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International shipping guide to the UAE

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This guide will help you if your business ships, or plans to ship, commercial goods to UAE cities and their surrounds. In it, you will find the answers to your questions about:

  • Import customs clearance regulations and shipping standards
  • Air freight and ocean freight routes into the United Arab Emirates
  • Estimated shipping transit times
  • General points that will assist you when shipping to the UAE.

UAE Customs Regulations and Standards: A Brief Guide for Importers

Shipping professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to the flag of the United Arab Emirates

In many ways, the UAE import processes and relevant requirements are similar to those in most developed nations. However, the UAE does have the benefit of operating more than 30 free trade zones, for which import requirements differ, generally favorably, as compared to those applied to mainland imports.

For example, if you’re shipping products into a free trade zone, you will not have to pay any duties or VAT. Taxes and duties will only become payable for goods that you ship out of a free trade zone into the mainland areas of the UAE and the wider GCC region.

If you import goods to non-free-zone destinations, you will need to comply with the requirements of the GCC Common Customs Law. As a GCC member state, the UAE follows this overarching legislation in exercising control over imports and exports.

Key Procedural Requirements for UAE imports

Before you can ship any commercial goods to the UAE, you will need to obtain an import code from the registration department of the UAE Federal Customs Authority.

When shipping to the UAE, you, your freight forwarder, or your customs broker can usually file import declarations online, via the customs authority's automated clearance system. However, in some cases, you will have to provide an original declaration document before or after customs clear your shipment for importation.

The automated clearance service also allows for prepayment of customs duties and taxes, and perhaps even clearance of your shipment before its arrival in the UAE.

Depending on the nature of the goods you’re importing, you may need to provide conformity certificates from the country of origin, or perhaps reports from an approved laboratory.

When importing meat products, you will need to obtain a health certificate from the country of origin, along with a certificate proving that the animals’ slaughter took place according to Halal principles.

For most goods, you must pay customs duties of 5% of the shipment's CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value. Tariffs are much higher, though, for products such as alcohol and tobacco, and the government exempts some products from duty payments altogether.

You won't pay duty on products that you import to a free trade zone. However, a deposit equivalent to the amount of duty and tax might be necessary if you intend to export them later to a non-GCC country.

UAE import Documents: Typical Requirements

Shipments into the UAE must typically be accompanied by the following documents, prepared by your supplier, your business, your freight forwarding service partner, and your carrier, as appropriate:

  • A delivery order for sea or air transportation
  • A bill of lading or air waybill
  • A triplicate version of the original commercial invoice from the exporter to the importer
  • Copies of the buyer’s and seller’s trade licenses
  • Certificate of Origin for each product in the shipment
  • A packing list
  • The import customs declaration

You may need to supply other documents, depending on the type of goods you're importing. We’ve described some of the requirements in the previous section of our guide. You can find a full list of documentation requirements for different importation scenarios on the website of the relevant customs authority.

When you ship freight to the UAE with Shipa Freight, our compliance engine will help you ensure the right documents are provided to customs. It will notify you of the documentation that you must make available (such as the commercial invoice).

The compliance engine will also prompt you to provide information for documents that we complete and submit on your behalf (such as the bill of lading).

UAE Imports: Restricted and Prohibited Items

As in many countries, the UAE government, through its various agencies, places restrictions and prohibitions on the importation of specific goods categories. Here are some of the products that are restricted, along with the names of the controlling authorities:

  • Alcoholic beverages (controlled by the police in the destination state)
  • New tires (regulated by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology)
  • Radio equipment (under control of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority)
  • Printed materials (controlled by the National Media Council)
  • Pharmaceutical products (controlled by the Ministry of Health and Prevention)
  • Fireworks, arms, explosives, and ammunition (controlled by the Ministries of the Interior and Defense)

Materials and products prohibited for importation into the UAE include:

  • Goods of Israeli origin
  • E-cigarettes and electronic hookah pipes
  • Used tires
  • Gambling devices and tools
  • Nylon fishing nets
  • Narcotics
  • Items contradictory to Islamic principles

While it is the UAE government that implements the above prohibitions, you should also check that your planned imports are permitted under the GCC Common Customs Law. They might be prohibited under this legislation, even if they don’t appear in the UAE’s prohibition listings.

Ocean Freight to the UAE: Useful Information

Cargo vessel loaded with shipping containers on a calm sea with cloudy sky above, en route to the United Arab Emirates

90% of freight inbound to the Emirates arrives as ocean freight, much of it carried in shipping containers. Dubai’s Jebel Ali is the most important ocean freight port in the UAE, and is the world’s largest man-made harbor. However, you can also ship LCL and FCL ocean freight to the UAE via ports in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Both of these ports, like Jebel Ali, connect the UAE with trading partners in many overseas countries.

While most of the information in this section of our guide relates to port-to-port shipping, we provide comprehensive, door to door shipping services. Indeed, Shipa Freight is a one-stop-shop for international freight, enabling you to move your goods from the initial point of supply to their final destination.

Top Ocean Freight Shipping Lanes to the UAE

The UAE is situated at the crossroads between East and West, making it one of the busiest regions globally for ocean shipping. However, the densest flow of trade is from East to West, so most inbound FCL and LCL freight arrives in the Emirates from ports in China and Southeast Asia.

Compared with its sister ports in the UAE, Jebel Ali receives by far the highest volume of freight. It's not surprising then, that all of our top five routes terminate at Dubai's famous container gateway. Those routes, identified in no particular order, are as follows:

  • Shanghai (China) to Jebel Ali
  • Singapore to Jebel Ali
  • Hong Kong to Jebel Ali
  • Ningbo (China) to Jebel Ali
  • Busan (South Korea) to Jebel Ali

Container Shipping to the UAE: Longest and Shortest Ocean Routes

Given its central location for global transportation, the UAE is served by many lengthy ocean routes. Nevertheless, shipping from Asia and Australia tends to take less time to arrive than from the furthest-flung ports in Europe and the Americas.

One of the longest ocean freight routes brings cargo in from San Antonio in Chile, and it can take up to 65 days for a container vessel to transit between the two ports. On the other hand, you can benefit from one of the shortest routes if you ship from Singapore(another of the world's most important ports, located east of the Emirates). Containers shipping to Dubai from Singapore can reach Jebel Ali in just eight or nine days.

Primary LCL/FCL Ocean Freight Routes to the UAE

Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance only. They are not guaranteed to be precise, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate.

From the Americas

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Argentina Buenos Aires Jebel Ali 48 Days
Brazil Rio Grande Jebel Ali 46 Days
Brazil Santos Jebel Ali 40 Days
Brazil Paranagua Jebel Ali 42 Days
Brazil Navegantes Jebel Ali 44 Days
Canad Montreal Abu Dhabi 58 Days
Canada Toronto Abu Dhabi 56 Days
Canada Vancouver Abu Dhabi 34 Days
Canada Montreal Jebel Ali 52 Days
Canada Toronto Jebel Ali 51 Days
Canada Vancouver Jebel Ali 44 Days
Canada Montreal Sharjah 56 Days
Canada Toronto Sharjah 56 Days
Canada Vancouver Sharjah 35 Days
Chile San Antonio Jebel Ali 65 Days
Ecuador Guayaquil Jebel Ali 60 Days
Mexico Altamira Jebel Ali 47 Days
Mexico Manzanillo Jebel Ali 47 Days
Peru Callao Jebel Ali 64 Days
United States Houston Sharjah 62 Days
United States Houston Abu Dhabi 55 Days
United States Houston Jebel Ali 49 Days
United States Port Everglades Abu Dhabi 50 Days
United States Port Everglades Jebel Ali 48 Days
United States Port Everglades Sharjah 50 Days
United States Charleston Sharjah 45 Days
United States Charleston Abu Dhabi 49 Days
United States Charleston Jebel Ali 43 Days
United States Baltimore Jebel Ali 54 Days
United States Baltimore Abu Dhabi 59 Days
United States Baltimore Sharjah 63 Days
United States Long Beach Sharjah 46 Days
United States Long Beach Abu Dhabi 47 Days
United States Long Beach Jebel Ali 42 Days
United States Norfolk Jebel Ali 45Days
United States Norfolk Abu Dhabi 50 Days
United States Norfolk Sharjah 50 Days
United States Atlanta Sharjah 49 Days
United States Atlanta Abu Dhabi 50 Days
United States Atlanta Jebel Ali 44 Days
United States Mobile Jebel Ali 56 Days
United States Mobile Abu Dhabi 55 Days
United States Mobile Sharjah 60 Days
United States New York Sharjah 51 Days
United States New York Abu Dhabi 52 Days
United States New York Jebel Ali 46 Days
United States Seattle Jebel Ali 50 Days
United States New Orleans Abu Dhabi 54 Days
United States New Orleans Sharjah 59 Days
United States New Orleans Jebel Ali 56 Days
United States Boston Jebel Ali 50 Days
United States Boston Abu Dhabi 49 Days
United States Boston Sharjah 55 Days
United States Oakland Sharjah 49 Days
United States Oakland Abu Dhabi 45 Days
United States Oakland Jebel Ali 40 Days
United States Jacksonville Jebel Ali 42 Days
United States Jacksonville Abu Dhabi 48 Days
United States Jacksonville Sharjah 48 Days
Uruguay Montevideo Jebel Ali 51 Days

From Europe

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Austria Vienna Abu Dhabi 43 Days
Austria Vienna Sharjah 36 Days
Austria Vienna Jebel Ali 58 Days
Belgium Antwerp Jebel Ali 40 Days
Belgium Antwerp Abu Dhabi 34 Days
Belgium Antwerp Sharjah 29 Days
Bulgaria Varna Jebel Ali 56 Days
Croatia Rijeka Jebel Ali 53 Days
Croatia Rijeka Abu Dhabi 41 Days
Croatia Rijeka Sharjah 42 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Sharjah 39 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Abu Dhabi 45 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Jebel Ali 36 Days
Finland Helsinki Jebel Ali 46 Days
Finland Helsinki Abu Dhabi 45 Days
Finland Helsinki Sharjah 39 Days
Finland Kotka Sharjah 39 Days
Finland Kotka Abu Dhabi 45 Days
Finland Kotka Jebel Ali 44 Days
Finland Raumo Jebel Ali 38 Days
Finland Raumo Abu Dhabi 48 Days
Finland Raumo Sharjah 38 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Abu Dhabi 25 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Jebel Ali 19 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Sharjah 22 Days
France Le Havre Jebel Ali 18 Days
France Le Havre Abu Dhabi 27 Days
France Le Havre Sharjah 22 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Sharjah 27 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Abu Dhabi 33 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Jebel Ali 31 Days
Germany Hamburg Jebel Ali 31 Days
Germany Hamburg Abu Dhabi 33 Days
Germany Hamburg Sharjah 27 Days
Greece Athinai Sharjah 26 Days
Greece Athinai Abu Dhabi 20 Days
Greece Athinai Jebel Ali 27 Days
Greece Thessaloniki Sharjah 32 Days
Greece Thessaloniki Abu Dhabi 26 Days
Greece Thessaloniki Jebel Ali 57 Days
Greece Iraklion Jebel Ali 27 Days
Greece Iraklion Abu Dhabi 20 Days
Greece Iraklion Sharjah 26 Days
Hungary Budapest Jebel Ali 59 Days
Hungary Budapest Sharjah 38 Days
Hungary Budapest Abu Dhabi 46 Days
Ireland Dublin Jebel Ali 60 Days
Italy La Spezia Abu Dhabi 46 Days
Italy La Spezia Sharjah 41 Days
Italy Genoa Abu Dhabi 24 Days
Italy Genoa Jebel Ali 17 Days
Italy Genoa Sharjah 20 Days
Italy La Spezia Jebel Ali 35 Days
Italy Naples Jebel Ali 16 Days
Italy Ancona Sharjah 17 Days
Italy Ancona Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Italy Ancona Jebel Ali 16 Days
Italy Venice Jebel Ali 53 Days
Italy Venice Abu Dhabi 39 Days
Italy Venice Sharjah 33 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Sharjah 38 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Abu Dhabi 44 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Jebel Ali 45 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Sharjah 31 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Abu Dhabi 35 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Jebel Ali 25 Days
Norway Oslo Abu Dhabi 46 Days
Norway Oslo Jebel Ali 37 Days
Norway Oslo Sharjah 38 Days
Poland Gdynia Sharjah 41 Days
Poland Gdynia Abu Dhabi 49 Days
Poland Gdynia Jebel Ali 40 Days
Poland Gdansk Jebel Ali 40 Days
Poland Gdansk Abu Dhabi 49 Days
Poland Gdansk Sharjah 41 Days
Portugal Leixoes Jebel Ali 38 Days
Portugal Lisbon Jebel Ali 36 Days
Romania Constanta Jebel Ali 36 Days
Slovakia Bratislava Abu Dhabi 57 Days
Slovakia Bratislava Sharjah 36 Days
Slovakia Bratislava Jebel Ali 57 Days
Slovenia Koper Abu Dhabi 43 Days
Slovenia Koper Sharjah 42 Days
Slovenia Koper Jebel Ali 57 Days
Spain Vigo Jebel Ali 37 Days
Spain Valencia Sharjah 27 Days
Spain Bilbao Jebel Ali 65 Days
Spain Bilbao Abu Dhabi 50 Days
Spain Bilbao Sharjah 44 Days
Spain Algeciras Jebel Ali 23 Days
Spain Algeciras Abu Dhabi 48 Days
Spain Algeciras Sharjah 30 Days
Spain Barcelona Jebel Ali 23 Days
Spain Barcelona Sharjah 22 Days
Spain Barcelona Abu Dhabi 34 Days
Spain Valencia Abu Dhabi 28 Days
Spain Valencia Jebel Ali 22 Days
Sweden Stockholm Jebel Ali 37 Days
Sweden Norrkoping Sharjah 39 Days
Sweden Norrkoping Jebel Ali 45 Days
Sweden Gothenburg Jebel Ali 40 Days
Sweden Gothenburg Sharjah 36 Days
Sweden Gothenburg Abu Dhabi 43 Days
Sweden Helsingborg Jebel Ali 35 Days
Sweden Helsingborg Sharjah 38 Days
Sweden Helsingborg Abu Dhabi 43 Days
Switzerland Basel Jebel Ali 29 Days
Switzerland Basel Sharjah 29 Days
Switzerland Basel Abu Dhabi 33 Days
Ukraine Odessa Jebel Ali 58 Days
Ukraine Odessa Sharjah 42 Days
Ukraine Odessa Abu Dhabi 44 Days
United Kingdom Glasgow Jebel Ali 58 Days
United Kingdom Glasgow Sharjah 38 Days
United Kingdom Glasgow Abu Dhabi 42 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Jebel Ali 58 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Sharjah 38 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Abu Dhabi 43 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Tuticorin 24 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Jebel Ali 35 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Sharjah 42 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Abu Dhabi 46 Days
United Kingdom Liverpool Jebel Ali 37 Days
United Kingdom Liverpool Sharjah 43 Days
United Kingdom Liverpool Abu Dhabi 47 Days
United Kingdom Manchester Jebel Ali 37 Days
United Kingdom Manchester Sharjah 43 Days
United Kingdom Manchester Abu Dhabi 47 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Jebel Ali 35 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Sharjah 42 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Abu Dhabi 46 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Jebel Ali 35 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Sharjah 42 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Abu Dhabi 46 Days

From Asia and Oceania

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Australia Fremantle Jebel Ali 20 Days
Australia Fremantle Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Australia Fremantle Sharjah 21 Days
Australia Adelaide Sharjah 31 Days
Australia Adelaide Abu Dhabi 28 Days
Australia Adelaide Jebel Ali 27 Days
Australia Brisbane Sharjah 32 Days
Australia Brisbane Abu Dhabi 29 Days
Australia Brisbane Jebel Ali 25 Days
Australia Sydney Sharjah 32Days
Australia Sydney Abu Dhabi 31 Days
Australia Sydney Jebel Ali 26 Days
Australia Melbourne Abu Dhabi 29 Days
Australia Melbourne Jebel Ali 26 Days
Australia Melbourne Sharjah 32 Days
China Nanjing Jebel Ali 25 Days
China Nanjing Abu Dhabi 29 Days
China Nanjing Sharjah 29 Days
China Nansha Jebel Ali 13 Days
China Nansha Abu Dhabi 15 Days
China Nansha Sharjah 16 Days
China Shenzhen Sharjah 23 Days
China Shenzhen Abu Dhabi 19 Days
China Shenzhen Jebel Ali 18 Days
China Foshan Jebel Ali 18 Days
China Foshan Abu Dhabi 23 Days
China Foshan Sharjah 18 Days
China Zhuhai Sharjah 24 Days
China Zhuhai Abu Dhabi 24 Days
China Zhuhai Jebel Ali 20 Days
China Shanghai Jebel Ali 19 Days
China Shanghai Abu Dhabi 23 Days
China Shanghai Sharjah 23 Days
China Guangzhou Jebel Ali 19 Days
China Changsha Abu Dhabi 39 Days
China Changsha Jebel Ali 35 Days
China Dalian Jebel Ali 34 Days
China Dalian Abu Dhabi 34 Days
China Dalian Sharjah 29 Days
China Fuzhou Sharjah 27 Days
China Fuzhou Jebel Ali 28 Days
China Fuzhou Abu Dhabi 29 Days
China Qingdao Jebel Ali 24 Days
China Qingdao Sharjah 28 Days
China Qingdao Abu Dhabi 29 Days
China Xiamen Sharjah 25 Days
China Xiamen Jebel Ali 25 Days
China Xiamen Abu Dhabi 21 Days
China Qinzhou Jebel Ali 25 Days
China Qinzhou Sharjah 27 Days
China Wuhu Abu Dhabi 30 Days
China Wuhu Jebel Ali 27 Days
China Jiujiang Jebel Ali 29 Days
China Jiujiang Abu Dhabi 32 Days
China Jiujiang Sharjah 32 Days
China Tianjin Jebel Ali 31 Days
China Tianjin Abu Dhabi 26 Days
China Tianjin Sharjah 30 Days
China Shantou Jebel Ali 21 Days
China Shantou Sharjah 26 Days
China Ningbo Sharjah 21 Days
China Ningbo Jebel Ali 18 Days
China Ningbo Abu Dhabi 19 Days
China Lianyungang Abu Dhabi 29 Days
China Lianyungang Sharjah 28 Days
China Lianyungang Jebel Ali 22 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Abu Dhabi 20 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Sharjah 19 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Jebel Ali 14 Days
Indonesia Semarang Abu Dhabi 17 Days
Indonesia Semarang Jebel Ali 23 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Jebel Ali 19 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Abu Dhabi 20 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Sharjah 20 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Jebel Ali 23 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Abu Dhabi 15 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Sharjah 19 Days
Indonesia Belawan Jebel Ali 19 Days
Indonesia Belawan Abu Dhabi 20 Days
Indonesia Belawan Sharjah 21 Days
Japan Tokyo Jebel Ali 30 Days
Japan Tokyo Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Japan Tokyo Sharjah 32 Days
Japan Kobe Jebel Ali 26 Days
Japan Kobe Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Japan Kobe Sharjah 28 Days
Japan Yokohama Jebel Ali 29 Days
Japan Yokohama Sharjah 28 Days
Japan Moji Jebel Ali 25 Days
Japan Moji Abu Dhabi 27 Days
Japan Osaka Sharjah 38 Days
Japan Osaka Abu Dhabi 31 Days
Japan Osaka Jebel Ali 33 Days
Japan Shimizu Abu Dhabi 27 Days
Japan Shimizu Jebel Ali 23 Days
Japan Niigata Jebel Ali 32 Days
Japan Niigata Abu Dhabi 39 Days
Japan Niigata Sharjah 38 Days
Japan Nagoya Jebel Ali 23 Days
Japan Nagoya Abu Dhabi 22 Days
Korea Masan Abu Dhabi 28 Days
Korea Masan Sharjah 29 Days
Korea Masan Jebel Ali 26 Days
Korea Busan Abu Dhabi 30 Days
Korea Busan Sharjah 30 Days
Korea Busan Jebel Ali 25 Days
Korea Incheon Sharjah 37 Days
Korea Incheon Jebel Ali 27 Days
Korea Kwangyang Jebel Ali 24 Days
Korea Kwangyang Abu Dhabi 27 Days
Korea Kwangyang Sharjah 30 Days
Korea Pyeongtaek Jebel Ali 26 Days
Korea Pyeongtaek Abu Dhabi 28 Days
Korea Pyeongtaek Sharjah 29 Days
Malaysia Penang Jebel Ali 20 Days
Malaysia Penang Abu Dhabi 19 Days
Malaysia Penang Sharjah 23 Days
Malaysia Pasir Gudang Jebel Ali 18 Days
Malaysia Pasir Gudang Abu Dhabi 19 Days
Malaysia Pasir Gudang Sharjah 23 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Jebel Ali 13 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Abu Dhabi 16 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Sharjah 14 Days
Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas Jebel Ali 10 Days
Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas Abu Dhabi 16 Days
Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas Sharjah 15 Days
New Zealand Lyttelton Jebel Ali 36 Days
New Zealand Lyttelton Abu Dhabi 40 Days
New Zealand Lyttelton Sharjah 41 Days
New Zealand Auckland Jebel Ali 36 Days
New Zealand Auckland Abu Dhabi 43 Days
New Zealand Auckland Sharjah 41 Days
New Zealand Tauranga Jebel Ali 32 Days
New Zealand Tauranga Abu Dhabi 36 Days
New Zealand Tauranga Sharjah 36 Days
New Zealand Wellington Jebel Ali 34 Days
New Zealand Wellington Abu Dhabi 39 Days
New Zealand Wellington Sharjah 38 Days
Philippines Manila Jebel Ali 26 Days
Philippines Manila Abu Dhabi 29 Days
Philippines Manila Sharjah 23 Days
Philippines Cebu Jebel Ali 27 Days
Philippines Cebu Sharjah 23 Days
Philippines Davao Jebel Ali 23 Days
Philippines Davao Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Singapore Singapore Jebel Ali 9 Days
Singapore Singapore Abu Dhabi 13 Days
Singapore Singapore Sharjah 12 Days
Taiwan Keelung Jebel Ali 26 Days
Taiwan Taipei Jebel Ali 17 Days
Taiwan Taipei Sharjah 22 Days
Taiwan Taichung Jebel Ali 27 Days
Taiwan Taichung Abu Dhabi 22 Days
Taiwan Taichung Sharjah 30 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Jebel Ali 25 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Abu Dhabi 19 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Sharjah 27 Days
Thailand Bangkok Jebel Ali 24 Days
Thailand Bangkok Abu Dhabi 19 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Jebel Ali 18 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Abu Dhabi 24 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Sharjah 17 Days
Vietnam Haiphong Jebel Ali 23 Days
Vietnam Haiphong Abu Dhabi 25 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Jebel Ali 22 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Abu Dhabi 21 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Sharjah 22 Days

Air Freight Shipping to the Emirates

In addition to a thriving trade via ocean freight trade lanes from around the world, the seven states of the UAE receive imports via international airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. Therefore, if you wish to bring high-value, urgent, or perishable goods into the UAE, you might prefer to send it as air freight, rather than at the sedate pace of ocean shipping.

In this section of our freight guide, you can find out about the many routes through which you can ship air freight to the UAE. Again, the information relates to shipping from airport to airport. However, on the Shipa Freight platform, you can get quotes and book your cargo door-to-door from your chosen point of origin, regardless of its location.

Air Freight to the UAE: Busiest Inbound Routes

Of the three primary international air cargo terminals in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is by far the busiest in terms of volume, and receives more passenger and cargo flights than either Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. The top routes for air freight into the UAE all connect Dubai with cities in Asia and Europe, and include the following five:

  • London (United Kingdom) to Dubai
  • Bangkok (Thailand) to Dubai
  • Hong Kong to Dubai
  • Singapore to Dubai
  • Frankfurt (Germany) to Dubai

Longest and Shortest Routes for Emirates-Bound Air Freight

Some of the furthest air-freight distances into the Emirates are those from North, Central, and South America. However, services from these geographies are few and far between. American businesses wishing to import to the UAE must often send their air freight via multi-leg routes, typically with transshipments in Europe or East Asia.

That said, there are a few direct flights from major airports in the United States, most of which involve transit times of around 14 hours. The longest route of all though, is between New Zealand’s city of Auckland, and Dubai, with a total transit time of 17 hours.

Meanwhile, some of the shortest routes bring cargo in by air from Southern Europe, with one example being Athens, in Greece, to Dubai, which only takes around four hours.

Direct Air Freight Routes to the UAE

Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance. They show flight durations for direct routes only, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate.

From the Americas

Country of Origin Airport of origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Brazil Sao Paulo Dubai 14 Hours
United States Houston Dubai 15 Hours
United States New York Dubai 12 Hours
United States New York Abu Dhabi 12 Hours
United States Chicago Dubai 13 Hours
United States Chicago Abu Dhabi 13 Hours
United States Seattle Dubai 14 Hours
United States Los Angeles Dubai 15 Hours
United States Dallas Dubai 14 Hours
United States San Francisco Dubai 15 Hours
United States Boston Dubai 12 Hours

From Europe

Country of Origin Airport of origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Austria Vienna Dubai 5 Hours
Belgium Brussels Dubai 6 Hours
Belgium Brussels Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Czech Republic Prague Dubai 6 Hours
Denmark Copenhagen Dubai 6 Hours
Finland Helsinki Dubai 6 Hours
France Lyon Dubai 6 Hours
France Paris Dubai 6 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf Dubai 6 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Dubai 6 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Germany Hamburg Dubai 6 Hours
Germany Munich Dubai 6 Hours
Germany Munich Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Greece Athens Dubai 4 Hours
Greece Athens Abu Dhabi 5 Hours
Hungary Budapest Dubai 5 Hours
Ireland Dublin Dubai 7 Hours
Ireland Dublin Abu Dhabi 7 Hours
Italy Milan Dubai 6 Hours
Italy Milan Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Italy Rome Dubai 6 Hours
Italy Rome Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Dubai 6 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Sharjah 7 Hours
Norway Oslo Dubai 6 Hours
Poland Warsaw Dubai 5 Hours
Portugal Porto Dubai 7 Hours
Portugal Lisbon Dubai 7 Hours
Romania Bucharest Dubai 5 Hours
Spain Madrid Dubai 7 Hours
Spain Madrid Abu Dhabi 7 Hours
Spain Barcelona Dubai 6 Hours
Spain Barcelona Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Sweden Stockholm Dubai 6 Hours
Switzerland Zurich Dubai 6 Hours
Switzerland Zurich Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Switzerland Geneva Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Switzerland Geneva Dubai 6 Hours
Ukraine Kiev Dubai 5 Hours
Ukraine Kiev Sharjah 5 Hours
United Kingdom Birmingham Dubai 7 Hours
United Kingdom Glasgow Dubai 7 Hours
United Kingdom Manchester Dubai 7 Hours
United Kingdom Manchester Abu Dhabi 7 Hours
United Kingdom London Dubai 7 Hours
United Kingdom London Abu Dhabi 7 Hours

From Asia & Oceania

Country of Origin Airport of origin Destination Port Approximate Duration
Australia Adelaide Dubai 13 Hours
Australia Perth Dubai 11 Hours
Australia Sydney Abu Dhabi 14 Hours
Australia Sydney Dubai 14 Hours
Australia Brisbane Dubai 14 Hours
Australia Brisbane Abu Dhabi 14 Hours
Australia Melbourne Dubai 14 Hours
Australia Melbourne Abu Dhabi 13 Hours
China Guangzhou Dubai 7 Hours
China Beijing Dubai 8 Hours
China Beijing Abu Dhabi 8 Hours
China Shenzhen Dubai 8 Hours
China Shanghai Dubai 8 Hours
China Shanghai Abu Dhabi 8 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Dubai 8 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Abu Dhabi 8 Hours
Indonesia Denpasar Dubai 9 Hours
Indonesia Jakarta Dubai 8 Hours
Indonesia Jakarta Abu Dhabi 8 Hours
Japan Osaka Dubai 10 Hours
Japan Tokyo Dubai 10 Hours
Japan Tokyo Abu Dhabi 10 Hours
Korea Seoul Dubai 10 Hours
Korea Seoul Abu Dhabi 10 Hours
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Dubai 6 Hours
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Sharjah 7 Hours
New Zealand Auckland Dubai 17 Hours
Philippines Manila Abu Dhabi 8 Hours
Philippines Manila Dubai 8 Hours
Singapore Singapore Dubai 7 Hours
Singapore Singapore Abu Dhabi 7 Hours
Taiwan Taipei Dubai 8 Hours
Thailand Bangkok Dubai 6 Hours
Thailand Bangkok Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Vietnam Hanoi Dubai 6 Hours
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Dubai 7 Hours
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Abu Dhabi 7 Hours

Shipa Your Freight to the United Arab Emirates

You'll find plenty of freight forwarders prepared to help you with cargo shipping into the UAE, but they don't all have specialist knowledge of the region.

Aside from the fact that Shipa Freight has its headquarters in Dubai, our parent company, Agility is a specialist in emerging market supply chain operations. That means we have the expertise and knowledge to help you overcome any shipping challenges you may encounter.

Indeed, we can prevent or circumvent many potential issues, ensuring that your products ship into your UAE markets without a hitch. We’ve developed our service to suit shipments of any size or type, whether you prefer to send them as ocean or air freight.

For a fast, competitive quote to ship air freight or ocean freight into the UAE, visit Shipa Freight’s homepage now and submit your freight information. It only takes a moment, and if you like your quote, you can book, pay, and track your freight online, all via our online forwarding platform.

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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