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Shipping Container Costs From the United Kingdom to UAE

Ashleigh Williams

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

6th Sep 2022 (Last updated on 9th Feb 2024) 5 minute read

On average, shipping to the UAE from the UK costs £2,460 based on a 40ft shipping container which is equal to a 3-bedroom house. The average air freight cost is £278. This is based on our International Removals Cost research.

There are two shipping services to choose from for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - sea and air freight. The option you select will depend on shipping costs and times.

  1. Sea Freight
  2. Air Freight
  3. FCL VS LCL Shipping
  4. Other Costs to Consider
  5. How Long Does Shipping Take?
  6. Prohibited Items to UAE
  7. Finding an International Removal Company to UAE

Sea Freight

Sea freight is the most common shipping option when moving to the UAE. This is because it’s less expensive and better for the environment. Goods will take longer to arrive when compared to air freight which can be inconvenient if you need specific items quickly. You also need to take into consideration custom clearance times.


  • Ability to transport motor vehicles
  • More eco-friendly
  • Pay for the size of the shipping container you select instead of by weight
  • Lower costs
  • Part-load options available


  • Delays are more common
  • Sea freight is less frequent than air freight
  • Goods take longer to arrive

Main UAE Ports and Routes

There are 12 major ports in the UAE. The largest port is Jebel Ali which is the largest man-made harbour in the world. This port is used when shipping to Dubai. Other ports include:

  • Port Khalifa
  • Musaffah Port
  • Port of Mina Zayed
  • Mina Rashid Port

The main port in the UK that can be used to ship goods from the uk to Dubai and other UAE countries is Felixtowe.

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Air Freight

If you want your delivery to the United Arab Emirates to arrive quicker, air freight is the better option. It’s more expensive as a result. Your goods will be shipped from your preferred UK airport to the most convenient airport in the UAE.


  • Quickest delivery time
  • Higher levels of security for your goods
  • Convenient and regular flight times
  • 9 airports in the UAE to ship to


  • More expensive compared to sea freight
  • Costs are based on weight rather than size
  • Less eco-friendly
  • Limitations on what can be shipped (eg motor vehicles)

Main UAE Airports and Routes

There are 9 main airports in the UAE. This is why air freight is useful and convenient. The most popular airports include:

  • Dubai International Airport
  • Sharjah
  • Al Maktoum
  • Bateen
  • Al Ain
  • Delma

The main UK airports offering delivery to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other UAE countries are London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Birmingham and Glasgow International.

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FCL VS LCL Shipping

Whether you’re shipping furniture overseas via sea or air freight, you need to decide whether you need full or part-load shipping. This is determined by how much shipping space you need. Here are the aspects that will affect the cost and type of shipping you choose:

  • Customs and duty charges
  • The weight of the items
  • Tracking
  • Insurance
  • The number of items
  • The size of the items
  • Distance travelled

The main differences between FCL and LCL shipping are:

Full Container Load (FCL)

Full container load is the most popular shipping option for those looking to ship a lot of goods. A full container is equivalent to a whole shipping container. You pay for this container and you can fill it entirely with your items. Everything is kept in one container. It will typically be delivered quicker than LCL.

Less Container Load (LCL)

If you want to ship a smaller number of items, less container load is a more suitable option. It allows you to share a shipping container with others.

This helps to cut shipping costs, but it does mean you’ll have less packing space. Due to the container being shared the number of working days it takes to arrive will be increased.

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Other Costs to Consider

When shipping to the UAE from the UK, you will also need to consider:

Packing Services

Packing services cost around £250 on average, based on the contents of a 3-bedroom house. The cost will vary depending on the number of items and the company.

When it comes to packing, the UAE have stricter rules. When shipping via air freight it’s a legal requirement that goods are professionally packaged. This is an additional charge you will need to consider if you choose to ship via air freight.

Packing services come at an extra charge. However, packers will ensure your goods are safe and protected during transit. High-quality packing materials are used.

Pick-up and Delivery

Pick-up and delivery is a good service to consider if you want your items picked up and delivered to you from the port or the airport. It means you don’t have to transport your belongings.

The cost will differ based on the UAE country you’re shipping to, the number of goods, and the distance the removals company will need to travel.


Insurance will typically cost 4% of the total price of the goods you’re shipping. This is why the cost will vary based on the number of items you ship.

Your Insurance policy will vary based on the policy you choose and the individual insurance policy. How your goods are shipped and the distance they’ve travelled will also be factored into the costs.

All our international removal partners are covered by Public Liability and Goods in Transit insurance. Many have additional insurance such as marine cargo insurance. This ensures your goods are protected during transit, providing you with peace of mind.

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How Long Does Shipping Take?

On average, air freight takes 1-3 days to arrive. Sea freight will take up to 4 weeks to arrive. LCL shipping takes around 6 weeks due to the container being shared with others.

The time shipping will take will depend on the mode of transport and whether you’re shipping FCL or LCL. If you’re shipping from London to Dubai via FCL, this will arrive quicker than LCL.

Prohibited Items to UAE

There are many items you’re unable to bring into the UAE. These items include:

  • Gambling tools
  • Counterfeit currency
  • Controlled and recreational drugs
  • Narcotic substances
  • Art and publications offensive to Muslim culture

Check The United Arab Emirates’ Government Portal for a full breakdown of all prohibited items.

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Finding an International Removal Company to UAE

When moving to the UAE, ensure you’re choosing a reliable and trustworthy company. Our international removals comparison service connects you with up to 6 different verified and trusted partners. We can help you save up to 70% on your removal costs.

Ashleigh Williams

Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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