Everything you need to know about UAE’s business licenses


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Establishing its position as one of the most favorable destinations for entrepreneurs looking to set up new ventures or expand their horizons, the UAE is home to almost every kind of business venture imaginable. None of this would be possible without the region’s efforts towards establishing a system of trade licensing that serves as the foundation of these ventures.

If you are looking towards the UAE to set up or expand the reach of business, this blog will help you understand everything there is to know about the different types of trade licenses on offer in the UAE.


In addition to making your business legitimate in the UAE, maintaining a trade license will ensure that your business is compliant with local laws and regulations. The type of trade license you need to obtain will vary based on the type of company you intend to establish, the industry you wish to participate in, and the business activity that your company will carry out.


Commercial License

Commercial Licenses are best suited for businesses that will be involved in the general trading of goods. It is noteworthy that these licenses 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.

Benefits include:

  • 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 License

The Professional License is ideal for businesses that intend to conduct services in specific fields. Some of these may include consultancy, operating management services, teaching and training, IT services, engineering skills, lawyers, and more. This is yet another widely issued license to service-oriented businesses operating inside Dubai’s free zones.

Benefits include:

  • 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 License

If your business is involved in the manufacturing of goods from raw material inputs, an Industrial License is for you. Some of your business areas could include product manufacturing, textile manufacturing, food production, and more. It is important to note that to qualify for this license, your company must have a registered office address within one of many free zones in Dubai.

Benefits include 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 License

The Tourism License gives you the green light to operate in any of Dubai’s tourism sectors, be it for outbound or inbound tours, hospitality, food and beverage, or leisure.

Benefits include:

  • Ability to capitalize on Dubai’s booming trade show market
  • Promote tourism outbound and inbound tourism
  • Utilize Government support for tourism


At the end of the day, the license you choose fundamentally defines the activities of your business. In some cases, a business may qualify for obtaining both a commercial and professional license. If you are still unclear about which license to choose, speak to us at SetHub. Our experts will be able to give you a personalized, end-to-end walkthrough about setting up your business in Dubai, inclusive of advice on which license type is right for you.


Here are some of the key steps you will have to take to obtain your Dubai trade license:

Step 1: Choose Your Business’s Legal Structure and Activities

Step 2: Decide on a Company Name

Step 3: Determine the Location of Your Business

Step 4: Complete All Required Paperwork

Step 5: Business License Application

Step 6: Establish a Bank Account

Once all the paperwork is completed, you need to submit the same to the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai (and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing for Tourism Licenses).

Below is a checklist of the required documentation:

  • Proof of ID and address for directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies for shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name confirmation from the Registry Office
  • Copy of license application forms
  • Proof of initial activity approval from Dubai’s management agencies
  • Notarized Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Notarized Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Copy of the lease or property agreement of the company’s physical address
  • Payment for specific trade license


After your trade license is issued, you will need to renew it as it nears its expiration date to stay compliant with local laws. The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai is the governing body for license renewals as well. To successfully renew your license, you will need:

  • Duly Completed renewal form
  • Tenancy contract
  • Authorizations and approvals
  • ID photocopies of shareholders and directors.

In conclusion,

Despite there being four licenses to choose from, it is an important decision that will influence the scope of your business activities and ultimate business success in the UAE. Carefully review which license best suits your business model, before making an informed decision. If you require guidance on this process, SetHub is here to catalyze the incorporation of your venture in the UAE.