A Complete Guide for Shipping from Europe to UAE




The world of commerce is abuzz with the growing trade connection between Europe and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This dynamic partnership offers a wealth of opportunities for businesses and individuals alike. Whether you're a European entrepreneur looking to tap into the vibrant UAE market, or a UAE resident seeking high-quality European goods, shipping from Europe to UAE has become easier and more efficient than ever before.

This surge in trade is fueled by several factors. European nations boast a rich tradition of manufacturing and innovation, offering a vast array of products desired by UAE consumers. From luxury fashion to cutting-edge technology, European goods hold a strong reputation for quality and craftsmanship. On the other hand, the UAE's strategic location and booming economy make it a natural hub for European imports.

Understanding Your Shipping Needs: Cost vs. Speed

The two main factors that will influence your shipping from Europe to UAE experience are cost and speed. Let's unpack these key considerations to help you make an informed decision.

  • Cost-Conscious Courier:

If budget is your main concern, opting for sea freight might be the champion for you. Sea travel offers the most economical way to ship from Europe to UAE. While transit times can range from a week to several weeks depending on the route, the significant cost savings make it an attractive option for bulky or non-perishable items.

  • Need for Speed?

Time is of the essence? Then buckle up for the world of air freight! Shipping from Europe to UAE via air offers a significantly faster delivery window, often reaching its destination within a few days. This speedy service is ideal for time-sensitive items like business documents, perishable goods, or that must-have outfit for a special occasion.

Popular Routes for Shipping from Europe to UAE

Now that you've weighed the cost vs. speed factors, it's time to delve into the exciting world of routes and options for your shipping from Europe to UAE journey.

  • The Aerial Highway: Air Freight Routes

For those seeking the fastest shipping from Europe to UAE, air freight reigns supreme. Major European hubs like London, Frankfurt, and Paris boast well-established air routes to Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). These routes offer swift delivery times, often within 2-4 business days, making them ideal for urgent cargo.

  • The Maritime Majesty: Sea Freight Routes

For budget-conscious adventurers or those shipping large, non-perishable items, sea freight provides a reliable and cost-effective alternative for shipping from Europe to UAE. The most common sea route originates from major European ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg, and terminates at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, the largest man-made port in the Middle East. 

  • Landlocked Links: Exploring Alternatives

While air and sea freight are the dominant players, there are additional options for shipping from Europe to UAE depending on your specific needs and location. For landlocked European countries or those seeking a more multimodal approach, combining road and sea freight can be a viable option. This method involves transporting goods by truck to a major European port for onward shipment by sea to the UAE.

Air Freight vs. Sea Freight for Europe to UAE shipping 

Key differences to help you pick the champion for your Europe to UAE shipping adventure.

  • Air Freight:

It's the undisputed king of speed when it comes to Europe to UAE shipping. Your shipment will typically reach its UAE destination within a jaw-dropping 2-4 business days. This lightning-fast delivery makes air freight ideal for time-sensitive cargo like essential medical supplies, perishables with a short shelf life, or urgent business documents.

However, speed comes at a price. Air freight is significantly more expensive than sea freight.

  • Sea Freight:

While it may not be the speediest option for Europe to UAE shipping, sea freight offers exceptional value for your money. This method shines for large, non-perishable items where weight isn't a major concern. Think furniture, building materials, or bulk quantities of goods.

While budget-friendly, sea freight has its limitations. The extended travel time might not be suitable for urgent shipments. Additionally, sea freight can be more susceptible to unforeseen delays caused by weather conditions or port congestion.

Documentation for Goods Shipping from Europe to UAE

Conquering the world of Europe to UAE imports requires navigating the essential paperwork. Don't worry, though, it's not an insurmountable obstacle! Here's a breakdown of the key documents you'll likely need for a smooth customs clearance process:

  • The Essential Trio:

  1. Commercial Invoice: This document acts as the financial heart of your shipment. It should clearly detail the items being shipped, their descriptions, quantities, unit prices, and total value.

  2. Packing List: This document provides a breakdown of the contents of your shipment. List each item individually, including its description, weight, and dimensions (e.g., length, width, height).

  3. Bill of Lading (Air Waybill): Consider this the official passport for your goods. Issued by your chosen courier service, it serves as a contract of carriage, outlining the origin, destination, details of the shipment, and the agreed-upon transportation charges.

  • Depending on Your Shipment:

  1. Certificate of Origin: This document verifies the country where your goods were manufactured. It might be required by UAE customs authorities for certain products.

  2. Import Permit: Specific goods like hazardous materials or certain agricultural products might require a special import permit from the relevant UAE authorities.

  3. Additional Certificates: For perishable items, a health certificate issued by the exporting country's government might be necessary.

Packing Tips for a Secure Shipping Journey

Now it's time to focus on ensuring your precious cargo arrives safe and sound. Here are some essential packing tips to transform you into a Europe to UAE import packing pro:

  • Choosing the Right Box:

Selection is key! Opt for sturdy cardboard boxes specifically designed for shipping. Flimsy cardboard is a recipe for disaster on a long journey. Ensure the boxes are the appropriate size for your items, leaving enough room for packing materials without excessive strain on the box itself.

  • The Art of Padding:

Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and air cushions are your best friends! Use generous amounts of cushioning material to protect your items from bumps and jostles during transport. Fragile items deserve extra TLC. 

  • Labelling Like a Pro:

Clear and concise labelling is vital. Affix clear labels to all sides of your boxes, including the recipient's address in the UAE, your return address in Europe, and a clear description of the contents. Don't forget to mark any fragile items as such.

Navigating UAE Regulations

Your Europe to UAE shipment import has embarked on its journey, expertly packed and documented. Now, it's time to navigate the world of UAE customs regulations.

  • Understanding Duty:

The UAE levies a duty (tax) on most imported goods. The rate typically falls around 5% of the shipment's value, which includes the cost of the goods, insurance, and freight (CIF value). However, certain items like alcohol and tobacco carry significantly higher duty rates.

  • The Power of Paperwork:

Remember those essential documents we discussed earlier? They come into play again during customs clearance. Ensure you have all the required paperwork readily available, including the commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading (air waybill), and any additional certificates relevant to your specific shipment.

  • The Role of a Customs Broker:

While you can navigate customs clearance yourself, consider enlisting the help of a licensed UAE customs broker. These experts possess a deep understanding of customs regulations and can handle the paperwork on your behalf, saving you valuable time and potential headaches.

  • The Green, Yellow, and Red Channels:

Upon arrival at the UAE port, your shipment will be directed through a designated customs channel based on its value and contents:

  1. Green Channel: For low-value shipments (typically below AED 3,000) with personal items, you might be able to clear customs through a simplified process.

  2. Yellow Channel: This channel handles shipments requiring document verification by customs officials.

  3. Red Channel: Shipments requiring further inspection or containing restricted items will be directed here for a more thorough examination.


  • Transparency is Key:

Discrepancies can lead to delays and potential penalties. If you're unsure about any aspect of customs regulations, don't hesitate to consult with your chosen courier service or a UAE customs broker.

By understanding UAE customs regulations, ensuring proper documentation, and potentially considering the assistance of a customs broker, you can pave the way for a smooth and efficient Europe to UAE shipment import experience.

Duties and Taxes on Goods Shipping from Europe to UAE

There's one more financial hurdle to consider: duties and taxes. Let's break down what you might encounter upon arrival:

  • Understanding Duty Rates:

The UAE generally imposes a duty (tax) on most imported goods. This duty is typically calculated as a percentage of the shipment's CIF value, which includes the cost of the goods, insurance, and freight. The good news? The standard duty rate for most products sits around 5%. This means for every AED 100 worth of cargo from Europe to UAE, you can expect to pay an additional AED 5 in duty.

  • Knowing Your Exemptions:

There's always a silver lining! Certain items are exempt from import duty in the UAE. These typically include personal effects for residents, educational materials, and some medical equipment. It's always a good idea to check the UAE government's official customs website for a comprehensive list of duty-exempt items.

Insurance Options for Your Valuable Cargo from Europe to UAE

Even the most meticulous planning can't guarantee a completely smooth journey for your cargo from Europe to UAE. Unexpected events like accidents, theft, or even bad weather can occur during transport. This is where cargo insurance steps in

  • Peace of Mind with Coverage:

Cargo insurance provides financial protection in case of loss or damage to your cargo from Europe to UAE during its journey. It offers invaluable peace of mind, knowing that even if the unexpected happens, you'll be compensated for the value of your goods.

  • Tailored Coverage Options:

Cargo insurance isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Here's a breakdown of some common coverage types:

  1. All Risks: This comprehensive coverage protects your cargo against physical loss or damage from virtually any cause during transport, from fire and theft to collision and weather events.

  2. Free on Board (FOB) or Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF): These terms determine who is responsible for obtaining cargo insurance. FOB typically means the seller is responsible until the goods are loaded onto the ship, while CIF indicates the seller covers insurance until the goods reach the UAE port.


  • Considering the Value:

For high-value cargo, opting for comprehensive all-risk coverage might be a wise investment. However, for less valuable goods, a named perils policy might offer sufficient protection at a more affordable rate.

  • Safeguarding Your Shipment:

By investing in cargo insurance, you're essentially safeguarding your financial investment in your cargo from Europe to UAE. In the unfortunate event of a mishap, insurance can help you recoup your losses and minimize the financial impact.

Tracking Your Shipment

Thankfully, modern technology comes to the rescue with the power of shipment tracking.

  • Real-Time Updates:

Most reputable courier services offer user-friendly online tracking tools. These allow you to enter your unique shipment reference number and access real-time updates on the whereabouts of your goods shipping from Europe to UAE.

  • Detailed Tracking Information:

The information provided by tracking tools can be quite detailed. You might see updates like:

  1. Date and time of pick-up from the origin in Europe

  2. Arrival at transit locations

  3. Customs clearance status in the UAE

  4. Estimated delivery date and time


  • Keeping Track of Multiple Shipments:

If you're a frequent shipper, some tracking tools allow you to track multiple shipments simultaneously using a single login. This provides a convenient way to monitor all your goods shipping from Europe to UAE in one centralized location.  

Door-to-Door or Terminal Pick-Up

Two main delivery options are available, each catering to different needs and preferences. Let's explore your choices:

  • Door-to-Door Convenience:

This is the ultimate in convenience offered by the door-to-door delivery option. The courier service will handle all customs clearance procedures and deliver your shipment directly to the address you specify within the UAE. This is a perfect option for those who value ease and time-saving solutions.

Benefits of Door-to-Door Delivery:

  1. Convenience: Receive your shipment directly at your location, eliminating the need to travel to a pick-up terminal.

  2. Time-saving: No need to schedule a separate pick-up time – the delivery happens at your convenience.

  3. Security: The courier service assumes responsibility for your goods until they are delivered directly to you.


  • Terminal Pick-Up: A Cost-Effective Option:

For those on a budget or those who prefer to pick up their shipment themselves, terminal pick-up offers a cost-effective alternative. Once your goods shipping from Europe to UAE clears customs, the courier service will notify you that it's ready for collection at their designated terminal within the UAE.

Benefits of Terminal Pick-Up:

  1. Cost-effective: This option typically comes at a lower price point compared to door-to-door delivery.

  2. Faster Potential Delivery: Since customs clearance often happens at the origin airport in Europe for terminal pick-up, you might receive your shipment a day or two earlier than with door-to-door delivery (depending on your location within the UAE).

By understanding the advantages and considerations of each option, you can make an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your needs.

Prohibited and Restricted on Items Shipping from Europe to UAE

Before you pack your bags (or boxes) for your items shipping from Europe to UAE adventure, it's crucial to understand the UAE's regulations on prohibited and restricted goods. Trying to ship banned items can lead to delays, confiscation, and even hefty fines, so let's make sure your shipment sails smoothly through customs.

  • Forbidden Cargo:

The UAE enforces a strict ban on certain categories of items. Here are some of the main no-nos for your items shipping from Europe to UAE endeavour:

  1. Illegal substances: This includes all narcotics, drugs, and any paraphernalia associated with their use.

  2. Weapons and ammunition: Firearms, explosives, knives exceeding specific length limitations, and other weaponry are strictly prohibited. Even replica weapons might be confiscated.

  3. Pornography and offensive materials: Any material deemed indecent or offensive to Islamic values is banned.

  4. Counterfeit goods: Fake designer items, pirated software, and any products that infringe on intellectual property rights are not allowed.

  5. Endangered species and wildlife products: Items derived from endangered animals or plants are strictly prohibited. This includes ivory, certain animal skins, and exotic plants.


  • Restricted Items: Proceed with Caution

While not entirely banned, some items require prior approval from the relevant UAE authorities before you can ship them. Here are a few examples:

  1. Live animals and plants: Obtaining a special permit is necessary for bringing in any living creatures or flora.

  2. Certain foods and beverages: Products containing pork or violating halal guidelines might require specific permissions.

  3. Medical supplies and pharmaceuticals: Prescription medications and some medical equipment might need approval from the UAE Ministry of Health.

  4. Wireless communication devices: Certain frequencies or types of communication devices might require prior authorization.

Dijla: The Right Partner for a Smooth Shipping from Europe to UAE

Now that you're equipped with a roadmap to navigate the exciting world of shipping from Europe to UAE, you might be wondering who can be your trusty guide on this journey. Look no further than Dijla Shipping & Freight Forwarding LLC! We're a leading logistics and shipping company in Dubai, UAE, with a global network extending across Europe, China, and Iraq. Here's why Dijla is the perfect partner for your Europe to UAE shipping needs:

  • Experience at Your Service:

Dijla has been a trusted name in international shipping. We possess a wealth of experience in handling a wide variety of cargo, ensuring we can tailor our services to your specific shipment, whether it's delicate artwork, bulky machinery, or anything in between.

  • Seamless Air & Sea Freight Solutions:

We understand that every shipment has its own unique needs. Dijla offers both air and sea freight options, allowing you to choose the perfect balance between speed and cost-effectiveness for your Europe to UAE shipping. Our team of experts will work closely with you to understand your priorities and recommend the most suitable option.

  • Global Network, Local Expertise:

With established offices in Dubai, Europe, China, and strong affiliations worldwide, Dijla boasts an extensive network that can handle your shipment seamlessly from origin to destination. This global reach, coupled with our in-depth knowledge of UAE customs regulations, ensures a smooth and efficient Europe to UAE shipping experience.

  • Transparency and Communication:

At Dijla, we believe clear communication is paramount. You'll have access to a dedicated customer service representative who will keep you informed every step of the way, from pick-up in Europe to successful delivery in the UAE. We'll also provide you with real-time tracking tools so you can monitor the progress of your shipment with peace of mind.

FAQs about Shipping from Europe to UAE


The delivery time depends on the chosen shipping method. Air freight is the speediest option, typically taking 2-4 business days. Sea freight offers a more budget-friendly alternative but can take a week to a month, depending on the route and final destination within the UAE.

Yes, you'll need some essential documents for customs clearance. These typically include a commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading (air waybill), and potentially additional certificates depending on your specific shipment (e.g., certificate of origin for certain goods).


Absolutely! Most reputable courier services offer online tracking tools that allow you to monitor the whereabouts of your shipment in real-time, providing peace of mind throughout its journey from Europe to the UAE.


While not mandatory, cargo insurance is highly recommended. It offers valuable financial protection in case of loss or damage to your goods during transport. Consider the value of your shipment and choose an insurance plan that aligns with your needs.


You can choose between door-to-door delivery, where the courier service handles customs clearance and delivers your shipment directly to your address in the UAE, or terminal pick-up, where you collect your shipment from a designated terminal after customs clearance. Door-to-door offers convenience but might be slightly more expensive, while terminal pick-up is a more budget-friendly option but requires you to arrange collection.