Legal Framework of Customs Operations in the UAE – an Overview
Jaber Abdulla Al Ameeri is an Emirati Lawyer who works in litigation and is licensed to plead before all UAE courts.
Jaber has extensive experience in the customs practice area, as he has worked in Dubai Customs and Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security with over 20 years of experience in the customs field.
The UAE consists of 7 local Customs Departments, with each Emirate having its own Customs Department under its jurisdiction. The General Director of each Customs Department is appointed by the Ruler of each respective Emirate, and it has its own dedicated staff responsible for customs operations. At the top of the Customs Departments’ hierarchy is the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security.
What is the law that regulates customs operations in the UAE?
The UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (the “GCC”) countries are subject to one law which is The Common Customs Law for the Arab States of the Gulf (the “Common Customs Law”). The Common Customs Law has unified customs procedures in GCC countries in accordance with the provisions and relevant agreements related to customs operations and is in line with them.
The Common Customs Law is divided into 17 chapters and contains 179 articles that make provision for the following:
- The regulation of customs operations and customs procedures for import and export operations in maritime, air, land, and postal areas subject to customs control;
- The application of customs tariffs, payment of customs duties on imported goods, stages of customs clearance, exemptions and temporary admission of goods, required documents for customs clearance, provisions for establishing free zones and markets, regulation of customs brokers, handling of customs violations and smuggling issues, and regulation of the rights and duties of customs employees;
- The establishment of free zones and markets, regulation of customs brokers, and handling customs violations and smuggling issues; and
- The rights and duties of customs employees, the relationship between Customs Departments and their stakeholders, and their relationship with other government departments in the state.
What are the goals and mandates of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security in the context of customs operations?
The objectives of the Federal Authority For Identity And Citizenship, Customs, And Port Security are to regulate and manage customs operations in the UAE in accordance with international standards and security requirements. The competencies of the Federal Authority For Identity And Citizenship, Customs, And Port Security include the following:
- Proposing and preparing policies, strategies, and legislation related to identity, nationality, passports, entry and residence of foreigners, customs, and security at ports to ensure the realization of the UAE’s directives in this regard, in coordination with the concerned authorities, and supervise their implementation after the approval of the Cabinet.
- Establishment and monitoring of the implementation of unified security and customs standards, regulations, and procedures at the national level to control the movement of people, goods, and equipment in accordance with international standards and customs security requirements, in coordination with relevant authorities;
- Preparation of unified evidence and procedures related to inspection, supervision, tariffs, customs data, and combating customs smuggling and fraud for all incoming, outgoing, and transit shipments and goods, in coordination with professional authorities;
- Management of ports, control, and inspection of travellers, incoming, outgoing, and transit shipments and goods in coordination with local customs;
- Preparation, unification, and adoption of customs risk standards and the establishment and adoption of joint rules and systems for managing customs risks in coordination with relevant authorities and monitoring and inspecting their application;
- Establishment and adoption of unified customs procedures for inspection, customs declaration, bonds, and customs licenses in coordination with relevant authorities and monitoring and inspecting the implementation of these procedures; and
- Adoption and implementation of a centralized mechanism for collecting customs duties with the GCC countries in accordance with the laws, treaties, and agreements applicable in this regard.
Which treasury receives tax revenues and fees?
In general, each Customs Department receives all revenues and fees for the customs operations that take place through it, and in turn, it submits them to the treasury of the affiliated Emirate.
However, the situation differs if the final destination of the goods imported through the Customs Department is a GCC country. In such a scenario, the customs duties are transferred from the Customs Department’s treasury to the destination country’s treasury, in accordance with the system applied in the GCC countries known as the “offset system”.
It is critical to clearly understand customs procedures and regulations, especially in the context of international trade. The customs process can be complex but may be navigated successfully with the proper guidance and in-depth understanding of the practicalities, and legal and regulatory nuances of the customs landscape of the UAE, and the wider GCC region.
For Inquiries and more information contact:
ADG Legal – Senior Advocate, Jaber Abdulla Al Ameeri
Phone: +971 4 441 2031