What is the best way to ship goods from China to UAE ?


First thing first, thank you for landing here. We’re ensuring you that you’re in the right place, if you’re searching for great information on import proceedings and trade between China and the UAE. As a great trading partner from China, a part of our clientele are UAE based-traders. From our experience, we noticed that recurrent questions are asked to us on the import process, the customs clearance and the feasibility of a trade from China to the Emirates. We’ve seen it all, and we decided to build a special article to synthetize our decade of experience to the UAE, for your own benefit. No matter if you need to import heavy goods in great quantities, or just a small parcel fitting a simple carton, here is all the data you need to know to implement a commercial import between the two countries. You will find here interesting links and advices to enhance or begin your trade from China to the UAE.

SINO Shipping is an excellent teammate when we’re talking about trade in goods from China to the UAE. On your demand, we will program air or sea freight for all types of products, normal, dangerous or perishable between the two countries. With SINO Shipping, China and the Emirates have never been closer.

We will begin this article discussing the different freight methods to transfer your goods between the countries. Then we will move on the customs process, and finish with the trade and diplomatic relations between the two countries.




Can I be exempted of duties and taxes for an import from China to UAE ?


The UAE, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is still negotiating Free Trade Agreement with China. This means that no accordance has been found between both parties yet, to ease and increase trades between the two regions. Consequently, you will probably not be exempted of duties when importing Chinese products in the Emirates. The import process is also composed of many steps and paperwork to go through. Our experience between the two countries skilled us to provide a quick and smooth customs clearance in the UAE. You can ask us to take it in charge for you, if the energy and stress involved is too much to handle. However, the average tariff rates are of 5% on every type of goods, which is amongst the lowest tariff barriers in the world.


Necessary documents


The Certificate of Origin (CO)

It is one of the most important documents in international trades and customs clearance. Like it says in the name, it is testifying that the products shipped were entirely, obtained or produced in a particular country and area. Most of the time, it must be provided by a notary public or a government.


The Delivery Order (DO)

A delivery order (DO) is a document issued by the owner or the freight forwarder of the goods, to the carrier. This written document allows the carrier to begin the freight of the cargo, in the aim of delivering it to the owner or client.


The Bill of Lading (BL) or Airway Bill

The BL is as much important for customs clearance as the Certificate of Origin, in the goal of importing goods. The CO is witnessing of where your goods were produced, and the BL testifies of the details of the cargo, the payment from the freight forwarder or the importer to the carrier, and the release of the Letter of Credit (LC). As you can guess, the Airway Bill is inherent to an air freight while the Bill of Lading is attached for an ocean freight.


bill of lading


This little scheme below gives you information about what a BL is containing:

Original Invoice

This document is necessary for customs to check if the goods you’re importing are concordant with your declaration.


A cargo manifest (or customs manifest) is a document describing all the cargos that are transported by a vessel. It enables customs to identify cargos onboard and to verify if cargos listed at the beginning of its freight are still present and didn’t “disappear” before it arrives at the port of destination.

The manifest acts like a passport of the shipments, it witnesses the origin of the products, their legality to transit and they aren’t owned by people of bad intentions. Its use is close from a Bill of Lading, as the two documents are describing similar information and are not separated every time.

Packing List for multiple goods

This packing list must indicate the HS code of the products you’re importing. If the items are hazardous or chemical products, the MSDS document and the international code of the goods are also required.

Duties and taxes in UAE

The United Arab Emirates, like all the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are using the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature to identify goods. It is a standardization system of numbers and words used worldwide. All the traded goods are designated by a HS code.

Here is a picture detailing the information provided by a HS code

harmonized stystem codes

Now that you know which HS code is corresponding to your goods, you can find what duties and taxes you are liable to pay by downloading the Unified Customs Tariffe for GCC States, on the official website of the Federal Customs Authority of the UAE.

This document is listing goods sorted by HS code and describes the customs rates that are applying on. Let’s take a pineapple as an example, on the page number 34 you will find its HS code 08 04 30 and see that it is a good free of duties.

duties and taxes uae

Customs contact in China

China customs emblem

Customs contact in UAE


Customs process


  1. The customs broker, the freight forwarder or the importer must complete electronically the import/customs declaration. All other documents needed to be attached must be provided with the customs declaration to the customs office.
  2. Customs will calculate the duties and taxes that are applying on your goods, with the Common Customs Tariff as a base document. They will also declare a tariff exemption on your goods, if decided under the GCC Common Customs Law, a GCC Economic Agreement or any other FTA bonding the GCC to another party, where appropriate. Customs can begin an inspection or examination of the goods, if there is a risk involved, or under any other purpose. The import declaration will be digitally printed at the corresponding customs office.
  3. The release order will be issued, and the products will be manumitted.


Your goods clearance will follow the scheme below in the UAE :


Trade relations between China and UAE


A recent cooperation, starting from 0 to huge numbers


China and the UAE begin their diplomatic cooperation for the first time in 1984. Since this date, their economic and political cooperation have incredibly increase, while nothing important was existing before that time. China is possessing an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai, while the Emirates are having a consulate in Hong Kong and an embassy in Beijing.

Relation between both states are based on intense trades, exchanges and investments. More than 2,000 Chinese enterprises are implanted in the Emirates. Also, there is around 180,000 Chinese expatriates that are currently living in the UAE. Most of them are working in the construction sector, others are owning shops and restaurants, and numerous investors, businessman and merchants have affairs in the country. After Saudi Arabia, the Emirates are the second most important trading partner of China in the Persian Gulf. Former Premier of the PRC, Wen Jiabao, stated that the UAE’s role for China is major in the Middle East, serving as a transit base for Chinese products to the Middle East and Africa.

In 2016, China was the first import partner of the Emirates, with 8 % of the goods imported there coming from China. It represented a total of 30 billion USD in trade. Emirates are selling huge quantities of oil for the Chinese consumption and industry.


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Since the 1950s, period of the discovery of the oilfields, the Emirates have known a tremendous growth of their economy. To support their oil exportation flows, the UAE build major ports infrastructures that are now amongst the biggest in the world. As their economy was focused on natural resources, they are still diversifying it with tourism and Hi-Tech nowadays, to prepare the future after the petroleum era.

All their major ports are located on the west coast of the country, facing the Persian Gulf. The UAE are bordered on the west by the Persian Gulf, and by the Gulf of Oman on the east. It neighbour countries are Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The emirates are also faced by Iran, on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

Major Ports of the UAE


Jebel Ali, Port Rashid and Khalifa Port in the Emirate of Dubai

The emirate of Dubai represents 77 % of the port activity in the UAE. Jebel Ali Port, also called “Mina Jebel Ali” Is one of the most important port in the states with Port Rashid and the biggest in the middle east. In 2017, their import volume was of 40,000 million of kgs, while their Non-oil export where of 14,000 million of kgs.


Mina Rashid in the Emirate of Sharjah

7 % of the total trades of the country are transiting through this port. The total import flow of this Emirate was of 2,100 million kgs, while the export flow was of 1,000 million kgs in 2017.


Mina Zayed in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is hosting 14% of the total trades of the country through his port. It is traduced with 24,500 million of kgs of import, and 5,374 million kgs of non-oil export for the year 2017.

*Other ports are representing only 2 % of the total trades of the country. We can mention :

  • Mina Khalid in the Emirates of Sharjah
  • Khor Fakkan and Fujairah in the Emirate of Fujairah

Sea freight transit times


This table provides the average transit times required to reach the UAE from China:

Sea freight transit times


Jebel Ali/Mina Rashid/Mina Zayed
Tianjin 25 days
Dalian 25 days
Shanghai/Ningbo 23 days
Guangzhou/Shenzhen/Hong Kong 22 days
Qingdao 24 days

*Please note that those transit times are just indicative timing between China and UAE


Sea freight rates


*Ocean freight is always a great deal in the freight market. You can have competitive rates with reasonable transit times, for freights departing from China and going to the UAE.

To be clear, most of the international trade enterprises are using it for two reasons: you can transport great quantities of products, for very low rates. Do not look for further methods if you need to transfer big shipments regularly through times.

As told above, SINO Shipping can provide all types of service for every volume! Our flexibility will enable us to fully adapt to your special needs and requirements.

As said before, it’s possible to implement every type of maritime services for all kinds of items with SINO Shipping !



spite its small territory, the UAE are owning seven international airports, which are deeply connecting the country to the rest of the world. It isn’t necessary to remind that China possess more than 50 international airports, amongst the busiest in the world. A lot of international cargo airlines are bonding China and the UAE with direct flights. Emirates SkyCargo, the Al Maktoub International Airport based company, is providing daily flights to the Chinese cities of Dalian, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Etihad Cargo is also linking greatly the two countries. On the other side, China Southern Airlines have cargo codeshare agreements with Etihad Airways. Other foreign international cargo airlines have weekly flights between the two countries also.


Air freight transit times


It will take 10 hours at the most, on door-to-door for your goods to be carried from China to the UAE by plane. You have to count around 7 days for the total transfer of your items, from your supplier’s office to your address, with a normal air freight. If it isn’t fast enough, ask for an express air freight (courier), to receive your products within 4 days.

Air freight rates


*You must sort out the chargeable weight of your goods by calculating it with two different methods.

The two methods are:

  • Gross weight
  • Volumetric weight

After the results, the highest value will be used as a base to rate your products. The lowest value can be forgotten.



* Your products will be differently charged for express services. The volumetric weight ratio will be 200 kgs = 1 CBM

Recurrent questions regarding the shipping from China to the UAE

What is the shipping cost from China to the UAE?

LCL: 150 USD /cbm FCL: 700 USD/20’: 900 USD/40’ Express shipping door to door (10kg): 600 USD

How long does it take to ship from China to the UAE?

Average transit time by sea: 25 days Average transit time by airfreight: 7 days (daily direct flight) Express shipping door to door (10kg): 4 days

What are the best freight options to send good from China to the UAE?

There are only 2 options, by sea or by air, it depends on how big the volume and the weight are, and then you will decide which shipping methods is more adequate. You must calculate the ration time/cost.

How much tax will I pay for importing goods from China to the UAE?

The UAE, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is still negotiating Free Trade Agreement with China. This means that no accordance has been found between both parties yet, to ease and increase trades between the two regions. Consequently, you will probably not be exempted of duties when importing Chinese products in the Emirates. The import process is also composed of many steps and paperwork to go through. Our experience between the two countries skilled us to provide a quick and smooth customs clearance in the UAE. You can ask us to take it in charge for you, if the energy and stress involved is too much to handle. However, the average tariff rates are of 5% on every type of goods, which is amongst the lowest tariff barriers in the world.

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