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What Are the Types of Business Licenses Available for Starting a Business in Dubai?

Updated: May 29

Navigating the business licensing landscape in Dubai might seem daunting at first but it's a crucial step that lays the foundation for your success.

The city’s regulatory framework is designed to foster innovation while ensuring compliance and protecting business interests. Whether you're dreaming of launching a tech startup, opening a retail store or setting up a consultancy firm, understanding the specific licenses required is key to unlocking your business potential in this vibrant city.

In this blog, we’ll take you through the essential business licenses needed to kickstart your enterprise in Dubai. From the well-known Trade License to specialised permits for various sectors, we’ll breakdown the process and provide you with a clear roadmap.

What is a Business License in Dubai?

A business license is a legal authorisation issued by government entities that allows individuals or companies to conduct business within the government’s geographical jurisdiction.

In Dubai, securing the right business license is more than just a formality; it's the cornerstone of legitimising your venture and ensuring compliance with local regulations. This official approval not only opens doors to operating legally but also instills confidence in customers and partners alike, signaling that your business adheres to the high standards set by Dubai's regulatory bodies.

The 3 Main Licenses in Dubai

In Dubai, the three main types of business licenses are the Commercial License, the Professional License and the Industrial License. Each license type caters to different business activities and sectors, ensuring that enterprises operate within the legal framework and meet specific regulatory requirements.

1. Commercial License

Retail store

A Commercial License is required for businesses engaged in trading activities. This includes companies involved in buying and selling goods, whether on a wholesale or retail basis.

Businesses such as general traders, real estate firms, logistics companies and construction companies typically need this type of license. The Commercial License is one of the most commonly issued licenses in Dubai due to the city's reputation as a global trading hub.

To obtain a Commercial License, applicants must submit detailed information about their business activities, ownership structure and financial projections. This license allows businesses to import, export and trade goods within Dubai and internationally.

2. Professional License

People working in meeting

The Professional License is designed for individuals and companies providing professional services. This includes fields such as consulting, legal services, IT services, marketing, education and healthcare.

Unlike the Commercial License, which focuses on trading goods, the Professional License is tailored for businesses that offer expertise and specialised services. Obtaining a Professional License requires evidence of professional qualifications and, in some cases, specific certifications or degrees related to the service offered.

Additionally, this license type often permits 100% foreign ownership, making it an attractive option for expatriates looking to establish service-oriented businesses in Dubai.

3. Industrial License

man in warehouse

For businesses involved in manufacturing and industrial activities, the Industrial License is essential. This license covers companies engaged in producing goods, transforming raw materials or assembling products.

Examples include food and beverage manufacturers, textile factories, metalworks and chemical plants. The process of obtaining an Industrial License is more complex and stringent compared to other licenses, as it involves additional approvals from various government departments, such as the Dubai Municipality, Dubai Civil Defense and the Ministry of Health.

This ensures that industrial operations comply with environmental regulations, safety standards and public health requirements. Applicants must also provide detailed plans of their production processes, facility layout and waste management strategies.

Each of these licenses serves a specific purpose and is critical to the diverse economic landscape of Dubai. Understanding which license aligns with your business activities is the first step in establishing a successful venture in this dynamic city, which is what our Sales Consultants at Open Hub will consult with you prior to embarking on your business setup journey.

Requirements Before Obtaining a Business License in Dubai

Before securing a business license in Dubai, several key requirements must be met:

  • Trade Name Registration: Choosing a unique trade name is crucial. The name must be distinct and not already registered with the authorities in Dubai.

  • Business Address: A registered business address in Dubai is mandatory. This can either be a residential address or rented office space.

  • Memorandum and Articles of Association: Drafting a Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA) is essential. These documents detail the business structure and management protocols.

  • Passport Copy: A photocopy of your passport is required when submitting your application to the Department of Economic Development (DED).

  • Visa Copy: Non-GCC nationals need to provide a copy of their visa along with their application.

  • Lease Agreement: If renting office space, a copy of the lease agreement must be included with your application.

  • Trade License Application Form: Completing the trade license application form and submitting it to the DED is necessary to start the process.

  • Application Fee: Payment of the relevant application fee is required when you submit your trade license application.

Meeting these prerequisites ensures a smoother application process and sets a solid foundation for your business in Dubai. At Open Hub, our diligent Operations team will handle the entire process for you, ensuring you meet the requirements, have the correct documentation and track the process on your behalf.

Compliance and Confidence: The Benefits to Getting a Business License in Dubai

Obtaining a business license in Dubai offers numerous benefits that are crucial for establishing and growing a successful enterprise.

Firstly, it legitimises your business, providing legal recognition and instilling confidence in customers, partners and investors. This credibility is essential for building a strong market presence.

Additionally, a business license opens doors to various opportunities, such as access to local and international markets, government contracts and potential funding. It also ensures compliance with local laws and regulations, helping you avoid legal issues and penalties.

Furthermore, having a business license enables you to benefit from Dubai's robust infrastructure, business-friendly policies and strategic location, all of which are conducive to growth and expansion.

In essence, securing a business license is not just a regulatory requirement but a strategic move that enhances your business's credibility, operational capacity and growth potential in one of the world's most dynamic commercial hubs.


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