Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/XPRESS

Dubai: UAE jewellers this month reported the strongest gold sales in seven years, but a spate of arrests at various airports has sparked confusion over the amount of gold passengers can carry out of the country.

Although the UAE does not impose any restrictions, failure to declare ‘excess’ quantities of gold while exiting the country is believed to have resulted in the arrests. An Indian expat whose trolley bag had a gold-moulded handle, another Indian wearing two bracelets weighing 699 grams, two Asians with gold biscuits kept in their mobile phone covers – recent reports of passenger arrests have raised several questions about what the cut-off limits are, where and how the gold should be declared and whether duties are applicable.

“I am going to India for a wedding and need to carry a few sets of jewellery. I am not sure what I should do and whether I will be asked to pay duty in the UAE,” said an Indian woman hailing from Mumbai.

“Gold has become such a liability now. Can someone please tell me what the dos and don’ts are while travelling out of the UAE?” asked another Indian resident from Delhi.

While XPRESS could not get an immediate response from the customs authorities, a general enquiry at the Dubai Customs customer care hotline (800 80080) revealed passengers are required to make a self-declaration if the value of the items they are carrying exceeds Dh100,000.

The Dubai Customs website states: “All passengers carrying Dh100,000 or more or a sum of foreign currency of the same value are required to inform the customs personnel about the cash they have and they should also inform them about precious items such as gold and jewellery they may have.”

The self-declaration is required to be made with the customs authorities before check-in at the airport.

Proof of purchase

Dubai-based jeweller Manish Dhamani said there are no restrictions imposed on the amount of gold one can carry out of the UAE provided the passenger can furnish proof of the gold purchase and mode of payment. “You must have the duly signed and stamped invoices in original with you.”

Chandu Siroya, vice-chairman of the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group said: “While there are no restrictions, excess quantities of gold will have to be declared with proper documentation which the authorities will stamp if everything is in order. Of course, how much you can carry will also depend on the limits imposed by the destination countries. So you must check that out from their government websites.”

Citing India as an example, he said: “A Non-Resident Indian who has stayed abroad continuously for over a year can bring duty free jewellery worth Rs100,000 in the case of women and Rs50,000 in the case of men. They can also bring up to one kilogram of gold or jewellery by paying the applicable duty.”

Though Indian lawmakers have placed curbs on the import of gold, the market is believed to be cashing in on cheaper gold from countries affected by fluctuating international prices.

As a result, there has been a huge spurt in Non-Resident Indians flying in with massive quantities of gold.