When setting up your business in one of Dubai’s free zones, one of the crucial steps is to apply for your business licence. A license for business in Dubai validates your business as a legal body and permits you to conduct business legally in the region. Without one, your business cannot operate legitimately.
Our blog will run through everything you need to know on how to get a business license in Dubai.
Why Choose Dubai?
Over the years, Dubai has become one of the most attractive places for doing business. Given its strategic location and economic diversity, Dubai is one of the leading countries for foreign direct investment in the MENA region (Middle-East North Africa).
The strong commitment to economic growth reflected in UAE's robust 2023 federal budget, with expenses estimated at AED 63.066 billion and revenues at AED 63.613 billion - makes Dubai even more alluring for business opportunities. With sizable allocations such as AED 24.8 billion for social development and AED 2.4 billion for infrastructure, the government's focus on fostering a stable and thriving business environment encourages entrepreneurs to consider Dubai as their next investment destination.
Depending on which industry you choose to venture into, you must apply for the right licence to carry out business legally.
How Much Does a Business License Cost in Dubai?
There is no set cost for business licences in Dubai. The cost of your business licence will depend on factors such as your type of business licence, its size, and the free zone you will be operating in. You can expect the cost of your business licence to range from about AED 20,000 to AED 50,000 per annum.
Who Are the Issuing Authorities in Dubai?
Business licence issuing authorities in Dubai differ depending on whether you are setting up in a free zone or mainland.
The Department of Economic Development is mainland Dubai's business licence issuing authority. However, if you choose to set up in one of Dubai’s free zones, the respective free zone authority issues the business licence.
In the next sections, we elaborate on the types of licences issued to DMCC free zones only.
3 Types of Business Linceses in DMCC
There are 3 common license types available in DMCC: trading license, industrial license and service license. The type of license that’s right for your business will depend on your business’s nature and activities. To view a complete list of the approved activities in DMCC, download our list of approved activities.
Each of the licenses has its own characteristics and uses:
1. Trading Licence
You need to obtain a trading licence to set up a business in Dubai that involves buying and selling goods. This licence can cover companies in import and export, sales, general stores, etc.
2. Industrial Licence
This licence type is issued to businesses engaged in manufacturing activities that transform natural materials and resources into final products. This licence covers industries such as gold and precious metals manufacturing.
3. Service Licence
This licence type is issued to businesses that are service providers, artisans or craftsmen. Examples of companies that apply for this type of licence include medical services, beauty salons and repair services.
Top Considerations to Keep in Mind When Obtaining a Business License in Dubai
You can obtain your business license in Dubai by following our step-by-step guide.
1. Categorise Your Business
Before submitting your business licence application, you must first outline your business activities. Depending on your chosen licence, listing more than one activity on your application may be possible.
2. Choose a Company Name
Considering the government's naming conventions, choosing a company name in Dubai may require extra thought. Business names that contradict your company's activity are offensive to religion. Names referring to political groups are also strictly forbidden. To view the full list of rules and restrictions, click here.
3. How Much you Need to Invest
Depending on your business type, you must have an idea of your investment. The cost to obtain your business licence will depend on your business's nature, size, and the free zone you choose to set up. Licence fees are recurring and cost around AED 20,000 to AED 50,000 per year.
For a detailed overview of the cost of each licence type, click here.
Documents Required to Obtain Your Business License in Dubai
Along with your application, you may need to submit additional documents to obtain your business licence in DMCC:
- Upload Third-Party NOC - Third-party approval may be required for certain regulated business activities. If so, please contact the relevant third-party authority to receive a No Objection Certificate. Upload the NOCs once received.
- Upload Bank Letter – If your share capital is more than AED 500,000, please contact your preferred bank with the introduction letter provided by DMCC to receive the bank deposit letter.
- Upload Property Documents – If your selected property type is not a Flexi Desk, please arrange for the property documents and schedule a meeting with your assigned Business Setup Executive.
Please note that these additional documents may not be required if the property type selected is Flexi Desk and the Share Capital is less than AED 500,000. We recommend you consult with one of our business consultants to understand the documentation required for your business licence.
For more information on documentation requirements, please refer to the templates and sample letters here.
Renewing Your Business Licence
To renew your licence in Dubai or any other type of business licence, an application must be submitted alongside payment to DMCC. DMCC advises members to renew their licences three to four weeks before expiration. Read here for application guidelines for licence renewals.
Save on Your Business Licence with DMCC’s Exclusive Packages
If you want to open your company in one of Dubai’s free zones, DMCC offers four business setup package subscription types to help you save on your business licence and essential business tools.
Jump Start Package
Prime Plus Package
Basic Biz Package
JLT Resident Package
*The material provided in this blog is for general information purposes only and is subject to change based on government policy and regulations.