Do you want to establish your business in Sharjah? If so, you will need to obtain a trade licence. This is a document that allows you to conduct business activities in the emirate of Sharjah. There’s also different types of trade licences available and the business activities that are permitted under each licence. Read on to learn all about starting a business in Sharjah, how to get a trade licence in Sharjah, as well as a detailed overview of the entire process. Let’s get started!
Sharjah is a flourishing industrial and commercial area in the United Arab Emirates that shows much potential for growth. The Sharjah government has undertaken many initiatives to attract investment and encourage economic diversification. This has helped foster an investor-friendly environment for both local businesses as well as those based abroad.
The first step for any business owner looking to start a company in Sharjah is to get a trade licence. The Sharjah trade licence has allowed businesses in this emirate to run their operations and maintain a high professional standard. Importantly, this licence has become a mandatory requirement of professional, commercial and industrial businesses wishing to operate in Sharjah.
The Sharjah Economic Development Department issues the Sharjah trade licence. This government department manages all licensing, renewals and enquiries that are relevant to businesses in Sharjah. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides institutional support for Sharjah businesses. Trade licences in Sharjah help the government monitor businesses operating in the city and safeguard consumers’ rights.
The trade licence you need for your business in Sharjah will vary depending on the activity and type of business. There are three (3) types of trade licences for business in Sharjah, which include:
- Commercial Licence
- Professional Licence
- Industrial Licence
This trade licence covers all business trading activities, such as buying, selling, importing and the exportation of goods.
This trade licence governs professional industries, including craftsmen, artisans, engineers and personal services.
This trade licence covers the industrial and manufacturing sector, including assembling of products, moulding and construction.
In certain circumstances, the UAE authorities may issue special licences to some businesses. These licences include the Entrepreneurial Business Licence and the Business Operation Permit.
Now we’ve covered the different types of trade licences and how they correspond to the different industries, here’s everything you need to know about how to obtain a Sharjah trade licence.
The process of acquiring a trade licence is fairly similar in each emirate. However, businesses must meet certain criteria in order to get a trade licence in Sharjah.
The following steps cover the process from refining your business activity right through to submitting an application for your trade licence. With this helpful guide, you will have your trade licence and can be running your business in Sharjah before you know it.
There is a maximum of 10 allowable activities per licence, under one category type.
Decide whether you require a professional, commercial or industrial Sharjah trade licence. The type of licence relevant to your business will depend on your business activities.
If you have not yet decided on a trading name for your business, now is the time to do so. Register it as early as possible in the company formation process. All of the subsequent approvals, certificates and final trade licence will be issued according to the business trade name. Remember to follow the guidelines on naming rules for UAE businesses.
Each business has a legal structure that defines its working procedures, functions, regulations and the rights of the individuals involved. In order to make your legal structure official, you have to notarize it with an authorised notary. The structure you establish for your business has a profound impact on the company’s success. To ensure everything is set up correctly from a legal perspective, it’s best to consult with a company formation specialist who can help you prepare the necessary documentation.
Commercial or industrial establishments in the UAE must have a Local Emirati sponsor. The sponsor will have majority ownership of the company with 51% of shares while the ex-pat owner and other shareholders are limited to a 49% stake in the business. If you run a professional firm and wish to hold 100% shares in the company, then you must have a local service agent.
You can now submit an initial application to the Sharjah Economic Development Department for preliminary approval. As part of this process, you should supply the details of your business plan and copies of relevant passports. The initial approval is usually issued rapidly.
Find a business location and secure a lease for your business. Register your rental agreement with the relevant authority. The Ejari is a system created to avoid arguments and provide organisation between the property owner and tenant. Keep a copy of the Ejari and rental agreement for your final trade licence submission.
Obtain a memorandum of association and apply for any necessary government approvals that relate to your business operations. There may be different UAE government departments and ministries that you need to contact.
Finally, you can make your submission along with supporting documentation to the Sharjah Economic Development Department and pay the related fees. Once your application has been approved, your trade licence in Sharjah will be issued.
The following documents are required to accompany your trade licence submission to the SEDD:
- Business trade name certificate
- Passport photocopies of all shareholders and the business owner
- Family Book, and National ID if you are a UAE national
- Residency visa for foreigners
- Ejari and the rental agreement
- Notarized legal structure
- Certified No Objection letter
- Technical Evaluation Report
- Approvals from Ministries and Departments
- Financial information detailing bank accounts and capital investment
If you haven’t already considered it, setting up your business in Sharjah comes with a range of advantages, including:
- Benefits of 0% corporate and income tax
- Your business has full repatriation of all profits
- Companies are exempt from import and export customs duties and taxes
- Robust infrastructure and business networking opportunities
- Great industrial and warehouse facilities
Although Sharjah businesses might not be as large-scale compared to other emirates, they are still making significant progress. Sharjah attracts entrepreneurs and new enterprises each year, as it follows closely next to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as among the top business centres in the region. Therefore, investors and company owners can benefit from the many business opportunities in this emirate.
The specific documentation and procedures you need to fulfil to get a trade licence will depend on the type of business you’re running in Sharjah.
There are different company structures that pertain to businesses in Sharjah.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Partnership Company
- Foreign Company Branch
- Local Company Branch
- GCC Company Branch
- Public And Private Shareholding Companies
If you want to get a trade license in Sharjah, there are some general requirements you’ll need to meet no matter what business structure you have. These include:
- Settling on a trading name
- Organising an inspection through the Sharjah Economic Development Department
- Submitting supplemental documents along with the final trade licence application
- Finally, making your payment for the issuance of your licence
However, there will be some specific differences for each structure type.
For instance, a GCC company branch must have certified forms from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the UAE Embassy in the Gulf State.
For public and private shareholding companies, there are some extra requirements as well as documentation needed. Firstly, the application form must meet the criteria outlined in the Commercial Registry Act as well as its regulations. Then, the trading name of the public shareholding company must be accompanied by the term “public company.” Likewise, for a private shareholding company, the trade name must be accompanied by the term “private joint-stock company.”
Documents needed for public and private shareholding companies in Sharjah include:
- Two certified photocopies of the company’s Memorandum of Association and Articles
- Two photocopies of the board member’s passport and birth certificate.
- A feasibility study report
- Photocopy of the certified statute
For more information on business structures, requirements and obligations of business owners, contact a company formation consultant today.
The following are some frequently asked questions that business owners and entrepreneurs may encounter when looking to obtain a trade licence in Sharjah.
There are three main types of trade licences in Sharjah:
- Commercial Licence
- Industrial Licence
- Professional Licence
The trade licence renewal cost in Sharjah varies from business to business depending upon the trade activity, type of licence, company ownership structure and other relevant factors. To get a more accurate estimate, contact the Sharjah Economic Development Department. Or, contact one of our company formation consultants for more information.
The trade licence in Sharjah is valid for one year after which it can be renewed.
Since your Sharjah trade licence is only valid for 1 year, it’s important to renew this permit annually. A business is not permitted to operate in Sharjah without a valid trading licence. Here are the steps to renew your trade licence:
Gather the following documents:
- A Sharjah trade licence renewal form
- Passport photocopies or a UAE National ID
- Family book photocopies of UAE citizens
- Lease agreement
- NOC letter from the relevant authority
Submit everything to the DED. At the time of renewing your Sharjah trade license, you can change both your sponsor and business address if needed.
As mentioned, you cannot operate in Sharjah without holding a valid trade licence. If you’re a business owner who fails to renew your Sharjah trade licence, you may be need to pay a fine. Or, you may have your business operations restricted, ceased and in some extreme cases face a potential risk of exportation from the UAE.
If your licence has expired for more than three months, you’ll need to contact the Inspection Division at the Department of Economic Development. If you’re trying to get a licence for a foreign company branch, your application must go through the Ministry of Economy instead of the Sharjah Economic Development Department.
If you want to keep your company legal, make sure to get the necessary paperwork and licences. These must be periodically renewed in order to keep operating your business.
Before certain business activities can occur, they must be approved by the specific Ministries and Other Governmental Authorities.
For example within the financial sector, banks and financial institutions must seek permission from the Central Bank of the UAE. Similarly, insurance companies must adhere to the regulations set out by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. Whereas industrial businesses should abide by rules from the Ministry of Finance and Industry, and medical, healthcare and pharmaceutical merchandise from the Ministry of Health.
The Sharjah Economic Development Department website has a streamlined process of e-services for business owners wanting to apply for a trade licence. Contact them for more details about the process.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the booming business environment in Sharjah, our team would love to chat with you about your business project so we can make it a success.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you embark on your business journey!