Picture for illustration purposes only.


Top advice for expats looking to move all their belongings to UAE


Are you considering picking up roots and moving to the UAE? If so, you’re not alone, as there is a vibrant expat community in the UAE and plenty of opportunities for work or leisure.

Yet, when looking to move all of your belongings halfway around the world – you no doubt have many questions about the logistics of it all. To help you understand exactly what this process entails, and what you can expect to pay, here are the basics:

Your household goods are tax free and duty free

The good news is, that when importing all of your regular household belongings (like personal effects, furniture, used electronics and others) – you won’t be required to pay any taxes or fees to bring them into the country. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the UAE has taken many steps to attract expats in recent years.

This exemption is only valid when you move.

It is important to note, however, that this exemption from all import taxes and duties is only applicable to expats when they first move into the country. According to the Abu Dhabi General Administration of Customs, you can bring in your used personal effects and household appliances “upon your first arrival for residence” without taxes or duties being levied”.

A 5% customs duty may apply.

Otherwise, if you fail to bring in all of your household goods when you first relocate to the UAE – you may have to pay the normal 5 percent customs duty on importation. Your particular situation may vary, as there are quite a few specific rules regarding this, which you can find on the official UAE government website here.

Passenger luggage is also duty-free.

In addition, if you plan to regularly travel to your country of origin (to visit friends and relatives or for work reasons), you can continue to bring back personal effects, most items you’ve bought while abroad and even a limited amount of cigarettes and alcohol – all duty-free. You can find the full list of allowable goods and quantities on the UAE’s official customs page here. This gives you some leeway, if you weren’t able to organize everything together and bring it with you in your initial move to the country.

Certain items are prohibited.

As with most countries, you are prohibited from bringing in certain items. However, you should be aware that customs here is quite strict, and you should never assume that an item is allowed. An example of this is properly prescribed medication or even over-the-counter products which contain codeine or other narcotic-like substances.

While these may be perfectly permissible in your home country, in the UAE these items are illegal and you could be fined or arrested for possessing them. A full list of prohibited goods and allowed goods with certain restrictions on type and amount can be found on the UAE’s official customs page.

Importing your personal vehicle

car back seat

Sadly, the exemption from import taxes and fees you enjoy when first moving does not apply to your car or other personal motor vehicle. Here you can expect to pay a customs duty of 5 percent for the privilege. Keep in mind, this 5 percent isn’t levied just against the fair market value of your vehicle, but is calculated on the value of your car plus 1 percent insurance and the cost of the shipment.

You’ll also need a number of documents, including proof of insurance for the vehicle, an original invoice (if it’s new), likely an export declaration from the country of origin, the trade license of the shipping company bringing the car into the UAE, a bill of lading, your passport and your residence permit or visa.

To be sure that no other forms or documents are needed, it is always wise to contact the customs office at the port of entry before proceeding. Finally, the UAE also requires that the depreciation of the car you’re importing not be greater than 5 years.

Also check out

You now have an excellent idea of the taxes, duties and forms you’ll be faced with when moving all of your belongings to the UAE. You may be contemplating a move to advance your career, find new work opportunities, for the balmy climate or the vibrant nightlife.

You may just want a change of scenery instead or perhaps a friend has already made the leap – and is encouraging you to join them. No matter what your reasons for a permanent change of address to the UAE, their tax and duty exemptions on importing your household goods into the country, make it a relatively hassle-free and affordable undertaking. JM/Expat Media



ADVERTISE HERE Find or post new jobs, motor ads and classifieds

Explore Expat Media