How to Certify Goods in the UAE: 3 Easy Steps to Follow

Exporting goods to the United Arab Emirates can be a highly lucrative business model. According to a report by the World Bank, the UAE is the largest importer of goods in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, importing products amounting to more than $273 billion in 2019. The UAE’s outsized market for imported goods can be attributed to two strong market factors – geographical accessibility and governmental support.

The UAE’s geographical location gives it easy access to the European, African, and Asian markets. This enables businesses to engage in the international import and export of goods more easily. It is also home to two of the largest ports in the world – the Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi and the Jebel Ali Port in Dubai – which allows the country to cater to large container ships, product tankers, general cargo vessels, and more.

In addition to its strategic location, the UAE also has highly robust legislative frameworks for standardizing and supporting international trade. In 2019, the UAE government officially launched the Dubai Silk Road strategy, which is a twin-headed approach aimed at cementing Dubai as a key hub for global trade. The strategy includes nine initiatives and 33 government-initiated projects that will involve the collaboration of various key parties to enhance business engagements between free zones and the rest of the emirates.

If you are looking to export products to the United Arab Emirates, it is essential to undergo the proper certification process to make sure your goods are compliant with local regulations and standards. To get started, below is a condensed 3-step process:

Step 1: Identify and Prepare for the Required Certifications for Your Products

The types of certifications and documents needed to export to the UAE vary depending on the products that you are looking to ship. Thus, the first order of business is to identify the requisite certificates for your products and prepare all the necessary documents for certification. Be prepared to produce documents such as test reports from recognized bodies and product technical specs.

Additionally, make sure that all your documents are 100% updated, compliant, and accurate to avoid any potential delays. While it may be too much to provide an exhaustive list of certificates in a single article, below are six of the most common:

  • Certificate of Origin: Often issued by the Chamber of Commerce of the exporting country, this document indicates the origin of the product being exported.
  • Commercial Invoice: Provides the description, quantity, and value of the goods being exported. Also functions as a bill of sale between exporter and importer.
  • Packing List: Lists the contents of each package and details information such as quantity, dimensions, and weight of each item.
  • Bill of Lading: Produced by the shipping company and serves as a receipt for the products being shipped.
  • Health & Sanitary Certificates: Vital for food and agricultural exports. Indicate that the goods have met accepted health and safety standards.
  • Product-specific Certificates: Some goods require product-specific certificates that indicate they meet required quality standards.

Step 2: Choose a Certifying Body

Once you have identified all the necessary certifications and accompanying requirements for application, you can now choose a certifying body to provide certification services. When choosing a certifying body, it is best to choose one that is accredited and recognized by the relevant UAE authorities to avoid wasting precious time, resources, and effort.

Below are four of the most recognized and established certifying bodies in the UAE:

  • Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA): ESMA is the national authority in the UAE for developing and regulating standards, metrology, and quality in different economic sectors. It serves as a certifying body-wide spectrum of products, from food items to electrical appliances and building materials.
  • Dubai Accreditation Department (DAC): The DAC operates under the authority of the Dubai Municipality to provide accreditation to conformity assessment bodies (CABs) such as inspection bodies, certification bodies, and testing labs operating in Dubai.
  • Dubai Municipality Food Control Department (DM FCD): The DM FCD is Dubai’s governmental authority tasked with issuing food and safety quality certificates to food businesses across the Emirates. It helps protect consumers by ensuring that food products that hit the market meet the highest quality standards and regulations.
  • Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC): The QCC is an independent body that provides conformity assessment and accreditation services relevant to industries such as healthcare, construction, and energy.

Step 3: Submit Your Application and Prepare for Necessary Testing/Inspections:

After careful consideration, submit your application to the accredited certifying body along with the required documents and fees. Make sure your documents are properly drafted according to industry standards, up-to-date, and 100% accurate to prevent any delays. Additionally, be prepared for any testing or inspection that might be necessitated by the certification process. This careful and stringent procedure ensures that each product that comes to market meets every necessary quality requirement.

If your product meets regulatory standards, you will receive an accredited certificate, which can be used for various purposes, including customs clearance.

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