Step-by-Step Guide for Obtaining a Business License in Dubai: Updated

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If you are an investor or entrepreneur aspiring to get a business license in Dubai, you are in the right place.

This article was created with all the latest and updated information to help you get an accurate insight into the step-by-step procedure for obtaining a business license in Dubai, UAE.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of business structures in Dubai, types of company setup in Dubai, the types of trading licenses in Dubai, and later give you the detailed procedure on how you can set up your business in Dubai, UAE. 

Also, we recommend you seek assistance from an expert business consultant in Dubai, UAE, if you want a smooth and hassle-free company formation process. You can request a free consultation with our experts.

Let’s dive in!

Types of Business Structures in Dubai, UAE

A business structure in Dubai defines and influences your day-to-day business operation. Your choice of business structure will depend on factors such as the number of shareholders, the nature of your business, and much more.

Below are some common business structures offered in Dubai, UAE.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is the most common form of business in Dubai. It requires at least 2 to 50 shareholders and offers limited liability to each. Read More on LLC company formation in Dubai here.

Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship business is a better option if you plan to open a single-owner business in Dubai, UAE. It offers you full control over your company and a cost-effective business setup procedure. However, you will be liable for all your business debts and decisions.

Partnership: If you plan to start a company in Dubai with 2 or more partners, whereby the profits, loss, and company’s decision are shared amongst members with respect to your invested capital, then a partnership business structure is the right form. 

Branch Office: Suppose you have an existing company and want to extend your operations to Dubai, UAE, with the same company’s name and activity; a branch office is the preferred legal structure for your company setup in Dubai.

Types of Company Setup in Dubai

Dubai, UAE, now offers foreign investors the opportunity to own 100% of their business setup in Dubai mainland, which was only possible in freezone company formation in Dubai.

Since June 2023, as per FTA’s Federal Decree Law 47, businesses in Dubai have an obligation to pay a 9% corporate tax on annual profits for all businesses with income above 375,000Dhs.

You can read more on corporate tax in UAE here.

However, there are some differences in the types of business setup in Dubai. Let’s explore them.

Business Setup in Dubai Mainland:

A business license in Dubai mainland is issued by the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and offers you the following:

  1. Own 100% of your company. However, you may need a local sponsor for some business activities.
  2. Have branch offices anywhere across the UAE
  3. Do business anywhere across the UAE without restriction
  4. Partner with government entities and win government projects
  5. Get an unlimited number of visas under a single license.
  6. Have multiple business activities under a single license.
  7. Pay a 9% corporate tax rate on annual profit and a 0% tax on personal income 
  8. You must have a physical office to operate your business

Business Setup in Dubai Freezone:

Setting up a freezone company in Dubai is the most preferred for many startup entrepreneurs as it offers the option for operating your company without needing a physical office.

There are more than 20+ freezones authorities in Dubai, each created to serve a specific sector(s). Starting a freezone company in Dubai will offer you the following:

  1. Have 100% ownership of your company. 
  2. Easy and remote business setup procedure
  3. Ability to repatriate 100% of your business capital and profits.
  4. No customs duty on income/exports of goods within the freezone.
  5. Pay a 9% corporate tax rate if your annual profit exceeds 375,000 Dhs and a 0% tax on personal income.
  6. You will be limited to operating your business only within the freezone jurisdiction.
  7. There is no limitation on currency exchange.
  8. It is not mandatory to have a physical office for your business operations.

Types of Business License in Dubai, UAE

Dubai offers 4 main types of business licenses. The type of business license you will choose will determine your business activity in Dubai, UAE. 

  1. Commercial License: A commercial license in Dubai will allow you to trade, buy, or sell products and other amenities in Dubai and the entire UAE. Read more on commercial licenses in Dubai here.
  2. Professional License: If you plan to offer service-related business activities such as consultancy, craft, Technical Support, or any other skilled or professional service, then a professional license in Dubai is the preferred business license. Read more here.
  3. Industrial License: For industry-related activities such as manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, or processing, you will need an industrial license in Dubai.
  4. Tourism License: To offer touristic services in the United Arab Emirates, such as travel and tourism, flight reservation services, ETC. Read more on the types of tourism licenses in Dubai, UAE.

Steps to Obtain Trade License in Dubai, UAE

  • Choose your business activity and define your legal structure.
  • Draft a precise business plan stating your goals and objectives
  • Select a unique and meaningful business name.
  • Choose a jurisdiction for company formation in Dubai (mainland or freezone)
  • Apply for initial approval from the relevant authority.
  • Get additional permits if required.
  • Pay the license fee and any other charges
  • Apply for visas for yourself and your employees
  • Open a business bank account in Dubai, UAE.

Get a Trade License in Dubai from CBS!

Corporate Business Services (CBS) is an ISO 9001:2015 certified business consulting firm in Dubai, UAE, since 2007. We have a team of expert business advisors in Dubai who can help you obtain a trade license in Dubai without needing your physical presence. We’ll take the time to understand your business goals and objectives to propose a solution tailored to your business needs.

You can get in touch with us for more information.