How to Process an Alcohol License for Non-Muslim Expats

The UAE is known for having strict rules for liquor. There are laws guiding how locals and tourists should consume their alcoholic beverages, there are rules when buying alcohol, and there are regulations when selling liquor.

Also Read: What to do in case you get into a road accident in Dubai

Every consumer and seller is guided by liquor laws, including how an individual should get a liquor license before he/she buys or sells alcohol in the country. If you plan to get this license, there is a simple procedure that you must follow. We’ve gathered all information in this blog to help you out with the process. Read on to learn more.

What are the types of liquor licenses available in the UAE?

There are 4 types of liquor licenses in the UAE:

  • liquor import license
  • license to sell liquor to third parties
  • license to purchase liquor
  • license to serve liquor in a hotel, bar, or restaurant

What controls the use of alcohol in the UAE is the Liquor Control Law No. 999 of 1972. This facilitates the sale of liquor, import, export, consumption, purchase, and manufacture in the country. If you plan on getting a license, the Dubai Police General Headquarter (DPGH) will be the one to issue.

How to apply for a liquor license in the UAE?

Alcohol License as an Individual

To get your license as an individual, follow these steps:

  1. Go to a local branch of African + Eastern or Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI) to get your application form.
  2. Fill out the form and make sure to let your employer stamp or sign it before you submit it to MMI.
  3. Secure the following documents:
    • Photocopies of your passport and residence visa
    • A photocopy of your residential rental or contract of ownership
    • Passport-sized pictures
    • Your employment contract in English and Arabic.
  4. Go back to MMI to submit your application form and documents.
  5. Pay the fees that can range from AED 230 to AED 270.
  6. MMI will manage the application and submit it to the police department for processing. This can take up to 10 days.
  7. After the processing, MMI will call you once your license is ready.

For Businesses to Get a Corporate License to Serve Alcohol in Hotels, Bar, or Restaurants

To get your license as a corporation, follow these steps:

  1. Gather the following details:
    • Applicant’s information whose name will appear in the license.
    • The location of the bar, hotel, or restaurant where liquor will be sold.
    • Complete details of how the business will arrange the storage of liquor.
    • Information about fire precautions
    • Estimated cost amount of liquor needed monthly.
  2. Go to a local branch of MMI.
  3. Fill out the form and submit it together with the requirements mentioned.
  4. Pay the fees accordingly.
  5. Wait for the license to be processed and approved.

Are there restrictions when you get a liquor license?

MMI and DPGH don’t just issue liquor licenses to anyone. You have to qualify and meet the minimum requirements. The following are the conditions for selling, importing, and consuming alcohol in the UAE:

  • Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol.
  • There are restrictions when opening and closing liquor shops and restaurants serving alcohol.
  • You must be over 21 years old to consume alcohol and have a license.
  • It’s illegal to advertise and promote alcohol in the country.
  • Before you can apply for a license, you must be a resident of the UAE and earning more than AED 3,000.
  • If you are living in someone else’s property, you must get a NOC from the owner, as well as the contract of tenancy.
  • You can consume alcohol in an establishment with a liquor license.
  • Your business must have a trade license.
  • If you are a non-resident, you can still buy and consume in restricted places.
  • If you are working in a free zone, you should get a salary certificate.
  • You need NOC from your husband if you want a liquor license.
  • Liquors can be bought from stores identified by the government.

Reminders for liquor license holders

All liquor licenses are only valid for a year. If you want to continue holding this permit, you can renew it by paying AED 160. When applying for a license, see to it that you are willing to pay 30% of tax when you purchase as this is a requirement by the country.

What’s good about having a license in the country is that it doesn’t only save you from paying penalties when you buy, consume, or sell alcoholic products. You also get a chance to talk to major restaurants and bar chains in the country. There are wine club memberships, notification of new alcoholic products, promotions, discounts, and so on.

Dos and don’ts when dealing with alcohol in the UAE

  • No consumption is allowed in public places unless it is an area designated by the law. If you will be caught drinking in public, you will get reported and you will face charges accordingly.
  • Hide your alcohol or keep it somewhere that can’t be seen by other people. Don’t carry alcohol in public without hiding it.
  • Like your IDs and other licenses, always keep your alcohol license with you.
  • If you like to consume and drink alcohol, you are allowed in your place or in a hotel where you are staying.
  • No driving and drinking. This is a major offense in the UAE and you can get imprisoned if you are caught.
  • Remember the type of alcohol license you are holding and use it for its intended purpose only.
  • Only buy alcoholic beverages equivalent to 20% of your salary or up to AED 5,000.

Final Thoughts

Liquor license is as important as driving license. You can’t buy or sell any kinds of alcohol if you don’t have it. You need to take this seriously as the country has zero-tolerance policy in terms of illegal alcohol selling and buying.

It’s easier to apply for a license than go through the hassle of paying fines and getting imprisoned for illegal consumption and production. If you have friends and relatives in the UAE who need this information, don’t forget to forward the blog link to them.

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