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Shipping to United Arab Emirates from USA: 5 Tips to Know

icontainers_news_1a50488895.svgLogistics & Shipping
Updated on 09 Jan 2024
5 min read
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The UAE is a major trading partner with the USA in the Middle East region because of its history of stability and economic development. The trade between the two countries has been lucrative with exports from the US to the United Arab Emirates reaching over 22 billion. As trusting trading partners the two countries have found themselves also taking other partnership steps in military support and infrastructure growth in the region.

Five things to know when shipping to UAE from USA:

They have no trade agreement

In 2012, the US and UAE among other GCC countries came up with a trade agreement. And until now some of the aspects of the agreement are being ironed out. Because of this, unfortunately, there are no free trade agreements between the two countries. This means that any items being shipped from the US are subject to full duty without any exemptions. Currently the USA and the UAE trade within a formal framework agreed upon by the two countries not on a signed upon trade agreement.


Inspections from UAE Authorities

The United Arab Emirates is very particular about imports coming into the country and they will conduct inspections on any of the items coming through their ports and airports. When it comes to medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, officials from the UAE ministry of health will perform physical inspections for all kinds of equipments and products entering the country.

All types of recreational drugs are completely prohibited in the nation. Selling alcohol and consumption without a license allowing one to handle alcoholic products is also prohibited. Goods under the IATA Special provisions must be accompanied with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for them to be cleared by customs. Alternatively they should have a Non DG (dangerous good) letter attached.

Some good require special clearence documents

When shipping exhibition goods to the UAE make sure that there’s a letter from the exhibitor in the UAE plus their passport copy for the goods to be cleared. If the goods are on temporary loan to the exhibitor they are known as temporary import shipments. The consignee can put a deposit to cover the specific time frame the goods will be in the country and the money will be refunded after the shipment is re-exported.

Returned goods must be accompanied by the invoice which shows the country of manufacture and the reason for returning the goods. It should also show the serial number and the export tracking number otherwise it will not be cleared by customs.

Samples must have an invoice that describes the sample and whether it’s mutilated or marked in any way. In the UAE, the customs department has every right to inspect any type of shipment, and ask for additional permits and licenses should they feel the shipment doesn’t meet their standards.

Clearing Documents

Depending on who is clearing the shipment they will need very specific documentation that applies to different categories of the consignee. If clearing personal effects consigned to only one person, one needs the Emirates ID for the consignee on the airway bill or the Emirates ID of the person clearing the package.

When the package is going to the government or ruler’s office the recipient must go with an original authorization letter from the relevant office as well as the Emirates ID of the person clearing.

If the shipment is for a company and they are using a clearing company, the person collecting must come with an original authorization letter, visa page from the signatory of the shipment in the UAE, the Emirates ID of the person clearing, and the clearing agent’s cargo ID card that allows them to collect from customs. Every Emirate has a specific card.

In case the clearance is being done by a standing authority on clearance they need to provide an authorization letter, the visa page of the signatory for the shipment, and a valid trade license.

Documents needed during shipping

Non-document shipments to the UAE are subject to duty but for shipments addressed to free zone companies the duty is exempted based on the free zone’s custom’s registration. For this exemption to apply the shipment commercial invoice should be addressed to the company in the free zone with declarations of the appropriate HS codes and territory of manufacture of the goods in question.

When exporting from the US to the UAE ensure the following are included:

  • The delivery order from the shipping agent addressed to a licensed company in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Original invoice from the US exporter to the UAE importer in triplicate
  • Original bill of loading
  • Copy of the buyer and seller’s trade licenses
  • Transport certificate
  • An export certificate to confirm the goods re fit for consumption
  • A health and phytosanitary certificate for processed goods
  • A halal certificate for any meat products. The certificated should be from an approved Islamic centre in the country of export.

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