Shipping From USA To UAE

5 Things You Need to Know About Shipping from USA to UAE

Due to its track record of stability and economic progress, the United Arab Emirates holds a significant position as a key trading ally of the United States in the Middle East. The trade relationship between these two nations has proven to be highly profitable, with U.S. exports to the UAE surpassing 22 billion dollars. Beyond their thriving trade ties, the USA and the UAE have expanded their partnership to include collaborative efforts in military support and regional infrastructure development, reflecting a relationship built on trust and mutual cooperation.

If you are involved in international trade, below are the five important things you need to know about shipping from the USA to the UAE

Both Countries Have No Trade Agreement

Despite efforts in 2012 by the US and the UAE, among other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, to establish a trade agreement, certain details of the agreement are still under discussion. Unfortunately, as of now, there is no existing free trade agreement between the two countries. Consequently, goods shipped from the US to the UAE are liable to full duty charges without any exemptions. Presently, the trade relationship between the two countries operates within a formal framework that has been mutually agreed upon by the two nations, rather than a formally signed trade agreement.

Rigid Inspections from UAE Customs Authorities UAE

UAE customs authorities rigorously inspect all imports entering the country, conducting thorough examinations of items passing through ports and airports. Specifically, for medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, officials from the UAE Ministry of Health carry out physical inspections to ensure compliance with regulations.

The importation of recreational drugs is strictly forbidden in the nation. Additionally, selling and consuming alcohol without the appropriate license as well as permitting the handling of alcoholic products, is prohibited. Goods falling under IATA Special provisions must be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for customs clearance. Alternatively, a Non-DG (non-dangerous goods) letter must be attached for the same purpose.

These are some of the most important things you need to take note of when shipping from the USA to the UAE

Certain Goods Need Special Clearance Documents

When dispatching exhibition goods to the UAE, ensure the presence of a letter from the UAE exhibitor and a copy of their passport for the successful clearance of the goods. If the goods are temporarily loaned to the exhibitor, they are categorized as temporary import shipments. To facilitate this, the consignee can submit a deposit to cover the specific duration the goods will stay in the country. The deposited amount will be refunded upon the shipment’s re-exportation.

For returned goods, the inclusion of an invoice detailing the country of manufacture, the reason for return, as well as the serial number and export tracking number is imperative. Failure to provide this information may result in customs clearance complications.

Samples require an accompanying invoice describing the sample and specifying whether it is mutilated or marked in any way. It’s important to note that the UAE customs department holds the authority to inspect any shipment type and may request additional permits and licenses if they perceive the shipment as not meeting their standards.

Clearing Documents are Required Based on Various Categories of the Consignee

When processing personal effects designated for an individual, it is essential to include the Emirates ID of the consignee on the airway bill. Alternatively, the Emirates ID of the individual clearing the package can be provided.

For shipments destined for government or ruler’s offices, the recipient must present an original authorization letter from the relevant office along with the Emirates ID of the person handling the clearance.

In the case of shipments for a company utilizing a clearing company, the individual collecting the shipment must present an original authorization letter, the visa page of the signatory in the UAE, the Emirates ID of the person handling the clearance, and the clearing agent’s cargo ID card specific to the Emirate. It is important to note that each Emirate has a designated card.

If the clearance is conducted by a standing authority, they are required to provide an authorization letter, the visa page of the signatory for the shipment, and a valid trade license.

List of Documents Required During Shipping

Shipments of non-document items to the UAE are subject to duty. However, if the shipments are directed to free zone companies, duty exemptions apply based on the customs registration of the respective free zone. To qualify for this exemption, the commercial invoice of the shipment should be addressed to the company in the free zone, including declarations of the relevant HS codes and the territory of manufacture for the goods in question.

When exporting from the US to the UAE, it is crucial to include the following documents:

  • A delivery order from the shipping agent, addressed to a licensed company in the UAE
  • The original invoice from the US exporter to the UAE importer in triplicate
  • The original bill of lading
  • Copies of the trade licenses of both the buyer and seller
  • A transport certificate
  • An export certificate confirming that the goods are fit for consumption
  • A health and phytosanitary certificate for processed goods
  • For meat products, a halal certificate is required. This certificate should be issued by an approved Islamic center in the country of export.


Whether you are shipping from the USA to the UAE for the first or fifth time, it is crucial to know the latest rules and regulations of both countries to ensure a smooth and seamless international trade. At Total Freight International, we offer reliable and 360-degree shipping solutions through our global freight forwarding and customs brokerage services. 

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