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Relocating to the UAE

All You Need to Know About Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets

If you are planning to relocate to the UAE, you are not alone. Only 11% of residents within the UAE are Emirati nationals. The rest are expats. Given its year-round warm, sunny weather and reputation for high salaries, it is easy to see why.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

When looking at how to relocate to the UAE, there are several facets you must consider. First, you will need to know how to ship your goods to the desert and the customs rules and regulations that go along with that. Used personal items should be imported duty-free, but the medicines that are prohibited may surprise you.

It may also surprise you to know that there are no vaccines required to immigrate to the UAE. However, there are recommended vaccines and vaccinations that all UAE residents have. Vaccines have to have been received in the past two years in order to be valid.

Bringing pets into the UAE is fairly simple, although expats can only bring two pets. It is also worth considering how the intense desert may affect your furry friend.

Still wondering what it takes to relocate to the UAE? Use this relocation guide to help you through all steps of the process.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

If you want to know how to move household items and belongings to the emirate states, you will first need to look at customs regulations in the UAE. Expats may be surprised by what is not allowed in the UAE.

Prohibited and restricted items include:

  • Controlled/recreational drugs and narcotic substances
  • Pirated content
  • Items used in black magic, witchcraft, or sorcery
  • Publications and artwork that contradict or challenge Islamic teachings and values
  • Exotic, protected, and endangered animals and certain breeds of dogs
  • Gambling tools and machines

Publications challenging Islam do not necessarily refer to other religious texts. However, expats who want to bring their own holy books are advised to do so with discretion. Likewise, importing controlled medicines may be a hassle. The UAE has very strict drug policies and certain drugs that are deemed “mild” or “over-the-counter” in other countries are controlled in the UAE. This can include drugs found in cough syrups and pain killers.

For allowed substances, you may only bring in three-month’s worth of medication. You will also need a permit from the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

For an extensive list of prohibited/restricted drugs, see this list.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings

While importing used items into the UAE can qualify them for duty free, you may need to provide a residence permit first. Customs tax may vary slightly from emirate to emirate, but on the whole, if a customs inspector believes something is being imported commercially, they will impose a 5% tax on the item.

If your items are shipped separate from you then they must arrive within one month of your arrival. You must be present in order for the goods to clear customs.

Be sure to keep an itemized list of what you have shipped as well as any relevant receipts, invoices, and insurance papers. These may be needed in the event that you have to prove ownership of certain items.

If you do not have a residence visa yet, you can submit a letter from your UAE entry visa sponsor. You will need to make a deposit valuing 5% of your goods. This 5% will be refunded to you once you have your residence visa. In order to receive the refund, you must submit your residence visa within 59 days of your goods’ arrival in the UAE.

What Can You Pack When Moving to the UAE?

UAE customs allowances include, but are not limited to, the following:

Alcohol and Cigarettes

You can import alcohol and cigarettes only if:

  • you are above 18 years of age;
  • the amount of alcoholic does not exceed four liters;
  • the number of cigarettes does not exceed 400, nor its value exceed 2,000 AED (545 USD); cigars cannot exceed 3000 AED (817 USD).
Food

According to the UAE government’s website, these are the maximum amounts you can bring of certain food items:

  • 20 kg of yogurt
  • 50 liters of oil (including olive oil)
  • 10 kg of various types of vegetables and fruits
  • 100 kg dates
  • 10 kg sweets and bread
  • 30 kg of grains, cereals, and red meat
  • 10 kg of fish and seafood
  • 500 gm of caviar
  • 11 kg of eggs
  • 20 kg for honey and sugar products
  • 5 kg for herbs and spices including vinegar, orange blossom water, and rose water
  • 500 gm of saffron
  • 10 kg of special-purpose food such as children’s food is allowed
  • 20 liters of drinks and syrups including water
  • 5 kg of juice concentrates
  • 25 kg of canned food
Cars

If you want to bring your car to the UAE you will have to pay an import tax. Also required are these documents:

  • copy of passport
  • registration documents
  • title or deed
  • copy of purchase invoice
  • certificate of origin
  • insurance policy
  • UAE residence permit

Cars with tinted windows are not allowed into the UAE.

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Home Goods Storage

There are plenty of long- and short-term storage options throughout the UAE. Storage facilities range from private units to large warehouses. Most companies charge weekly or monthly fees. You can expect to pay anywhere from 75 AED (20 USD) per month for a few boxes up to 950 AED (260 USD) to store the equivalent of a two-bedroom apartment.

Storage may be an option if:

  • you do not yet have a place to stay;
  • you want to have your stuff waiting for you when you arrive;
  • you have personal items you do not want to leave behind, but you also want it in the UAE with you;
  • you are unsure about your tenure in the UAE and do not want to commit to a permanent place quite yet.

Contact our specialists for storage options.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for the UAE

There are no vaccinations required to enter the UAE. Most illnesses foreigners face within the emirates come from food illnesses or general maladies.

What Vaccinations do I Need for the UAE?

Recommended vaccines for expats moving to the UAE:

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • typhoid
  • rabies

Routine vaccines for residents of the UAE:

  • measles and mumps
  • rubella
  • tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis
  • chickenpox
  • shingles
  • pneumonia
  • influenza
  • meningitis
  • polio

Health Requirements for the UAE Immigration

There are no vaccination requirements for UAE immigration. However, to receive a residence permit you will need to undergo a medical exam within the UAE. People who test positive for certain communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, or leprosy will be immediately deported.

It should also be noted that you should not test positive for any recreational drugs during this exam as doing so is a serious offense.

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Moving with Pets

Moving to the UAE with pets is easy once you have the required documents in order. Unlike other countries, the UAE does not have required quarantine periods for animals entering the country.

Can You Bring Pets into the UAE?

Yes. To bring your pet into the UAE you will need:

  • a copy of your passport;
  • a recent veterinary certificate certifying your pet’s up-to-date rabies vaccination;
  • a UAE import permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment;
  • a pet passport.

The UAE pet import permit will cost 500 AED (135 USD). This permit is good for dogs, cats, and horses. You must have this permit prior to entering the UAE. It is only valid up to 30 days.

Other Requirements Regarding Pet Relocation into the UAE

  • If you are taking your dog or cat into the UAE, be advised that you can only bring two pets.
  • Certain dog breeds are not allowed in the UAE such as Pit-bulls and other similar breeds of “fighting dogs.” For a complete list, you can view this document.
  • Your pet must be microchipped.

Beware of the Heat

The UAE is a desert country. Temperatures can often soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind when bringing your pets to the UAE. If moving during the hottest months, June – August, consider having your pets only travel at night so there is no risk of overheating while in transport.

If you have a cold-weather breed dog (large with thick fur) consider how they may fare in such extreme temperatures. All homes have air conditioning, but walks during the day may be hard.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: July 19, 2019
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