Customs has existed in the UAE for more than one hundred years. Going through several phases, customs took the institutional shape in the age of the late Sheikhs Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai.
Several years before the official declaration of a Federal Customs Authority, some were calling for a unified customs law and a federal entity to apply such law in order to achieve more economic integration between the emirates, boost the federal public finance and fulfill the regional and international obligations in the customs field. However, the actual executive steps to establish the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) were taken in 2002.
In the first half of 2002, the Council of Ministers approved two decrees nos. 617/7 of 2001G and 157/12 of 2002G assigning the then Ministry of Finance and Industry to hire an international consulting office to prepare consulting studies for FCA creation and authorizing the Ministry of Finance to follow up the execution of the needed procedures and measures.
Following a meeting with local customs directors in May of the same year, the Minister of Finance and Industry announced that the meeting discussed the study conducted by the consulting office on the establishment of the FCA as well as the steps to be taken to execute the UAE obligations under the GCC customs union. In light of the study, the meeting concluded that a federal draft law should be prepared to establish the FCA and give it effective role in execution of the UAE obligations under the GCC customs union. The draft law should also ensure standardized application of the customs procedures as well as standardized systems, forms and software in the customs field across the UAE. It should also ensure training for customs cadres to improve efficiency of the workers in this sector.
Then, the FCA made major strides to come into existence. On May 28, 2002G, the ministerial committee of the GCC affairs chaired by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry, decided to charge the Ministry of Finance and Industry with commencing the procedures of preparing the FCA draft law and the UAE unified customs law. The Committee confirmed that it was important to speed up the execution of such procedures to enable the new authority to perform the required task on time.
Based on the assignment of the ministerial committee, the Ministry of Finance and Industry exerted utmost efforts to finish the FCA draft law as soon as possible. These efforts resulted in the FCA draft law no. 1 of 2003G. The draft law has been presented to a specialized ministerial committee and then to the Council of Ministers and the Federal Supreme Council. On January 8, 2003, these efforts ended with the Federal Decree Law No. 1 of 2003 issued by HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, then president of the UAE on the establishment of the FCA.
The FCA draws the customs policies, supervises the execution of customs-related laws and legislation and represents the UAE inside and outside the state. Local customs departments do the executive work and draw the customs policies for each emirate in compliance with the Common Customs Law.
Local Customs Departments: