Page update - Sep 13, 2022
Are vaping and tobacco smokeless heating systems (IQOS, GLO, Lil) allowed in the UAE? Can you bring your own devices, liquids, sticks into the country? What are the rules and penalties? Read the answers on this page.
As of the last time this page was updated (September 2022), e-cigarettes, vaping devices, and tobacco smokeless burning devices are fully legal in the UAE.
There is a lot of information on the Internet about vaping being banned. This information is old and false. There was indeed once a ban (UAE Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 "Regarding Tobacco Control"), but it was completely lifted by ESMA UAE.S 5030 of April 2019. And by the way, there was a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, but their use has never been banned.
We are one of the few travel sites on the Internet that cares about keeping information actual. Only read up-to-date sites!
Unfortunately, not every device in the UAE is legal. This is what we need to talk about in detail.
On January 1, 2021, new licensing rules for "alternative tobacco products" went into effect (UAE Government Decree No. 33 of 2019). The system was going to start on March 1, 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
By "alternative tobacco products" UAE laws mean not only electronic cigarettes, but also tobacco smokeless burning devices (IQOS, GLO and similar) and even regular hookahs. All devices, liquids and sticks are meant. Even if the liquid does not contain nicotine, it is still subject to restrictions.
There is a special 100% tax on "alternative tobacco products". Since January 1, 2021, every device, package with sticks or liquids must have a DTS (digital excise stamp). Devices without DTS are illegal in the UAE.
The law prohibits not only the import and sale of illegal accessories, but even their storage and use! But this is de jure (from a legal point of view).
In practice, it's not so bad. The police don't check vape devices on passersby. Policemen need to have a special scanner and access to the DTS database to determine legality. The cops don't have any of that. They have enough to worry about but DTS for vape.
They only control and check sellers now. FTA (Federal Tax Service) does that. They don't touch ordinary people.
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From a legal point of view, this is forbidden. But in practice, people do bring it in, and the customs do not pick on them.
We officially asked the Dubai Customs Authority about this situation.
The answer is as follows: "You can bring in these items. But please declare them to customs. Our officers will help you with the procedure".
So we advise you to do so. Just declare your device if the officer requires it. The main thing is to have a reasonable amount of goods - for example, one device and several packages of liquids.
The declaration will be proof that you brought this device with you, not bought illegally, that you did not violate any laws. Better safe than sorry.
Imported e-cigarettes attract special attention from customs officials. The fact is that there are occasional attempts to carry narcotic substances in the liquids. And the Emirati customs know about this, so they check it.
Just recently ended a high-profile case of an Englishwoman who was carrying cannabidiol in the vape liquids. She appealed, but the court of the Dubai emirate was adamant - 10 years in prison and 50,000 dirhams fine.
So don't be surprised if the liquids or device want to be checked. We hope you will not try to bring in something illegal mixed with vape liquids.
There are no sales taxes in the UAE, but only VAT 5%. It seems with almost no taxes the prices must be low. BUT! This does not apply to vape products, IQOS and the like. The UAE has a 100% tax on all such devices, liquids and sticks. It's very expensive there.
Here is an example. In the UK, a set of IQOS DUO costs now (September 2022) is only GBP 40 (excluding promotions) in the official online store. In the UAE the price of IQOS DUO is AED 450. In September 2022 it is GBP 105. More than twice as expensive.
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The rules are exactly the same as the rules for smoking. See our page "Smoking in the UAE" for details.
- The fine for vaping in the wrong place is 2,000 dirhams. It's not a small amount, so be careful. See our page "Money in the UAE" for the current exchange rate of the dirham;
- About what else not to do in the Arab Emirates, read our page "What not to do in Dubai and other emirates";
- For rules on bringing other items into the UAE, read our detailed review "What you can and cannot bring into the UAE".
Have a good vacation in the UAE, and read our useful for tourists pages about this country (see list of the pages below).
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