Labeling/Marking Requirements

Overview of the different labeling and marking requirements, including any restrictive advertising or labeling practices and where to get more information.

Last published date: 2022-01-09

Labeling regulations apply to all products shipped in bulk and retail-sized packaging. To avoid shipment rejection, it is important U.S. exporters comply with UAE label requirements and verify that all information mentioned on the product label is accurate and legible. Companies are strongly encouraged to review the regulations related to their specific commodity and clarify any questions prior to exporting.

Please be sure to check the latest regulations and updates directly from the relevant authorities. The information here is meant to be helpful but there may be more recent updates not reflected here.

Food labeling is of particular importance in the UAE when it comes to product labeling. Standard UAE.S GSO 9:2017 “Labeling of Prepackaged Food Stuffs” and its referenced GSO standards identify the food labeling requirements for the UAE. This UAE standard has been approved and published as a technical regulation and is mandatory.

Food labels must include the following information:

  • Product name (name of the food) in a prominent position on the label.
  • Ingredients in descending order of proportion.
  • Additives. Names of additives or E-number must be declared with the group name of the additive.
  • Nutritional declaration.
  • Net weight volume (reference section VII.11. for accepted weight and measure).
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, producer, distributor, importer, exporter, or vendor.
  • Country of origin.
  • Expiry dates, special storage and preparation instructions. Production and expiry dates shall be declared for the products having mandatory shelf life.
  • Allergy information on ingredients (if any).
  • Lot identification.
  • The source of animal fats (beef, buffalo, etc.).
  • Foodstuff and ingredients which are known to cause hypersensitivity.
  • Barcode.
  • Irradiated food.

Labels must be in Arabic only or Arabic/English. Arabic stickers are accepted. The production and expiry dates must be printed on the original manufactured installed label. All stickers must be approved by UAE authorities prior to use and should be included during the label assessment process. Stickering on imported items must be performed prior to export and cannot be completed upon entry. Companies should consider cultural norms and values when designing and developing product packaging. The minimum information requirements for the Arabic label or sticker are:

  • Product name.
  • Food ingredients.
  • Country of origin.
  • Storage conditions (if applicable).
  • Instructions for use (if applicable).
  • Nutritional information (if applicable).

Only a single set of expiration dates is permitted and must be printed in the following order:

  • Day/month/year, for products with a shelf life of three (3) months or less.
  • Day/month/year or month/year for products with a shelf life longer than three (3) months. Under the month/year format, the last day of the month is considered the expiry date. The month may be printed in numbers or letters.

Animal fats and ingredients should be sourced from animals that are Halal slaughtered. The use of pork fat, as with all pork-related products as ingredients, is prohibited unless the products are retailed with all pork and non-Muslim products in designated restricted sections of the retail stores. These sections are clearly marked for non-Muslims. Labels for pork and pork-containing products must comply with the general labeling requirements and must clearly state that the product contains pork. If the product is halal (halal logo is printed on the label), the supplier/importer needs to provide a halal certificate from one of the accredited halal certifiers in the U.S. that are approved by UAE authorities. The list of approved halal certifiers and the scope of work of each certifier can be obtained from Emirates Standardization and Metrology Agency (ESMA).

For pet foods, labels must be printed in Arabic. Arabic/English labels are permitted, as is the use of stickers. The pet food label must contain the statement “Not fit for human consumption.” Production/expiry dates are required for pet foods.

If the product is claimed as organic and an organic logo is included in the label, a certificate must be provided from an accredited body supporting this claim. The United States Department of Agriculture organic logo (USDA Organic) and certificate is accepted by UAE authorities. If the product is organic but not claimed on the packaging, the importer is not required to submit any certificate or attestation. If “GMO-Free” is claimed on the product’s label, the supplier must provide a GMO- free certificate from a competent authority issued at the country of origin to verify the claim.

To ensure that the exported U.S. products comply with local food regulations/standards UAE health authorities require advance label approval and product registration. To facilitate product entry, U.S. suppliers are strongly encouraged to obtain advance label approval through their local importers, particularly for new to market goods. This label clearance/approval can be obtained through the Dubai Municipality website.

The U.S. Embassy Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) publishes the Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report for doing business in the GCC-4 (Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE). The report covers topics such as food laws, labeling requirements, shelf-life, food additives regulations, packaging and import procedures, and prohibited food imports.

Key Resources

Dubai Municipality

Emirates Standardization and Metrology Agency (ESMA)

United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agriculture Service