Imports and Exports in Dubai

Trading is one of the most important industries in the UAE, as this is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to crude oil, petroleum, and petroleum-based goods. The UAE also imports many products, among which foodstuff and machinery and equipment occupy the first positions among the most imported products in the Emirates.

Recent surveys show the United Arab Emirates as the 25th largest exporter in the world. The UAE also has one of the most complex economies in the world, according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). Based on a very successful economic diversification plan, the UAE Government has succeeded to attract an important number of foreign entrepreneurs seeking for development and expansion opportunities in the Middle East.

The most imported and exported products in Dubai

The list of imports and exports products in Dubai comprises:

  •           crude and refined petroleum which is the most exported commodity of the UAE;
  •           gold, diamonds and other types of jewelry are also on top of Dubai’s trading list;
  •           Dubai imports many automobiles and other types of transport equipment;
  •           the UAE also imports broadcasting and media equipment from other states.

Imports and exports in Dubai in figures

Petroleum under different forms is the most exported product in the Emirates, and according to recent reports crude and refined petroleum have brought around 100 billion US dollars per year to the economy. Exports of petroleum-based products account for more than 60% of the country’s total exports. However, Dubai and the other Emirates are successfully exporting gold, aluminum and other metals. With respect to imports, the most imported products by Dubai companies are gold, jewelry, and vehicles.

The most important trade partners of the UAE are Japan, India, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany are also among Dubai’s trading partners when it comes to exports. The UAE’s most important import ally is China followed by India and Japan.

Apart from Germany and the UK, in Europe, Dubai’s main trade partners are France and Italy.

Dubai as a logistics hub in the Middle East

One of the main reasons for which the trading industry in Dubai is so developed is the great capability of importing and exporting products through modern facilities established in the Emirate. Dubai has become of the most important logistics hubs in the Middle East and imported products enter the UAE through Dubai’s maritime ports and airports which are equipped with terminals destined for handling large amounts of products.

The UAE has a geographical location which enables it to act as a re-export hub for neighboring countries. With a modern infrastructure which helps with the transport of goods, Dubai has managed to become one of the most important trading hubs in the Middle East. The government has also invested massively in order to help this industry develop.

Starting a trading company in Dubai

Most of the import and export activities in Dubai are completed through trading companies. Foreign entrepreneurs can open trading companies in Dubai or in one of its free zones. The main difference between onshore trading companies and free zone companies is the requirement of having a local partner in the first type of company. Once the company is formed, the business owner is required to apply for an import-export permit with the Dubai Customs.

The import license will allow the company to bring good from outside the UAE, but also from any of the free zones in the UAE. The export permit will allow the company to send locally produced and to re-export imported products from other countries. Free zone companies are required to obtain import and export licenses even if the products come from the UAE.

Registering with the Dubai Customs for import and export activities

The first step for starting any import or export activity in Dubai is to register with the Dubai Customs. This procedure implies obtaining an importer or exported code from the authority. The company must submit its registration documents with the Customs Authority in Dubai.

The procedure of obtaining an import-export license in Dubai is quite simple and can be completed online, which is why starting a trading business in this Emirate has become quite simple in the last few years. For free zones companies, the requirements are the same.

The following conditions must be respected by companies importing and exporting goods in, respectively from Dubai:

  1.           the company must submit its importer/exporter code when shipping goods;
  2.           the commodities must be the same as those mentioned in the import/export license;
  3.           the products must reach their destination within 72 hours after being shipped or received;
  4.           the same requirements apply to free zone trading companies in Dubai.

The great advantage of free zone trading companies in Dubai is that they are not subject to customs duties.

There are several import and export regimes available in Dubai which ease the procedures for trading companies. Among these are the import and export regime from local companies to the rest of the world, the import and export regime from local to free zones and imports for re-export activities. The documents which must be presented for any type of import or export activity depends on the type of procedure selected. There are also cases which require additional documents to be prepared. These are usually referred to as special goods.

Import and export procedures in Dubai

Foreign investors setting up trading companies in Dubai must get familiar with the import and export procedures in the UAE. When importing goods to Dubai, a company must go through the Dubai Customs and supply the following documents:

  • a declaration form for the import of goods,
  • a permit in the case of importing restricted merchandise,
  • a delivery order,
  • the invoices accompanying the merchandise,
  • the packing list,
  • a certificate of origin,
  • the trade license,
  • a DFSA declaration.

The DFSA declaration will be issued by the Dubai Customs Services. The same documents are required when exporting goods from Dubai.

Dubai is one of the most important economic hubs in the UAE which is why import and export activities here are supported by the government through special incentives, especially in the free zones. You can rely on our company incorporation consultants in Dubai for tailored services related to starting a business.

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