Business license in the UAE: Costs and requirements

Dubai’s skyline glitters with promise. For entrepreneurs and investors, it is a city booming with business opportunities, a vibrant economy, and a growing population. Dubai is fast becoming the world’s foremost destination for business people looking to start their own business in the United Arab Emirates.
If you’re wondering how to start a business in Dubai, dive right into this article:

  • Business license in the UAE – what is it?
  • How much does a business license cost in the UAE?
  • Types of business licenses in the UAE
  • Steps to get a business license in the UAE
  • Documents needed to get a business license in the UAE
  • How long will it take to get a business license?
  • Why start a business in the UAE?
  • Working with Trade License Zone

Business license in the UAE – what is it?

Anyone considering starting their own business in Dubai needs to get a business license. There are hundreds of business activities covered by various types of business licenses. These business activities range from professional services, commercial activities, home-based business types, restaurants, tourism, and other industries. It is essential to get a business license in Dubai to trade legally. Failure to do so may lead to severe financial penalties – or worse.

Business licenses come with a raft of benefits, too. You are entitled to tax breaks, startup support systems, and more with your business license. Each license is issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Business licenses further apply to company structures. These company structures vary on starting a free zone company or a mainland business. Each carries particular regulations, making it easier for company formation for foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

Mainland businesses can trade across the UAE. The UAE laws determine that a UAE national must serve as a local sponsor and own 51% of such foreigner-owned mainland businesses. Foreign nationals are limited to holding a 49% stake in their companies.

The UAE’s free zone company structure offers foreign investors and entrepreneurs unique benefits, such as business startup incubation services. A free zone company gives 100% ownership to the foreign entrepreneur or investor. There are over 40 free zones in the UAE.

If you are unsure whether to choose between a mainland or a free zone company structure, seek expert advice from Trade License Zone to help you decide.

How much does a business license cost in the UAE?

It is not easy to calculate the exact cost of getting a business license in Dubai. A business license in the UAE costs AED 10,000 to AED 50,000. This cost varies depending on the license type, company structure, visas, location, types of business activity, and more.

If you’d like an accurate quote, contact Trade License Zone’s dedicated team.

Types of business licenses in the UAE

There are six types of business licenses available to choose from in Dubai. These are:

  • Industrial License
  • Commercial License
  • Crafts License
  • Tourism License
  • Agricultural License
  • Professional License

If you are unsure which business license is best suited to your company’s needs, the professionals at Trade License Zone can help you select the suitable license type for your business activities.

Steps to get a business license in the UAE

All companies trading in the UAE need to adhere to specific regulations for business setup, business license, company naming, business activities, and more. This section will give you the steps to get a business license in the UAE.

Step 1: Partner with Trade License Zone

The first step in getting a business license in the UAE is to partner with Trade License Zone. Our experts will manage all aspects of your business license application and company registration, guide you on all the documentation required for the various governing authorities and obtain approvals on your behalf.

Step 2: Choosing your business activities

Outlining your company’s business activities is essential for your business license in the UAE. Your business license enables you to carry out several activities, and you can select the business activities you wish to pursue in the UAE. Failure to list all your business activities on your business license application may result in penalties. That’s why it is best to partner with a company formation expert such as Trade License Zone to make sure that your license application and business activities are aligned.

Step 3: Select the legal form

Selecting the legal form of your business is essential for your business license. The following are legal forms permitted in the UAE:

  • Partnership
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Public Joint Stock Company
  • Private Joint Stock Company
  • Branch of a Foreign Company

Step 4: Choose a trading name

Trade License Zone will help you choose and register your company name with the UAE’s Registry Office. You can use your name in the company’s trade name, but you must use it in full instead of just your surname or initials. The business name must adhere to the UAE’s naming policies, including that it cannot include any offensive or profane language, nor any references to Allah or Islam.

Step 5: Application for initial approval

To do business in the UAE, you must apply for initial approval from the DED. This initial approval means that the UAE government has no objections to your business. This step is vital in the process of getting your business license. However, this isn’t a temporary authorisation for you to begin trading.

Foreign investors and entrepreneurs require a General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) approval before receiving initial approval.

Step 6: Find a business location

Finding a business location in the UAE is pretty straightforward. There are business premises and office types to suit every company, budget, and location. For your business license application, it is essential to include your business location’s tenancy contract/rental agreement.

Step 7: Getting government department approvals

Depending on your business activities, you will need additional local or federal government authorities’ approvals. These approvals range from municipal departments to federal departments regulating specific business activities and industries.

This step includes registering membership with the UAE’s Chamber of Commerce. You will need to apply to the relevant emirate your business operates in.

Documents needed to get a business license in the UAE

Setting up a business in the UAE isn’t too complicated a process – that is, if you know what you’re doing. The following are the documents required to get a business license in the UAE:

  • A completed business license application
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA) completed by all shareholders and partners of the company
  • Company name approval from the UAE’s Registry Office
  • Passport copies of all shareholders and partners

How long will it take to get a business license?

Once you’ve completed the business license application, receiving your approval can take between 15 minutes (for an instant business license type) to four weeks. Each license type has a different processing duration due to the various government approvals required.

To avoid any errors and delays, seek the assistance of the team of company formation specialists at Trade License Zone. We will help you complete your application forms and other processes efficiently so you can trade as soon as possible.

Why start a business in the UAE?

The UAE boasts one of the most diverse and fastest-growing economies globally. This country has shifted from a predominantly oil- and gas-focused one to a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for technology. The UAE government stimulated the local economy through many investment schemes, streamlined its business regulations, cut personal and corporate taxes for a zero-tax environment, reduced trade restrictions, and boosted foreign investment through easier visa processes.

The UAE also boasts a world-class infrastructure. Dubai’s population comprises more than 90% foreign nationals and has an ideal East-meets-West location. For foreign investors and entrepreneurs, the growing population, and close proximity to Europe, Africa, and the Middle Eastern markets, makes it a hub for business opportunities and development.

Working with Trade License Zone

Starting a business in Dubai can be tricky regarding applying for a business license, company structure, and visas. Business setup in the UAE is straightforward when you partner with a team of experts such as Trade License Zone. When you partner with Trade License Zone, we will save you from unnecessary delays or rejections and streamline the entire process.

The specialists at Trade License Zone can get started once you provide us with some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your company and business activities. Then, please sit back and let our team take care of the rest. We’ll manage your trade license and visa applications, communicate with all relevant local departments and authorities and report when you’re ready to trade. It really is that simple.

Contact us to get a personalized quotation based on your business activity