Filming in Dubai? Here's What You Need to Know About Location Permits

29 Dec


Filming in Dubai? Here's What You Need to Know About Location Permits

Dubai, with its picturesque traditional and metropolitan backdrops, is tailor-made for the diverse vision of every filmmaker. Amidst creative storyboarding, amateur filmmakers often end up focusing less on the important legal technicalities of commercial shoots like film permits. At the same time, experienced filmmakers often admit that obtaining film permits is one of the most arduous processes in film production. 

Having a partner production house of Studio52, we completely empathise with your challenges. However, our expertise in the nuances of permit application does make the production process significantly efficient. In this guide, team UAEFilmPermit shall discuss a few things you need to know about location permits and how expert intervention can make securing your film permit a fast and seamless process as well. 

What is a Film Permit?

Permission is needed to shoot a film in a particular location. It's required for commercial filming on public and private properties. 

UAE is known for its pristine beaches, beautiful architecture, and incredible landscapes, which attract tourists from all over the world. The government tries to ensure that the tourism and film businesses do not obstruct each other. This is where the film permit comes in to ensure that filmmakers respect the laws and customs of the UAE while protecting people from any potential harm from being filmed without their consent.

When do you need a Film Permit?

You'll need a film permit if you're filming in any of the following locations:

  • Public places, such as malls and parks.
  • Private places (such as the office of your business partner), but only if the owner allows filming of the property. 
  • Government buildings, including ministries and federal offices. It also applies to government-owned vehicles and public transportation services (such as taxis).
  • Schools, universities, and higher education institutions, such as libraries or laboratories used for educational purposes. 
  • Hospitals or clinics where patients' rights have priority over commercial interests. For instance, you may only film inside hospitals with prior consent from the institution's administration.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. Casual filming in a public space is not considered filming and will not require a permit. So, if you're just shooting random footage of people walking down the street or even filming in one of Dubai's many malls or any place where people congregate, there is no need for a permit.

How to Get a Film Permit in Dubai?

Connecting with a film service partner is the best-recommended way ahead. They will be able to help you get the permits you need and resolve any technical roadblocks at the pre-production stage. 

As experienced film service partners ourselves, our team of UAE Film Permit first asks you about your project, its vision, and its purpose. In doing so, we can gain a better insight into the project and recommend the best locations in Dubai for the same. 

Be Specific

When applying for location permits, you must be specific about what you plan to shoot. The last thing you want is to spend time and money shooting your film only to discover that your permit was invalid because of a minor detail (like being too close to a school). 

It is also important not to be vague when answering questions about where and when you plan to film. For example, if the location is private property, make sure that the production company will be okay with taking over their space for a few hours or days.

In summary, refrain from saying, "We'll just film in public" or "We'll just film in private," since it opens you up to many grey areas and potential legal contingencies later. You can avoid them by simply being more specific when applying for your permit!‍

Expect the Unexpected

Location permits can be challenging to secure, and it's essential to be prepared for the unexpected. For example, if you want to film in a public place, you will likely need a permit from the local authority (or authorities) that govern that area. 

It means that even if your production company has already obtained a location permit from the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), you may still need additional approvals or permissions from other departments before filming can take place. 

It's important to know who these other departments are and their requirements before starting your shoot so as not to disrupt the production later on. You might also need to cover other miscellaneous bases before acquiring approval, including securing insurance coverage, changing your schedule, finding alternative locations outside of Dubai, etc.


Additional Permits

If you're working with animals on film, you need to apply for additional permits with Dubai Municipality, which will be forwarded to the Ministry of Environment and Water. After that, your application will be vetted by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment before being sent to the Ministry of Health.‍

Careful record of the paperwork

If you're filming in Dubai, you'll need to obtain a permit for almost every location you shoot at. It can be pretty tedious and time-consuming, but your service partner will be able to help guide you through the process.

It's important to note that this process differs from getting permission from the owner of an actual location. 

A representative obtains the permit by giving the authorities a list of locations where filming will take place, along with other pertinent details like the number of cast members involved or the approximate length of shoot time.

The importance of having a Film Permit

A location permit is a legal document that allows you to film in a specific location. For example, if you're planning to shoot in public areas, such as streets, buildings, and parks, you will need permission from the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFC). 

You will also need permission from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) if you want to film in other private places, such as offices or hotels. Again, we do all the heavy lifting for you; apply for a permit here.

Also Read: Top 9 Locations to Shoot Your Next Film in Dubai

Tips for Your Next Shoot in Dubai

Here are a few tips to keep your costs down and get you going with your upcoming project in Dubai:

  • Choose the right service partner. They must offer all the necessary permits and achieve your location requirements.
  • Keep the necessary paperwork in line while applying for a location permit! 
  • Make sure you have all the necessary permits from government authorities and insurance coverage.

Allow us help you in getting the Film Permit

If you're looking to shoot a film in Dubai, we are happy to help. Our 360° services can assist you with everything from location permits and equipment rental to organising a local crew and cast. As an established company in the UAE, we understand the local regulations better than any foreign crew could. We also have the resources and expertise to make your shoot go smoothly and without any major hassles.  

Now that you know all about film permits in Dubai, what are you waiting for? Plan your next shoot with us! Connect with our experts at UAE Film Permit today for the noteworthy filming experience in Dubai. 

Still, have more questions? Check out our FAQ section below for more information.


1. How long does it take to get a film permit in Dubai?

The process can take up to 4-5 working days, so start the application process early.

2. Do I need a film permit to shoot a music video?

Yes, all commercial and non-commercial filming projects require a film permit in Dubai.

3. How much does a film permit cost?

There is no set fee for a film permit in Dubai. The price will vary depending on the scope of the project or film.