Dubai has strict customs regulations. Like any other destination you may be checked by customs officers on entrance.
Duty Free Rules
Dubai’s duty free regulations are fairly straightforward.
Dubai’s duty free rules can be found in the Passenger Customs Guide (3rd Edition 2014) published by Dubai Customs.
This guide is available for download from the publications section of the official Dubai Customs website. This is the most recent customs guide on the Dubai Customs website at the time of writing (January 2020).
Although we try to update this page as frequently as possible we recommend you check the publications section for more recent updates. Let us know in the comments if any changes have been made to the duty free regulations.
The 2014 Passenger Customs Guide states that visitors to Dubai can bring in the following goods free of duty:
- Gifts with a value of not more than AED 3,000
- 400 cigarettes OR 500 grams of tobacco OR 50 cigars
- Up to 4 litres of alcohol OR 48 cans of beer (each not exceeding 355 ml)
Personal effects are also exempt from duty. The following items are permitted and no duty will be due provided they for personal use:
- Cameras and video cameras, projectors, telescopes, portable musical instruments, radios and CD players, mobile phones, portable TVs, portable typing machines, PCs and laptops, portable calculators, prams, strollers and wheelchairs, sports equipment, clothes, toiletries, and jewellery.
- Up to 100,000 AED in cash and traveller’s cheques (provided passenger is 18 or over).
General customs information can be found on this page of the official Dubai Customs website.
Prohibited and banned items are listed here.
Prohibited items include goods of Israeli origin, gambling machines, nylon fishing nets, and items that contradict the Islamic faith and public morals.
Information regarding medicines is included on this page of the UAE Ministry of Health website.
At the time of writing this article (January 2020) the page links to two documents:
- Travellers Guidelines for Carrying of Personal Medicines into the UAE
- A List of Controlled Medicines – 2019
The Travellers Guidelines state (see page 1) that travellers should seek permission from the UAE Ministry of Health before travelling to the UAE with any personal medicines.
This caused much alarm at the time and the position was subsequently investigated by local media. For example, in this Gulf News article, the author clarified with the UAE Ministry of Health that prior permission is only required for drugs that are narcotic-based, psychotropic, or controlled.
Travellers to Dubai and the UAE should take note of the rules on page 2 of the Travellers Guidelines regarding regular prescribed medicines. Key points are:
- Prescription medicines can be brought for personal use only
- A prescription should be brought
- A maximum of 30 days’ supply is permitted
Dubai has extremely strict drug laws. People frequently end up in court for offences that would not even warrant arrest in many countries.
Anybody thinking about bringing drugs or restricted medicines into Dubai should read the following articles:
- The Independent – British man jailed in Fujairah for carrying excessive supply of prescription medicine
- The National – British man sentenced to death for selling marijuana worth 1,500 AED to undercover policeman in Abu Dhabi
- Fair Trials International – Briton imprisoned for possession of 0.003 g of cannabis
- BBC News article – Various cases
- Gulf News – Codeine requires a prescription
- Gulf News – Woman jailed for traces of codeine in her system
- ArabianBusiness.com – Surge in number of British tourists arrested for drugs in 2007, drugs in bloodstream can count as possession
- Gulf News – Stewardess ends up in jail after calling police to inform them she had been drugged