Navigating Customs and Immigration Procedures: Guidelines for UAE Travelers

Navigating Customs and Immigration Procedures: Guidelines for UAE Travelers

Navigating Customs and Immigration Procedures: Guidelines for UAE Travelers

Written By Arabiers Digital & Reviewed by Robeena Brown

May 22, 2024 | 13 min read

Are you a visitor planning to visit the UAE? If you have already gotten your UAE tourist visa, then you need to know the customs and immigration process when at a UAE airport so that you will have an easy time. Any time you are entering the UAE, you must get cleared by the immigration and customs departments and then you will proceed with your journey.


Preparing for Travel


Researching the Customs Regulations

Before you get into a UAE airport, you must first understand how the country’s customs work. The ICP is the federal entity that is does customs procedures, inspection, control, tariffs and customs data.

You will find customs offices in the airports, seaports and all entry points on the land borders which you use to enter or exit the country. The customs department checks the luggage you are coming in with, determines whether you should pay taxes for it or not, and they also watch out if you bring anything that is banned in the UAE.

Gathering the necessary Documents

When you enter the UAE you must give the immigration officers at the port of entry your travel documents so that they can verify if you are allowed to enter the country. You should give the immigration officers the following documents at the airport when you are asked:

  • Your visa
  • Your passport
  • Your national ID
  • Your travel itinerary for UAE

Arrival at the Airport


When you arrive at a UAE airport, you should go to the immigration counter first, where they will check all your travel documents to ensure you are travelling legally and that you have all the documents. The officer that is attending to you there will ask you to give them your passport, which they will check its validity and also the visa stamp and also other documents so make sure you have them with you.

Remember if you are planning to travel in and out of the UAE it is better to get the UAE multiple entry tourist visa because it allows you to enter and exit the country several times.

The officials at the airport may ask you some questions and also ask you about other documents such as your travel itinerary. When you are cleared at the immigration you can then proceed to enter the country.

If you are an Indian, you will do a biometrics and retina scan at the airport for security purposes.

UAE Smart Gates

The UAE airports has upgraded smart gates that allow people arriving through the Dubai airport to pass through passport control within seconds. When passing through the gates, you should remove your mask, glasses and caps and place them in a tray so that the biometric technology can clearly identify your face.

Smart Gates are available to UAE citizens, Emiratis, GCC citizens, tourists from the Schengen Union and people with a on-arrival visa that have a biometric passport.


Custom Clearance Process


Navigating Customs and Immigration Procedures: Guidelines for UAE Travelers

If you are arriving in the UAE and you are carrying cash or valuables like precious stones and metals that exceed AED 6,000 or an equivalent amount in a different currency, you must declare it to the customs authorities. Some items are not allowed in the UAE and others even if they are allowed, certain amounts of it are not accepted.

If the traveler is below 18 years, the amount in their possession will be added to the allowed limit of their parent or guardian or the person accompanying them.

Items that are Exempted from Customs Duties

You need to find out the items that are allowed in the UAE, ones that are prohibited and the ones that you should first have clearance before coming to the UAE.


Transit Procedures


If you are laying over in the UAE waiting to travel to another country, you need to apply for either the 48 hours or the 96 hours’ transit visa. You should apply for the visa before you arrive at the airport so that you can have an easy time checking in and out of the airport for your next journey.

With the valid transit visa, you are allowed to leave the airport and tour the UAE as you wait for the flight that is connecting your journey. You should however return to the airport early to allow enough time so that you can have enough time to go through the immigration and customs.


Departure Procedures


Even when you are leaving the UAE, you must also first clear with the immigration and customs at your departure point. Ensure that whatever is in your luggage meet the rules ad regulations of the UAE customs.

You first need to confirm the time your flight will be leaving and the terminal from which the flight will be leaving the airport so that you can arrive at the airport early enough and check-in.


Tips for Smooth Travelling in the UAE


1. Arrive early at the airport

Whether you are travelling in or out of the UAE, make sure you arrive at the airport early enough to avoid rushing because you must go through the immigration and get cleared before you board the flight. Arrive there at least 2 hours before your flight time to allow enough time to check in and go through customs and immigration.

2. Research about the customs rules

find out the items that are prohibited in the UAE and avoid carrying them. Also, you should know the limits from certain items such as the quantity that is allowed and if you need a permit so that you can go there prepared.

3. Have your travel documents near

Pack your passport, and visa if you need a prearranged one, ID, and all the other travel documents in your carry-on bag so that when you are asked for them you access them easily. Also, empty your pockets before going through the metal detector.

4. Check-in from home

You may check in for your flight when still at home even up to 7 hours before your flight time. Check-in your bags, choose your seat, collect your boarding pass and luggage tags from home and skip the queues without the bags and you will collet them at the destination baggage belt.

5. Follow instructions from the officials

Do whatever the immigration or the customs officers asks you to do. If they ask for something just give it to them and if they need you to remove a clothing or accessory, just do so without complaining.


Common Mistakes to Avoid


  1. Failing to declare items that you are travelling with
  2. Ignoring the luggage limits and rules for packing liquids
  3. Arriving at the airport with items that are prohibited in the UAE
  4. Arriving late at the airport
  5. If you do not prepare for security checks