Importing food into Dubai is a thriving trend, But why? Food is a must for everyone’s survival. Is it possible to go without food for an extended period? If you answered no, you should know how important food imports and exports are. Every year, millions of visitors visit Dubai and the United Arab Emirates for vacations, and millions come to live, work, and do business there. Because the UAE cannot produce enough food, importing food into Dubai is increasing.
Food is imported from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia in Dubai’s thriving trade economy. Food is exported from Dubai to the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, India, and Japan.
As the gate to the African and Arab markets, Dubai has grown into the worldwide and busiest food-trading center in the Middle East. One of the most critical aspects of Dubai’s economy is the business of importing food and seafood into Dubai. To fulfill food demand in 2021, Dubai imported 9.9 million tonnes of food products costing AED57 billion, which is expected to rise as Dubai’s food consumption grows at a pace of 11% per year.
To maintain control over such a large volume of trade while also ensuring the safety and quality of the goods, the government must follow proper procedures.
Food products can be sent from the mainland by dealing directly and completing customs processes on your own or by taking help from a UAE-based freight forwarding company like DFreight that can handle A to Z of importing food into Dubai for you. If you are considering importing other commodities and items into UAE, read our blog posts regarding shipping clothes, shipping cars, and auto parts to UAE.
Documents Required for Importing Food Into Dubai
To import products into the UAE, businesses must first get a trade license from the Emirate’s Department of Economic Development (DED). To do business in the UAE’s “mainland,” foreign enterprises can either open an office there or appoint a UAE native as a sponsor, partner, or distributor (that is, not in the free zones). Companies that establish themselves in an FTZ can also utilize their trade license to bring goods into the UAE. For importing food into Dubai, the UAE-based native person or business (consignee/agent) must get a delivery order from the Shipping Agent and provide the following standard trade documents in their original form. The following importation documents must be prepared for importing food into Dubai:
- A commercial invoice from the exporting firm to the importer includes the amount, description, and total value of each imported product.
- Certificate of origin that specifies the country of origin and has been certified by the Chamber of Commerce in that country.
- The detailed packing list includes each product’s weight, packaging style, and HS code.
- If you’re bringing in restricted or duty-free items, you’ll need import authorization from the relevant authorities.
- A bill of entry is also known as an airway bill.
The following certifications are also required for importing food into Dubai:
- Original health certificate from the exporting country’s authority concerned testifying the product’s safety for human consumption.
- For meat and poultry products, the original Halal slaughter certificate is required.
It must be ensured that the food product ingredients do not include any banned substances. Drug products, such as poppy seeds, and alcohol, might be among the restricted substances. If the ingredients include banned substances, the company should follow the FIRS program and check the product’s status. You might be asking what is FIRS program; keep reading to find out.
Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS)
The Dubai Municipality’s Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS) is an electronic service that helps trade organizations involved in the import or re-export of food products. Its primary services include:
- Food Products importing
- Food products re-exporting
- Issuing a variety of certificates.
- Food labels and information circulars regarding food dealers and customers
- The ability to submit applications from anywhere in the globe via the internet.
- Food product information and registration for all types of foods
- Food sample costs can also be paid electronically from anywhere around the world.
- Food Inspection
What Should You Do Before Your Shipments Arrival?
Companies importing food into Dubai must register with Dubai Municipality E-Government before the shipment arrival:
The trading company must first register with the Food Import and Re-Import System before importing food products into the UAE (FIRS). Establishing an import firm is only possible if the importing company is registered with the Dubai Municipality. The registration process consists of the following steps:
Companies can register online by signing on to www.dm.gov.ae and filling out an application online. The registration procedure can then be completed by following the instructions.
A company’s representative must attend to the e-government customer service in Dubai Municipality’s Karama office and provide the following items to register the company properly:
- A copy of the business license of the company importing food into Dubai.
- The phone and fax numbers of the company.
- The email address of the company.
- The company’s post office box number.
- Details about the company’s representatives, including their names and phone numbers.
- Dubai warehouses’ location and information.
- The telephone and fax numbers for that specific warehouse or warehouses.
How Can You Classify and Barcode Your Food Products?
All imported food products must be listed in the Registration and Classification System, which uses a barcode to identify them. An e-application with all the needed information must be submitted to accomplish this step.
Don’t Forget to Submit the Production & Expiration Dates
All packaging should have the date of manufacture and the expiration date for importing food into Dubai. Avoid double dates and use stickers to show the dates; Remember that the date label should not be removed easily and must be valid for at least three months.
How Can You Lable Your Products?
If a corporation wishes to register for more products that have not yet been authorized, it can send an email through the system (FIRS). Under the headline “approving food label,” you can get any packaged product authorized on the main menu.
The following information must be included on the food label for the packaged food that has not yet been approved:
- Brand name.
- Name and a Brief Description of the Product
- List of ingredients of the product.
- Expiration Date
- Manufacturer’s, packer’s, and distributor’s names.
- Food’s entire net weight or volume.
- Manufactured Country Name.
- Merchandised Barcode.
- Product’s Lot number.
- Storage Condition (Cold/Hot Environment)
- Result of the Laboratory Test (for Goods being sold in Dubai)
Note: The language on the label should be Arabic because the packaged food will be sold in Dubai.
Note: Any inconsistency in stating the mentioned factors may result in the products being rejected for importing food into Dubai.
The Final Word
The process of importing food into Dubai is accessible only when all processes are followed precisely since this prevents unnecessary delays and assures the safety of the goods.
How much is the VAT for importing food into Dubai?
The VAT rate for importing to UAE is 5%.
How long will food customs clearance take in UAE?
5-15 days. Import customs clearance will typically take 5-15 days in UAE. Throughout the year, this time frame may change.
Will the future food import/export rate increase in the UAE?
The UAE is currently importing 85% of its food products which is projected to increase by 11% annually. Read more about UAE Freight and Logistics Future.