UAE: How much gold should travellers be allowed to carry?

Setting a standard rule for hand-carrying gold will help millions of tourists who come to the City of Gold

by

Waheed Abbas

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Photo: AFP file
Photo: AFP file

Published: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 5:55 PM

Countries around the world could agree to standardised rules for travellers to carry gold and jewellery in their hand luggage, a senior official said on Tuesday. World Gold Council along with its partners in the UAE and other countries are initiating discussions in this regard.

Countries have different rules in place for passengers to hand-carry gold bars, coins and jewellery. Some have put financial limits while others weigh the gold items when travellers leave or enter a country. Travellers carrying excess amount of precious metal need to declare them at the customs.

Andrew Naylor, Head of Middle East and Public Policy, World Gold Council, said the yellow metal is transported across borders, mostly through secured logistics by carrying companies.

“But there is a large element of gold transported across international borders by individuals in hand-carry in their personal possession. It is not necessarily bad in itself, but because it is not transparent, it can sometimes lead to facilitating illicit trade. That means gold has not been responsibly sourced. Also, gold is sometimes used for illicit purposes by using hand-carry to avoid detection,” Naylor told Khaleej Times in an interview on Tuesday.

Andrew Naylor, Head of Middle East and Public Policy, World Gold Council. — Supplied photo
Andrew Naylor, Head of Middle East and Public Policy, World Gold Council. — Supplied photo

In the UAE, the World Gold Council is in talks with its key partners DMCC, Dubai Jewellery Group and other major stakeholders to take it forward.

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Setting a standard rule for hand-carrying gold will help millions of tourists who come to the City of Gold to buy precious metal jewellery and bars. In fact, many tourists come to Dubai only to buy gold jewellery for their weddings.

WGC, DMCC and other industry players will be discussing five key topics – what forms of gold should hand-carry be permissible or not; where it is possible and what should the personal limit be; should procedures be tightened and pre-approval be required; how can hand-carried gold be better tracked and registered; and how can the risk of hand-carry be minimised.

“At the moment, there is no standardised approach, so it varies from country to country. Some have personal limits, others have registration and declaration requirements. So we like to start a conversation with the industry to talk about how we can come up with some recommendations that recognising hand-carry has a legitimate role,” he said during the interview on the sidelines of the 11th edition of the Dubai Precious Metals Conference (DPMC), organized by Dubai MultiCommodities Centre (DMCC).

He pointed out that buying gold jewellery by travellers for personal use should be fine, but the question is whether the wholesale market should also use hand-carry gold. “Mostly it is fine, but there is an element that it is not as it allows non-compliance with regard to responsible sourcing and AML and tax rules.”

He added that customs officials would also need to be trained to look out for and identify genuine and fraudulent products as well as suspicious flows.

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