One of the things that make Dubai stand out is the vast amount of opportunities business-wise, especially for merchants. Many merchants around the globe come to Dubai to reap the benefits of doing business in this emirate, such as importing, manufacturing, and distributing products. As a result, the government developed a complete process product registration in Dubai.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about product registration in Dubai to achieve your goals in the Emirates. Let us see:
- What does product registration entail?
- Why is product registration mandatory in Dubai?
- Which products need registration in Dubai?
- What are the restricted products you cannot import?
- What is the procedure when importing food products in Dubai?
- How can we help you get more information about product registration and importation in Dubai?
1. What does product registration entail?
It means the registration or regulatory approval of a product granted by the applicable governmental authority in a country or territory. This allows the distribution, selling, and importation of such products in that country.
It is a system that subjects products to a technical and legal review by a competent authority. Many different kinds of products go through this process since it is a requirement to register before their sale and promotion in Dubai.
There are many authorities involved during the product registration process such as the health and safety section of Dubai Municipality, the Ministry of Health, and the Food Department. However, the most important one is DM (Dubai Municipality).
1.1 Things you need to know
This process guarantees that each product whether it is packaged food products or cosmetic products have all the necessary information on its label. This way, the consumer gets clear information about the product they will buy.
In the case of cosmetic products registration, the Dubai Municipality oversees if there is a presence of any substance that may be harmful to the human body. The same goes for food products, they make sure that there is nothing restricted or not suitable for human consumption that can be rejected to import to Dubai.
In addition, the product is automatically integrated into a single system, in which all the consumer goods in Dubai are registered. In this manner, it is easier for the government, traders, and customers to provide detailed information about all the consumer products in the emirate.
2. Why is product registration mandatory in Dubai?
The main goal when implementing this process of product registration in Dubai is to avoid at all costs the trading of fake and harmful products in the local market of Dubai and ensure the quality of the products and the safety of consumers.
Thus, Dubai municipality product registration supervises the entry of new products into the UAE market, ensuring product quality and consumer safety. In this manner, they aim at product registration, random product testing, and product inspections.
It specifies that each product imported into Dubai must register in Dubai Municipality and the registration certificate, which is compulsory for local trading and shipment clearing.
3. Which products need registration in Dubai?
Next, we will see some of the products that must register with the Dubai Municipality:
Besides registering in the Dubai Municipality, cosmetic, perfumery, and personal care products must pass the Emirates Conformity Assessment Scheme (ECAS) by ESMA to obtain a Certificate of Conformity. This certificate is mandatory for selling the products in the UAE markets and custom clearance.
Without the Certificate of Conformity and registration in the DM will be outright rejected. In some cases, they return it to their country of origin. Hence, it is crucial to register these products with ESMA to avoid rejection or delays in clearance.
3.2 Food products
Before importing food-related products to Dubai, the product must be first registered with the Food Import and Re-Import System (FIRS). However, the import process can only be established when the importing company is registered in the Dubai Municipality. Therefore, a company’s representative must go to the customer service of the e-government in Dubai Municipality’s office.
3.3 Pharmaceutical products
In order to import pharmaceuticals and medical devices into Dubai, the company must obtain a medical importation and distribution license from the Ministry. On the other hand, they can engage a local agent or distributor, who is already registered with the Ministry, to import the pharmaceuticals and medical devices on their behalf.
Even if the medical product has been specifically ordered by a clinic or hospital, it is necessary for the medical product itself to register with the Ministry and Dubai Municipality. Although the registration of a pharmaceutical or medical device takes longer than the registration of a company, they can do it simultaneously.
There are other products that have to go through this registration process:
- Food supplement
- Electronic goods
- Sports equipment
- Herbal products
- Pet food
4. What are the restricted products you cannot import easily?
Now let us talk about those restricted products, which require even more additional approvals and checks before they are cleared for sale such as:
- Media material
- Material of nuclear energy
- Rough diamonds
Some restricted products are subject to certain restrictions, and can only be sold to non‐Muslims via the designated areas or establishments. For instance, labels for pork and pork-containing products must comply with the general labeling requirements and must clearly state that the product contains pork.
In the case of alcoholic beverages and alcohol-containing products, the company can import them only through authorized importers who run their own retail shops. In addition, there are no special labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages beyond what is typically required in the country of origin.
On the other hand, pet food must contain the statement “Not fit for human consumptionʺ. Production or expiry dates are also mandatory for pet foods.
4.1 Specific standards to take into consideration
It is crucial to stand out that inspection officials will routinely check for salmonella in poultry products. In case they detect salmonella in more than 20 percent of tested samples, they will reject the shipment.
Needless to say that they strictly control the imports of alcoholic beverages. As a matter of fact, only a few companies in Dubai have the license to import and sell alcoholic beverages. However, these products are exempt from local labeling requirements. On the flip side, they allow the import of non‐alcoholic beverages, but these products cannot contain more than 0.05 percent of alcohol by volume. In addition, these products are exempt from local labeling requirements.
As we mentioned before, the sale of pork is quite delicate. As a result, the authorities strictly regulate well‐marked areas of supermarkets. Therefore, restaurants must clearly identify products on the menu that contain pork, and only selected retail outlets and hotels have permission to sell pork.
The MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) is responsible for regulating the importation of live animals and plants.
5. What is the procedure when importing food products in Dubai?
Undoubtedly, Dubai has some of the most modern air and seaport facilities in the world. Because of this, Food shipments usually are off-loaded, inspected by health officials, and cleared through customs within hours of arrival at port. Additionally, every food shipment is subject to visual inspection upon arrival to ensure compliance with label and shelf life regulations.
In addition, they may be subject to random laboratory analysis. For instance, baby foods and edible oils are subject to 100 percent sampling. In the case of other food products, they sample them in accordance with the sampling policy manual. It sets out the frequency of sampling based on food type brand, and country of origin.
There is a consignment undergoing laboratory analysis under bonded warehouse selected by the importer, within the same emirate of arrival. Generally, they deliver the laboratory results within 5‐10 days. Once they clear, they are subject to random sampling as are other food products on the market.
In case the product does not pass the tests satisfactorily or is unfit for human consumption, the Local municipality will either destroy it or export it to the country of origin within 30 days, at the importer’s discretion. Additionally, they can appeal the product rejection to the Health Department having jurisdiction over that port. In this case, the municipality conveys a special committee to review the petition and issue a final decision, normally within a week.
5.1 Minor infraction
If there is a minor infraction such as a minor label infraction, they may allow entering the shipment on a one‐time basis for limited sale.
5.2 Major infraction
In the case of a major infraction, such as improper labeling of products containing pork or tampering with P/E dates, they will severely punish, particularly those infractions discovered after import. These types of products are automatically banned from import, usually for several months, and they will often report in the press the brand name and the importer company.
5.3 Procedures for agricultural products in Dubai
When importing agricultural food products into Dubai (the primary port which will be used for export into UAE) is the Import Certificate from the Dubai Municipality. Therefore, for any type of food product that is to enter the UAE, there must be a license granted to the consignee to trade in foodstuffs. Below, we will see a list of some products that need the approval of the Food Control Section of the Public Health Department of the Dubai Municipality:
- Cereal, wheat or rye flour, groats or meal
- Broke rice and rice
- Pig meat
- Milk Products
- Processed from cereals
- Olive oil
- Processed from fruit and vegetables
- Sugar products
- Poultry meat
5.4 Import for home consumption
Now let us see the documents you may need to import any food product that is to enter the UAE:
- Dubai Municipality approval letter
- Import Goods Declaration
- Certificate of Origin
- Packing List
- Bill of landing
- Commercial Invoice
- Import Goods Declaration
- License of the importer to trade in foodstuff
6. How can we help you get more information about product registration and importation in Dubai?
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