How to start a catering and food delivery service business in Dubai, UAE

catering license Dubai, UAE

The UAE food and beverage industry is as vast as it is varied. Revenues for 2021 are expected to reach USD 271m. And it shows no sign of shrinking. Annual growth rates of 13% are predicted between now and 2025, taking total revenues up to USD 445m by 2025.

Within this enormous market are a wide array of catering businesses offering street food, take away, and food delivery. With cuisines on offer from every corner of the globe.

As the nation continues to open up as the pandemic subsides, there’s never been a better time to enter this thriving industry. And when you apply with the help of a local company formation expert, starting a catering and food delivery service business in Dubai can be both quick and easy.

How to start a catering business in Dubai

Before getting into the specifics of applying for a catering business license, you should familiarise yourself with the general process of starting a business out here. Before doing anything else, it’s a good idea to partner with a local company setup agent. 

At Trade License Zone, we can manage the entire company registration, license, and visa process for you. 

First, we’ll help you outline your business activities. There are plenty of subsectors within catering, so you’ll need to specify precisely what type of business you intend to run. 

Next, we’ll help you choose and register your company name, ensuring that it complies with the UAE’s naming criteria.

You cannot include any offensive or blasphemous language, nor any references to Allah or Islam in your company name. If you wish to include your name in your company name, you must use it in full rather than just your surname or initials. You must also check that your chosen name is available to be registered.

Applying for your catering business license in Dubai 

Once we’re satisfied that all the early admin is taken care of, we’ll begin the process of applying for your trade license. This process is similar whether setting up in the mainland or in a free zone. However, as free zones are self-regulating, there is no need for additional approvals, making the latter faster and more straightforward.

In both cases, you will usually be asked to provide passport copies, a business plan, and a completed application form. We’ll make sure all documents are present and correct before submitting your application.

There are a few catering license requirements that you’ll need to adhere to as a condition of trade. At the time of your application, you’ll need to submit your kitchen floorplan to the Dubai Food Safety Department for approval.

When running your business, you must also abide by the UAE Food Code. This covers all regulations concerning food storage and preparation, ventilation, entrances and exits, and all cooking and washing equipment.

You’ll also need to apply for a UAE visa to run your business. 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 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.

How much does a catering license cost? 

While it’s easy to answer the question, how much is a catering license? It’s harder to estimate the total costs involved in starting your business. 

Catering licenses start at AED 11,500 and can exceed AED 25,000, depending on the number of visas you require. However, when obtaining a catering license in Dubai, you’ll also need to account for the cost of additional approvals, premises and equipment. 

How to start a food delivery app 

Once you are a licensed caterer, it is up to you how you sell and distribute your food. Providing you have applied for the appropriate licenses, you could run a takeaway or food stall or run a food delivery service. 

Food delivery apps are hugely popular in Dubai right now, especially among new eateries looking to enter the market. 

There a few factors to consider when taking this approach. You’ll need to account for the food delivery app cost and the potential extra cost of the food delivery service license. 

Start your catering business in Dubai 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 that 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 is that simple.