Tips and Inspiration Baggage rules: What not to pack when you fly to the UAE

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Baggage rules: What not to pack when you fly to the UAE

Before you set off on your flight into the UAE, consider what items should not be in included in your hand luggage or suitcases. This guide answers the question "what can I pack when I fly to the UAE?" It also provides information on current airport rules that you need to know before you book your flight.
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It is important to understand the luggage rules when traveling to any country, and the United Arab Emirates rules may be especially different to what you are used to. Although each airline will have their own baggage rules about what items can not be carried on board, the UAE government has additional regulations about what items cannot be brought into the country.

Can I take my medication? 

The UAE has a strict, zero-tolerance drug policy. It is important that you check that your medications are allowed in the UAE before you arrive at the airport. Just because a drug is legal — either over-the-counter or as a prescription drug — in your home country, doesn’t mean it is legal in the UAE. For example, medicines containing codeine or similar narcotic-like ingredients are classified as controlled substances in the UAE and are illegal to have in your possession.

You can bring up to a twelve months’ supply of prescription medicine with you into the country, but make sure that you have a letter from your doctor or the original prescription. Some medications can only be brought into the UAE with special permission from the Drug Control Department of the UAE Ministry of Health. 

What animals can be brought into the UAE?

Live animals, live fish, predatory animals and camels can only be brought into the UAE with approval from the Ministry of Environment and Water.

There are also specific rules for bringing falcons into the UAE. Travelers cannot enter the country with falcons from April to August each year except under the following conditions:

1. Falcons with permits under CITES Convention
2. Falcons bearing passports
3. Sick falcons arriving for treatment after obtaining permits from
the Environment Research Authority

Some items banned on flights to the UAE may surprise you

​The UAE government does not allow narcotics and chemicals to be brought into the country by passengers arriving on flights. Other banned items under UAE baggage rules include pornographic material, non Islamic religious pamphlets for missionary activities, fireworks, ivory, weapons and ammunition, chemical and organic fertilizers.

Laser pens, radar jammers/other unauthorized communication devices, endangered animal species, and any objects, sculptures, paintings, books or magazines which do not adhere to the religious and moral values of the UAE are also not allowed. Failure to adhere to the UAE baggage rules could mean imprisonment followed by deportation. Ensure you do not have these items when you arrive at the airport.

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Banned Items on Flights to the UAE

  • All narcotic drugs
  • Goods from Israel or bearing Israeli trademarks or logos
  • Items made from endangered animals, such as ivory or rhinoceros horn (you may need a special permit to import a piano with ivory keys.)
  • Pornography, defined as any printed materials, photos, sculptures, etc that are considered immoral or contrary to the teachings of Islam
  • Sex toys
  • Cultural artifacts such as prints, engravings, or statues
  • Counterfeit currency
  • Pirated videos or audiotapes/illegal computer software
  • Red laser pointers
  • Gambling paraphernalia
  • Three-layer nylon fishing nets
  • Used, reconditioned, and inlaid tires
  • Toxic and radioactive material
  • Homemade food
  • Pork and any pork-related products
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Emirates Specific Check In Baggage Rules

Many travelers to the UAE fly with Emirates and the airline have their own rules for what can be included in baggage presented at Emirates check in.

Lithium metal or other batteries for portable electronic devices must be carried in carry-on baggage only. Battery powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility devices need approval before they are brought on board. Contact the airline before you arrive at Emirates check in. Forbidden and restricted items include powder-like substances, electro shock weapons, fireworks or personal motorised vehicles.

Before you set out on your next travel adventure, you can find out more about what items you should not take with you by reading this article

*First published in September 2018.  Any prices and dates included are correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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