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How to Obtain an Instant Licence in Dubai for Business

Dec 17, 2022 | Entrepreneurship

Do you want to start a business in Dubai, but want to be up and running as fast as possible? Well, a Dubai instant licence could be the answer to your business dreams. Learn all about the process of obtaining an instant business licence in Dubai, the incredible benefits of having this licence and why it’s great for entrepreneurs and expats alike. Whether you are already living in Dubai or are planning to move here soon, here’s your ultimate guide to obtaining an instant licence in Dubai. Let’s get started.

An image of the city of Dubai, where you will require an instant licence in order to start your business career.

What is the Instant Licence in Dubai?

A Dubai instant licence is ideal for entrepreneurs and expats new to the city who have dreams of success and want to get started fast. Having an instant business licence means you can spend the first 12 months of your business life getting used to Dubai culture and settling into a new lifestyle.

You can refine your trading name and organise other important documentation thereafter. Moreover, you can find a business location and expand your trade from the second year onwards. Holding an instant business licence in Dubai means you can discover more about Dubai, analyse growth potential, build networks and refine your operations.

What is the Purpose of the Dubai Instant Licence?

The United Arab Emirates boasts a supportive business culture for those seeking to start a venture here. In fact, more and more people are appreciating the pro-business environment that now forms a central part of the UAE, including the growing business scene in Abu Dhabi. Of course, this is also especially true for Dubai. With such a high percentage of the country being made up of expats, it’s no wonder that many new businesses are established by foreign entrepreneurs.

As the economy has expanded away from oil and gas into other sectors, opportunities for newcomers looking to run their own businesses are plentiful. Industries such as hospitality, IT, finance, manufacturing, retail and healthcare exponentially contribute to the UAE’s financial growth.

Given this rapid expansion, and new businesses wanting to establish themselves just as quickly, the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai hence created the instant trade licence.

The goal of the instant licence in Dubai is one of the many government incentives recently rolled out to boost the UAE’s economy. This licence is a professional business licence that allows entrepreneurs and company owners in the UAE mainland to start their businesses and trade instantly.

Applying for an instant licence in Dubai is easy, using the Department of Economic Development’s e-service system. You can obtain your instant licence online, from the convenience of a computer or smartphone.

Consequently, entrepreneurs and business owners in Dubai can now take advantage of a quick and seamless entry into the market of their choice, supported by the Dubai government with this new initiative. It’s now possible for you, as an eligible individual to get set up within minutes, instead of days, to begin your business journey.

Now, let’s take a look at the many benefits of holding an instant licence in Dubai.

An image of a man holding an instant licence in Dubai.

The Benefits of an Instant Licence In Dubai

While the appeal of the free zone in Dubai is clear, with 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption, setting up on the mainland has its share of perks too.

The usual method of applying for a UAE mainland business licence can sometimes take several days to complete. This is due to the various documentation, government approvals and other licences or permits that may relate to starting your business. However, with the Dubai instant licence, you can be operational in less time, with fewer requirements.

Some of the many benefits of an instant licence include

  • Same-day approval
  • The entire process takes just 10 minutes
  • An application can be made in person or online
  • You can be off and running your business immediately
  • Work from a virtual space for the first year
  • Fewer start-up costs for new businesses
  • Begin small, work from home and expand when you’re ready
  • No need to have your trading name registered for the first year of business
  • No MOA requirements or rental contracts for the first year of business

So, in 5 or 10 minutes, you could be well on your way to starting your own business! Same-day issuance means you don’t have to wait to get started. Additionally, for the first year, there’s no need to register a trading name or MOA (memorandum of association), nor do you require a rental tenancy contract or Ejari.

What Businesses are Eligible for an Instant Licence in Dubai?

The following business structures are eligible for an instant licence in Dubai:

  • One Person L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Civil Company

Provided your company and business activities don’t require any external government approvals to operate, you can apply for an instant licence in Dubai. For more information on the eligibility criteria for your business, contact us today.

How to Apply for a Dubai Instant Licence

The process of applying for an instant licence in Dubai is relatively easy.

You can use the Dubai economic development department’s online e-service for a simple and hassle-free licensing process. Using the e-service platform, you’ll need your Emirates ID to create a Dubai Smartpass ID and login.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Choose your business’ legal structure (LLC, civil company etc)
  2. Nominate your business activity from the available list
  3. Define the shareholding structure of your company
  4. Choose three trade name options and decide the share capital of your company
  5. Complete the instant trade licence application form
  6. Submit the necessary documents together with your application
  7. Receive a payment voucher and make payment accordingly
  8. Your instant licence will be issued

Once you have your trade licence, you’ll become a member of the Dubai Chamber and receive an establishment card from the General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). You’ll also receive 3 working permits for employees issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Documents Required for an Instant Licence in Dubai

If you’re applying using the DED’s service platform, no other documents will be needed. All that’s required is your original Emirates ID to set up an account and begin the application process.

However, if you’re making an application for your instant licence through a Service Centre, Happiness Lounge or Smart Lounge, some further documentation is required.

These include:

  • Passport copies of all relevant partners and the business owner
  • A copy of the UAE residence visa or UAE visit visa of foreign partner/s
  • Emirates ID of foreign partner/s
  • NOC from the current sponsor of residence visa-holding partner/s
  • A copy of passport and Emirates ID of local sponsor

Furthermore, all partners or at least one of them must be present at the service centre to apply for the licence and NOC is not required for general trading.

If you want tailored assistance with getting your instant licence in Dubai, we’re here to help. Getting the right guidance from industry experts who understand the nature of doing business in Dubai will ensure the set-up process is smooth and efficient. Simply send all the necessary documents to us and we’ll take care of the rest to get you an instant trade licence.

The Disadvantages of a DED E-trader Licence in Dubai

However, like with any business setup option, getting an instant licence in Dubai should be done after carefully considering your company’s nature of business and activities. You wouldn’t want to get an instant business licence only to find out that it does not fully support your goals for your company.

So before you jump into getting one, here are a few limitations of the e-trader instant licence that you should know about first.

  • The licence is available only to UAE and GCC nationals who are residing in Dubai. It goes without saying that if you are not a UAE or GCC national, then you will not be eligible to apply for this licence.
  • You can only carry out limited business activities through this licence. The e-trader licence is for entrepreneurs who want to sell their handmade products via social media. If you want to sell products from a supplier or a different manufacturer, or if you want to open a physical shop, then this licence is not for you.
  • You cannot apply for residence visas through this licence. If you’re an expat who needs a visa to stay in the UAE, then you will still need to apply for your own visa or for the visas of your family and dependents.
  • You will be solely responsible in case of legal disputes. Unlike with other company setup types where you can have a partner to share the liabilities with, you will be solely accountable for your company.
  • Opening a bank account for your business can be difficult with this licence.
  • You cannot convert an e-trader licence into a Limited Liability Company (LLC). If you’re thinking of scaling up or expanding your online business down the line, an e-trader licence will not be able to support your aim. You will need to set it up as a new LLC.

Why Start a Business In Dubai?

If you want more incentives to start a business in Dubai, there are plenty of reasons to do so. The city is one of the most exciting cities in the world and is quickly becoming one of the most popular places in the world to do business. This is largely thanks to the bustling economy, strategic geographic location, and wide range of government incentives and support.

One of the key advantages that draw many people to set up a business here is the city’s tax-free policy, which allows businesses to keep more of their profits. Moreover, investors can benefit from free trade agreements with other countries and the UAE’s advanced infrastructure of roads, ports and airports that make international transportation easy. With its vibrant culture, safe environment and world-class facilities for business, Dubai is sure to make your business a success.

Here are 6 steps to getting your Dubai business off the ground:

Choose a Business Activity

Your business activities will determine where you can set up, so this is one of the first things you need to determine when launching a business in the UAE. The Dubai Department of Economic Development has thousands of listed activities that are permissible in the region, so you should be able to find one (or more) that suits your business.

Set Up in the Mainland or a Free Zone Authority

By setting up in a free zone, you will be able to own your company outright, repatriate all capital and profits, have no restrictions on currency, and be exempt from import and export taxes. However some trade restrictions apply, and you’ll need a local partner to conduct trading outside of your designated free zone jurisdiction.

If you establish your company on the mainland, you can trade with both local and international markets as well as take on government contracts. Also, recent changes in regulations now allow 100% foreign ownership of companies for specific activities.

Choose a Company Name

An obvious next step is to decide on a name for your business. In the UAE, there are strict naming conventions that apply to businesses, which you must adhere to. A company formation specialist knows the prerequisites for business names and can help your enterprise remain compliant in this regard.

Apply for a Licence

A major part of starting a business in the UAE and Dubai includes obtaining the relevant licences and permits to operate. This also applies to the instant licence in Dubai. The documents you’ll need depend on whether you’re setting up in a free zone or the mainland. Typical requirements for most licences include an application form, shareholder passport copies and Emirates ID copies. Again, a company formation consultant can assist with licensing and permits for your business.

Open a Corporate Bank Account

With your licence, you are now able to open a corporate bank account in the UAE. You have many options to choose from when it comes to financial institutions, including international, local and Islamic banks.

Apply for Your Visa

The last thing you need to do to set your business up is to get your immigration and visa processing done. Fortunately, a company formation specialist can help sort this out for you.

Instant Licence in Dubai – FAQs

An image symbolising FAQ's.

What government department issues the instant licence?

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the government department responsible for issuing an instant business licence.

Do I need any further documentation when renewing my Dubai instant licence?

A Memorandum of Association (MOA), registered trading name and rent agreement are not needed upon initial application. However, this information is required when renewing your instant business licence.

What’s the cost of the Dubai Instant Licence?

A payment voucher that totals the fees for initial approval, trade name reservation and the licence will be delivered to you. The price you pay for an instant licence will change based on the specific business activities you have.

The general fee is between AED 3,000 and AED 9,000. However, during the pandemic, the Dubai government reduced this market fee to AED 250 for the initial year. The subsequent renewal fee is 2.5% of the rent of your commercial space. It’s best to contact us for a more accurate estimate of the cost of setting up an instant business licence.

How can I apply for an instant trade licence?

Applying for an instant licence can be achieved in several ways. First, the fastest and simplest way is to apply directly online using the Department of Economic Development (DED)’s online e-service portal. Another option available to business owners is to apply in person at any number of Service Centres, Happiness Lounges, and Smart Lounges. Lastly, if you want thorough guidance with each step, you can engage a business formation consultant to help you get your instant licence in Dubai.

Get Your Dubai Instant Business Licence Today

Contact Us Today for Expert Assistance with an Instant Licence in Dubai.

With so many benefits to doing business in Dubai, now is the time to make your business dreams a reality! If you want a fast commercial or professional business licence, applying for a Dubai instant licence is the way to go. The Instant Licence has become increasingly relevant for budding entrepreneurs in the UAE. This licence is one of the most efficient and best options for those setting up their business in Dubai.

Our team of experts can guide you through the process of getting an instant licence in Dubai and can answer any questions you have about setting up a business on the mainland.

Contact us today to find out more about instant licences and the company formation process. We are here to help make your business dreams a reality and we look forward to helping you succeed!

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