Are you considering opening a business in Dubai? You are making a great choice, with consumer confidence at an all-time high. However, if you want to serve alcohol, you need to know how to get an alcohol license in Dubai before launching your business.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Muslim country, but Dubai is not a dry city. Different rules apply to serving alcohol across the Emirates, including Abu Dhabi. With an increasing expat community, and a steady flow of tourists, opening a business that serves alcoholic beverages can be a great opportunity.
The government has introduced steps for tourists and residents to feel at home; however, you need to do the right research, as there are laws surrounding alcohol consumption and sales. One of the most important rules is the need to get an alcohol licence in Dubai. Do not put off following regulations around alcohol, as there can be severe consequences, including fines and imprisonment.
Are you ready to start making your dream business a reality? Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to get an alcohol license in Dubai.
What Is the Alcohol License in Dubai?
An alcohol license is a document that permits you to serve alcohol at your business legally. Dubai has this process in place to help regulate alcohol consumption and sales. It helps ensure you understand the rules and stay legal while operating your business.
You will want to keep this document safe and have it ready before your business launch. You may need to produce it as evidence at some point while running your business.
How To Get an Alcohol Licence in Dubai
Dubai is full of life during the day and the night. It has a popular nightclub scene, making it a great place to set up a business serving alcohol.
Tourists and residents also need an alcohol licence to purchase alcohol unless they are drinking in licensed restaurants, hotels, or bars. This also offers you the opportunity to attract more business if you have the correct alcohol license, with public drinking also being strictly forbidden.
Types of Alcohol Licences
An excellent place to start is to know the different types of alcohol licences in Dubai, so you know which one you need to get for your business. Laws are subject to change under the Liquor Control Law, but currently, these are the four types of licenses:
- Type A: License to import alcohol
- Type B: License to sell alcohol from a warehouse or shop to third parties
- Type C: License to sell alcohol in a hotel, restaurant, or club
- Type D: License to purchase alcohol
If you are interested in starting a business to serve alcohol, you will need a trading license before you apply for the alcohol license.
If your business is not a hotel, restaurant, or club, you must enquire if you can serve alcohol in Dubai. No general spaces can serve alcohol or hotels, restaurants and clubs without a license.
Type C Alcohol License Rules
You are likely looking for a Type C license if you are looking at serving alcohol at your business. There are several Type C permissions, subject to change. This license currently allows you to:
- Serve alcohol for immediate consumption at licensed establishments
- Transport alcohol directly to the licensed establishment
- Purchase alcohol from a Type B licensed warehouse
You also need to stick to the rules of the Type C license and liquor control law. These include ensuring alcohol is only consumed on your premises, maintaining alcohol stock documentation, and, asides from wine, serving all alcohol in glasses. You also need to stick to the correct permitted operating times, which the government determines.
There are also other conditions, such as Type C rules of conduct. For example, if you want to serve alcohol at your hotel, you must ensure hotel management is in charge of the license. You must also be specific about where you want to serve alcohol and contact the nearest police station if any problems arise.
Alcohol License Dubai Criteria
If you are not a resident in Dubai, you can apply for a tourist alcohol license, which allows tourists to buy alcohol while in the UAE. However, it is unlikely you are starting a business without residency. The tourist alcohol license in Dubai is free, valid for thirty days, and you can extend subject to criteria.
Are you a resident of Dubai? If you are a resident, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be over 21 years old
- Resident of Dubai
If you are a resident of another emirate, you will need to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your emirate, even if you live in Dubai. Some people are on spouse visas, which requires you to also get a NOC certificate from them.
You will first have to get a general trading license and apply for an alcohol license.
Consequences of Not Having a License
You do not want to face the consequences of serving alcohol without a license in Dubai. It is not worth it, and the most secure option is to have a license.
While it might be part of the territory for an entrepreneur to take business risks, not having an alcohol licence isn’t one of them. Risks include costly fines, which can increase each time. You may also risk imprisonment or visa cancellations and deportation.
Now, you can apply for an alcohol license. It is important to note that this alcohol license is specific to Dubai; if you want to expand your business in other parts of the UAE, you may need different permissions.
Steps To Get Your Alcohol License in Dubai
1. Fill in the Online Form or Visit in-person
Now you can either apply online for your license or visit the store. These stores are the African Eastern (A+E) and the Maritime Mercantile International (MMI). You can access the form online or visit the store for a paper copy.
2. Gather the Alcohol License Dubai Requirements
It’s relatively simple to apply for a liquor license, with just a few documents needed. These include passport-size photographs, a copy of your Emirates ID, your visa copied, and a copy of your passport. Head into an African Eastern or MMI store with your Emirates ID and supporting info who’ll then send it to Dubai Police for verification – it’s that easy.
The cost of this license is around AED 270 annually. You may also want to provide optional details, such as your tenancy contract. Have your business details available, such as premise details and details of any partners you work with.
3. Wait for the License to Process
You then have to wait for the store to process your license request, which can take roughly two to four weeks. The store processes your request with the Dubai Police for approval. They will contact you once they have decided whether to grant you the license or not.
4. Launch Your Business
It is an exciting time to launch a business in Dubai, with more opportunities and ease than ever before. Dubai has some of the best infrastructures in the world, and foreign investment remains high in Dubai. The economy continues to grow and become more resilient with business-friendly tax policies.
However, it does not mean you should skip planning or applying for an alcohol license. To ensure your business launches smoothly, you must apply for this alcohol license in advance.
Launch Your Dream Dubai Business
If you want to serve alcohol in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the, it’s important to know the regulations.
Applying for an alcohol license in Dubai requires planning to understand the rules and provide the correct documentation. However, it is worth the investment and gives you the freedom to serve alcohol at your business. It can be helpful to use a business support service, which helps you navigate the different Dubai laws and open your dream business.
Virtuzone has been working with companies in the UAE for over ten years. We have extensive experience in various industries and can help you navigate the alcohol license process. Contact us today to learn more.