Starting a business in Dubai comes with a lot of opportunities and advantages, but understanding the different licencing requirements in the UAE can be a challenge. If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner seeking to provide your professional services, obtaining a professional licence in Dubai is your ticket to getting started. In this article, we explain everything you need to know about getting a professional licence in Dubai. Learn what business activities qualify for a professional licence, how to apply for one and how it can benefit you as the licence holder.
Starting a business in Dubai has numerous advantages and there are several reasons why so many people emigrate to this busy metropolitan centre each year. Firstly, the UAE government offers excellent support to entrepreneurs and businesses to help them grow and succeed.
Other perks involve tax and financial benefits, which include zero personal or corporate taxes, low import duties, and a favourable foreign investment climate. Moreover, Dubai is a hub for international trade and commerce, due to its excellent geographical location and infrastructure. The city also boasts a modern and innovative business ecosystem with state-of-the-art facilities and a talented pool of professionals from all over the world.
A professional licence (also referred to as a business licence) is an official document that allows individuals to legally own and operate their own businesses in Dubai. If you run a service-related business in Dubai, then you’ll be required to get a professional licence. This licence is issued by the Department of Economic Development in the UAE.
A professional licence is specific to certain sectors, so you will need to ensure that you are eligible and meet certain requirements. To be eligible for this licence, individuals must possess a professional degree, proof of education and extensive experience in their related field or industry. For example, if you want to open a professional enterprise such as a legal firm or accounting business, you must possess a valid and current professional licence.
Whether you’re an individual freelancer or part of a larger business, these licences are designed to affirm that your profession meets industry standards and regulations. Accordingly, by obtaining a professional licence, your clients can access your services.
To run any kind of commercial or business venture in Dubai, choosing one category of trade licence is an absolute necessity. Selecting the right trade licence for your business is vitally important if you’re planning to set up a company here.
The DED has developed an administrative system that funnels industries into distinct licensing categories. This provides an important regulatory framework for each industry, protecting their interests and those of the general public. As the name suggests, a professional licence is a type of business licence designed for those who partake in professional or service-oriented practices.
Companies and individuals in Dubai who must have a DED professional licence include:
- Accountants & Auditing Firms
- Advertising & Marketing Businesses
- Architectural Consultants
- Banking & Financial Advisors
- Beauty Salons
- Business Consultants
- Carpentry & Furniture Manufacturing
- Cleaning Services
- Educational Professionals
- Entertainment Artists
- Healthcare and Medical Services
- IT and Web Design Services
- Lawyers and Legal Advisors
- Management Consultancies
- Printing and Publishing
- Security Services
Acquiring a professional licence is essential for many occupations, and the above list is a sample of the various industries that require this licence. You can access the comprehensive list of these activities on the Department of Economic Development website or visit a local branch.
To take the hassle out of setting up your business, it’s wise to engage a business setup consultant who can help you make an informed decision on which Dubai-based licence is best suited for your enterprise.
While the services delivered by a company fall into a professional services category, where there is shared ownership of a company (more than one owner), the business is then legally classified as a Civil Company.
As an investor with full ownership rights, remember that appointing a local service agent is essential for complying with legal formalities. The local service agent must be a UAE national and is to have no association with the business activities of your company. The LSA is to have no authority, shares in the company, equity or any operational aspect of the business. You’re also responsible for paying the yearly service fee to access the services provided by the local agent.
The process for obtaining a professional licence in Dubai largely depends on the type of business you want to establish. In general, though, the process involves securing a trading name at the Department of Economic Development (DED), getting approval from other regulatory authorities, and filling out the necessary forms to register your business.
Let’s take a look at the process involved to obtain a professional licence in Dubai.
To acquire initial approval for a professional licence in Dubai, you must submit an accurate description of your chosen business activity. This step includes deciding on a trading name for your business and reserving it for your exclusive use.
When deciding on a name for your business, you must adhere to the UAE business naming rules set forth by governing authorities. Politics and faith are not permissible components of professional titles. Also, if you choose to use your given name in the title, ensure it is stated without any acronyms or abbreviations. This will help guarantee compliance with UAE naming conventions.
Obtaining a professional licence in Dubai is a straightforward process that requires some essential documents. Ensuring you have all of the right paperwork on-hand before beginning is highly recommended. The precise documentation needed relies upon what kind of business you plan to pursue.
Below you will find the core documents necessary to acquire a professional licence in Dubai:
- Completed professional licence application form (BR1 form)
- Trade name reservation certificate
- Copies of business owner/s passports
- Emirates ID and Visa copy/s (provided the owner/s are UAE residents)
- Passport and Emirates ID copies from local partners
- No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from local sponsors
- Tenancy contract/Ejari
In certain cases, additional approvals may need to come directly from the DED along with any extra approvals issued by the Municipality and RTA (Roads and Transport Authority).
Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, along with your completed application form, you can submit your paperwork to the Department of Economic Development (DED). A representative at the DED will review everything to ensure that it complies with all the legal requirements. If your application is approved, you’ll make the payment and receive your professional licence, which authorises you to start operating your business in Dubai.
In terms of business development, Dubai has been a prime facilitator for growth and success, thanks in large part to the government’s forward-thinking business policies.
A great example of this is the introduction of different licence categories for businesses in the UAE. Having a professional licence in Dubai comes with several benefits – both practical and financial.
Let’s see some of the main benefits of acquiring this business licence.
The primary benefit of obtaining a professional licence in Dubai is that you have 100% ownership rights and are eligible for sole proprietorship of your business. This differs from other business structures in the UAE mainland, where business owners must enter into an agreement of partnership that sees a local UAE national secured as part-owner.
UAE law stipulates that this partner will be given a 51% ownership stake while the foreign party holds onto the other 49%, creating a balance for both parties to benefit from. In contrast to this, when you hold a professional licence, you will retain full ownership and enjoy the related benefits.
A professional licence also enables you to benefit from lower taxes than those imposed on foreign companies, making it easier for businesses of all sizes to thrive.
Another important benefit of obtaining a professional licence in the UAE is that it is only granted when one’s educational credentials and area of expertise have been verified. This keeps the professional standard high, preventing unqualified individuals in a particular field of work or niche from owning and operating a business in the country.
Having a professional licence shows investors and partners that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. You can also be assured that your business operations are legal, and enjoy access to potential investors who may want to invest in your company.
This licence also affords you other privileges while living and working in the UAE. It allows you to open a bank account, sponsor employees, and apply for visas for your dependents. With a professional licence, you can also participate in government tenders and apply for loans from financial institutions.
The process for obtaining a professional licence depends on the type of business you are setting up. Once you apply for a business trading name with the DED, obtain your initial approval and complete your application form, you can then make your formal submission for a professional licence in Dubai. Your licence acquisition request can be completed directly with the DED, or with the help of a business consultant who can streamline the entire process. Get in touch with one of our experienced team members for more information.
The BR1 form is the name of the official application form, which needs to be completed accurately to ensure that your application is approved. The BR1 form requests detailed information, including your name, nationality, type of business activity, location, and contact details.
It is vital to ensure that all the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, as any discrepancies or inconsistencies may delay the approval process or result in the rejection of your application.
Businesses operating in the Emirates are classified according to their business/trade licence type.
Depending on the nature of your business, the Department of Economic Development (DED) can issue various types of licences as follows: Professional Licence, Commercial Licence, and an Industrial Licence.
- Commercial licences are granted for trading activities
- Industrial licences are issued for manufacturing purposes
- Professional licensure provides permission for an individual/company to engage in professional services.
With this licence in hand, you enjoy 100% foreign ownership and face no additional income or corporate tax obligations. With a multitude of potential clients to serve and access to flexible markets, there are plenty of opportunities for growth in your business. You can select from an expansive range of industries to operate within as well. Plus, you can obtain secure agreements with the Department Of Economic Development (DED) to guarantee further stability.
If you’re planning on obtaining your professional licence in Dubai, be aware that the total cost is estimated to reach AED 15,310. This amount includes trade name fees, service agent fees and market fees (depending upon lease costs), administrative services fees plus local and government cultural taxes among other charges.
Dubai provides an excellent platform for entrepreneurs and business owners to establish and expand their businesses. This city is an ideal destination for anyone to embark on a new venture, with so many possibilities to explore. One of the first steps to getting your business operational is acquiring a business licence. For professionals, it’s essential to research the process for obtaining your professional licence in Dubai.
If you have lingering doubts about the cost, issuance process and paperwork needed for a professional licence in Dubai, rest assured that you’re not alone. Knowing what to organise to get your business up and running can seem daunting. Our knowledgeable team of experts can take the hassle out of every step of starting your business, and you can be on your way to success in no time.
Contact us today! Our friendly and experienced consultants are waiting to hear from you!