Filming in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it’s essential to know that filming without a film permit is illegal and punishable by law.
The UAE is one of the top countries to film due to its beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture, and various locations available for filming.
But unless you have a film permit before shooting your movie or commercial project in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you could face several penalties for breaching this requirement.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting a film permit before filming in the UAE.
What is a film permit?
A film permit is a licence that allows filming in a particular area. It is issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) and must be applied after meeting specific requirements.
Who needs a permit?
Anyone who wants to conduct film or television production activities in any part of the UAE needs to obtain a Film Permit.
It includes foreign companies looking to film in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, or Umm Al Quwain, as well as local companies conducting work outside these areas but still within UAE territories such as Ajman, Sharjah, or Fujairah.
Getting a filming permit in Dubai
The Dubai Film Commission is the government body that issues filming permits. Therefore, if you want to film in Dubai, you will need to apply for a filming permit from them before beginning any production.
You can apply for a filming permit by filling out an application form online. The form will ask you for information about your films, such as the genre and synopsis.
Why should I obtain a film permit to shoot in the UAE?
Before producing a film in Dubai, obtaining a film permit from the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development is necessary. It is because filming or taking photos in public areas such as malls and streets requires special permission from the government.
Film permits are also needed for filming in private places such as homes and offices. If you plan on shooting your movie at a location where people live or work, then you must get permission from them before filming there.
Filming on bridges requires additional safety measures because they’re more likely to collapse due to high winds than other structures like buildings; therefore, obtaining an extra permit will allow you access without risking anyone’s safety.
A right to protect the image of the country
The government established a licensing system for video recording and photography to protect the image of the country, its people, and its culture.
The law also aims to protect privacy rights in addition to protecting against defamation. Without a licence, you risk hefty fines or even imprisonment if you violate these rules.
How long does it take to process a filming permit in Dubai?
The process of obtaining a filming permit takes 3-7 days, depending on the type of filming and location. If you are filming in a public place, it will take much longer. However, if you are filming in a private place, it can be done quickly.
Suppose the film is being shot at one of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, such as Burj Khalifa or Palm Jumeirah. In that case, approval may need to come from several authorities, including the Dubai Municipality and Environment Agency (DEWA), the Department of Economic Development (DED) as well as the Public Works Department (PWD). In this case, you should expect your permit to take longer than usual—up to 10 days.
If your film is set somewhere else within Dubai (i.e., not one of those two locations listed above), then fewer permissions are required for you to get your permit processed quickly.
Important things to remember
When using your camera to capture a beautiful image or tell a fascinating story, it's easy to forget that there are many other essential things to consider before filming in Dubai—or anywhere else in the UAE.
One of the most important things you'll need to do before beginning any kind of shoot is to get a film permit from the Media Licensing Department (MLD) at Dubai Media City (DMC). You can do it online via UAEFilmPermit.
Once your application has been approved and processed, you will get an official permit that includes information about who shot what and where they shot it. It also includes restrictions while filming on public property, such as streets or highways.
If the permit isn't visible during the filming, penalties can be heavy fines per day spent filming without this documentation.
Filming without a film permit
Having no film permit and still filming is an offence, and offenders are penalised or imprisoned. In addition to being an offence, filming without a permit can lead to imprisonment and fines.
However, you can avoid any legal trouble or penalties that could come up as a result of filming without one.
Do you want to get your film permit easily?
Getting a filming permit can be a lengthy process but we can make it easy for you.
You no longer have to struggle with the long legal requirements because we can get you all your required permits while you focus on capturing the best of UAE.
To get started with us, you need to apply online. Once we receive your application, we'll let you know what to do next.
We hope this article has helped you understand why obtaining a film permit is essential to shooting in Dubai. You must know how easy it is to get one and what steps to take before filming in the UAE. You can find out more about production services by visiting our website.