How to purchase an alcohol licence in Dubai

Residents need only present their Emirates ID to obtain a licence under streamlined guidelines

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Abu Dhabi residents no longer need to obtain a licence to purchase and drink alcohol in the capital.

In Dubai, however, a permit is still required and is now the only of the seven emirates with this system.

While many countries allow adults to buy alcohol in supermarkets and wine shops, that is not the case in Dubai.

It can only be purchased at stores exclusively selling alcohol.

There are penalties for anyone who is found consuming alcohol without a licence, with offenders facing up to six months in prison and a Dh5,000 fine.

But the rules around obtaining a licence in Dubai are straightforward and earlier this summer were further simplified to help the public stay on the right side of the law.

How to obtain an alcohol licence in Dubai

All non-Muslim residents over the age of 21 can apply for an alcohol licence in Dubai.

Residents previously had to produce a copy of their visa, passport and a letter of no objection from their employer.

However, the process has been recently simplified. Residents now just have to present their Emirates ID to obtain licence under the streamlined guidelines.

The cost of the licence is Dh270 and approval is usually made within 48 hours with the card being available for collection within four weeks.

What about tourists who want to buy alcohol in Dubai?

Tourists are permitted to purchase alcohol without a licence.

All they have to do is present their passport at one of the stores and they will be granted a temporary membership number, allowing them to start shopping straightaway.

What if I live in Dubai but want to buy alcohol in other emirates?

You can purchase alcohol without a licence in the other emirates, except Sharjah which is dry.

But you will still need the permit if you want to take it back to Dubai.

Do I need a licence to drink in a bar or restaurant?

The law states you need a licence to consume alcohol anywhere in the city.

But bars and restaurant are not required to ask for proof and never do so.

Police officials have previously said they do not look to catch people out – but that if you commit an offence or get into an altercation while drinking without a licence, you should expect to be charged with that.