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Getting a Freelance Visa Dubai (2023)

Jan 15, 2023 | Entrepreneurship, Featured Posts, UAE Company Setup

Get A Freelance Visa Dubai

So, does the freelance lifestyle sound like a perfect fit for you? Then a freelance visa (or freelance permit) is your next step! Obtaining a freelance visa in Dubai allows you to conduct business in the UAE and legally provide professional services to clients. Many UAE Free Zones issue freelancer licences, including:

Freelance licences (a freelancer permit) are available at affordable rates, which allow you to work across a wide array of business activities. It is important to remember you will also require your UAE residency visa. Some of these industries include consultancy, events management, education, film production, new media and entertainment.

A freelancer permit in Dubai (or a freelance visa Dubai) can be registered under these sectors:

  • Media (Dubai Media City),
  • Tech (Dubai Internet City), and
  • Education (Dubai Knowledge Park)
  • Creative Industries (Dubai Design District)

Working as a freelancer in Dubai

How Much Does a Dubai Freelance Visa Cost?

When considering obtaining your freelance employment visa (this is different to your residency visa or UAE residence visa), you will need to know your freelance visa Dubai cost. Licence packages start from AED 7,500 per year, however, the set-up costs will vary depending on the free zone in which you register. Keep in mind, that there may be additional costs for a freelance permit that apply if a freelance visa is required under the Dubai Development Authority. Your freelance employment visa will also likely come with freelance visa fees. The Dubai Development Authority is a government body involved in economic development, urban planning and real estate. This freelance permit is valid for three years under the Dubai Development Authority and is eligible for renewal every three years and includes an immigration card and insurance.

If you’re sponsored by a parent or a spouse, you do not need to cancel your UAE residency visa to obtain your Dubai freelance visa. The total price for a freelance permit varies from AED 10,000 to AED 20,000, depending on several factors. This varied price range is dependent on whether a 1-year or 3-year visa is needed. Furthermore, if you need a UAE residence visa or an operational permit to work legally as a sole practitioner in the UAE, these factors can also increase the total cost.

Completing an application form for a freelance visa

Documents Needed to Get Your Freelance Visa in Dubai

To obtain a freelance license, here are the following required documents:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Passport copy
  3. Passport-size photo
  4. An updated curriculum vitae (CV)
  5. Academic certificates attested by the UAE Consulate or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  6. Two professional references (with contact details)
  7. Work offer or a letter of intent (detailing your personal/professional background and work experience)
  8. No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor (if required)

The concerned free zone authority will review your application and supporting documents.

Why Become a Freelancer?

Want to work for yourself, without the need for renting an office space?

For thousands of people it’s a long-held dream – throw off the shackles of your nine-to-five and become your own boss as a freelancer. With the UAE’s work environment changing, more people are attracted to working for themselves. Now that a freelance permit in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is more accessible and affordable, this dream could soon become a reality for many entrepreneurs. Quoting a report from Algorithm Research, Dubai remains the focal point for freelancers in the UAE, hosting more than 65% of freelancers in the region.

Most freelancers work in the fields of graphic design, social media, health and fitness, architecture, websites and software development. Men represent 62% and women account for 38% of the UAE’s freelance workforce. The majority of freelancers are aged between 21 and 30 years old.

The words "Scam Alert" on a keyboard representing scams targeting Freelancers obtaining a visa in Dubai and free zones including Ajman free zone

Beware of Illegal and Scam Freelance Visa Solutions

You might have seen online advertisements from certain companies offering a “freelancer visa” or opportunities to make “easy money” without leaving your home. If it sounds too good to be true, it often is. These companies promote easy freelancer visa packages on company websites and social media platforms which target aspiring freelancers.

Be cautious when considering these opportunities online or offline. Avoid becoming a victim of freelance visa scams in Dubai and watch out for these warning signs:

  • Visa shops promising work or permanent residency in the UAE in exchange for payment. This is not legal.
  • Operators who encourage you to lie, omit or fabricate information in your application.
  • Visa shops that require you to buy and sell their products with the promise that you will earn money quickly and easily.
  • Online freelance platforms that try to gain access to your personal email and social accounts.

Tips for Protecting Yourself from Visa Scams

Aside from being cautious, there are other proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from potential freelance license scams. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re choosing the right freelance opportunities as a business owner in the UAE:

  1. Do your research and make sure that the job offer is legitimate and worth pursuing. A good place to start is by searching the company’s name on the National Economic Register (NER) website to confirm their details and legitimacy.
  2. Any contractual agreement between the freelancer and the company needs to have valid information, business details and terms that satisfy both parties while contributing to their respective interests.
  3. Business contracts can be tricky, especially when you are working as a freelancer. Be meticulous with every project agreement and transaction, ensuring all details, especially payment terms, are crystal clear.
  4. When confronted with a scammer, cut off the contact and report the scam to the State Audit Institution. You can report fraudulent activities via their website.

Female entrepreneur freelancer in Dubai and in the Ajman free zone

Setting up your Freelance Business

It’s important to understand your responsibilities as a freelancer in Dubai, and educate yourself on freelance visas, health insurance and how to run your own business in the UAE.

Knowing you’re applying for the right free zone, understanding the tax system and choosing the best industry are all part of establishing a business. However, with the right information at hand, you’re sure to be set for success.

The role of a freelancer means working for yourself as an independent contractor. It’s completely legal in the UAE as long as you hold the necessary licence (freelance visa). This means you’ll be working as a sole practitioner and conducting business in your own name. You will need to obtain a freelance permit rather than a trade license. This article explains the difference. This is slightly different to establishing a startup company. It’s common for entrepreneurs to start out freelancing and upgrade to a company setup once they grow to a certain size.

The UAE Government Supports Freelancing Entrepreneurs

It goes without saying that you need the right skills, drive and business savvy to make a success of your career plan. Going it alone can be stressful and lonely at the start, and perhaps it isn’t for everyone. Just remember, you’re not alone. Deciding to get a freelance visa in Dubai is actively supported by the UAE government. Authorities within Abu Dhabi and the UAE endorse the success of local entrepreneurs.

Starting a viable business in the UAE is supported by the government, including:

  • business support forums and accelerators for startups and solo-entrepreneurs
  • positive encouragement for businesses that want to use freelance services

The entrepreneur visa has been a great boost for freelancing in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Emirates. Because of this, more and more free zones are starting to offer freelance permits.

Apply Directly to the Relevant Free Zone

Save time, effort and stress by applying directly to the free zone you need. Applying directly puts entrepreneurs in contact with great networking opportunities, benefits and resources to support their businesses. Most freelance visa packages allow freelancers to establish themselves in the free zone.

You can either rent an office space or use a flexi-desk, surrounded by other businesses that might need your freelancer skills and services. Typically, applying directly to the relevant free zone is easy, and attracts 0% corporate and personal tax and 100% repatriation of profits.

Business registration and visa applications come at a cost, so you’ll need a financial buffer until you’re up and running.

The cost of living in the UAE – particularly Dubai – is famously high, so you’ll want to be confident your freelance business can support you in the long run.

However, provided you have a good plan, you’ve researched your potential clients and you’re armed with the right skills and market knowledge, you’ve got every chance of making a success of your business.

A freelancer obtaining their freelance visa in Dubai

What Are The Advantages of Freelancing?

From location freedom to optimal work satisfaction, there are many advantages to becoming a freelancer in the UAE. Some of these include:

  • Having better work flexibility
  • The freedom to explore as many income opportunities as you can
  • The ability to choose the projects you want to work on
  • Freedom to work within the UAE – including Umm al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi

With these benefits, it’s easy to see why many professionals in the UAE want to get a freelance visa in Dubai. A freelancing career affords various luxuries both to UAE residents and travelling entrepreneurs alike. 

Renting an office space in UAE

7 Reasons To Get A Freelance Visa in Dubai

1. Applying Is Easy

Apply for your freelance permit in Dubai in two ways. Either directly to the Department of Economic Development (DED), or to one of the numerous free zones. Here, the application process is simple. To apply, your company name is simply your own name, and your licence is usually issued in 7-10 days.

2. Wide Range of Work Opportunities

Freelancing provides a range of industries in which to conduct your business in the UAE. Freelance permits are issued for almost all DED-listed business activities. However, if you wish to obtain a freelance permit from a free zone, your business activity must be related to the free zone’s area of focus. For instance, if you want to set up in Dubai Media City Free Zone, you need to be working in the media or a related industry. If technology and IT are your fields, then Dubai Internet City is where you’ll be set up for work. Dubai Knowledge Park specifically relates to the education sector.

3. No Office Space Needed

Freelancing gives total location freedom, without being locked into either a mainland or free zone location. Renting office space is completely optional when it comes to freelancing. You can be your own boss, work from home, or rent a desk or office facilities from one of the many free zones. With a freelance permit, you can easily find the right balance that suits your lifestyle.

4. No Local Sponsor NOC Required

Another reason why freelancing in the Emirates is gaining popularity is that most free zones don’t require a No Objection Certificate (NOC). A No Objection Certificate is usually obtained from a local sponsor, institute or agency and is typically required by most government departments. This certificate is not required in many free zones and is applicable to both long-term UAE residents or new arrivals to the Emirates.

5. Sponsor Your Dependants

Freelancing may not always be a steady job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have family with you. Having a freelance visa in Dubai will allow you to sponsor your dependents. After securing a Dubai freelance visa, and meeting certain salary requirements, you’re then eligible to sponsor family members. It’s also possible to sponsor employees if you’re establishing a company in the UAE. Women can sponsor dependants, as long as she’s working in certain defined professions (such as the medical sector) in addition to the minimum salary restrictions.

6. No Bookkeeping Requirements

Paperwork can be a time-consuming facet of running a business. Fortunately, freelancers in the UAE are not always required to submit official accounts or be subjected to auditing. This means entrepreneurs can focus more on building a successful business, earning money and expanding work opportunities- you just need your Dubai freelance visa.

7. Corporate Bank Account

Getting a corporate bank account organised is easy. The UAE is home to plenty of large, reputable financial institutions that readily welcome freelancers. Plus, once established in your free zone, the most relevant bank to your industry needs will be made available to you. To open a bank account and acquire a freelance license, you’ll also need your Emirates ID.

Once set up in a free zone, you’ll be put in contact with the most relevant bank to your needs as part of the standard setup service. Whether it’s Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City or Dubai Knowledge Park – there’s a free zone that’s perfect for you.

Young Male Freelancer enjoying work-life balance

Upgrade From Freelancing To A Full Company

Some people simply want a freelancing life, taking on only the work they can manage. Others see freelancing as the first step on their entrepreneurial ladder to expand their business and establish a company of their own. When you’re ready to take the leap, there’s help available to you. Conveniently, it’s easy to upgrade a freelance business licence to a company licence.

Get Your Freelance Visa With Virtuzone

The UAE is a great place to build your business, and Virtuzone can assist you with getting your freelance visa in Dubai. To obtain the correct and legitimate freelance permit in the UAE, it is crucial to work with a trusted and credible company. Virtuzone is a leading Dubai company formation specialists in the UAE. Virtuzone offers a suite of visa solutions and value-added business support services to freelancers.

Our consultants will assist you in identifying the right free zone, applying for your residence visa and acquiring your freelance license. We can answer any questions you have regarding your Emirates ID, an employment visa – handling the entire process on your behalf.

Contact us today to learn more about our freelance permit solutions. Whether it’s Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City or Dubai Knowledge Park – there’s a free zone that’s perfect for you. Discover why working in a burgeoning industry within emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah or Umm al Quwain could be the start to your freelancing journey.

Enjoy a view of Dubai after a day of freelance work

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