Can we Import cars from Dubai to India: Comprehensive Guide

Imagine cruising down the streets of Mumbai in a sleek, Dubai-imported car. But can we import cars from Dubai to India? Well, the answer might not shock you, but the import taxes definitely will. 

Can we Import cars from Dubai to India: A Resounding Yes!

Picture this: your dream car, say a shiny Lamborghini, starts its journey in Dubai. It’s loaded onto a roll-on roll-off transport ship, slowly floating away from Dubai, embarking on its voyage to India. The car must have an export clearance certificate, a certificate of origin, billing documentation, and an inventory list from Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority before it can set sail.​

Navigating Indian Import Regulations and Duties:

Navigating the intricacies of importing cars from Dubai to India requires understanding several key regulations and duties. When a car reaches Indian shores, the process is governed by stringent import policies set by India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. Here’s a breakdown of the important aspects:

Import Duties and Taxes:

Eligibility and Restrictions:

  • The imported vehicle must comply with Euro IV emission standards and be roadworthy.
  • The car must have been registered abroad in the importer’s name for over a year for private use.
  • The sale of an imported vehicle is prohibited for at least two years after the transfer.
  • Specific criteria for importing commercial vehicles include eligibility for foreign nationals/NRIs, physically challenged individuals, business entities with foreign equity, and others.

Required Documentation:

  • A range of paperwork is essential for importing a vehicle, including the vehicle invoice, insurance policy, GATT Declaration, Bank Draft, Bill of Lading or Sea Waybill, Import License, and various other documents.

Vehicle Specifications and Compliance:

  • Imported vehicles must be right-hand drive, have headlights suitable for “keep-left” traffic, and the speedometer must display speed in kilometres per hour.
  • Used cars should not be over three years old and must have a roadworthiness certificate valid for at least five years.

Testing and Registration:

  • Imported vehicles must be submitted for testing at approved agencies like VRDE, ARAI, or CFMTT to ensure compliance with Indian regulations.
  • The vehicle must be registered at the nearest RTO in India, incurring additional charges for registration and road tax.

Ports of Entry:

  • The import of new vehicles is permitted only through specified customs ports, including Nhava Sheva, Kolkata, Chennai, and others.

Insurance for Imported Cars:

  • It’s mandatory to have Third-party Liability (TPL) insurance coverage as per Indian motor laws, with options for comprehensive insurance for broader coverage.

Understanding these regulations and preparing for the associated costs and paperwork is crucial for a smooth import process. This overview should provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to import a car from Dubai to India.

Who Can Import? 

There are specific profiles of people who can import vehicles into India, including foreign nationals, NRIs not residing in India for at least 2 years, people with physical challenges, and various business and non-profit entities. Each category comes with its own set of rules and requirements.

The Process of Importing: 

A car can be imported directly from the manufacturer or through an agent. It involves significant paperwork, such as invoices, insurance policies, GATT declarations, etc. Once your vehicle arrives in India, it must be tested for compliance with various Indian standards and regulations.

Considerations Before Importing:

When considering importing a car from Dubai to India, there are several crucial factors to keep in mind:

Vehicle Requirements: 

The car must be right-hand drive, and its headlights should be suitable for illuminating the left side of the road. The speedometer should display speed in kilometres. Additionally, the vehicle should be roadworthy and have a valid roadworthiness certificate of at least 5 years. The car must not have been previously registered, leased, sold, or rented​.

Port of Entry: 

Importation is only possible through specific naval docks situated in Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Hence, the car should only arrive in India via one of these ports​.

Banned Vehicles: 

Certain vehicles are banned from being imported to India. This includes cars with engine capacities between 1,000cc to 2,500cc, heavy-duty two-wheelers or bikes between 50cc to 500cc, and scooters between 250cc to 800cc​.

Transfer of Residence: 

Foreign nationals or Non-resident Indians (NRIs) shifting permanently to India can import one vehicle (car or two-wheeler) under the “transfer of residence” condition. It includes several stipulations like not having resided in India for at least 2 years before the transfer, planning to stay in India for at least one year, and importing the vehicle within six months of shifting base to India​.

Registration in India: 

After import, the vehicle needs to be registered in India at the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO). Registration and road tax charges are separate from the import duty and depend on the vehicle’s type and cost​.


Key documents required include:

  • A customs clearing permit or import license.
  • Active insurance policy.
  • Vehicle’s date of purchase and keys.
  • Owner’s passport.
  • Car registration.
  • The original invoice from the manufacturer​.

Restrictions on Selling Imported Cars: 

Non-residents have a waiting period before selling an imported car in India. Residents can sell immediately after customs clearance​.

Eligibility for Import: 

To be eligible for import, an Indian company must not manufacture the car, comply with regulations in the country of registration, and must not be leased or borrowed at the time of importation​.


Importing cars from Dubai can be more affordable due to the UAE’s lower fuel costs and thriving economy, though import duties and taxes in India significantly increase the final cost.

Shipping Options: 

When it comes to shipping, you have two main options: container transport, which offers more protection but at a higher cost and longer transit time, and roll-on roll-off (RORO) ships, which are faster and cheaper but come with a higher risk of minor damages.​

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the import duties for cars in India?

It can range from 60% to over 250% of the car’s cost, depending on various factors like the car’s value and engine size.

Can I sell my imported car immediately in India?

No, there’s a restriction that prohibits selling the imported vehicle for at least two years after import.

Is it cheaper to import a new or used car?

Importing a used car can attract higher duties, sometimes up to 125%​


While importing a car from Dubai to India can be an adventurous and fulfilling endeavour, it’s crucial to understand the intricacies involved. From navigating through a sea of paperwork to dealing with hefty duties, the process is akin to a strategic game where each move needs to be carefully planned. Yet, for car enthusiasts like Mr Sharma, the thrill of driving a Dubai-imported car on Indian roads is worth every bit of the challenge.