Starting a business in Dubai, one of the world’s most dynamic and rapidly growing commercial hubs, is an enticing opportunity. However, really understanding the regulatory landscape is crucial to ensure a smooth path to acquiring that all-important business license in Dubai. Navigating the myriad of licensing requirements can be daunting, especially for new entrepreneurs.

The type of license you need depends on the nature of your business activities, your company’s structure, and the jurisdiction in which you plan to operate – all of which we’ll get into in this article.

We’ll cover everything you need to know – from understanding if you do need a business license, the various benefits that a Dubai business license offers, the different types of license, the cost, and a step-by-step guide to getting one.

So let’s get started.

How do I know if I need a business license in Dubai?

If you plan on selling a product or service in Dubai, then you will need a business license. Every company, regardless of its size, requires one. Even small ventures, such as operating a mobile business cart, must have the correct business license . Here is a quick checklist – if any of these apply to your company, then you’ll need a business license:

  • If your business carries out any activities that could be defined as commercial, industrial, or professional.
  • If your business has any kind of physical presence in Dubai – whether that’s a store, or office space, or even a warehouse.
  • If your business is going to hire employees (without a business license you cannot sponsor the necessary work permits and visas).
  • If your business is entering into agreements, whether that’s with clients or suppliers.

Fortunately, the process can be straightforward if you work with company formation experts like Unity Partners who can guide you through every part of the process, ensuring you avoid fines, penalties or even being shut down, and operate legally under the correct license.

Benefits of a business license in Dubai

The benefits of a business license in Dubai are as follows:

Commercial licenses offer the following benefits:

  • Ability to carry out up to ten commercial/trade activities under one license
  • Select from a variety of business company formation and registration types
  • Provision to apply for residence visas for employees and company management
  • Ease of opening corporate bank accounts

Professional licenses offer the following benefits:

  • Fixed annual fees for business activities
  • Multiple options when choosing the type of company to be registered
  • Ability to apply for visas for employees
  • Engage with a range of clients from different markets

Industrial licenses offer the following benefits:

  • Operational, tax, and customs privileges provided that your company meets the below criteria:
    • Produces goods destined for national consumption
    • Products may be exported outside the UAE
    • Set up in specific industrial development zones
    • Uses local raw materials for manufacturing
    • Positively impacts the UAE market

Tourism licenses offer the following benefits:

  • Ability to capitalise on Dubai’s booming trade show market
  • Utilise government support for tourism

Types of business license in Dubai

There are four main types of business licenses in Dubai. We have already looked at their benefits, but let’s now examine them in more detail to better understand which one suits your  business.

Commercial license: These are best suited for businesses that will be involved in the general trading of goods. They are widely issued for business activities inside the many free zones of Dubai. If your business is registered in a free zone with a commercial license, your business will qualify for incentives such as startup incubators, banking support, and trade incentives.

Professional license: These are ideal for businesses that intend to conduct services in specific fields. This might include a consultancy service, offering management services, different kinds of teaching and training, IT services, engineering skills, lawyers, and so on.

Industrial license: This applies if your business is involved in the manufacturing of goods from raw materials. This might include product manufacturing, textile manufacturing, food production, and so on. With this license, your company must have a registered office address within a Dubai free zone.

Tourism license: This allows you to operate in any of Dubai’s tourism sectors, including tours, hospitality, food and beverage, and leisure.

How much does it cost to get a business license in Dubai?

The cost of a business license in Dubai starts at around AED 12,500. But it can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type of business activity, the jurisdiction in which you choose to operate, and the structure of your company.

There may be additional costs if you need visas for employees or partners, and some business activities require additional approvals from governmental departments. Given the complexity and variability of these costs, it is advisable to seek expert guidance. Unity Partners can provide detailed information tailored to your specific business needs, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of the total expenditure involved.

How to get a business license in Dubai: Step-by-step

Let’s now look at how to acquire a business license in Dubai.

Step 1: Decide on your business activity: Begin by categorising your business activity into a specific license type.

Step 2: Choose a company name: Select a unique and appropriate name for your business. The name must comply with local regulations.

Step 3: Choose a legal structure: Select the most suitable legal structure for your business, considering options like a sole establishment, partnerships or companies.

Step 4: Select a location: Decide on a suitable Dubai location for your business.

Step 5: Apply for a business license: For free zone establishments, applications can be submitted online or at a local free zone office.

Step 6: Gather application documents: When you work with Unity Partners, we can support you in putting together all the necessary documents to avoid any delays in setting up your business.

This whole process may seem daunting, but working with Unity Partners ensures a smooth journey to starting your Dubai business and completing all the necessary steps quickly and smoothly – from choosing a compliant name, filling out the application form and gathering the necessary supporting documents, selecting the right legal structure, and more.

Why work with Unity Partners

Unity Partners is a global network of industry specialists dedicated to offering personalised services and solutions. We assist entrepreneurs in establishing and growing their businesses in the UAE. Unity Partners are experts in navigating the complexities of the licensing process, ensuring that every step, from identifying your business activity to gathering the necessary documents, is handled efficiently and accurately.

Unity Partners’ comprehensive understanding of local regulations as well as their relationships with key government entities streamline the approval process, saving you time and reducing potential obstacles. From company formation to legal support, Unity Partners is with you every step of the way. Your success story starts today. Contact Unity Partners for a free consultation.

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