How do I register food products for import into the UAE under Dubai Municipality DM Approval

Dubai Municipality Approvals –
Food Importation

How do I register food products for import into the UAE under Dubai Municipality?

To ensure consumer safety all food products brought into the UAE must pass an assessment system established by the UAE government. In the case of importing, growing, making and selling food products in Dubai, the products must go through the registration process at Dubai Municipality.

Once the food product registration is completed, you can then sell your product in the UAE market legally.

The Food Safety Department at Dubai Municipality regulates the registration of food products under the food control department. This is done through the Food Import Re-export Service (FIRS) online portal system at Dubai Municipality (DM).

What are the requirements for food product registration at Dubai Municipality?

To be able to import/export or manufacture food in the UAE, the company first needs to be set up as an LLC and registered with the DED and Dubai Municipality using a food trading activity or a general trading activity. This is the initial part of the process.

The goods themselves are then approved by the same department. The goods are subject to testing, and authentication of the ingredients. This ensures the consumer can be confident that what they purchase adheres to the quality standards of the UAE.

There are number of considerations to note when registering foodstuffs in Dubai:

  • There are certain banned substances that are not allowed or require extra, special approvals such as poppy seeds, alcohol etc.
  • Ingredients must be displayed either in Arabic or English.
  • Some food additives are banned in the UAE such as fast yellow A B, yellow 2 G, amaranth, patent blue V, and also potassium bromate.
  • Dubai Municipality holds the right to reject registration applications, especially if the product has already previously been registered.

What are the requirements for labelling of foodstuff in Dubai?

Dubai Municipality (DM) has the responsibility for regulating the importation of foodstuff and monitoring the labelling and testing of food products. DM liaises with the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) to ensure compliance with the relevant standardisation measures in the UAE.

The supplier of foodstuff products should first be registered at DM as an authorised foodstuff supplier through the FIRS system.

Foodstuff products which are new to the FIRS system need to be registered in detail first. This requires a description of the packaging type and a clear image of the label and the food item itself (maximum image file size is 10 MB).

The following labelling description is mandatory on all food packaging:

  • Commercial name/brand name - this is a summarised description of the food product - the name shall be specific and not generic and shall indicate the true nature of the foodstuff.
  • The food ingredients (listed in descending order commencing with the highest weight or volume).
  • Production & expiration dates of all products (except those which are exempted from displaying the validity or expiration dates).
  • Name of the food manufacturer, packer, distributor or importer.
  • Net weight or volume.
  • Country of Origin should be clearly stated (not the region, such as EU but the specific country).
  • Product’s barcode.
  • Lot number.
  • The language of the label shall be in Arabic.
  • Storage conditions (if the validity of the product depends on such conditions).
  • Mentioning any ingredients which may cause intolerances/allergic reactions.
  • Instructions for using the product (if required).
  • Displaying the nutritional information is optional.
  • Halal marking.
  • Genetically modified (GMO) products should be marked as (genetically modified + the name of the product) or (product from genetically modified + the name of the product) while those products which contain GMO should be marked as (contain genetically modified + the name of the product).

General UAE foodstuff labelling information

The labels for packed foodstuff products should be clear, easy to read and difficult to remove in the normal conditions of handling and use. Information should not be obscured by graphics or designs or other written/ printed words and shall be on a contrasting part of the packaging to that of the background. The letters of the name of the products shall be in a size reasonably related to other prominent printed matter on the label.

Where the container is covered by a wrapper, the wrapper must carry the necessary information, or the label on the container shall be readily legible through the outer wrapper or not obscured by it. In general, the name and net contents of the foodstuff products must appear on the portion of the label normally intended to be presented to the consumer at the time of sale.

Further details on the labelling language

Arabic is the official language for verifying the information on the label. Other languages on the label are considered as translation. The language used on packaging labels of foodstuff must be in Arabic and/or English.

The mandatory information on the product labelling should always be displayed in Arabic, even in circumstances where additional content is displayed on the label.

Companies may use stickers to translate the food labels into the Arabic Language. However, it is admissible that other labelling information on the wrapper is given in other languages.

Possible reasons for rejection of foodstuff registration through DM FIRS system

The FIRS system may reject the registration of foodstuff products for the following common reasons:

  • The labelling information is difficult to read.
  • The foodstuff contains banned ingredients such as poppy seeds or alcohol.
  • There is a duplicated barcode in the FIRS program.
  • Some ingredients in the foodstuff are not correctly declared.
  • Ingredients are written in a foreign language not Arabic or English.
  • The labelling has a non-conformity with applicable laws, such religious signs or inappropriate pictures.

What is the estimated timeframe for foodstuff registration with Dubai Municipality

The supplier company must first be set up in Dubai as a limited liability company with the correct food trading activity and get itself registered with Dubai Municipality.

Once this is confirmed then the process to register the food stuff and obtain approval for the foodstuff labelling normally takes around 10 working days. This is assuming there are no issues or rejections within the DM system as suggested above.

How can PRO Partner Group help?

Producers and importers of foodstuff products in Dubai will need to fully register with and meet the requirements of the FIRS system at Dubai Municipality. PRO Partner Group can assist you to set up the company correctly, obtain the relevant activities and DM approval for the company. We can then assist you in registering the food products at Dubai Municipality. If you need assistance on this or any other related company set up, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman or Qatar, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

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