Exporting to the United Arab Emirates from the UK

Made up of seven different Arab principalities, the UAE is a modern, open economy with a highly developed infrastructure.

It is the eighth largest oil exporter, and has been ranked as the easiest country to do business with in the Middle East, and 23rd overall. It has diversified its economy so that non-oil sectors now contribute approximately 70% of GDP.

Read on to find out how you can take advantage of this country and trade with the UAE.

UAE Fact File

  • Official Language: Arabic, Persian, English
  • Currency: UAE dirham (AED)
  • Central Bank: Central Bank of Arab Emirates
  • Calling Code: +971
  • Capital City: Abu Dhabi
  • Largest City: Dubai
  • Population: 9,346,129

Trading with the UAE

The UAE has a liberal trade environment where Designated Free Trade Zones offer 100% foreign ownership.

The UK and the UAE have a good relationship, with the UK’s largest civil export market. In 2013, UK exports to the UAE were worth £5.8 trillion. Over 4,000 British companies operate in the UAE, including BP, Shell, Rolls Royce, SERCO, HSBC and RBS.

In 2013, the top UK exports to the UAE were power generating machinery and equipment, road vehicles, telecoms and sound recording and reproducing equipment and scientific instruments and apparatus.

Legal Considerations

To trade or invest in the UAE, you’ll need to comply with the federal laws governing business activity, including the Commercial Companies Law, Commercial Register Law, Commercial Agencies Law, and the Civil and Commercial Codes. Each Emirate may also have additional requirements.

Prohibitions and Restrictions

As with all countries, there are a number of restricted and prohibited items when it comes to exporting. Some of them include:

  • All types of narcotics
  • Publications (of a variety of different types) that contradict Islamic teachings, decencies or deliberately imply immorality or turmoil
  • Ivory
  • Dangerous Waste
  • Electronic Cigarettes
  • Used Tyres

The restricted and prohibited product list is different depending on which member state you are exporting to, so be sure to check with the state.

You will need a Certificate of Origin for all exports in order to clear customs. It must be provided by the original exporter and recognised by an authorised representative in the UK.

Tax and Customs Duties

Income Tax – this is only applied in practice to foreign banks, oil and gas companies. There is no tax on capital gains, and there is no direct personal taxation in the UAE, though indirect taxation through fees is common.
VAT – there is currently no value added tax or sales tax in the UAE.

Customs – the customs duties on imported goods is generally levied at the rate of 5%, though a higher rate applies to alcohol and tobacco. Some categories of goods are exempt, such as certain printed materials, and pharmaceuticals.

If you are importing into a free zone, then there are no customs duties due.

You can only import goods into the UAE by a company that is registered in the UAE and the goods must be relevant to the licensed business activity of the business.

Certain documents needed for the import and export of goods to and from the UAE are:

  • Invoices (initiated by supplier)
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Bills of Landing/Airway Bill

The Alternative

Let the experts do the leg work and instruct us at TNT to employ our international export services. We can make exporting to the UAE easy, simple and stress-free. We can manage the exportation from start to finish for you.
We work with over 175 different countries, with a variety of different shipping methods including air, sea and road freight.

Take a look at our export services here.