How to get trade license in the UAE (Costs & Regulations)


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The UAE is a hugely popular hub for businesses of all types. Entrepreneurs from the world over flock to our shores to start businesses out here, thanks in part to its incredible location between East and West.

When arriving in the UAE, they’ll find a vibrant and welcoming business community and a tried and tested company formation procedure. But that said, there are a few elements of the company incorporation process that differ somewhat to other major business hubs.

Most notably, every single business that operates in the UAE requires a license to trade. Obtaining this license, while straightforward, requires some knowledge of the business culture in the UAE. That’s why it’s best undertaken with the help of a company formation specialist like Set Hub.

So, if you’re looking to start a business in the UAE, here’s everything you need to know – and how we can help.

Benefits of getting a UAE trade license

On top of an incredible strategic location, UAE businesses also benefit from the country’s 0% tax rate on both corporate and personal income. VAT is also flat and low at 5%.

Entrepreneurs in the UAE also have the option to set up in a free zone and benefit from further tax advantages including 100% customs tax exemption, as well as zero currency restrictions and the ability to repatriate all capital and profits.

Steps to get a trade license in the UAE

With the right support, obtaining your UAE trade license is both quick and easy. After a short consultation, your Set Hub account manager will guide you through the following process.

Step 1 – Outlining your business activities

The UAE is home to countless thriving industries spanning all manner of goods and services. To obtain your trade license, you’ll need to stipulate any that you wish to undertake.

You are only allowed to conduct activities that are named on your license. But don’t worry, if you expand or diversify your offering at a later date, you can always add more.

Step 2 – Choosing your company name

Choosing a company name is a hugely important step in establishing a UAE business. There are a few things to keep in mind when making this decision. You must abide by a strict, yet easy to follow, set of naming conventions. Once again, a company setup expert can help you with this step.

In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e., Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

Step 3 – Applying for your trade license

Now for the all-important step – applying for your trade license. Your dedicated Set Hub representative will manage this entire process for you, consulting with government bodies and free zone authorities on your behalf.

If you are setting up in the mainland, your license is issued by the Department of Economic Development or local Municipality. If you are setting up in a free zone, the license is issued by the managing authority.

In both cases, you will need to submit the following documentation:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
  • Two colour passport size photos.


Step 4 – Applying for your visa

You will also need a residency visa to work in the UAE. The visa application process consists of several steps including biometric scanning, a blood test, medical and a chest x-ray.

As the holder of UAE trade license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. These could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.

What is the cost of getting a trade license in the UAE?

The cost of company formation in the UAE depends on a multitude of factors, from your company size and activities to your chosen location and required facilities.

License prices also differ between the mainland and free zones, with the latter often the more cost-effective option. You can also find cheaper license packages by looking outside Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City offer many affordable license packages with no paid-up share capital requirement, no annual audit and an easy incorporation process. There is also no need to be present in the UAE to establish your new company.

A license package in Fujairah Creative City, inclusive of one visa application and use of the free zone’s co-working facility costs just AED 24,775.

Why work with Set Hub?

If you’re armed with the right knowledge, business setup in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.

That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.

To help you ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as Set Hub when establishing a new company in the UAE.

We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.

As well as handling your license application, Set Hub can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.

We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visa applications that are required to trade in the UAE.

In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.