International Standards

General Standards

The main mission of the UAE is to develop the national economy and create a pro-business environment that contributes to achieve balanced and sustainable development of the country, through the enactment and modernization of economic legislations, foreign trade policies, development of national industries and exports, promotion of investment, regulation of competition and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, protection of consumer and intellectual property rights, and diversification of economic activities, under the leadership of efficient nationals, in line with international standards of creativity, excellence and knowledge economies. In order to protect the economy and expand the market, the government of the UAE has established a number of international trade standards which has to be respected by every importer or exporter.

Import is the process of bringing goods into the UAE from a foreign country, from one of the Emirates’ free trade zones, or vice versa into a free trade zone from a UAE ‘onshore’ location, while meeting the country’s legal requirements in terms of licensing, documentation and permissions. This last point about licensing is important to allow you to be an importer. It includes having a valid trade license issued by a UAE license issuing authority and being registered with the Customs department. 

Export is the process of sending goods and services produced domestically to another country, or between UAE free zones and ‘onshore’ companies. Export brings the main income and plays a very important role in the country’s economy.



In order to import or export any kind of products, the importer/exporter has to prepare a vide range of documents, required by the Customs department. UAE health authorities require Islamic Slaughter Certification for all shipments of international food products containing meat and poultry. An Original Slaughter Certificate and Original Halal Products Certificate must be issued by an approved Halal centre in the country of origin. 


1. A customs-authorized bill of entry

This certificate is a must as it proves that the trade process is legal.

2. Commercial invoice

All imports of goods and services must have their commercial invoice stamped and legalised by government from origin of export. Without this document companies will be fined and goods may be rejected from entry.

The sea or air freight have a special standard transport document for import or export of the products. Road hauliers normally design their own bills of lading. A five per cent customs duty payment is levied at the point of entry, which in the case of the UAE is either at the Oman or Saudi Arabian border post. 


In the case of special shipments, additional rules apply which include the following:

- All food and beverages need pre-approval from the food control department of the concerned UAE municipality. The approval permit should be attached to the shipment for customs clearance. All food products also need to show the dates of manufacture and expiration on the packaging and box in both Arabic and English.

- All pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and similar products need an import permit, issued by the UAE Ministry of Health. This should be attached to the freight upon its arrival into the UAE.

- When importing live animals, the importer should obtain prior written approval from Ministry of Environment.

- All wireless communication equipment, with the exception of mobile phones, needs special permission from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, and in some emirates also from the Police/CID.

For food, pharmaceuticals and certain cosmetics, an appropriate vehicle may be required with cold storage facilities or temperature control depending on the consignment. 



Through export credit insurance, a company can control the risk of payment defaults. In this way, exporters that adhere to the terms of the relevant purchase orders/ sales contracts can be certain of receiving either payments from importers or indemnifications from the export credit insurance company, at the rate and within the time specified in its respective policy/policies. Export credit insurance, also known as foreign accounts receivable insurance, protects your business against the failure of your overseas importer to pay its debts due to insolvency or failure to pay within the defined time frame. 

The two main forms of short-term credit insurance policies, ensuring that all types of payment are covered are:

1. Documentary credit insurance policy- designed for a company that exports under letters of credit from unsecured issuing banks such as small banks, or banks that are located in high-risk countries. This type of policy covers commercial and political risks for transactions under irrevocable letters of credit.

2. Whole insurable turnover policy- designed for a company that exports under documents against payment (DP), documents against acceptance (DA) and open account (OA). This type of policy provides more security when exporting to buyers under these payment terms in over 170 countries around the world.



Labeling requirements in the UAE apply mainly to toys, cigarettes, and food.  All warning labels on toys are required to be in Arabic or in Arabic and English.  Cigarette packages require a special health warning in Arabic.  ESMA has released labeling requirements for energy efficiency, in particular for air conditioning units and appliances  

Additionally, ESMA implements the voluntary Emirates Quality Mark (EQM).  EQM is a mark of conformity granted to products that comply with the relevant U.A.E. National Standards, regional (GCC/GSO) and/or international standards and are manufactured by an organization implementing an effective Quality Management System to ensure continuous compliance. The process of achieving the license to use the Emirates Quality Mark involves a comprehensive evaluation of the product as well as the quality system used by the manufacturer in production through testing, inspection. Further information on EQM can be found at:  



Abu Dhabi:

Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA)

P.O. Box 2166, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

Phone: +971 2 671 1110 / +971 2 676 3743

Fax: +971 2 671 5999





Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA)

P.O. Box 48666, Dubai, U.A.E.

Phone: +971 4 294 9909

Fax: +971 4 294 4112



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