Customs arrival check point at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Apart from the various plans to meet family, relatives, friends, enjoy a vacation and visit the stunning sights that Dubai has to offer, what every passenger must keep in mind when arriving in the UAE are the rules and regulations of what they can, and cannot, bring into the country.

In fact, this awareness is more important than all the tourist information one may gather to help ease your travel experience at the airport and ensure you don’t land yourself in trouble.

Passengers coming to Dubai should learn about what they are allowed to bring into the country in order not to unwittingly breach the law, said Khalifa Malik Bin Shahin, Senior Inspection Manager, Airport Passenger Terminal Three.

According to Mattar Rashid Al Muhairi, inspection team leader, there were 15,260 items confiscated in Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport in 2017.

“The most common items seized in all terminals include narcotics, counterfeit goods, restricted medicines and weapons,” he said.

“We have awareness boxes in the customs area in the airport for travellers to gain information on the illegal items, including guns, knives, pepper sprays, laser pens and more,” said Al Muhairi.

“Every passenger should take some time to view the banned items list we have on our official website before they come to the UAE,” he added.

Al Muhairi said travellers coming in with controlled medicines or even prescribed medicines beyond the quantity required for their personal use can face punitive action.

Travellers entering the UAE have been cautioned against bringing in controlled or psychotropic medicines and narcotics that may be available easily in the country of origin but might be included in the control list in the UAE.

“For example, In case of controlled medicines for personal use, both travellers to the UAE and those transiting through the country have to carry a valid medical prescription from the country of origin,” he said.

He also advised passengers to not pick up luggage that doesn’t belong to them because they will be responsible for anything found inside them.

Declare cash

Most passengers arriving in the country continue to be unaware of the need to declare cash money, in whatever currency it may be, if it is above Dh100,000 in value, a custom officer said. According to UAE law, all passengers arriving in the country must disclose cash, travellers’ cheques, jewellery and precious metals in their possession that exceed in value Dh100,000 or its equivalence in other currencies.

“Most cases at the airport have been related to people not disclosing amounts above Dh100,000,” he said. “We have no custom duties on cash money above Dh100,000, but we need them to declare the amounts they have.”

Jewellery, precous metals: 5% custom duty

For valuables, such as jewellery and precious metals, exceeding the permitted limit, custom duties of five per cent will be applicable on them, depending on the reasons they are being brought into the country for.

“We have certain rules for exemption and a discretionary authority in place to evaluate case to case,” stressed Bin Shahin.

A case for exemption

To be exempted from custom duties, for example, baggage and gifts must be of a personal nature and not in commercial quantities and the passenger must not be one who frequently visits the same customs centre or who trades in the items in his possession.

“Some passengers can mistakenly pass through the green channel and others might do it on purpose to avoid declaring what they have. While others might be moving to the UAE carrying their own personal gold, it still has to be declared. This is why we have a discretionary authority who decides on a case by case basis before taking the final decision,” he said.

Discretion with a reason

Bin Shahin added that it’s common for passengers to forget to declare or to hide what they have because they are unaware of the rules of the country.

“We want to ensure everyone coming to the country is happy, and this is why we have the discretionary authority. We are able to know if someone is trying to bring something into the country for commercial purposes, through body language and many other signs,” said Bin Shahin.

Any excess quantities of goods and values intended for commercial purposes are subject to custom tariffs and custom declaration preparation procedures.

Some of the permitted and duty-exempted items and personal effects

1. Gifts whose value does not exceed Dh3,000.

2. A total number of 400 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 500 grams of tobacco (minced or pressed for pipes) or minced/pressed tobacco for smoking, tumbâk (pure tobacco) or water pipe tobacco.

3. The amount of alcoholic beverage shall not exceed 4 litres or 2 cartons of beer, each consisting of 24 cans not exceeding 355 ml for each can. Customs duties on excess quantities shall be collected otherwise they will be confiscated in accordance with Article (4) hereunder.

4. Personal jewellery for non-residents of the UAE

5. A reasonable quantity of electronic devices such as computers or laptops, CD or DVD players, radio systems, projectors, portable TV sets, portable music equipment, etc.

6. Special needs strollers and wheelchairs.

7. Your personal luggage and belongings including clothing and toiletries

8. Disclosure of cash and travellers’ cheques

All passengers who need to disclose must fill the disclosure form designed for this purpose pursuant to the disclosure system applicable in the country.

Banned Items

1. All kinds of Narcotic drugs (Hashish, Cocaine, Heroin, Poppy Seeds, Hallucination Pills, etc..).

2. Goods intended to be imported from boycotted countries.

3. Goods from Israeli origin or bearing Israeli trademarks or logos

4. Crude Ivory and Rhinoceros horn.

5. Gambling tools and machineries.

6. Three layers fishing nets.

7. Original engravings, prints, lithographs, sculpture and statues in any material.

8. Used, reconditioned and inlaid tires.

9. Radiation polluted substances.

10. Printed publications, oil paintings, photographs, pictures, cards, books, magazines stony sculptures and mannequins which contradict Islamic teachings, decencies, or deliberately implying immorality or turmoil.

11. Any other goods, the importation of which is prohibited under the authority of U.A.E. customs laws or any other laws in the country.

12. Forged and duplicate currency.

13. Cooked and home-made foods.