Start a tobacco business in Dubai: Step-by-Step

The tobacco market in Dubai is one of the most profitable business sectors in the world. If you’re looking to expand your brand into the United Arab Emirates or considering Dubai as an international market from which to grow a new tobacco business, Dubai gives you easy access to global markets.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • An overview of the tobacco industry
  • Steps to start a tobacco business in Dubai
  • Approvals needed to start a tobacco business in Dubai
  • Costs of starting a tobacco business in Dubai
  • Working with Trade License Zone

An overview of the tobacco industry

The UAE is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. With millions of people holidaying in Dubai and trying the Dubai tobacco companies’ cigarettes and products, your tobacco business will be able to reach a wide target market and attract more interest and sales for your cigarettes and tobacco products.

Starting a tobacco business in Dubai also means that you’ll be able to take advantage of its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market, which includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. About 25% of the male population in this region are smokers, underlining the high demand for tobacco products such as cigarettes.

The Tobacco Control Law in Dubai, the Dubai Health Authority, and various other UAE government departments oversee the tobacco industry and regulate manufacturers, importers, and retailers of cigarettes and tobacco products. The aims of the regulations are to keep banned substances from entering the UAE and to ensure that cigarettes and their industry can be sustainable.

You must have a valid trade license to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in Dubai. If you set up a mainland company, you must apply to the Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Dubai Health Authority for approval. To set up your tobacco business in a free zone, you must apply to its respective licensing division.

Steps to start a tobacco business in Dubai

You must follow these six essential steps to get a valid tobacco business license in Dubai.
Step 1: Partner with Trade License Zone

The first step in starting a tobacco business in Dubai is to partner with Trade License Zone. Our professional team will manage all aspects of your tobacco business registration, tobacco business license application, and setup process to guide you through all the documentation required for the various UAE government authorities and Dubai Municipality approvals so you can begin trading as soon as possible.

Step 2: Choose your company name

Trade License Zone will help you choose and register your tobacco business name with the UAE’s Registry Office. The business name must adhere to the UAE’s naming policies, including that it cannot include offensive or profane language or references to Allah or Islam. You can use your name in the company name, but you must use it in full instead of just your surname or initials.

Step 3: Choose your business activities

As with all businesses in the UAE, tobacco companies in Dubai must choose their business activities for their trading license application to trade legally in Dubai. Your tobacco license enables you to carry out several business activities – but only those listed on your business license. You can select the appropriate business activities you wish to pursue in Dubai from an extensive list of more than 2,000 on Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) website. Failure to list all your business activities on your trading license may result in penalties. Partnering with a company formation expert such as Trade License Zone will ensure that your trading license application and business activities are aligned.

Step 4: Choose a business jurisdiction

The types of commercial activity you have chosen for your business will have a bearing on the kind of setup and trade license most suitable for your company. For example, suppose your business activity falls into selling cigarettes as a tobacco shop. In that case, you will require a specific business setup and trade license. If your company is to manufacture cigarettes and other tobacco products, you need a different kind of trading license and business setup to comply with the UAE authorities.

The UAE has two main business jurisdiction types: free zone company and mainland company setups. Each type has specific benefits, regulations, minimum specifications, and operating guidelines.

Free zone companies are the most popular and cost-effective of the two types. While it offers foreign nationals 100% ownership of the companies, a free zone company must take additional steps (such as opening a branch or a distributor) to trade within the UAE legally. There are more than 40 free zones to choose from, each targeting specific business and commercial activities.

A mainland company setup allows you to trade within the UAE market without extra steps, but it means that a local sponsor must hold 51% of the company’s shares.

Selecting the correct business setup for your tobacco company might seem complicated. When you contact the highly experienced consultants at Trade License Zone, we will help you to choose the best company setup to start trading as soon as possible.

Step 5: Apply for your trade license

Once you have completed the documents for your business registration and company setup, you can submit those documents to the UAE government entities for your tobacco trading license application. For this critical step, Trade License Zone can streamline the process to avoid any errors or mistakes.

Step 6: Open your corporate bank account

After applying for a tobacco license to start a tobacco business in Dubai, you can apply for your visa and open your corporate bank account. Your visa may enable you to sponsor the visas of family and staff, depending on your license’s conditions. Contact Trade License Zone‘s expert team to help you with this important step.

Approvals needed to start a tobacco business in Dubai

As we’ve mentioned, all tobacco businesses must comply with the UAE authorities to operate legally. If your company operates as a manufacturer of tobacco and tobacco products, you must adhere to the regulations of the Tobacco Control Law and the various government agencies. These companies must also follow Dubai Municipality regulations.

If your business is set up as a Dubai Mainland company, your license is issued by the DED and the Dubai Health Authority. Free zone companies must get approvals from their respective free zone licensing divisions and the Dubai Health Authority.

Cost of starting a tobacco business in Dubai

Starting a tobacco business in Dubai costs AED 10,000 to AED 20,000. This cost varies depending on many factors, such as government approvals, office, and warehouse rentals, shop space, and more.

For an accurate quote, contact the experienced consultants at Trade License Zone for a free quote.

Working with Trade License Zone

Business setup in the UAE is streamlined with an expert partner such as Trade License Zone. When starting a business in Dubai, such as a tobacco company, the process can be tricky when it comes to applying for a trade license, business setup, and more. Partnering with Trade License Zone 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