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How to export from Pakistan to the UAE

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The robust trade dynamics between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been underpinning the strategic relationship of the two countries for years. The UAE stands tall as Pakistan's third-largest trade partner, following China and the United States, official figures reveal. 

South Asian policymakers also find the UAE an ideal export destination due to its geographical proximity, which significantly cuts transportation and freight expenses, enabling smooth commercial exchanges. In 2022, the trade between these two nations was valued at a whopping US$10.6 billion, with forecasts predicting this to double by the end of 2023. 

Free trade zones here promise full foreign ownership, swift registration, and state-of-the-art logistical support, typically organised based on industry sectors. These include enticing tax breaks and myriad benefits to businesses. 

In 2021, Pakistan's prime exports to the UAE included meat, cereals, clothes, edible fruits and nuts, textiles, and fuels. By 2022, cereals, clothing, and meat emerged as the top sectoral exports you can sell in the UAE.

Strengthening bilateral ties through trade

The recent “preliminary” free trade agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) marks a significant stride in their economic cooperation, especially with favourable trade terms. This move follows discussions between both parties, aiming to bolster Pakistan's exports to the six-member GCC bloc that comprises nations like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. 

Pakistani businesses stand to gain a lot by exploring and leveraging the expansive UAE market. Building on this momentum, the door is now wide open for Pakistani enterprises to forge deeper relations, tap into diverse market segments, and position themselves as preferred trade partners in the Gulf region. 

With a renewed focus on collaboration and strategic alliances, the FTA serves as a foundation for a prosperous and enduring trade relationship between Pakistan and the GCC nations.

If you’re keen to take on the opportunity, we take you through a comprehensive guide to navigating the requirements and procedures when exporting to the UAE market, ensuring a seamless and profitable trading experience.

What to take note of when shipping from Pakistan to the UAE

1. Customs duties & taxes

When shipping to the UAE, the customs duty rate is generally 5% of the goods' value, including Cost Freight Insurance. For items like alcohol, it's 50% and a staggering 100% for cigarettes

However, there are exceptions. Passengers' personal belongings are exempt from customs fees provided the value of gifts, perfumes, and personal luggage doesn't exceed AED3,000. These items should be limited in quantity and not appear commercial. 

When the new FTA comes into effect, these tariffs may be reduced or eliminated.

2. Prohibited & restricted goods

Distinguishing between prohibited and restricted items is paramount for businesses aiming to navigate the customs and regulations of the UAE with ease.

In essence, prohibited items are completely forbidden from entering the UAE, no matter the circumstances. These are items that the UAE considers potentially harmful, offensive, or against its core values. 

Prohibited items in the UAE include:

  • Narcotic substances, including controlled or recreational drugs
  • Illegally copied or pirated materials
  • Forged money or counterfeit currency
  • Items or tools associated with sorcery, black magic, or witchcraft
  • Art pieces or publications that might offend Islamic principles or teachings
  • Equipment or tools meant for gambling

On the other hand, restricted items can enter the country, but under stringent conditions and usually require specific permissions or licences. Restricted items in the UAE and the authorising bodies include:

Restricted goods

Authorising party

Flora and fauna, including live animals, plants; as well as fertilisers and pesticides

Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

Armament-related items such as weapons, bullets, explosives, and pyrotechnics

Ministry of Defence

Armed Forces

Ministry of Interior

Medicinal products, drugs, and related apparatus

Ministry of Health and Prevention

Media content and associated items

Ministry of Culture and Youth

Items related to nuclear energy

Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation

Communication equipment, including wireless and transmission devices

Ministry of Interior

Alcoholic beverages

Ministry of Interior/Dubai Police

Beauty and self-care products, including cosmetics

Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology

E-cigarettes and modern hookah devices

Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology

Brand-new tires for vehicles

Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology

When shipping from Pakistan to the UAE, liaising with local customs authorities is indispensable to ensure compliance. Relevant authorities include:

  • General Administration of Customs, Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai Customs
  • Department of Seaports and Customs, Sharjah
  • Department of Ports and Customs, Ajman
  • Customs Department, Ras Al Khaimah
  • Fujairah Customs Department

3. Documents

Navigating the documentation process is a critical step when shipping from Pakistan to the UAE. Ensuring every document is in place facilitates a smooth customs clearance. Here are the principal documents required for importing shipments:

  • Export company's origin invoice: It should bear the official company stamp and an authorised signature, affirming the authenticity of the goods being shipped.
  • Packing list: This document provides details about the quantity of each item and the manner in which they are packed when exported from Pakistan.
  • Jewellery studding details: If you're shipping jewellery, a detailed list that highlights the studding specifics is mandatory.
  • Import licence: Secured from the UAE authorities, this document grants permission for goods to be imported into the country.
  • Air waybill: This is a vital document issued by the air carrier, often an airline. It acts as a receipt for goods and details the terms of shipment. 

Equipped with these documents, businesses can confidently approach the shipping process, ensuring their products reach their destination without undue delay.

4. Packaging

Product packaging is an important aspect of ensuring goods are not only protected during transit but also presented in a manner that appeals to and meets the standards of the target market. 

Understanding UAE's packaging requirements is paramount for a hassle-free export experience. 

Mandatory labelling information (in Arabic or Arabic/English):

  • Product and brand names
  • Lot identification/number
  • Production and expiry dates (printed on the original label)
  • Country of origin, manufacturer's name, and address
  • Storage instructions
  • Net weight (in metric units)
  • Ingredients and additives (listed in descending order; use of “E” numbers accepted)
  • Fats and oils used
  • Barcode, and names of the food, packer, or importer
  • Relevant warnings and nutritional details

Special considerations

  • Cultural sensitivity: Adapt designs to respect cultural norms and values.
  • Halal compliance: Products with animal fats should be from Halal-slaughtered animals. Pork-related items must clearly state their content and are typically restricted to designated sections in stores.
  • Pet foods: Arabic labels stating “Not fit for human consumption" are compulsory. Both production and expiry dates are necessary.
  • Genetically modified organism (GMO) & organic claims: Products labelled "GMO-Free" need verification from the country of origin. Organic claims require appropriate certification. UAE accepts the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic logo.
  • Halal certification: If a product claims to be halal, a certificate from an approved US halal certifier is required. Details can be found on the Dubai Municipality website.

By ensuring your products meet these standards, you're paving the way for smooth transactions and potential growth in the UAE market.

The crucial role of shipping and logistics

In the world of exports, logistics play a pivotal role in ensuring success. Efficient logistics streamline processes, made possible with intuitive tools like MyDHL+ and DHL Express Commerce. This helps to ensure timely deliveries and satisfied clients.

DHL Express Pakistan, with its global reputation in international priority shipping, has been a cornerstone in facilitating exports from Pakistan to the UAE, ensuring businesses thrive and relationships flourish. Couple this with favourable shipping rates, and you can expect a smooth and fulfilling trade experience.

Get started with a business account and discover how a reliable logistics partner can elevate your export endeavours, optimise your operations, and help tap into new markets with confidence.