The consignee/agent should obtain a delivery order from the Shipping Agent and submit original standard trade documentation, including certificates of origin, bills of lading, commercial invoice, export declaration and various government/embassy attestations. These documents must be presented for all imports and exports. Various free guides to doing business in the UAE are available from accounting and law firms located in the UAE. Additionally, the US Embassy Agricultural Trade Office has published a Food Exporters Guide for doing business in the GCC-5. (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE).
Effective January 1, 2003, the UAE acceded to the GCC Customs Union that equalizes the duties paid upon entry of an item to any member state, regardless of the country of destination within the GCC. For example, an item imported into the UAE destined for the Saudi market is subject to the 5 percent duty once it enters the UAE proper. In theory, the trader need not pay customs duties again to take the item across the border into Saudi Arabia.
There have been some problems in the transition period and the GCC is working to resolve these problems. Some items that were previously exempt from duty in Abu Dhabi emirate, for example, are no longer exempt under the new national/regional tariff scheme.
The Customs duty for most items is calculated on CIF value at the rate of five percent. Imports of liquor are subject to a 70 percent customs duty on their CIF value while imports of tobacco products face a 100 percent on their CIF value. Many essential items, including staple foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals are allowed duty free status. CIF value will normally be calculated by reference to the commercial invoices covering the relative shipment, but Customs is not bound to accept the figures shown therein and may set an estimated value on the goods, which shall be final, as far as duty is concerned.
All imported meats - beef and poultry products, require a health certificate issued by the country of export and a “Halal” slaughter certificate issued by an approved Islamic center in that country.
Restricted Imports: Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, pork products.
Prohibited Imports: Irradiated food products.