Types of UAE Business Licenses and How to Get Them

Created: Dec 25, 2023 | Updated: May 22, 2024

It is no news that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands as a dynamic hub for global business, attracting entrepreneurs from around the world. If you're considering establishing a business in the UAE, it is important to understand the various types of business licenses you may need to get and the process to obtain them. In this guide, we'll explore each business license available in the UAE and provide you with the steps to secure them.

What is a Business License? 

A business license is a legal document or permit that allows an individual or entity to operate a business in a specific location. It is typically issued by the local government, such as the city or county, and may also be required at the state or federal level, depending on the nature of the business.

Obtaining a business license in Dubai is a regulatory requirement aimed at ensuring that businesses comply with local laws, regulations, and zoning ordinances. The specific requirements for obtaining a business license can vary widely depending on the location and the type of business. Some businesses may be required to obtain multiple licenses or permits, such as health permits, building permits, or environmental permits, in addition to the basic business license.


Types of Business Licenses in the UAE

Commercial License

A commercial license allows companies to trade products and offer services within and with the UAE.  A commercial license is a great option for businesses looking to take part in both local and international trade relationships.

How to get a Commercial License in the UAE

Step 1: Choose A Company Name

When choosing a name, you have to consider the rules and regulations of the UAE government. The name must be void of any profane, offensive or blasphemous language, and should not have the name of any existing, well-known organization. 

Step 2: Choose a Legal Structure

The next thing is to determine the structure of your business. When choosing a structure, consider the advantages and disadvantages and the financial implications of your choice. The business structures in the UAE include:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Corporation
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Holding Company

Step 3: Select a Location

Another important decision to make is the location of your business. Would you prefer a business on the Dubai Mainland, or within the Free zone? You will have to consider the pros and cons of each location as it concerns your business, to make a decision. 

If you would like a seamless process, It would be a good idea to consult the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) throughout the process of obtaining your commercial license. They are a leading provider of business setup solutions in Dubai, ready to provide valuable advice and guidance all the way. 

Step 4: Apply for your Commercial License

If your business is on the mainland, you can apply at the Department of Economic Development. If it’s in the free zone, you can either apply online or in one of the free zone local offices. At these locations, pick up the application form for a commercial license and complete it. 

Step 5: Put your application documents together

The needed documents for a commercial license in the UAE include: 

  • A completed commercial license application form with the full business name in English and Arabic.
  • Proof of payment of application fee made to the specified bank (between AED 10,000 and AED 50,000).
  • Business address permission from the Dubai Municipality’s Building Department. 
  • Two coloured passport photos.
  • Residency / Visit visa.
  • Memorandum of Association with your local sponsor or partner.
  • Your comprehensive business plan.
  • Original lease or tenancy contract for the use of the registered business address.
  • Your share structure of shareholders.

It is important to note that in the middle of all the extensive paperwork procedure, you may need the services of a company like Translayte to provide you with certified translations of international documents that are not in Arabic or English, to make them valid in the UAE.

Step 6: Submit Your Commercial License Application

The final step is submitting your commercial license application to the Department of Economic Development if you applied to set up on the Mainland. If you applied to a Free Zone, submit your application there. 

Types of business licenses in the UAE


Professional License

A professional license is a requirement for individuals and companies engaging in various professional activities. Obtaining a UAE professional license is mandatory for those looking to provide specialized services in fields such as consultancy, law, engineering, healthcare, media, and various other professions.

How to get a Professional License in the UAE

Step 1: Select and register a trade name
When deciding on a name for your business, you have to consider the rules and regulations of the UAE government.

Step 2: Determine your business activities
To get approval for a UAE professional license, you must determine what activities your business will be engaging in and submit an accurate description of it.

Step 3: Put together the necessary paperwork 

The documents needed for a professional license in the UAE include:

  • A filled out application form.
  • Your business name reservation certificate from the Department of Economic Development.
  • Copies of your and your business partner’s passports.
  • Emirates ID and Visa copies.
  • Initial approval from the relevant authorities such as DED, DM and RTA.
  • No Objection Certificates from your local sponsors.
  • A copy of your local partner’s naturalization book.

Similar to the process of getting a commercial license, international documents that are not in Arabic or English will require certified translation. It is necessary to invest in a professional certified translation service in the UAE to get good document translations. 

Step 4: Submit your application to the Department of Economic Development

UAE professional licenses are issued by the Department of Economic Development so, after gathering all the essential documents for your application, go to the DED and submit them. A representative will review them and if your application is approved, you’ll be asked to make the payment of about AED 10,310 and then you can receive your professional license. 


Industrial License

Industrial licenses are important for regulating and overseeing industrial activities within the UAE. These licenses are essential for businesses engaging in manufacturing, processing, and industrial activities. The Department of Economic Development is responsible for issuing industrial trade licenses. 

How to get an Industrial License in the UAE

Step 1: Get Approval From the Relevant Authorities
Get approval from the relevant government departments before applying for your industrial license. These authorities include the Department of Economic Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, National Media Council Ministry of Environment and Water and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, depending on the type of service you plan on providing. This approval comes in the form of a certificate. 

Step 2: Organize the paperwork
Documentation for an industrial license in the UAE includes:

  • Approval documents from all the relevant authorities.
  • A copy of your passport and residence permits.
  • Your detailed business plan and report of your factory.
  • A copy of your trade license.
  • A copy of your balance sheet.
  • A copy of your partnership contract (if applicable).

Other relevant documents for an industrial license in the UAE may include:

  • A notarised Memorandum of Association.
  • Your company’s registration documents.
  • Copies of passports of your shareholders.
  • Emirati sponsorship information.
  • Residence visas of your employees.
  • Your land lease agreement.

For documents that need notarized translations for industrial license approval, choose Translayte for a seamless process. Our expert linguists guarantee accuracy, reliability, and precision, making Translayte your trusted partner for efficient and professional translation services.

Step 3: Submit your application
Visit the Department of Economic Development and submit your paperwork. A representative will assess them and you will be issued a license in about three months if you are successful. 

How to obtain business licenses in the UAE

Tourism Business License

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the tourism sector is regulated by the issuance of tourism licenses. The Tourism License, also known as the Tour Operator License is for businesses involved in one or more aspects of the tourism industry. 

Types of UAE Tourism Licenses

  1. Inbound Tourism License: This license is required by inbound tour operators to conduct tours within areas of the UAE.
  2. Outbound Tourism License: This license allows tour operators to conduct tours around the UAE.
  3. Travel Agency License: This license is for travel agencies. It allows them to conduct businesses like visa support, travel accommodation, ticket booking, touring, etc. 
  4. Tour Guide License: This license is for individuals who wish to work as tour guides in the UAE. If you wish to work as a tour guide, you must have proper knowledge of the sites, history and culture of the area you wish to work. 
How to get a Tourism License in the UAE

Step 1: Choose a company name that aligns with the government’s rules.

Step 2: Choose between a mainland and a free zone jurisdiction.

Step 3: Define the activities your business will be engaging in.

Step 4: Gather the documents listed below.

Essential Documents for a UAE Tourism Business License

  • Your completed application form from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
  • Copies of your international passport.
  • Your managing director’s professional and educational certifications with at least one of the following:
    • A degree with a major in Tourism and Travel.
    • No less than 3 years of working experience in tourism if he holds a university degree in any other course.
    • No less than 5 years of working experience in the tourism field if he holds a general secondary school certificate.
  • You and your Managing Director's Police Clearance Certificate from the UAE Police Department.
  • Approval from the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
  • Your business’s feasibility study.
  • An undertaking to provide clients with complete and correct information on the tour packages offered by your establishment.
  • An undertaking to respond within one week to any complaint filed with the DTCM against your establishment.
  • An undertaking to provide the DTCM with any other needed document such as data or statistics.
  • An undertaking to inform the DTCM of the name of your managing director and of any change that may occur in this regard.
  • A signboard at the entrance of your travel agency on which working times are stated in Arabic and English.

Step 5: Submit your application to the Department of Economic Development. Getting approval for a tourism business license in the UAE takes about four to six weeks. 


Freelance License

The freelance license in UAE, also known as the Freelancer Permit, is designed to allow individuals to work as freelancers without needing a specific company sponsorship. This license is beneficial for individuals who wish to offer their professional services on a temporary or project basis.

How to get a Freelance License in UAE

Step 1: Pick up a form at any free zone authority of your choice.

Step 2:  Fill out the form and submit it with a copy of your passport, business plan and reference letter and wait for a confirmation letter. 

Step 3: Once you receive the letter, sign it and attach the following documents:

  • The completed application form.
  • A copy of your passport.
  • Your business plan.
  • Your qualification certificates.
  • Your CV.
  • A No Objection Certificate signed by your sponsor to transfer your residence visa to a freelance visa.
  • A good standing certificate from your bank.
  • Your portfolio containing your previous work. 

Step 4: Pay the necessary fees.

Step 5: Collect your UAE freelance license.


Agriculture License

The agriculture license in the UAE allows individuals or companies to engage in agricultural activities within the country. This license is essential for those looking to establish agricultural businesses, cultivate crops, or engage in agriculture-related activities.  The body in charge of issuing agricultural licenses is the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

How to get an Agriculture License in the UAE

Step 1: Choose a suitable business location from the three areas.

Step 2: Choose a business activity that best suits your needs. 

Step 3: Choose and register a trade name that is in line with the UAE government regulations.

Step 4: Choose a Legal Structure.

Step 5: Put together your documentation and submit your application to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. 

Documentation for an agricultural license in the UAE includes: 

  • Copies of Passports for all Shareholders.
  • Photocopies of your visas.
  • Two Passport Photographs.
  • Entry visa information and stamp pages.
  • Your Memorandum of Association.
  • Your Articles of Association.

Step 6: Collect your license within a few days. 

With a clear understanding of the available license types and a systematic approach to the application process, you can establish a strong foundation for your business ventures. Seeking professional advice, getting good quality certified translations and staying informed are essential for ensuring a successful business experience in the UAE.


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