Guide: Prohibited and restricted items while travelling to GCC

All GCC countries – UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain – have their list of prohibited items and travellers are advised to take all precaution to ensure that you do not carry such substances; either in person, your luggage or in medicines you may be carrying.

Strict penalties include years of imprisonment followed by deportation.

Even though, the list of prohibited or banned items is not the same for all, below are some of the items that have been banned by all GCC countries.

Items banned in all GCC countries

  • All kinds of narcotic drugs
  • Pornographic material – print, video, audio, hard disk etc.
  • Fireworks, weapons & ammunition
  • Chemical and organic fertilisers
  • Pork meat and related products
  • Crude Ivory and Rhinoceros horn
  • Endangered animal species
  • Forged and duplicate currency
  • Radar jammers/other unauthorised communication devices
  • Gambling tools and machinery
  • Radiation polluted substances

Drugs, Seeds and Leafs

All narcotics and recreational drugs including cocaine, heroin, cannabis and opiates and its derivatives are banned.

Be careful of carrying in poppy seeds which are banned in some countries including UAE, so avoid accidentally carrying bakery products that might contain such seeds.

Also banned is qat leaf, betel leaf or nuts, niswar, gutkha, which while admissible in some countries is not permitted in the UAE. Indian paan derivatives are banned in countries like Bahrain.


Most GCC countries do not permit bringing more than three month’s supply of medicine.

Ensure that your medicine does not contain a banned or restricted substance. UAE has published a list of restricted and controlled medicines or drugs, which is available here.

If your medicine contains any banned or restricted substance, it is advisable not to carry them on your flight/travel.

However, if for medical or emergency reasons, you need to carry any medicines, please ensure that you have a medical prescription from a doctor licensed in the country of your arrival. If the treatment was undertaken abroad, you must carry both a doctor’s prescription as well as a detailed medical report.

Proper prescription (original) is a must for pain killers and antibiotics as some of these are classified as drugs of abuse.

In such cases, it also advisable to get the prescriptions attested by Ministry of External Affairs in your home country (not necessary for normal medicines).

Lack of knowledge is not an excuse and it can even lead to imprisonment and deportation.

Print, audio, video or other media

  • Religious propaganda and potentially offensive printed materials, CDs, videos or films should not be carried.
  • Printed publications, oil paintings, photographs, pictures, cards, books, magazines stony sculptures and mannequins which contradict Islamic teachings, decencies, or deliberately implying immorality or turmoil.
  • Pirated video and audiotapes or illegal computer software will be confiscated.

Items banned in some GCC countries

  • Alcoholic beverages (Dubai airport allows up to 4 litres of alcohol beverages, or 2 cartons of beer, while most other countries do not allow this)
  • Certain kinds of dogs/pets are not allowed in some countries. Please check if you intend to take a pet with you.
  • Laser pens
  • Goods intended to be imported from boycotted countries
  • Goods from Israeli origin or bearing Israeli trademarks or logos
  • Original engravings, prints, lithographs, sculpture and statues in any material
  • Used, reconditioned and inlaid tires
  • Three layers of fishing nets
  • Natural pearls (banned in countries like KSA)
  • Binoculars, night-vision equipment or telescopic equipment
  • All types of statues or objects of human or animal form which might be used for religious purposes such as Buddha figurines, religious carvings, altars etc are banned in KSA. *This does not include kids toys such as stuffed animals, dolls.
  • Games of gambling (chess, dice, backgammon, poker chips, roulette etc.) are banned in KSA
  • Christmas trees, crosses, crucifixes, Stars of David or any other items associated with religions other than the Muslim faith are banned in KSA. *Bibles are allowed for personal use only, ie one Bible per person.

Restrictions on flights

These are some items that are restricted from ‘importing’ to a GCC country. However, there are many more items that are not allowed to be ‘carried on a flight’. Please refer to your airline’s website for such information.

If you are carrying an unusual item, or if you think that an airline may have a restriction, be sure to contact your airline ahead of time, or to contact a representative in the airport.


NOTE: This list has been prepared after checking the websites of various airports and customs departments in GCC. We have tried to include all the possible items that are prohibited. However, if you are carrying any unusual item, please refer to the concerned authorities before travelling.

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