Import and Export License in Dubai

Import, export and trading activities were carried out in Emirate of Dubai even before the formation of the United Arab Emirates. If you think that Dubai has become a centre of trade in the Middle East only after the recent developments in the creek then you're mistaken, the Emirate is found to have trade links that date back 4000 years ago stretching from Egypt to India and China. Dubai has been a hub of trade and commerce with import, export activities taking a significant portion.

After the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Dubai joined Abu Dhabi and other emirates in developing a nation through good governance, security and livelihood for the Emirati people. The late ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum decided to enhance the Dubai creek's infrastructure for accelerating import, export-based trading activities in the area. However, it was an ambitious, and visionary project for establishing a strong trade presence in the Middle East. The move resulted in increased volumes of cargo handling in Dubai port and ultimately strengthened the Dubai's position as a major trading and re-export hub in the region.

Developments in for Trade in Dubai

Emirate of Dubai's enjoys a strategic locational advantage in the Middle East at the crossroads of major economies in Asia and Europe, with excellent sea links in the Arabian Gulf Dubai encourages the import, export and trade-related activities. The Emirate of Dubai gave special importance to develop and establish infrastructure for trading based activities. In 1901, the Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum established Dubai free port with no taxation on imports or exports and also gave merchants parcels of land and guarantees of protection and tolerance. These policies saw a movement of merchants not only from the Middle East but also from other parts of the world.

Import and Export Business in Dubai

Dubai is the best location in the Middle East to start the import & export business due to numerous advantages it offers in the form of duty-free exports, state-of-the-art port facilities, and world-class infrastructure which is purpose-built for accelerating international trade activities. The Emirate of Dubai offers a secure location to global import & export companies with a robust legal and financial ecosystem that nurtures business activities by protecting the rights of the companies registered in the state.

Import and export have been one of the oldest trade activities carried out in Dubai since ancient periods. Apart from the trade businesses, import & export businesses are the most-profitable business activities in Dubai, by setting up a company in Dubai, you can leverage the strategic and positional advantage offered to the import & export businesses in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA). Furthermore, supportive trade regulations for local and international traders encourage them to take on challenging opportunities in international trade and business.

Click here to know more about the different free zones in Dubai

How to Start an Import & Export Business in Dubai?

The first step towards commencing the import & export activity is to decide the goods and materials that you as a business is interested in dealing. You may choose a category based on your experience, business partners or the supply, demand for goods in the international markets. In the case of Dubai, the trade markets are largely dependent on import and export activities as the global demand and supply for goods, products, commodities and materials continuously shift as they pass through the Dubai port where they’re effectively co-ordinated to numerous international destinations.

10 Steps to Start Import & Export Company in Dubai

  1. Identify a local partner and discuss the business terms
  1. Prepare Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  1. Obtain the preliminary approvals from government agencies
  1. Register your trade name
  1. Select the business structure for your Company (i.e., LLC or partnership)
  1. Apply for trade license in Dubai
  1. Lease or rent Office space
  1. Get suitable warehousing facilities for rent or lease
  1. Acquire the import & export license
  1. Submit the documents to authorities

Starting a business in Dubai is a time-consuming task and difficult for foreigners while navigating the legal ecosystem without expert guidance. If you are interested in starting an import & export trade in Dubai contact us, our experts can guide you professional right from getting the right partner, preparing MOA, getting approvals, and registering your company. We also offer post-incorporation service by helping you get rental offices spaces and furnished warehouses in Dubai.

Advantages of Starting an Import & Export Company in Dubai

  • Well-established business centres
  • Duty-free exports
  • Numerous free zones concentrating on specific industries
  • Strategic location in the MENA region
  • Affordable business setup costs
  • Streamlined visa permits for international traders
  • 100 percent foreign ownership allowed
  • Faster customs processing
  • Easier partnership requirements
  • Facilitates visa for dependants
  • Permit to set up a business with multiple shareholders
  • A robust financial system with a myriad of banking and finance services

Import & Export Licensing in Dubai

For starting an import & export business after registering the company, you need to obtain a trade license from the government agency that authorises your business to perform trade activity in the Dubai region. However, if you need to specifically perform import & export with international partners in different countries, you need to acquire import & export licenses from the government as the business fields are regulated and one needs to obtain licenses in Dubai to starting any legal business activity.

Requirements for Import & Export License

In order to acquire an import & export license, there are certain requirements that you need to fulfil

  • Must be a registered business in UAE
  • Have a copy of Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Must be registered with the Dubai Trade & Customs

Imports in Dubai

The UAE is a member of WTO and an important trade member for nearly 32 countries internationally. The primary import of products and commodities in Dubai are food, machinery, chemicals, and transportation equipment. Other imported goods include textiles, steel & metal, precision tools and raw materials such as cotton, fabrics, instruments, precious metals and plastic products. Among the valuable commodities, jewellery and gold remain as one of the most expensive materials, in addition to this, electronic equipment, furniture, footwear, natural earth minerals, clothing, hosiery, ceramic products, beverages and dairy products constitute a significant portion of the imports into Dubai.

Import License in Dubai

By getting an import license, you are authorised to import commodities from your partners in different countries or any of the free zones in the UAE into the UAE mainland. Besides the import license, you need to fulfil the legal requirements before importing the goods or commodities into the mainland. Usually, the importer will be required to present legal trade license, import permit along with the documents to the Customs department.

Exports in Dubai

Dubai is a major exporter of oil and natural gas products to major countries in the world; this is possible due to the extensive natural crude oil reserves in the UAE. Although crude oil and allied products constitute a significant part of the exports, Dubai is a hub of re-export in the MENA region with re-exported goods and commodities ranging from automobiles, machinery, food products, raw materials, consumer goods, electronics and other products.

Export License in Dubai

The export license allows you to export goods and commodities from Mainland UAE to any other international partner or any one of the free zone in the country. However, there is a different license to import into the UAE Mainland and re-exporting of goods or commodities after processing or storing it in warehouses. There are a significant difference in the steps, requirements to acquire an export license and a re-export license.

Documents Required for Export in Dubai

  • Declaration for clearing the goods and commodities out of UAE Mainland or to a free zone
  • Instructions of the Declaration of Goods Application (IDG) or an approved export declaration certificate in the name of a licensed company by a licensing agency in the country for airport customs points of entry.
  • An export permit from the competent agencies if the goods exporting are restricted.
  • Sale invoice showing total quantity, description total and the exact value of each item from a licensed company in the country and should be addressed to a company outside the country.


Whatever the goods and commodities imported and exported into Mainland has processes and procedures different from procedures followed when importing and exporting the goods and commodities into the UAE Free Zones. This is due to the UAE legal structure that recognises the Free zone as a legal entity separate from the UAE Mainland.

Getting an Import/Export License is an elaborate process which requires approvals, permits and special licensing before starting your business operations. Contact us; we can help you in getting a valid trade license for a diverse set of trading activities in Dubai.