How to start a vape and tobacco trading business in Dubai, UAE


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While a relatively recent invention, vapes and e-cigarettes have seen an incredible spike in popularity in recent years.

The global e-cigarette and vape market is valued at around USD 15bn and expected to expand by almost 30% by 2028.

Here in Dubai, where around a quarter of the male population are tobacco smokers, vaping has been welcomed with open arms. This September, the emirate is set to host the World Vape Show, the first event of its kind to visit the UAE.

This comes on the back of a recent change in regulation which made it legal to sell e-cigarettes, vapes, and related paraphernalia in the UAE.

So, if you’re looking to stake a claim in this growing market, there’s never been a better time to get involved.

What are the benefits of starting a vape business in the UAE

With smoking cessation such an important focus for the country, vape businesses are very welcome in the UAE. And while the industry is regulated, the company incorporation process has been designed with minimal barriers to entry.

On top of this, when you start a vape business out here, you will also benefit from an incredibly low tax environment. The corporate and personal tax rates still stand at 0%, with VAT low and flat at 5%.

What is the cost of a vape and tobacco license in Dubai?

There are many factors that will have a bearing on the cost of a vape and tobacco license in Dubai. Not least is the size and location of your business.

As a starting point, you can expect to pay around AED 10,000 to AED 20,000, though this will vary depending on the facilities and number of visas that you require.

Steps to start a vape company in Dubai

First, you’ll need to complete the standard steps when starting any business in the UAE. To ensure an easy journey through this process, it’s a good idea to partner with a local agent such as Set Hub. We can manage every step of the company formation process, from trade name registration to visas.

We will help you decide on your 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.

Next, it’s time to confirm your business activities. Here, you’ll need to outline all services that you intend to offer. For example, you could trade vape products, create your own vapes, or open a vape shop. However, you must be clear in your intentions, as you can only carry out activities that are listed on your license.

With the admin complete, you can now apply for trade license. This process will differ depending on whether you wish to start up in a free zone or open a vape shop in the mainland. Free zones applications are handled by the relevant free zone while mainland applications are handled by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).

In both cases, Set Hub can help. Simply supply us with the following documents, and we’ll do the rest, liaising with all authorities on your behalf.

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


We can also assist with your visa applications. 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 business premises, and for dependant visas, your personal earnings.

Opening a vape shop – additional approvals

Any business manufacturing or selling e-cigarettes, liquid refills, electronic shishas and pipes, and other similar items must first gain approval from the Emirates Standardization and Metrology Authority (ESMA).

If you intend to manufacture your own liquids or devices, you will also need to obtain a free sales certificate, product analysis report, and lab report.

Set Hub can advise on the exact approvals that you require to operate your business.

How much does it cost to start a vape shop in Dubai?

It is difficult to estimate the cost of opening a vape shop in Dubai without specifics, as it depends on so many factors, from location and size to products stocked, staffing and more.

You’ll also need to account for the cost of stock, premises, marketing, equipment – as well as your trade license and regulatory approvals.

Get in touch with Set Hub for a personalised breakdown of the costs involved.

Start your vape business with Set Hub

If you’re armed with the right knowledge, starting a vape business in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

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 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.