The Complete Guide to Importing Green Coffee in UAE

Updated November 28, 2023

While the United Arab Emirates may be famous for its towering skyscrapers, desert safaris, and Grand Mosque, the country’s coffee market is also growing at an astonishing rate.

In 2019, the UAE government invested the equivalent of almost $35 million in building a Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) for coffee to attract suppliers from overseas and establish new coffee trade routes. 

Last year, it was announced that the Coffee DMCC would be tripling its trading capacity in response to an increased demand for specialty coffee in the Middle East. 

As a result, the UAE is now a major player in the global coffee supply chain. So, if you’ve found yourself Googling “where can I buy green coffee in Dubai?” The answer is: you’re now going to be spoiled for options.

The region’s coffee culture is now a fusion of rich coffee traditions merged together with Western coffee influences. 

Arabic coffee, for example, uses deeply roasted beans mixed together with cardamom and saffron and is served in a long-spouted jug called a Dallah. In cities such as Dubai, however, these traditions are juxtaposed with Western coffee chains such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and Dunkin’ Donuts, which arrived there in the 1990s.

Either way, the UAE is a great country to import green coffee beans to, and we’re here to share our expertise with you on how it’s done.

How to Find a Supplier

If you’re looking for a supplier to help you import green coffee beans into the UAE, the most important things to ensure they are aware of are the country’s rules and regulations surrounding coffee imports. 

This knowledge is especially important in the UAE, a country home to 45 “free zones,” or areas where goods (in this case, coffee) can be traded with preferential tax and customs rates. 

When it comes to suppliers, if you’re after one that’s already on the ground in the UAE, a good place to start looking would be to identify suppliers with links to the DMCC and go from there. If you’re looking for suppliers at origin in Colombia, however, make sure you track down ones that are familiar with the local requirements and practices. 

Looking for coffee bean importers to the UAE? We’re experts at sourcing and shipping green coffee to UAE buyers.

Arranging Shipping

When shipping coffee beans, the first thing you’ll need to decide upon is the method you’re going to use to ship them. Here at Those Coffee People, we export four different types of coffee shipments to the UAE. These include: 

  • Less than container load (LCL) shipments
  • Full container load (FCL) shipments
  • Air freight
  • Courier

According to UAE import guidelines, before making any shipment to the country, you must make sure to obtain the correct trade license from the Department of Economic Development of the Emirate. 

You can apply to obtain a trade license, renew it, and manage it here

Overseas coffee companies may also set up an office in the UAE free zones which means they can use a free zone trade license to import coffee into the country. 

The good news is that Dubai’s main free zone port Jebel Ali, which is also the largest port in the Middle East, is one of the busiest ports in the world. This means it’s accessible on many shipping lines and routes from all corners of the globe, so you shouldn’t have any trouble arranging a direct route for your coffee shipment. 

Shipping Costs 

The price of your coffee bean shipment to the UAE will vary according to where you are exporting from and which provider you choose to use, as well as the Intercom terms you negotiate with them. 

One tip when it comes to estimating shipping costs is not to underestimate the extra charges and export costs charged by the country you are shipping from, which can make the overall shipping costs much more expensive.

For an FCL shipment from Colombia to Dubai, you can expect to pay between $3,600 and $4,000. This will include national (Colombian) freight from the coffee farms to the port, origin port fees and taxes, export costs, documentation, international freight, and insurances. 

Air freight from Bogotá can cost between $3-4 per kilogram, but keep in mind you’ll also need to pay $300-$500 in fixed costs for national freight exports from the coffee farms to the port, origin port fees and taxes, export costs, documentation for exports made by air.

UAE Coffee Imports Labeling Requirements

Although in the past the UAE has accepted labels in English, according to food labeling requirements from the Abu Dhabi Food and Safety Authority, they must now be all in Arabic. If the original label is in Arabic, a copy translated into English and attached to the original is also permitted.

With green coffee bean shipments into the UAE, your shipment label should contain the following information: 

  1. Name of the product and its grade
  2. Name of the species
  3. Net contents 
  4. Name and address of manufacturer/ packer/ distributor/ importer/ exporter/ vendor
  5. Production date
  6. Expiration date
  7. Country of origin

Customs Clearance and Declarations for Green Coffee In UAE

When importing green coffee beans into the UAE, you must also obtain some other importing documents beforehand in order to clear customs. 

If you’re importing into a free zone, these include: 

  • A product photo of the front and back of your shipment — ensure your supplier takes these photos before sending the shipment in order to register it.
  • Delivery order from the shipping/ airline agent addressed to the licensed company by the licensing management in the free zone.
  • Second copies of the bill of lading (for sea shipments), the original airway bill (for air shipments), or a road manifest (for land shipments).
  • Original health/ phytosanitary certificate.
  • Detailed packing list.
  • Certificate of origin.
  • Bill of entry issued by local customs.
  • Import permit from the agencies in the free zone for restricted goods.
  • Import goods declaration form.

If you decide to import green coffee beans into an area of the UAE that’s not a free zone, then hiring a licensed customs broker is a good idea. A broker can help you apply for permits and help you meet all the government requirements for your coffee import.

Coffee Import Customs Duties into UAE

According to the UAE imports and exports guide, free zone licensees are exempt from customs duties payments in the UAE. 

If you’re importing to mainland UAE (non free zones), however, you’ll need to pay a deposit and a customs duty of 5% of the shipment’s value. 

Look Out For Sales Tax on Green Coffee in UAE

One thing to bear in mind when researching where to buy green coffee in Dubai is that the standard VAT tax rate on coffee in the UAE is 5% of its sales value.

Discover our Range of Direct Trade Coffee Beans 

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re experts in sourcing and supplying the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive varieties, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian coffee origins here and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfill and deliver orders of any size for buyers in the UAE: contact us for more information.

If you’re looking to import coffee into the GCC, have a read of these importation guides:

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