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Duty free allowances for Dubai UAE

Monday 18 February 2019 (UAE)   

Duty free limits on arrival in Dubai

Duty free allowances and limits at Dubai Airport (DXB). How much alcohol and how many cigarettes can I bring in? Customs and duty regulations for Dubai and the UAE. Prohibited and banned items list.

The rules applying to bringing in duty free goods to Dubai and the UAE are similar to what you'd expect in most places - some alcohol, cigarettes, no drugs, limits on commercial goods. Conflicting information is seen on various travel related websites though, and of course, rules can and do change.

  • Dubai Airport has an extensive range of duty free goods in the departure areas of both Terminals 1 and 3 (which are connected).
  • There are duty free shops on arrival in Dubai after clearing customs and immigration, near the baggage delivery belts.
  • Dubai duty free shops are open 24 hours and accept credit cards, and UAE dirhams and US dollars as currencies. Probably also Euros, UK Sterling, Omani Riyals and other Gulf currencies.

Table below has information from 3 official websites (Dubai International Airport DXB, Dubai Customs, and Department of Tourism Commerce Marketing DTCM - Dubai government tourist website) as of February 2008 (no changes as of 2016 as far as we know, except for cash limit).

  dubaiairport.com dubaicustoms.gov.ae dubaitourism.ae dubaifaqs.com¹
wine 2 liters 4 liters 4 liters 6x750 ml bottles
spirits 2 liters 4 liters 4 liters 4x1 liter bottles
beer   4 liters 24 cans 24 cans
cigarettes 2000 (10 cartons) 400 (2 cartons) 400 (2 cartons) 2 cartons
tobacco   2 kilograms 2 kilograms 40x 50g packets? Or 10x?
cigars 100 2 kilograms   100x cigars?
perfume     3000 dirhams 3000 dirhams
commercial goods   3000 dirhams 3000 dirhams 3000 dirhams
personal effects   no limit   reasonable amount
currency (cash)2, 3   US$10,000 / AED 40,000 US$10,000 / AED 40,000 AED 100,0003
drugs (narcotics)   declare any   don't bring any
drugs (medicines)   declare any   don't bring any
books, DVDs, videos   declare any**   don't bring porn**
weapons   declare any   don't bring any
explosives & fireworks   declare any   don't bring any
animals   declare any   don't bring any
plants & seeds   declare any   don't bring any
pork products no info no info no info personal consumption
  1. The last column is our opinion and should not be assumed to be correct, neither should the information from websites - your nearest UAE embassy should have the most up to date information, or contact Dubai Customs department.
  2. Dubai Customs were reported on 14 August 2010 as saying that cash (including traveler's checks) in excess of US$10,000 or the equivalent (about AED 40,000) must be declared when entering the UAE. Arabian Business quoted Yusouf Al Sahlawi (Yousef/Yousuf), Executive Director/CEO of Policy and Legislations Division at Dubai Customs who said "Non declaration may be treated as smuggling which is an offence punishable by law." But he didn't say what the punishment might be.
  3. Media reports in June 2011 said that the UAE Central Bank would increase the limit from AED 40,000 (US$10,000) to AED 100,000 from beginning September 2011.
  • The limits apply collectively meaning that you cannot for example bring in 4 liters of wine and 4 liters of spirits, you can bring wine or spirits or a combination that totals 4 liters. Same applies to smoking materials, commercial goods/perfume allowance, etc.
  • Unusually, the UAE used to have a very relaxed duty free cigarette limit of 2000 (or 10 cartons) until the early 2000s, when it was changed to either 200 or 400. Don't panic if you're a smoker, cigarettes (at least up until 2016) are cheap in Dubai anyway, about 60 dirhams for a carton instead of 45 dirhams at duty free, and some cheaper brands less than 40 dirhams per carton in supermarkets.

**Censorship of books, films, movies, videos, DVDs

Despite what you may hear, Dubai is not completely draconian when it comes to bringing in reading material and movies. You will be asking for trouble if you attempt to bring in pornographic movies and magazines, however men's magazines like FHM, Esquire, Maxim are freely available in Dubai bookshops (with inappropriate areas of photos blacked out) so bringing one or two of those with you is not likely to be a problem. Same for movies which might be slightly censored when shown in the cinema in Dubai (DVDs available in rental shops in Dubai will occasionally have uncensored "naughty bits").

  • Of course, if you annoy customs officials, and happen to have a copy of FHM in your back pocket, you may well provide them with a convenient excuse to detain you for a while.
  • Books which do not contain pictures are usually unlikely to be a problem, whatever the content, if it's obvious it's for personal use. There are certain books which are banned - anything perceived to be disrespectful to the Muslim religion for example.
  • A suitcase full of Bibles is going to need some clever explanation to convince officials you are not here to proselytise (the UAE tolerates practising of faiths other than Islam, but not the attempted conversion to non-Islamic faiths).
  • If you don't have any questionable material then you should be fine strolling through customs without declaring any books or DVDs - you might get stopped and searched and asked what books or movies you have. If you are wondering whether to declare your books or DVDs, then it's probably better not to bring them in the first place.

Banned and prohibited items list

Not a comprehensive list, but items which might be unusual or often asked about. Items such as weapons, drugs, fireworks, dangerous items, animals (except for domestic pets), ivory, etc are banned or require a special import licence.

  • Balut, or cooked duck eggs from The Philippines. The PH consulate in Dubai issued an alert in Jun 2016: "The entry of commercial and non-commercial quantities (for personal consumption) of balut into Dubai without the necessary customs/health certificates may result to its [sic] confiscation by Customs [sic] authorities and possible delay in immigration clearance of the bearer/s".
  • Pork: small quantities if for personal consumption then salami and similar cooked pork products, marshmallows, ham flavored crisps etc, tinned goods, are likely to be fine if bringing with you. Uncooked items such as bacon etc, we'd avoid bringing, there is a good selection in Dubai supermarkets anyway. Large or commercial quantities you'll need a special import licence. This is our best guess based on personal experience, so don't rely on it. No official information found or provided.
  • Sex toys (vibrators, etc) are banned but no official information found except for comment from an anonymous Dubai Customs official reported in Gulf News 02 Dec 2010 (a story about a resident odering sex toys online): "Such toys are illegal here and those who bring them could face legal action". If you bring sex toys with you or try to have them delivered, the best that anyone can say is you might or might not get away with it. If you're caught, you'll probably have them confiscated, made to sign a document that you won't do it again, and left to continue doing what you were doing. No clear information about legal penalties found so unknown whether fine, jail or deportation is possible or likely. But don't rely on our opinion, we are not the police or any UAE customs agent. Our suggestion is to follow the rules and not bring any.
Last update Friday 10-Jun-2016
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.dxbcustoms.gov.ae - you'd hope this was the most accurate source of information - look for Customer Care > FAQs to find duty free allowance information.


Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

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