All About Starting an Import - Export Business in Abu Dhabi

by Zaara 02, Nov 2020

Since 1996, the UAE has been a member of the World Commerce Organization; the government promotes open commercial and maintains healthy trade ties with nations all over the world. The UAE has evolved as a vital international trading centre between East and West due to its open economy, favourable business climate, and continuing economic growth.

Abu Dhabi being the capital is actively participating in crude oil, natural gas, re-exports, dried fish, and dates export. Added to that, its imports include machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, and food.

Import and export industry in UAE

The UAE's import and export business is thriving due to the following factors:

·        The UAE is one of the greatest areas to establish a business.

·        It is strategically located between Africa, Asia, and Europe.

·        Because of its central location, it is easy to travel to and from any place in the world.

·        Both air and maritime routes are well-connected worldwide.

·        It has an excellent time zone, allowing for seamless integration and cooperation of eastern and western countries.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a rapidly expanding metropolis. For business set up in Abu Dhabi, it is better to seek the assistance of third-party advisors to ensure a smooth procedure.

Do you Want to be a Part of One of the Many Importers in Abu Dhabi? Check this out

The firm owner may purchase any goods from other nations or establish a business in the UAE (import/export business) that requires a valid import license. Importing from the UAE also facilitates travel from one of the Emirates' free trade zones to a Free trade zone in the UAE region by completing its legal criteria for permits and documentation.

The UAE is severe in dealing with prohibited commodities and the unlawful import of restricted items into the UAE. There are certain things that you should give an eye to if you want to be an importer in Abu Dhabi.

·        To begin, upon the arrival of the goods, the Bill of Lading must be presented, and any dues incurred by the importer must be paid.

·        The shipping host must issue the delivery order 3-4 days before the vessel arrives, and the Cargo inspection must be completed within that time frame.

·        The Import Declaration form must be submitted online, and the importer is responsible for any connected payments.

·        Following this, the corporation will be awarded a certificate of customs declaration of import.

·        In rare cases, Customs will inspect the appropriate documentation as well as the vessel before releasing the items to Cargo.

·        Following approval from the Customs Department, the importer can choose a transport provider to receive goods delivery.

·        In the case of an additional inspection, the container must proceed to the inspection area of the relevant authorities, and the vessel may leave the premises only after receiving clearance from them.

Be it an Importer in Abu Dhabi or to Participate in Abu Dhabi Exports – Below Documents are a Mandate

For both working on Abu Dhabi Exports business or getting a license for importers in Abu Dhabi, the below documents need to be in place.

·        Declaration for the clearance of goods

·        A sale invoice from a licensed business in the nation, displaying total quantity, description, and the entire and exact value of each goods, should be addressed to a firm outside the country.

·        For airport customs entry points, instructions for the Declaration of Goods Application (IDG) or a permitted export declaration certificate issued by a licensing body in the country on behalf of a licensed enterprise.

·        If the exporting items are limited, obtain export clearance from relevant bodies.

Things to Note While Starting an Abu Dhabi Export Office

When a business owner wishes to export items and services created locally in another nation or between the free zones in Abu Dhabi, he or she must get an Abu Dhabi export licence. Your Abu Dhabi export office, to function successfully, needs approval from the Ministry and an authorised licence.

It should also be noted that if the items are sent to any of the UAE's Free Trade Zones, they will not be subject to customs duties. Despite the fact that the Free Trade Zone is a vital component of the UAE, it does not fall under customs territory.

·        Submit the required documentation to the Customs Office.

·        The export declaration processing charge must be paid at the customs office.

·        The agency issues a customs declaration certificate.

Procedure to get Both Import and Export Abu Dhabi License

There is a set of process one needs to follow to get both import and export Abu Dhabi license

Structure and Activity

Choose your company activity from the DED operation list. Choose a legislative form (business structure). Your company's legal structure must be appropriate for the operations it has undertaken. It will be a limited liability corporation in this scenario.

Trade Name Approval

Use the trade name and obtain DED approval. You must choose at least three names for your firm.

Initial Approval

Submit to DED for preliminary approval. This permission signifies that the UAE government has no objections regarding business establishment in the UAE. The following actions must be taken in order for this to be finished.


Prepare and execute an MOA or LSA Agreement. The Memorandum or Local Service Agent Agreement must be signed by both the partner and the local sponsor.

Deploy Agent

Businesses owned entirely by residents from outside the GCC require the services of a local service agent.

Office Space

Create a company setup location. For offices or stores, a leasing agreement/tenancy contract must be given. Additional clearances may be required depending on the business.

License Issuance

Pay the charges and collect business licenses. Get it at the DED website or in person.

If you have chosen to start a business in Abu Dhabi (import and export), you should seek the advice of consultants, considering the intricacy involved in the process.

Commitbiz Consultants is regarded as one of the leading industry consultants in Dubai. Commitbiz regularly assists clients from across the world in establishing businesses in Dubai and the other UAE Emirates.

Our professionals have years of expertise in understanding customer needs and assisting them with business establishment. Please contact us if you have any questions. We are delighted to assist!


Is import business in Abu Dhabi profitable?

Yes, Abu Dhabi imports many products from machinery, transport equipment etc. So, it is profitable.

Is export business profitable in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, UAE exports many products like oil, natural gas, dates, etc. Hence it is profitable.

What license is required for importers in Abu Dhabi?

You need a proper trade license to be an importer in Abu Dhabi.

What is the cost of an Abu Dhabi import/export license?

The fee starts from AED 10000

How long will it take to get an import-export license in Abu Dhabi?

It generally takes 2 to 4 business days.