Getting an Alcohol License in Dubai is Now Easier Than Ever
NOTE: For details on the new rules – updated in 2020, read this article.
I love a challenge – and the more fiendish the better – which is why I’ve always looked forward to renewing my Dubai alcohol license each year. However, it seems that the fun and excitement of juggling myriad pieces of official documentation and written permissions is now a thing of the past, as Dubai has just updated its rules on buying alcohol, making everything easier.
Previously, if you wanted to buy alcohol and drink at home you needed to provide (deep breath) copies of your passport, residence visa, work contract, tenancy agreement or proof of property ownership, and include a signed form stamped by your employer along with a recent photograph and the fee, (currently AED 270). If you were self-employed, you’d also need to submit your trade license, salary certificate and if you live in shared accommodation, a letter from the leaseholder stating that they have no problem with you being licensed, along with a copy of their visa stamped passport. On the plus side, at the end of all that you really appreciated a stiff drink.
Under the new rules, all you actually need are copies of your passport, visa and Emirates ID, along with a passport sized photograph and the fee (still AED 270). Anticlimactic if you love a little red tape in your life, but absolutely wonderful for the rest of us – particularly those who weren’t able to get a Dubai alcohol license before.
Also gone is the much loved monthly cap on the amount of alcohol you could buy, replaced with a flexible limit that customers can set themselves – which I imagine will be quite revealing in itself. This is still based on your salary, but the added flexibility means it’s now much easier to suit it to your lifestyle.
Another noticeable and sure to be mourned absence is the requirement that married women get an NOC – a letter of no objection from their husband giving them permission to have one. Remaining, however, are all the in-built bonuses that easily outweigh the AED 270 fee. These differ depending on where you get your alcohol license, but usually include things like an AED 100 introduce a friend voucher, 25% off your next purchase, plus 2-for-1, a free pint, a free main course, a free bottle of wine or free Karaoke pod hire at venues across the city.
Combined, this is wonderful news and opens the door to hosting parties and tastings at home, all of which is great for our social lives.
Bye red tape, we’ll miss you!
Getting an alcohol license? Here are some of our most commonly asked questions.
Where do I get my alcohol license?
You can apply online (and strangely sign up with your Facebook account), request hard copies of the form from alcohollicensedubai.com, or mmiliquorlicence.com or pick them up at selected branches of African & Eastern and MMI. Applications take up to four weeks to process.
I have an alcohol license, can I drink outside or in the park?
A resounding no. Dubai law makes it illegal to drink in public, and believe me, they take it seriously.
Can I bring alcohol into Dubai?
What’s the punishment if I’m caught drinking alcohol without a license?
Severe. Punishments include six months in the clink, an AED 5,000 fine and deportation – possibly all three.
Do I need to carry my alcohol license at all times?
That depends on how often you’re planning to drink, but if you’re caught tipsy or behaving badly in public you will be required to show it.
I now have an alcohol license, where can I buy alcohol in Dubai?
You’ll find branches of African+Eastern and MMI all across the city. However, for tips and advice on the best and most reasonable places to find it you can check out our article on where to buy alcohol in the UAE, or read our blogs on the best places to eat and drink.