Start a General Trading Company in Dubai, UAE


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Dubai has long made its name through trading. From its pearl trading roots, through the financial and oil markets, up to the modern day when all manner of goods are bought and sold in the emirate.

From technology to textiles, there are few industries without a trading place in Dubai. The emirate benefits from an excellent location, perfectly situated to do business with markets in both the East and West.

This, along with its low tax regime, simple set up process, and low barriers to entry make Dubai hugely popular with traders of all types.

And when you set up here, you don’t need to commit to trading one product. With the DED general trading license, you can buy and sell various goods under a single approval.

What is the DED general trading license?

The DED general trading license is also known as the mainland trade license. It is issued by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) and allows the holder to trade a range of goods from the UAE mainland.

The mainland trading license differs from the free zone general trading license in that it allows you to trade from anywhere within the UAE rather than being tied to a specific economic zone.

Benefits of the DED general trading license

The main benefit of the UAE general trading license is its flexibility. Under this license, you are free to trade almost anything, with the exception of a few restricted industries such as oil, tobacco, alcohol and firearms.

What’s more, you do not need additional licenses to do so. The general trading license alone permits you to trade multiple unrelated goods, from food, clothes, and toys to computer parts, building materials, and jewellery.

However, while you are free to trade various goods, you must specify precisely which goods you wish to trade when making your license application. You are, however, able to add additional trading activities to an existing license later on, should you wish to diversify your offering.

Steps to start a trading company in Dubai

When undertaken with the help of a local company setup expert, starting a general trading company in Dubai is a simple, five-step process:

Step 1: Business activities

The first step to obtaining your general trading license is to decide on your business activities. You must stipulate every good that you wish to trade. There are thousands of potential options, so you are sure to find one or more than aligns with your business.

Step 2: Company name

Next, you’ll need to choose a company name. Be aware that you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions. 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.

Your company setup agent will check that your chosen name is available before registering it for you.

Step 3: License application

Now you can apply for your mainland general trade license. If you work with a company setup agent like Set Hub. We can make and manage the application to ensure a fast and smooth incorporation process.

In most cases, we’ll usually ask you to provide:

  • A completed application form.
  • Articles of incorporation (if necessary).
  • Passport copies for all shareholders.
  • Brief descriptions of intended business activities.

The general trading license is an instant license – meaning registration can be completed online in just 30 minutes.

Step 4: Visas

As well as applying for your license, you can also apply for any visas that you may require. This includes your residency visa, visas for company employees and visas for domestic staff such as housekeepers or drivers.

The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your company, your chosen setup and, for dependant visas, your personal earnings.

In all cases, the visa application process follows the same five steps:

  • Apply for an entry permit.
  • Status adjustment.
  • Medical and fitness test.
  • Emirates ID registration.
  • Visa stamping.


Step 5: Bank account

The last step in establishing your general trading business in the UAE is to open a corporate bank account. There are various local and international banks to choose from, however, opening an account can be a complicated process for overseas entrepreneurs.

Before making your application, you should first familiarise yourself with several financial institutions to find one that is best suited to your business needs and most likely to offer you corporate banking services. You company setup agent can help you with this process.

Keep in mind that:

  • You must have a UAE business license to open a corporate bank account.
  • Some banks require shareholders to have a residency visa.
  • Most accounts require a minimum balance of anywhere between AED 10,000 and AED 150,000.


If your application is successful, your account is usually opened within two to four weeks.

Are you ready to start your general trading business in Dubai?

Hopefully, this guide has made clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a general trading license 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 to 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 visas 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.