Is it worth importing a car into the UAE?

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  • When buying second-hand cars, make sure to see an imported car’s service history.
  • Research the process as much as possible beforehand to avoid unnecessary problems.

With the UAE’s car fanatics in constant competition with one another, it’s no surprise that many petrol-heads look abroad to unearth a lesser-spotted gem – with the United States, Europe and Japan, particularly popular markets. However, the importation of cars into the country can bring with it a slew of logistical hurdles, if not done in the correct fashion.

Cars with right-hand drive cannot be registered in the UAE, and vehicles which are more than 10 years old must be approved for entry by the Roads and Transport Authority before entering the country.

On spec

Up to 90% of non-GCC specification cars imported to the region are refused cover by insurance companies, according to a survey released this year, so it’s advisable to check the status of your motor before trying to bring it over.

Furthermore, many insurers are wary of providing comprehensive coverage to luxury imported cars, offering only basic third-party insurance. Reasons for this include the paucity of service history on a given vehicle; cars available on the second-hand market may have been written off following a crash, and then salvaged and repaired.

While technically roadworthy, such vehicles are likely to either break down or be impacted worse by any subsequent accidents. The difficulty in categorizing these motors, plus the possibility of mileage tampering, means that many insurers are suspicious of backing a lemon. In May, the UAE government addressed this loophole by banning the importation of certain types of damaged cars from abroad.

A lack of spare parts

Another potential pitfall in securing coverage for an imported vehicle is the prohibitive cost of maintenance and repair, exacerbated by the lack of spare parts locally.

The UAE’s high temperatures and humidity can also prove problematic for cars built in other regions, as they have not been modified to suit the extremities of the climate. The sandy environment can wreak havoc on a car’s filtration system, for example, while rust-proofing and air-conditioning problems may also arise.White SUV riding in a UAE safari

It’s also important to note that the resale value of an imported car can be affected by the above issues too, as buyers will likely share the same misgivings as insurers.

Having taken aboard these points, if you’re still eager to bring a foreign car through one of the UAE’s ports, the process is as follows:

  • Once the car enters the country, the importer (who must be a resident) needs to pay a 5% fee on the vehicle,
  • Secure a clearance certificate,
  • Take it for a safety test
  • Then register it and insure it.

Importing your own car may seem tempting, but it’s also worth considering selling your car before moving to the UAE and purchasing one once you arrive here – and if you’re tempted to buy a used imported car, make absolutely certain all the paperwork is in order, so you’re not stuck with an expensive dud in your driveway.


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Aqeed is on a mission to help you become better at everything related to insurance. The articles are meant to enrich your knowledge about insurance so that you make the right choices. From the decisions you make to the options you take, you are In Sure Hands.

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