How to get your UAE trade license in 2021

UAE trade license

There are few, if any, places in the world more open for business than the UAE. Positioned perfectly between East and West with direct links to every corner of the globe, it is one of the world’s most prestigious business hubs.

Thousands of entrepreneurs and business owners head to our shores every year to apply for a trade license. Once here, they can immediately benefit from the country’s strategic location, 0% tax rate on corporate and personal income, and world-class business infrastructure.

If you’re looking to join them, the good news is that obtaining a UAE trade license is not particularly complicated. It does, of course, require some local knowledge and an understanding of the process. But with the help of a UAE setup agent, you could be licensed and trading in the UAE within a matter of days.

Understanding the three types of UAE trade license

Before making your UAE trade license application, you’ll need to determine which one is the most suited to your business. 

That’s why the first step in the UAE company formation process is to determine your business activities. You must go into as much detail as possible. For example, if you are a manufacturing business, you must detail precisely what you manufacture.

The official Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) permitted activity list covers everything from trading through to the arts, consultancy and much more. 

The next step is to align your activities to the most suitable trade license:

  • Commercial – all trading activities.
  • Industrial – manufacturing of raw materials, processing, and similar activities
  • Professional – services such as finance, marketing, and consulting.

Understanding UAE trade license fees

Perhaps the most crucial factor in determining the UAE trade license cost is whether you set up in a free zone or the mainland.

In most cases, the free zone option is more affordable. It also brings a range of benefits, including customs tax exemption, zero currency restrictions, and the ability to repatriate capital and profits.

Most free zones also offer license packages inclusive of visa costs, as well as providing co-working spaces and the use of business facilities on an ad-hoc basis, helping you keep overheads down.

So, what does a UAE trade license cost? For consultancy and service activities, free zone licenses range from AED 9,600 with no visa application, up to AED 19,700 inclusive of the cost of three visas, AED 24,700 inclusive of six visas, and so on.

For trading activities, licenses packages start from AED 11,500 without a visa application, and again up to AED 19,700 inclusive of the cost of three visas, and AED 24,700 inclusive of six visas.

It is important to note that many factors can increase the total price you pay for your license package, such as the size of your business premises and the number of people you employ.

How to get your business license in Dubai

If you haven’t already, it is a good idea to consult with a company formation expert before applying for your UAE trading license, as any mistake can cause costly delays.

Whether you work with an agent or go it alone, the application process is slightly different depending on whether you have chosen to set up a free zone or mainland business.

If you’ve decided that the mainland is a better base for your business, you’ll need to make your application directly to the DED. Most of this process takes place online.

Alternatively, if you have decided on a free zone setup, you can make your application directly to your chosen free zone. As free zones are self-regulated, you require additional approvals to trade, making the process faster and more efficient. This is another reason why free zone company setup is often the most straightforward and cost-effective method of starting a business in the UAE.

You’ll also need to apply for your UAE trade license visas. Again, the application process differs slightly depending on whether you are starting a mainland or free zone business. However, in both cases, you will need to visit an immigration centre to provide biometric information. The visa application also includes a fitness test, blood test and chest x-ray.

Providing you meet the salary criteria, you can also sponsor others for their UAE visas too, such as your children, partner or parents.

The final requirement before you can start trading in the UAE is a corporate bank account. Bank account opening can be a complicated process for overseas business owners, so once again, it is best to make your application with the help of a local expert.

Get your UAE trade license with Trade License Zone

The company formation process in the UAE has been designed with simplicity in mind. That said, it does take some in-depth knowledge of the region and its many customs and regulations.

That’s why it’s always advisable to acquire the services of a business setup company who can not only advise on the process but also seek out the most suitable license and setup type for your business, based on your needs and your budget.

When you use business setup services, you also gain peace of mind that your license and visa applications are free from errors and omissions – both of which can lead to delays and rejection.

When you work with a company formation specialist, all you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to start trading. It really is that simple.