Starting an Import Export Business in Dubai – All you need to know

Trading is one of the major business sectors in Dubai. Import & Export to and from the international markets is significantly supporting UAE’s economic growth and acts as a constant growth driver for the UAE’s business landscape.

Foodstuffs, precious metals, machinery, and equipment trading occupy the largest share of imports into the UAE.

UAE is one of the most preferred locations for foreign entrepreneurs who are looking for business expansion due to the extensive business infrastructure and logistics support.

To streamline the import/export process in the UAE and fast track the trading activities there are certain regulations set by the UAE Customs for the trading companies operating in this region.

 The Logistics hub of the Middle East – Dubai

The logistics and infrastructure support Dubai offers is exceptional. It has a well built and robust transportation, storage, and distribution network in place to support international trading activities in the UAE.

The most important trade partners of the UAE for imports are Japan, India, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea.

For exports, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France & Italy are the top trading partners.

Starting an Import Company in Dubai

Foreign entrepreneurs can open trading companies in Dubai mainland or in any of the Free zones of UAE.

Once the company is formed the business owner is required to apply for an import-export permit with the Dubai Customs.

The import permit enables the trading company to bring the goods from outside of UAE.

Similarly, the export permit allows for re-exporting or exporting locally made goods to other countries.

All import and export businesses in the UAE have to get the customs registration before they initiate any trading activity.

All the imported goods to the UAE have to pass through the customs check at the airports/seaports of UAE and pass the clearance from the UAE Customs.

For all the Import/Export to and from the Free Zone, there is no Customs Duty payable as the Free Zones are out of the Customs scope in the UAE.

However, the Import/Export companies in the Freezones are subject to some strict guidelines specified by the Freezone authorities and the UAE Customs.

Registering with the Dubai Customs for Import and Export activities

The initial step for a trading business after getting your trade license and company formation documents is to register with the Dubai Customs for receiving the import/export permit.

After the registration, you will get an import/export code from the UAE Customs Department.

Import and Export Code in Dubai – Things to Know

  • The company has to apply for a trade license from any of the Free Zones of UAE or from Mainland of Dubai (DED) and register the company with the Customs Department of Dubai to initiate the import/export business
  • Along with the approval of the trade license, customs registration clearance is to be processed and the Import/Export code has to be issued from the customs Department
  • All companies with a valid trade license have to obtain import/export codes to initiate any kind of import/export activities in and out of the UAE

Documents Required – Importing Goods to Dubai

To import goods to Dubai, the following documents have to be submitted to the Dubai Customs.  

  • Declaration form for import of goods
  • Specific Permit in case of importing certain restricted goods
  • Delivery order with the details of the shipment
  • Invoice accompanying the merchandise details.
  • Detailed Packing list
  • Certificate of origin for the Shipment
  • Trade license of the Importer
  • DFSA ( Dubai Financial Services Authority) declaration issued by Dubai Customs Services

Import/Export in Free Zones of Dubai

The Freezones in the UAE are within the territory of UAE geographically but are considered outside the scope of UAE Customs territory.

However, there are certain conditions and requirement in order to conduct import-export business via a Free Zone in The UAE

Import/Export Business Between Free Zone Company and a Local UAE Company

  • The importer should have an importer code and goods should be the same as that is mentioned in the trade license of the company
  • Goods should reach the destination within 72 hours of the customs declaration
  • Goods have to be checked by the Customs before entering the Free Trade Zone
  • The Customs-Clearance Letter has to be submitted to the concerned Freezone Authorities to store the goods in the Freezone warehouses for trading in the UAE market.
  • To trade in the local UAE market the Free Zone company must appoint a local distributor or open a branch of the Freezone company in the mainland, or export the goods to a mainland company by complying with the UAE Customs regulations.

For import/Export business between Freezone and a foreign company, the Freezones are exempted from customs duties while shipping your goods to the UAE.

Dubai is one of the easiest places to start a trading company. The process is very streamlined and hassle-free.

Especially, with the help of expert business consultants like Aurion Business Consultants, the whole process of opening an Import/Export company will be made a reality at the fastest possible time.

To know more about Starting an Import/Export Business in UAE, talk to our experts!

Contact: Aurion Business Consultants

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About the author

Marketing Consultant working with Aurion Business Consultants. Likes to write on business support services, current market trends, and the latest business updates in the UAE.
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