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Customs Guide for Personal Effects Shipping to Dubai

Customs information and essential documentation for international removals to Dubai

Whenever you make a booking with 1st Move International, we will always advise you of the documentation required to not only ship from the UK, but also to enable you to import your household goods and personal effects in to the country which will become your new home.

However, here is a quick reference guide to give you a heads up on the documentation that you may require to import your items in to Dubai.

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Can I Ship Personal Effects to Dubai?

Yes, you can ship personal effects to Dubai. The Government of Dubai Customs services state that personal use items and used household goods brought into the country are exempt from customs tax and duties. However, all shipments are inspected, and any items deemed new or in commercial quantities will incur a 5% customs tax.

What Documents are Required to Import Personal Effects into Dubai?

To import personal effects into Dubai, you will need the following documents:

  • UAE Residence Visa
  • Packing Inventory
  • Bill of Lading
  • Passport

UAE Residence Visa

Before you are allowed to import your personal effects into Dubia you will need to have a valid residence visa. 1st Move do not need this to ship your items out of the UK but you will need it before you are allowed to clear your shipment through Dubai Customs.

The United Arab Emirates Government Portal has all the information regarding the different types of residence Visas available, and how to apply. These range from Visas for those working in Dubai, for retired individuals and for family members of Visa holders.

There is even a Golden Visa that has added exclusive benefits including the ability to sponsor domestic helpers, these are for investors and entrepreneurs, but may also be available to individuals with “outstanding specialised talents” which includes doctors, scientists and artists.

Packing Inventory

This is a list and description of the goods that are being shipped. We will provide a packed inventory for any items that we are packing on your behalf, but for any items that you pack yourself you will need to provide us with an inventory advising the description of the items packed. Not to worry though, we will provide you with a blank inventory to complete once you have made your booking with us.

You will need to present this to Customs in Dubai for them to review before they release your personal effects shipment to be delivered to you.

Bill of Lading

Once your goods have shipped from the UK, the shipping line will confirm the sailing date and estimated arrival date. They will also provide us with the Bill of Lading, which is the transport document specific to your shipment.

This document includes the name of the owner of the goods as well as the addresses in the UK and Dubai. We will issue an “Express Bill of Lading” which means that an original document isn’t required, and you can claim your shipment with the shipping agent in Dubai using a copy only, which we will provide to you.


Whether you have a UK or Dubai passport, or one issued elsewhere, we still require a good quality picture of the photo page. This must be in the same name as your shipping documents and be valid at the time of shipping.

What Items Are Prohibited to be Imported into Dubai?

There are certain items that you are not allowed to bring with you to Dubai, and if these are found within your personal effects shipment they will be seized, and carry the risk of fines or potentially imprisonment! Some are obvious, some are less so, but some examples are;

  • Weapons (firearms, swords etc)
  • Alcohol and narcotics of any kind
  • Banned drugs and medicines (even prescription medicines in large quantities)
  • Religious icons
  • Items for gambling
  • Religious books

Please ensure that your packed inventory is sent to 1st Move International as soon as possible, so that we can check that there aren’t any items that may cause issues for Customs clearance in Dubai.

What Items Are Restricted to be Imported into Dubai?

There are some items that are restricted, and if these are found during the Customs examination, they will be subject to further checks before they are released. These include;

  • Records, tapes, films, photograpsh, books, magazines etc – these will be inspected and are subject to censorship and confiscation
  • Live plants, seeds, flowers etc

The Customs examination can take up to 10-15days. Again, sending your packed inventory to 1st Move International as soon as possible allows us to check your items for potential issues.

Am I Able to Bring New / Unused Items to Dubai as Personal Effects?

Any items that are deemed to be new when the Customs inspection is taking place will attract additional cost for Customs duty at 5% of the value. If you aren’t able to provide an invoice for this item, Customs inspectors will assess the value. This value would be used for the Duty cost.

There will also be a VAT levied of 5% and, if the original invoice is missing for the new item a fee of USD300 will also be incurred.

Is There Anything Else I should Know?

Almost all of the personal effects shipment that are imported into Dubai will go through a physical inspection or X-Ray. We would suggest that any items that are potentially risky such as books, CDs, DVDs etc are packed separately and clearly marked so that Customs can locate them quickly.

There will be additional costs for any Customs examination, and these aren’t able to be prepaid by your international removals company. So, in most shipments there will be costs to pay on arrival.

If you wish to take your vehicle, there are certain restrictions that you must be aware of, such as being left hand drive. All vehicles, new or used, are subject to 5% duties, as well as the 5% VAT. If original documents are missing then additional costs of USD300 are applied.

For more details on Car Shipping to Dubai then you can take a look on the Autoshippers website.

Shipping Furniture and Household Effects to Dubai

When you make a booking with 1st Move International, we will immediately send you instructions on all of the information and documentation that we require to enable us to collect, pack, ship and clear your shipment through Customs in the UK and Dubai.

Our team of international removals experts are on hand to help with any questions that you have, and to help make international removals to Dubai as stress-free as possible.

If you would like to get the ball rolling, you can ask us for a quotation by completing the form on this page, giving us as much information as possible. Alternatively, you can call us on +44 117 982 8123 / 0800 389 0784 during UK office hours or e-mail on

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