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International container shipping to Dubai

Moving overseas to live in Dubai for a new work post is a thrilling decision to make. A sparkling city of bright lights, dry heat and luxury living awaits you. But the scale of such a move can become a little overwhelming, and that’s without considering the costs involved. Let us guide you through some basic advice and handy tips on moving to Dubai.

International Container Shipping to Dubai

Moving belongings by sea or air?

Sea freight will always be the cheaper option, and the best way to do this is to choose a carrier that offers a door-to-door service. This depends, of course, on how much stuff you need to move. If you have furniture and white goods you want to bring with you, then sea cargo -which doesn’t charge by weight - is the answer.

You may be moving into furnished accommodation provided by your company in Dubai, like many people emigrating here do. So if you end up needing to ship a small or light load, it could make sense to send it by air cargo. It’ll usually be with you within a week this way.

Can I bring the car?

If you do decide to ship your car to Dubai, you will need the following documents, and bear in mind that cars with tinted windows will not normally be imported.

  • Registration documents
  • Copy of purchase invoice
  • Copy of passport
  • Insurance policy papers
  • Proof of ownership
  • UAE Residence permit

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Prohibited Items

  • Military uniform or equipment
  • Narcotics of all kinds including poppy seeds, flowers and leaves
  • Any items made out of ivory or related to endangered animals
  • Firearms, weapons and ammunition (real or ornamental)
  • All items manufactured by Israeli blacklist and of Israeli origin
  • Erotic statues and figurines defined as offensive to Islamic teachings and principles
  • Pornographic, political and religious material which may be deemed offensive
  • Pork products

All books, pictures, records, films, tapes, slides, movies, videos, CDs, computer software etc are subject to censorship and confiscation. They have to be packed separately for easy inspection, and clearly marked on your inventory.

Also, the following items must be thoroughly cleaned of dirt and grass before shipping:
  • Garden implements and furniture
  • Golf clubs
  • Tents and camping equipment
  • Barbeques
  • Shoes
  • Bicycles
  • Prams


CIF (cost, insurance and freight) is the most popular freight service for people moving abroad. Your cargo company will take care of (and insure) your container contents from port to port, though you must make sure everything is itemised - especially high value items. If you are shipping a vehicle or very high value items, do make sure your cargo firm will cover these with their CIF policy.


Find out which freight providers offer a tracking service to their customers. With access to your container number or a personal reference code, customers can log in and keep up to date with where their container is at any time.

How’s it calculated?

Transporting your belongings by sea freight is often the best option for people relocating abroad, and prices relate to your shipment’s cubic volume and how far it needs to travel. And in this case, it’s a considerable distance moving to Dubai from the UK.

Be warned also that shipping containers can also be subject to customs inspection fees. They can also be subject to various import duties, though all these potential extra costs should be included in your invoice.

Don’t assume, though – ask your freighter before you book. You can find out about all the factors in our shipping costs article