Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Five easy steps to acquire your liquor license

It’s finally December, the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la... But before we chill that bottle of bubbly or buy our favorite red, we must make sure we have our liquor license at hand here in the UAE.
Until recently, the process to acquire one was complicated, costly and lengthy. Now, however, things have changed – and for the better.
A special office was set up earlier this year to regulate all legislative alcohol-related matters across the Emirate and it surely made the application process a whole lot easier for all of us non-Muslim residents.
Here are the five steps to acquire your liquor license:
1. Make sure you scan the following documents and have them ready in your computer: photo, Emirates ID front, Emirates ID back, passport, residency visa, salary certificate.
2. Go to the special office website (www.auhsl.ae) and register by clicking on ‘Register’ at the top right corner of the home page.
3. Once registered, click on ‘New Card Application’ at the menu located on the left corner of the home page.
4. Fill out the necessary information and attach the required documents.
5. Select a preferred retailer so that your license can be sent there for collection once it is ready.
It took me about five minutes to complete the application. Soon after, I got an email informing me that the application was received and would be processed. About a week later, I received a second email to let me know the application was successful and that my preferred store would be in touch with me to arrange the handover of my new license. Ten days later I had my license!
That’s it! No hassle and totally free of charge!
Now, to avoid major headaches or hangovers the day after, make sure you read the terms and conditions – which I have reproduced below for you:
1. Individual alcoholic beverage licenses can only be granted to non-Muslim residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, over the age of 21.
2. The maximum limit of alcoholic beverages purchased is 20% of one’s basic salary.
3. Purchased alcoholic beverages are for personal use only and resale is strictly prohibited.
4. The licensee can consume purchased alcoholic beverages only at one’s personal residence, or at any private residence where he/she is a guest.
5. Purchased alcoholic beverages cannot be displayed or carried openly in public.
6. Licensee can purchase alcoholic beverages only from Abu Dhabi-licensed retail stores.
7. The licensees are only allowed to purchase up to the monthly alcoholic beverages limit.
8. Anyone caught inebriated in public spaces or in the road will be jailed as per UAE law (including driving under the influence, where the zero tolerance rule is observed).
9. The license will be withdrawn upon any violations of the previously mentioned rules and regulations.
10. The license must be renewed on an annual basis.


  1. Mariana!!! Sou eu Leticia. Chegamos dai semana passada e com a correria nao tive tempo de te escrever!!! Nos adiamos a viagem em 15 dias por isso chegamos so semana passada. Foram os melhores 12 dias da minha vida de viajante e olha que ja viajamos muito. Nao pensei que pudesse me divertir tanto!!! Suas dicas foram preciosas e descobri como voce deve viver bem por ai. Quando seus pais me falavam que voce morava em Abu Dhabieu imaginava: "Meu Deus a filha deles tao longe!!! tudo tao diferente". Hoje em dia posso lhe afirmar: se surgir uma vaguinha pra neurocirurgiao por ai pode nos avisar!!! rsrrsrs Estou de malas prontas.Bjs na Olivia, parabens e obrigada pelas dicas!!!

  2. Great post Mariana! (And great blog, more generally!) I do have a question, however. How do the authorities know whether or not an applicant is Muslim? Does the government keep a database? Is your religious affiliation to be declared upon entering the country? If so, is some kind of background research carried out to check the veracity of your statement?

  3. Hi! Good questions! Yes, to get a visa (tourist or resident) you need to declare your religion, so I would assume they have this information somewhere. Now, regarding the veracity of the statement, I don't know how far this goes. I declared I am a Catholic, but never had to produce any proof of this...

  4. Hi Mariana, thanks for replying. That clarifies things a lot. I guess I was just intrigued by how a government could implement this kind of two-case legislation in practice. Most UAE religion-driven policies simply apply across the board (ban on cohabitation between non-married couples, etc.) and religion is a difficult matter to verify (although I guess UAE nationals are considered Muslim by default). This just seemed like a bizarrely impractical decision to enforce.