Logistic and forwarding services in the United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

Capital City
Abu Dhabi

9.3 Mio

National languages


Gross national product (GNP)
USD 400 Mrd.

GNP per person
USD 43’000

Financial exports to Switzerland
CHF 4’033 Mio.

Financial imports from Switzerland
CHF 3’486 Mio.

Bilateral relations Switzerland–United Arab Emirates

Relations between Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are primarily of an economic nature. Thanks to regular high-level visits as well as bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU), bilateral cooperation has also been developed in other areas.

Economic cooperation

The United Arab Emirates is today one of Switzerland’s most important economic partners in the Middle East. Dubai in particular, one of the constituent emirates and a dynamic trading hub linking the Asian, African and European continents, has attracted the regional headquarters of many Swiss companies thanks to its advantageous geographical location and business-friendly investment conditions.
Swiss exports to the United Arab Emirates have grown strongly in parallel with the economic boom in the country.   Switzerland is currently running a substantial trade surplus with the United Arab Emirates. It exports mostly precious stones and metals, jewellery and watches, as well as machinery and pharmaceutical products.  It imports mainly precious stones, precious metals and jewellery.


Business language

Arabic, English.

Dimensions and weights

Metric system.


UAE Dirham (DH) = 100 Fils.
ISO code: AED

Customs tariff

Harmonised system based on the GCC.

Import control

Import licences are required but are mostly covered by trade licences. Foreign branches may not no business with the exception of those who have been granted a business permit.
Only importers with a special licence can import alcoholic drinks. Special import authorisation must be requested for goods such as unregistered pharmaceuticals, certain pest control substances, animals and animal products, plants, seeds and foods. There is a ban on the import of goods such as weapons and munitions, drugs, certain agricultural chemicals and goods from Israel. Imports can only be processed via officially authorised importers. Foods, cosmetics and medications should be halal certified (in other words manufacture and processing in accordance with the laws of Islam and permission for the product to be used within the Islamic faith). (More information is available from the Government Office of Non-Halal Meat, UAE, baladiat@emirates.net.ae)
There are no restrictions on foreign currency transactions.

Terms of payment and tenders

Delivery on provision of an irrevocable letter of credit with a confirmed order to the supplier’s own bank is standard. In exceptional cases documents against payment is possible. Tenders in USD, GBP, EUR or Dirham in English or Arabic.

Designations of origin

No special regulations. When sending shipments do not use “Persian Gulf”, at most use “Arabian Gulf”. Where possible avoid referring to the gulf. Ask the recipient for instructions about this. References to cautious treatment of the goods should ideally be in Arabic, potentially in English.


Seaworthy packaging. Ask the recipient in advance about the use of hay and straw. The date of manufacture and shelf life must be indicated on the packaging of foods.
Pharmaceutical products must contain a printed reference to the fact that they are harmless to health or warnings in Arabic.

Product samples

Commercial samples which cannot be sold as commercial goods are duty free up to a value of 1.000 Dirhams. Goods to be exhibited at trade fairs that will leave the country after no more than 1 month can be imported duty free on payment of a security. A certificate of origin must be included with all kinds of samples. The shipment of samples which are subject to duty as “product samples” is not permissible.

Shipping and accompanying documents

Boycott declarations may not be made. This means that CICs (chambers of industry and commerce) are no longer permitted to certify commercial papers if discriminatory formulations are selected. Escaping the provisions through notaries, regional courts or others administration offices is also excluded. Positive formulations therefore have to be selected such formulations only apply to the movement of goods; no regulations have yet been identified for public tenders.

Standard and:

  1. a) Commercial invoices, 4 copies in English with all standard information, country of origin, precise description of the goods, customs tariff number in accordance with the harmonised goods system, gross and net weight, unit and total price of each type of goods, total sales value, country of origin etc. Two copies of the commercial invoice must also be submitted to the consular department for legalisation. At the end of the invoice, the following signed declaration must appear: “We hereby declare that the mentioned merchandise is being exported for our own account. The goods are of pure … origin.” If the goods come from another country or several countries, this must be expressed accordingly in the clause. If the importer also expressly requires the indication of the manufacturer in the invoice, the following must be added to the declaration: “The goods are manufactured by …”. If the invoice covers several pages, the corner of these must be bent over by the exporter and bound together using an impression of the company stamp in order to demonstrate that the documents belong together.
  2. b) Certificate of origin, 1 copy with the same declaration as on the commercial invoice, each certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and legalised by the embassy. Submit 1 additional copy of the certificate of origin for the consulate.
  3. c) Postal items up to 31.5 kg: 1 international dispatch note, 2 customs declaration in English/French.
  4. d) Air freight packages up to 20 kg: 1 international dispatch note, “air mail” note, otherwise as for packages. Ship: uncertified bills of lading, indication of the notify address required.
  5. e) Detailed packing list required.
  6. f) Manufacturer’s declarations including an explanation, taking the invoice into account, of who manufactured the goods. Certification by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (1 copy remains with the Chamber) or certification by a notary is required.

“We hereby declare that the mentioned merchandise is being exported for our own account. The goods are manufactured by …” (name and full address). Consular legalisation is only carried out if the declarations are certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce or a notary. If the document is certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, no further higher certification is required before submission to the consular department. However, if the certification is carried out by a notary, the document must then be certified by the competent presiding district judge. Two copies of the declaration must be submitted to the consular department (1 copy remains in the consular department). Contracts: consular legalisation of contracts will only be carried out if prior notarial certification and higher certification by the competent presiding district judge has been carried out. Documents must be submitted by post to the right office for preliminary certification. The documents are then forwarded to the consular department of the embassy. In accordance with a communication from the import authorities in the UAE, the original commercial invoice and the certificate of origin must be legalised by the embassy for sea and air freight shipments. A stamped, addressed envelope must be enclosed for the return.
Consular fees of between EUR 40 and EUR 800 are charged (ask the Chamber of Industry and Commerce). Payment is by means of a transfer to the account of the consular department of the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, IBAN DE13 1008 0000 0510 7325 00. A copy of the proof of transfer must be attached to the documents.


Submit documents in English as early as possible and include a stamped, addressed envelope. Include the commercial invoices for legalisation by the consulate (2 copies of the commercial invoice remain with the consular department) and certificates of origin and a copy of the bill of lading, in the case of air freight a copy of the air consignment note and in each case a copy of the insurance policy. These will remain with the consular department. If insurance is not covered by the exporter, the exporter must give a suitable confirmation on headed company paper including a document from the importer stating that he is covering the insurance.