Money and duty free for United Arab Emirates
Currency and Money
UAE Dirham (AED, also written as Dhs) = 100 fils. Notes are in denominations of AED1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of AED1, and 50, 25, 10 and 5 fils (10 and 5 fils coins are rarely used).
The Dirham is tied to the US Dollar.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are found across the UAE, mostly in the major cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
ATMs accept foreign debit and credit cards including Switch, Maestro, Visa, Union Pay and Cirrus, and can be found throughout the UAE, in shopping malls, hotels and petrol stations. However, cash back is not commonly available in the UAE. Plan ahead if you are taking taxis, they will only accept cash and often only small notes and change.
These are widely accepted, though not often used. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.
These vary depending on the branch and bank, however a rule of thumb is Sat-Wed between 0800-1300 and Thursdays 0800-noon. Some open later in the evening from 1600-1830. All are closed on Fridays and public holidays.
Travellers can carry a maximum of AED100,000 (or the equivalent in foreign currency) into or out of the country undeclared. Anything over this amount must be declared at customs.
Most hotels will handle the exchange of foreign currency as well as many major banks. Many of the large shopping malls have bureaux de change. Recommended bureaux de change include UAE Exchange located at Dubai Mall and Marina Mall, both in Dubai, or Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi.
United Arab Emirates duty free
The following items may be imported into the United Arab Emirates without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes and 50 cigars and 500g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine or spirits or 48 cans of beer.
• Goods to the value of AED3,000.
Narcotics, goods from boycotted countries (eg Israel), ivory, rhino horn, gambling devices, original engravings, prints or sculptures, any immoral publications or media contradicting Islamic teachings, counterfeit currency, and cooked or homemade food.
If you are planning to carry medication into the country, check with your embassy in advance, as some common, over-the-counter medicines that are freely available elsewhere in the world are prohibited in the UAE. Penalties are severe - you could go to prison if you’re caught.