Cabin and checked luggage: what you can and can’t take on a plane to Dubai

July 21, 2022

As people jet off on their summer holidays, here is a reminder of what you are and are not allowed in your hand and hold luggage on an aircraft.

This not only includes dangerous and restricted items, but the more apparently harmless things, such as a mercury thermometer, rolling pins, small plants, or even simple, home-cooked food.

Each country has its own rules and if you are flying to Dubai, you can find the list of prohibited items on Dubai Custom’s website, which is updated regularly.

Ibrahim Al Kamali, director of passenger operations at Dubai Customs, said travellers should check the rules before flying. If in doubt, they can also use the iDeclare app and declare anything that they are not sure of.

“We call upon passengers to declare their possessions on arrival and not to carry luggage for others,” he said.
List of prohibited items
October 8, 2014- General Department of Airports Security (GDAS) at Dubai Police have seized 16 pieces of African elephant tusks banned for trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

The pieces of ivory were found with Asian people coming from an African country en route to their home country through Dubai International Airport, building 3. Police officers suspected and searched two bags and found the banned items inside.

Courtesy Dubai Police 
Crude ivory and rhinoceros horn are on the banned list. Photo: Dubai Police
Prohibited goods are any items that cannot be carried in the checked or hold luggage without the approval of the relevant authorities. These include:

All kinds of narcotic drugs, including hashish, cocaine, heroin, poppy seeds, and hallucinogenic pills. Certain prohibited drugs may be imported or exported subject to official approvals.

Crude ivory and rhinoceros horn

Gambling tools and machinery

Three-layer fishing nets

Original engravings, prints, lithographs (prints made on stone), sculptures, and statues in any material

Used, reconditioned and inlaid tyres (made of high quality sponge materials)

Substances that cause radiation

Printed publications, oil paintings, photographs, pictures, cards, books, magazines stony sculptures and mannequins that contradict Islamic teachings, decencies, or deliberately imply immorality or turmoil

Forged and duplicate currency

Cooked and home-made foods

Paan and betel leaves

Live animals, plants, fertilisers and insecticides

Weapons, ammunition, explosives and fireworks

Rough diamonds

Transmitters and radio equipment


This list can be updated occasionally to add or remove items. For the latest information, check the official Dubai Customs website.

Items prohibited in hand luggage
All types of hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and sharp work tools

Scissors with blades longer than 6cm

Personal grooming kit (parts longer than 6cm will be confiscated)

All types of swords, knives and sharp objects


All types of firearms, ammunition, or flare guns

All types of laser guns and martial arts weapons



All types of ropes

Measuring tapes

Matches, safety (one small packet) or a small cigarette lighter that does not contain unabsorbed liquid fuel, other than liquefied gas, intended for use by an individual when carried on the person. Lighter fuel and lighter refills are not allowed on a person or in checked or carry-on baggage.

Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon

Packing tape

Electrical cables except for personal trip use


Large metallic items

Compressed gas cylinders

Car spare parts

Flammable liquid


Lithium batteries

E-cigarettes (including e-cigars, e-pipes, electric portable incense burners or other personal vaporisers) containing batteries must be individually protected to prevent accidental activation. They can only be carried in the checked luggage, not in the hand luggage.

Hypodermic needles (unless you have a medical certificate explaining why you need them).

High quantities of liquids such as soup, jam, honey, syrups, cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotion, oils, perfumes, mascara, lip gloss, sprays, shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants, toothpaste, contact lens solution and gels, including hair and shower gel.

All liquids should be packed inside a clear, re-sealable plastic bag and cannot be more than 100 ml per item. The maximum limit is 1 litre.

Certain medicines are included in the list of banned items at Dubai Airport.

50mg Tramadol hydrochloride painkiller capsules

Air travellers can end up in jail if they are found carrying prescription drugs without a medical certificate. Photo: Keith Burdett
Some medicines from passengers’ home countries may unintentionally contain substances banned in the UAE, which can lead to possible arrest.

Passengers should carry a valid and attested prescription from a doctor if they do not have any other option but to carry the banned medication.

Passengers should not have medication that is more than the required normal usage for your scheduled stay in Dubai.

Alpha-methylifentanyl (opioid analgesic)

Ketamine (an anaesthetic that can be used for depression)

Betamethodol (used for skin diseases but is a cortisone-like medicine or steroid)

Trimeperidine (an opioid analgesic)

The entire list of banned medicines can be found on the website of Dubai Customs.

What can people bring into the country, legally?
Passengers can bring the following items into Dubai without paying customs duty:

Gifts that are under Dh3,000.

Passengers 18 or older can bring less than 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 500 grams of tobacco (minced or pressed for pipes), tobacco or mild-tasting tobacco. Passengers will have to pay duty if they exceed the limit.

Alcoholic beverages and beers should not exceed four litres, or two cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355ml for each can or its equivalent).

Personal belongings exempt from customs fees
Still and moving image video cameras with their appropriate tapes, films and accessories.

A passenger who is 18 years or older can carry cash, different currencies and traveller's cheques, but the total amount should be less than Dh6​0,000.

CDs, DVD players, slides, films and accessories that are used in projectors but only for personal use.

Telescopes, mobile telephones, portable TV sets, computers including laptops.

Baby strollers

Portable music equipment

Sports equipment (should be taken in checked luggage if it can be used as a bludgeon)

Portable typing sets

Portable calculators

Disabled wheelchairs and cars

The above items must be for personal use and not for resale.

The passenger should not be a frequent traveller coming in with these goods on a regular basis.