The Ultimate Guide to Business Licences in Dubai

After having a good idea, obtaining a business licence is the next step in setting up your company in Dubai. Read on for your ultimate guide to business licences in Dubai.

1. Who needs a business licence in Dubai?

Anyone who wants to set up a business in Dubai needs to obtain a business licence. When you have a business licence, it signifies that you are a legally validated company that is permitted to conduct business operations within the Emirate.

Dubai requires business licences in order to regulate and survey the business operations occurring within the city by keeping your company accountable. Therefore, if you are looking to create a business and make money in Dubai, it is required that you have a business licence.

2. What are the main categories of Dubai business licences?

Dubai is open to a wide array of different enterprises, which is reflected in the six main types of business licences that they offer. These are Commercial Business Licences, Agricultural Business Licences, Craftsmanship Business Licences, Professional Business Licences, Industrial Business Licences, and Tourism Business Licences.

Commercial Business Licence in Dubai

If your company does general trading or contracting, you will require a Commercial Business Licence. This category includes those operating in real estate, transportation, oil and gas, healthcare, chemicals, and publishing (to name a few).

When you have a Commercial Business Licence, you will benefit from an exemption from taxes and the ability to have your head office located anywhere in Dubai. You can also be involved with various products in different categories (maximum of 10 business activities). This licence is one of the quickest to obtain.

To obtain a Commercial Business Licence, you will first need to prepare a Memorandum and Article of Association for the company that specifies your business activities. Next, you will have to register the company with the Economic Development department to obtain a VAT number. After this, your Commercial Business Licence will be issued. This license is valid for one year (from the date of issuance) and, once renewed, will be valid for four years.

Agricultural Business Licence in Dubai

An Agricultural Business Licence is required for those whose businesses are related to the agricultural industry – including keeping livestock, selling pesticides, cultivating crops, or building greenhouses.

Craftsmanship Business Licence in Dubai

Those whose professions involve working independently from a company and performing a craft or trade (such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters) will need a Craftsmanship Business Licence.

Professional Business Licence in Dubai

A Professional Business Licence is required in Dubai for companies offering professional services to customers (such as insurance, tax, IT, and consultancy. These companies are characterised by their utilisation of individual’s intellectual capacities. Therefore, to qualify, you must be able to demonstrate your educational level and skill set. Companies that obtain this type of licence can benefit from a range of supportive government policies and many opportunities to grow the business in the UAE.

To obtain a Professional Business Licence, you will first need to prepare a Memorandum of Association and sign a Court Agreement before a notary. Once this has been completed, you will receive a tenancy contract approval that must be submitted (along with several other forms and a passport copy of the owner) to the Department of Economic Development.

Industrial Business Licence in Dubai

Any business that includes operational manufacturing needs to have an Industrial Business Licence. Generally, these include those who are large-scale manufacturing food and other physical products. Additionally, to qualify for one of these licences, you must have a physical office in Dubai.

Once you have an Industrial Business Licence, you will be able to benefit from discounted rates on electricity, water, and other essential services, as well as subsidies on land. In addition, depending on your products, you may also qualify for low-interest rate loans. As a result, this licence is often a significant attraction for both investors and consumers.

Tourism Business Licence in Dubai

Finally, businesses that operate within the tourism sector (hotels, travel agencies, tourist activities) will need a Tourism Business Licence to function legally. Moreover, within Dubai, there are three types of Tourism Business Licences: Inbound Tourism Licences, Outbound Tourism Licences, and Travel Agency Licences (specifically for Travel Agents). When you possess one of these tourism licences in Dubai, you will be able to promote tourism activities both in and out of the UAE.

As you can see, the licences offered in Dubai are industry-specific, which means that the appropriate one for your company will depend on the sector in which you work. Therefore, if you are looking to open a business in Dubai (or expand a current one), it is crucial that you know which business licence you are required to have.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that you work with business setup specialists who can analyse your company’s operations and advise you on the most suitable licence.

3. How do you apply for a Dubai business licence?

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for administering Dubai business licences as they are the department that monitors and regulates the city’s economic priorities and opportunities. In addition to granting business licences, DED regulates business licensing processes and strategic policies for economic growth.

In order to apply for a Dubai business licence, you will need to prepare several documents. While the complete list of documents is going to vary based on which licence you are applying for, all applicants are generally required to submit a Trade Name Certificate, an Initial Approval Certificate, a Dubai Municipality and RERA-attested Tenancy Agreement, a Memorandum of Association, and any applicable Government Bodies Approvals.

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Final Thoughts

Setting up a company in Dubai is a dream of many entrepreneurs and savvy business owners, as the Emirate is known for being a welcoming and lucrative place to operate. However, to ensure that you are setting up your business in the right way, it is highly advised that you work with professionals who can assist you in obtaining the necessary licence.

They will also have the required local knowledge to aid you through the whole process so that you can spend more time on your business and less time stressing about the paperwork.

Are you considering setting up a business in Dubai? If so, what type of company would you like to have? Let us know your thoughts and any additional ideas or questions you have in the comments below!