Exporting guide to Bahrain

Overview

Bahrain is a small but prosperous economy, which has experienced steady growth. It has one of the most liberal business environments in the region.

Trade statistics

£1.0 billion total UK exports to Bahrain for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

58th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

0.2% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2022)

Gateway to the Gulf

Bahrain offers businesses a solid platform and the infrastructure to operate regionally. Due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is particularly well-placed to enable entry into that market. The commercial heart of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province is within an hour’s reach of Bahrain, via the King Fahd Causeway.

Low business costs

Compared with the rest of the region, operational business costs in Bahrain are considerably lower and manufacturing is also less costly.

UK Export Finance cover is available at competitive rates. Companies can get financial and export support through the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Export Bahrain, and Bahrain’s labour fund, Tamkeen.

Top five UK goods exported to Bahrain, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022

Goods Value (£million)
Jewellery 83.4
Cars 34.0
Miscellaneous electrical goods (intermediate) 14.9
General industrial machinery (intermediate) 9.8
Scientific instruments (capital) 8.5

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: November 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Bahrain.

Bahrain: at a glance

Economic growth

-4.9%

Actual figure (IMF, 2020)
The UK is -9.3% (IMF, 2020, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$23,586

Actual figure (IMF, 2020)
The UK is $41,127 (IMF, 2020, actual figure)

Currency

Bahraini dinar

Business languages

Arabic

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT +3

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Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Bahrain have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Bahrain

Preparing to export

Taxation

The UK and Bahrain have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

Bahrain has one of the most liberal tax regimes in the Gulf, with some of the lowest corporate and personal tax rates. There are very few indirect taxes and no personal income tax, wealth tax on capital gains, withholding tax (income tax deducted at source).

Labelling

All labelling and packaging must be in Arabic, or both Arabic and English. Stickers are not accepted as an adequate form of labelling. You can check requirements for specific products with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC).

Import restrictions

To export goods into Bahrain for sale or consumption, British companies need to get a general licence from the Ministry of Interior's Customs Affairs Directorate.

All exports need a certificate of origin to clear customs.

Goods manufactured in Israel cannot be imported into Bahrain.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Bahrain.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Bahrain

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

Business challenges

UK businesses operating in Bahrain may face challenges around delays in payment and government bureaucracy, especially when getting licences.

You should also be aware that there are quotas in place for employing Bahraini nationals and that government documentation is in Arabic.

Business culture

English is widely spoken. Although it’s common for written correspondence to be in English, Arabic is often preferred within government.

Bahrain is one of the most liberal of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and is tolerant of all faiths. Islam is the national culture and should be respected.

The working week is Sunday to Thursday.

Local partnership

You can export directly to Bahrain, but working with a carefully chosen Bahraini partner or adviser is easier. A local agent will be more familiar with the business environment and will find it easier to:

  • keep in contact with customers
  • seek new business
  • get information on the latest market trends.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.