New liquor rules in Dubai: 30% tax and fees for liquor licenses withdrawn

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Travel to Dubai has become cheaper for travelers who have a drink on holiday as the government scraps its 30% municipal tax on alcohol sales. The country has also scrapped its AED 270 ($73) alcohol license fee that allows people to buy alcohol to drink at home. The reduction in fees and taxes is effective now and will be tested for one year.

Major liquor suppliers are already celebrating the news on their social media, instantly reflecting the new prices on their in-store stock, but warn the 5% VAT charge will still apply.

Changes to the Dubai liquor license

Previously, the fees for obtaining a liquor license in Dubai was AED 270 per year and had a processing time of around four weeks.

MMI has confirmed that effective immediately, personal liquor licenses will be free for those eligible to legally purchase alcoholic beverages in the city.

People wishing to purchase an alcohol license in the city need a valid Emirates ID card or a passport for tourists. This can be done at any of the 21 MMI stores.

Tyrone Reid, Group CEO Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI) & Emirates Leisure Retail, said: “Following the Government of Dubai’s announcement to remove the 30% municipal tax on sales of alcoholic beverages, we are pleased to announce that this will be reflected on all alcoholic beverage products across all of our 21 MMI stores in Dubai, effective January 1.

“These recently updated regulations are essential to continue to ensure the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.”

government decree issued by the ruling Al Maktoum family

African + Eastern has also reportedly reduced the cost of acquiring an alcohol license in Dubai.

Do I need a liquor license to drink in my accommodation?

For tourists staying in hotels, the answer is NO.

Tourists staying in private accommodations like rentals or Airbnbs will have different rules if they are looking to purchase bottles to take home. Tourists can apply for a free 30-day license to purchase alcohol, which is a streamlined process you can complete from two of the leading liquor suppliers in Dubai – MMI and African + Eastern. You just need to be at least 21 years old and you will need to bring your passport and a valid visitor’s visa to the store to get the license.

Where can I buy alcohol?

MMI and African + Eastern are the two main legally operated liquor stores in Dubai and collectively have almost 40 stores in Dubai, which stock the most popular brands of wines, spirits and beers.

Tourists also have access to Legal home delivery service, which is the only legal alcohol delivery service in Dubai operated by MMI and African + Eastern. This service allows you to avoid going to the store and opt for delivery to your accommodation, available 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The system does not currently offer same day delivery, so you will need to order before noon to get next day delivery and order a minimum of 150 UAE (40 USD). Currently, there is no limit set by law on how much alcohol you can buy, provided you have a liquor license to buy it.

Is alcohol expensive in Dubai?

A wide range of alcohol is served in Dubai, but its price is generally higher than at home. Drinking alcohol in Dubai is considered a privilege, but the recent removal of the 30% tax should make it more attractive to tourists.

When does the rule come into effect?

The rule eliminating taxes on liquor sales and free liquor licenses went into effect on January 1, 2023.

Documents required for liquor licenses

  • For Residents – Valid Emirates Identity Card.
  • For tourists – Valid passport.

Where to apply

Tourists and residents can obtain a free alcohol license by validating the required documents at any MMI or African + Eastern store.

Age and consumption

Legally in the UAE, for non-Muslims, the drinking age is 21.

Alcohol can only be consumed in licensed establishments or in private settings.

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