Whether you’re new to Dubai or have been here for as long as you can remember - it’s never a bad thing to bring yourself up to speed with some of the rules and regulations.
As we know, our city's attractive lifestyle, beautiful skyline and incredible experiences are just a few things as to why it's an expats haven.
But apart from the appealing lifestyle, Dubai is also a friendly place for start-ups and businesses looking to expand their horizons, from technology hubs, finance start-ups, hospitality franchises and more - there’s quite a lot of room for new business to stretch their legs and grow in Dubai.
So, if building a business in Dubai has been on your radar - here’s your quick friendly guide on the different types of licences and how you can set them up.
This is one of the most common licences’ opted for by businesses as it is suitable for offering professional services such as consultancy, accounting, legal services, etc. Professional licences are also friendly for expats as it enables foreign investors to own 100% of their business, with the privileges of a sole proprietorship. Although, to complete the judicial formalities, it is necessary to appoint a UAE national as a local service agent.
If you’re applying, you need to have a specific professional qualification or experience in the respective field. - this could include having an ACCA certification if you are opening an audit and accountancy firm.
Don’t forget - there’s a set of documents you’ll need to present as well:
To get started, you’ll need to determine the business activity and get all necessary approvals from regulatory bodies.
Next step is to choose a business name and reserve it with the Department of Economic Development (DED). This is important because if you don’t have a reserved name, you could have issues with getting a name of your choice later.
Once you’ve reserved your name, you would need to submit required documents including passport copies, NOC (No Objection Certificate), and relevant qualifications. This will help you obtain initial approval, you would then pay fees, and obtain the professional licence from DED.
The cost for this licence is AED 15,130.
Commercial licences are commonly opted for businesses engaged in trading activities, including buying and selling of goods - it also expands to those who work in trading, importing and exporting. Commercial licences can also be for international businesses who plan to open their offices in Dubai, as well as apply to mainland and freezone companies.
For obtaining a commercial licence, you’ll need to be registered with the Companies Registry in order to receive a Dubai trade licence. Once you get a trade licence, the following documents must be sent to the Dubai Department of Economic Development and the UAE Federal Ministry of Economy in order for a commercial licence to be issued:
There are a few steps to be followed and here’s your breakdown:
You would need to choose a business form and operations that match the commercial licence’s requirements. Once that’s done, you’d have to draft the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, which must include a list of the tasks that must be done.
After that, you’ll obtain a VAT number and register the company with the Department of Economic Development in Dubai and pay the fees associated with the registration of your business and the issuance of your commercial licence.
It would estimate up to AED 10,000 but it's always smart to keep an open budget as registration costs and DED costs can round you up at AED 25,000 to AED 30,000 depending on your licence.
These licences are linked to companies specialising in manufacturing, shipping and other industrial activities. Approvals from the Finance and Industry Ministry along with permissions from other judiciaries are mandatory for this licence.
Here’s a summarised list of the documents you must submit to secure an industrial licence:
If you’re considering applying for an industrial license in the UAE, the first step is to find a business formation expert you can trust to manage the procedure on your behalf, such as Shuraa. This alleviates the stress of starting a company. And it guarantees that your paperwork will be thorough and accurate.
If you want to open a factory to run your business, you must first obtain approval from the right authorities. If you plan to conduct business from an existing location, such as a free economic zone, you won’t need to worry about this step.
The next step is to submit an application for an industrial license in Dubai. If you are establishing a business on the mainland, you can immediately contact the DED. However, if you want to run your business in a free zone, you can submit a request to the relevant free zone authorities.
You need to determine the industrial activity and obtain necessary approvals from relevant authorities - this includes The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Industrial Register and The Ministry of Health.
Once that’s done - Reserve a trade name with the DED and obtain initial approval, pay fees, and obtain the industrial licence.
The overall cost estimate is around AED 25,000. However, this may change from time to time due to changes in existing pricing guidelines. Starting a business in a free zone territory would be more cost-effective, given the initial setup fees and other expenses.
Tourism licences are for businesses operating in the tourism and hospitality sector, including hotels, travel agencies, and tour operators.
There are three type of tourism licences in Dubai:
Inbound tour operator licence: This enables a company to manage travel within the city, help in attending the events, visa service and can also provide transport services to the tourists.
Outbound tourist licence: This licence will enable the company to sell tourist packages outside of the country while employing the online medium or even can hire offline agent workers that can deal with such processes.
Travel agent licence: This type of licence will enable the company to perform the functions of the vendor that can cater to the tickets and book-related services on part of their clients.
You’d have to determine the tourism-related activity and obtain necessary approvals from relevant authorities such as The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Industrial Register and The Ministry of Health.
Next step is to reserve a trade name with the DED and submit required documents including passport copies, NOC (No Objection Certificate), and relevant qualifications or certifications.
Once that’s cleared, you would have to obtain initial approval, pay fees, and obtain the tourism license.
If you’re looking to set up your business in Dubai, get in touch with our Head of Commercial; Emrah Yar, to help you find the perfect unit for your business, or take a look at some of our live listings.