Guide for Businesses: How can you obtain a commercial licence in Dubai?

Guide for Businesses: How can you obtain a commercial licence in Dubai?

Tuesday 01 August 2023Wed 16 Feb
Guide for Businesses: How can you obtain a commercial licence in Dubai?

As we know, Dubai’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 how you can obtain a commercial licence in Dubai.

What’s a commercial licence?

In case you’re new to this space, a commercial licence is required to run any kind of business in Dubai, as well as purchase real estate related to your business.

What activities come under a commercial licence in Dubai?

The Department of Economic Development (DED) approves various business activities under a commercial licence and you can gain a complete list of business activities allowed from the DED or Meydan Free Zone.

Here are a few examples:

  • Advertising services
  • Automobile trading
  • Beauty essentials
  • Cleaning services
  • Exchange and financial services
  • General store
  • Home appliances trading
  • Import and export
  • Plumbing and sanitary contracting
  • Radio, TV station, cinema theatre equipment installation, and maintenance
  • Rental services
  • Restaurant management
  • Surveillance services

What are the steps to obtain your commercial licence in Dubai?

Let us break it down in four simple steps!

Step 1: Determining the business activity

To start a business or obtain a licence, first determine the activity you’re interested in. You can choose from over 2,000 business activities on the DED website, including those in the industrial, commercial, professional, and tourist sectors.

Step 2: Pick your location

If you’re starting a company, you want to know whether it’d be a mainland licence or freezone.

Mainland: All business entities that come under a commercial, professional, and sole establishment registered under the Dubai Economic Department (DED) are known as Dubai Mainland License.

Freezone: Free zones or free trade zones in Dubai are business zones where companies operating in them are exempt from all types of taxation such as Value Added Tax (VAT), Income Tax, Corporate Tax and Customs. Business owners in the free zone areas in Dubai have 100% ownership of the business.

Step 3: Name your company!

Note that all names are to be approved by DED. In order to make sure of that, try to avoid using disrespectful names, well-known corporate names and abbreviations and also ensure that the name you want to use is available for registration.

Step 4: File the application!

Once everything is set in place, you can submit all the papers to DED for review. Company formation and licences happen at the same time.

Once your company’s activity is authorised, you can apply for a Memorandum of Association, an Incorporation Certificate, and other legal papers. After approval, you can also apply for visas, tenancy agreements, and labour cards.

What documents do you require for a commercial licence in Dubai?

Here’s a list of the necessary documents for registration of a commercial licence in Dubai.

  • Application form with the company name in English and Arabic
  • Original leasing contract for registered office
  • Permission from Dubai Municipality’s Building Department to use the office as a business address
  • DED’s letter of approval for the company name
  • Proof of payment for a trade licence
  • Passport-sized colour pictures of the applicant
  • A No Objection certificate
  • Letter of intent
  • Comprehensive business plan
  • Details of shared capital
  • Reference certificates of financial statements
  • Notarized copy of Registry Identification form

How much does a commercial licence cost?

Prices for obtaining a licence range from AED 10,000 to AED 50,000 depending on the choice of licence.

Want to know more?

Check out our guide to the different types of commercial licences in Dubai.

Planning to purchase your own commercial unit?

Check out some of our top live listings around some of Dubai’s most popular business hubs!

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