. Remember that Islam prohibits gambling;

- Drugs, with the UAE having one of the longest lists in the world;

- Counterfeit in any form, spurious money and fake documents;

- Any animals and items thereof under the protection of the Washington CITES Convention. In addition, the UAE has a separate ban on the importation of ivory and rhino horn. Why was this double ban created? It's hard to say;

- Poultry meat in any form (including frozen);

- Items marked "made in Israel", Hebrew literature and generally anything related to Israel were banned some time ago. BUT recently relations between the UAE and Israel have normalized, and these items are allowed now;

- There are a few more prohibited items that are unlikely to be in a tourist's luggage, but we will still give a list: three-layer nylon fishing nets, cigarette-shaped candies, betel leaves and paan, red laser pointers, poppy seeds;

- Live animals, birds, fish, plants, seeds, drones, printing, and presentation equipment require a special import permit;

- All items in luggage must meet the definition of "for personal and non-commercial use". Otherwise duty-free import is prohibited.



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Medicines

We get questions about the importation of medications very often. The UAE has very long lists of banned and controlled drugs. Since the names of drugs vary in different countries, it is difficult to determine whether a particular drug is allowed or not.

Naturally, simple aspirin, antiseptics or activated charcoal will not cause problems. Painkillers and medications that contain pain relieving components may be a problem first. For example, tramadol or codeine. We see no point in giving a list, because the list of banned and controlled drugs in the UAE consists of hundreds of names.

Since 2018 there is an online service for obtaining approval for the import of drugs. Approval can be obtained in advance through the web-site MOHAP UAE (UAE Ministry of Health) or by using the MOHAP mobile app.

For a description of the pre-approval service and instructions, see the official website at: https://mohap.gov.ae/en/services/issue-of-permit-to-import-medicines-for-personal-use.

Do you want to be certain that your medicine is not banned in the UAE? Then use this website. It's the only 100% surefire option.

In January 2022, Federal Decree Law no. 30 (2021) went into effect. This new law deals with the carrying, possession and use of narcotics.

Tourists are now exempt from criminal liability if they attempt to bring in narcotic substances as part of medications, beverages, or food. This wonderful amendment is adopted in the interests of the tourism industry - so that tourists are less afraid of the strict laws of the UAE.

ATTENTION! THERE ARE CONDITIONS! First, exemption from liability occurs only for the first such violation. Second, the quantities must be within the concept of "for personal use". We would like to advise you to have a doctor's prescription in English. If a prescription is written in your country's language (if it is not English), then it is not good, but better than nothing.

AND ONE MORE THING! The exemption from liability under Law 30 (2021) does NOT apply to smoking mixtures and vape liquids.

Import of cigarettes and other tobacco products

Each tourist over the age of 18 can bring with him or her: up to 400 cigarettes, or up to 500 grams of pipe tobacco, or up to 50 cigars. About the prices for tobacco products and the rules of smoking read our review "Cigarettes and smoking in the UAE".

E-cigarettes, iQos, etc

E-cigarettes and IQOS and similar tobacco heating devices used to be banned altogether in the UAE. But in April 2019 they legalized them all.

However, the UAE has not yet had a legal act that explicitly allows the importation of these items for personal use and defines the quantities of devices, liquids, and heets that are allowed.

Previously, all of these items could be imported in quantities "for personal use" through the green corridor. However, starting in 2021, the DTS (digital tax stamp) system began working on all such devices and materials. Even owning a device without a tax stamp became illegal. But it is still possible to import your own vape or IQOS device, as we discussed in detail in the review "Vape and IQOS in the UAE".

Alcohol

The rules for importing alcohol depend on the emirate. But in any emirate only tourists over the age of 18 years allowed to bring alcoholic beverages.

Up to 4 liters or 2 boxes of beer can be imported into Dubai. Each such box must contain up to 24 cans, and the can must be no more than 355 milliliters in volume. Why was it necessary to make such complicated rules about beer? It's not quite clear.

Up to 4 liters or 1 box of beer can be imported into Abu Dhabi. Each box must contain up to 24 cans.

Up to 4 liters of alcohol can be brought into Sharjah, the alcohol content does not matter.

Remember that the UAE has strict rules regarding drinking alcohol, as we have told on the pages "Alcohol in the UAE" and "What tourists are not allowed to do in the UAE".



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Other items

Duty free and without declaration can be imported:

- Gifts with a total value of up to 3,000 dirhams. The rules say: "Gifts must be of a personal nature and in non-commercial quantities". Exact quantities are not specified, the customs officials will decide "by eye". The actual rate of dirham to dollar, pound, euro in our page "Money in the Arab Emirates";

- Photo and video cameras, films and accessories, radios, CD and DVD players;

- Telescopes. For some reason, the UAE Customs Service has singled out telescopes separately;

- Cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, portable TVs;

- Strollers, wheelchairs, including motorized wheelchairs;

- Sports equipment;

- Calculators, typewriters, portable music equipment.

Import of Food

The UAE has an exact list of foods that are allowed to be imported for non-commercial use. The list and quantities are determined by Order No. 14 (2016) of the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The quantities are astronomical. For example, you can import up to 20 kilograms of yogurt or up to 50 liters of vegetable oil. This list can be read as "in any quantities". Those who want to see the law and the list, the law itself is in Arabic, but the list in it is duplicated in English. Download Law 14 (2016).

Often the Arab Emirates imposes bans and restrictions on the importation of food products from countries that are not veterinary safe. On the day of the update of this page there are no such restrictions.

By the way, such food import regulations give rise to interesting cases. For example, on 20 November 2022, smugglers tried to bring 400 grams of marijuana into the UAE inside pineapples! And the idea of the smugglers was reasonable, because the bright smell of pineapple could overpower the smell of the drug. And they almost succeeded. But Dubai airport customs officers were wide-awake.

Hence the conclusion! If you're bringing food in large quantities, don't be surprised by the attention the customs officers pay to the food and prepare for extra check.

Must to declare

The tourist is required to declare the following items to customs:

- Books, videotapes, photographs, CDs and DVDs. These are measures against the spread of religious extremism. Customs officers do not pay attention to this requirement now;

- Gifts, if their value exceeds 3,000 dirhams;

- Any medications. But in fact, this requirement is not enforced, as customs officers simply do not have enough staff to take these declarations, because almost all tourists carry medicines;

- Knives and other piercing and cutting objects;

- Plants, trees or soil;

- Pets.

Money and valuables

Cash, traveler's checks, jewelry and precious metals up to a total value of 60,000 dirhams can be carried without declaring.

It used to be 40,000, but in 2011 the limit was raised to 100,000. But in the latest Passenger Customs Guide and Dubai Customs Services Guide there is a new figure - 60,000. And there have been no official announcements about reducing the limit. On September 16, 2021 FCA UAE (UAE Customs Authority) reiterated in its official tweet that the limit for undeclared cash is 60,000 dirhams or equivalent in other currencies.

If you have more money and valuables than AED 60,000, then you have to declare. You need to fill in one document, it's quick, easy and free. You do not need to specify the source of the money or prove the legitimacy of its origin. This, of course, if the amount is not astronomical.

There are no restrictions on the import or export of dirhams (UAE currency). Do you want to take your dirham coins or bills home with you as a souvenir from the UAE? No problem.

What else need to know

- What to take on vacation in the UAE read our review "What to take to the UAE";

- On what is then allowed and prohibited to take back, read the review "What you can and can't take out of the UAE".

Have a good flight to the UAE, and read our helpful for tourists pages about this country (see list of the pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

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EMIRATES

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AJMAN

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UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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