How to Get a Business License in Dubai?

Dubai’s economic landscape is thriving, and its strategic position as a global hub for business and trade continues to attract investors and entrepreneurs from all corners of the world. Whether you’re planning to set up a mainland business, free zone enterprise, or offshore company, obtaining a business license is a crucial requirement.

How to Get a Business License in Dubai: Exploring the Key Steps

When it comes to securing a business license in Dubai, there are several steps you need to follow. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the process:

Choosing the Right Business Activity

Selecting the appropriate business activity is the foundation of your licensing journey. Dubai offers a wide range of business activities, from trading and consulting to manufacturing and e-commerce. It’s essential to choose an activity that aligns with your business goals and expertise.

Determining the Legal Structure

Dubai offers various business structures, including sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and more. Each structure has its own legal requirements and implications, so it’s crucial to decide which one suits your business model and future aspirations.

Selecting the Jurisdiction: Mainland, Free Zone, or Offshore?

Dubai provides different jurisdictions for setting up your business: mainland, free zone, and offshore. Each has its own advantages and limitations. Free zones offer tax benefits and 100% foreign ownership, while the mainland allows access to the local market. Offshore companies are often used for international trading and asset protection.

Registering Your Business Name

Your business name is your identity, so it must comply with Dubai’s naming guidelines. Make sure it’s unique, relevant to your business, and doesn’t violate any cultural or religious sensitivities.

Preparing the Required Documents

Dubai’s government authorities require specific documents for the business license application. These may include your passport copies, business plan, No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor (if applicable), and more. Ensuring that all documentation is accurate and complete is crucial for a smooth application process.

Applying for Initial Approval

Obtaining initial approval from the relevant authorities is a preliminary step. This approval verifies that your proposed business activity is feasible and aligns with Dubai’s regulations. It’s an essential checkpoint before proceeding with the rest of the process.

Leasing a Physical Address

For a mainland business, you’ll need a physical office space. Free zones and offshore companies often provide flexible options for virtual offices. Make sure the address complies with the regulations of the chosen jurisdiction.

Final Submission and Payment

After completing the required documentation, you can submit your application along with the necessary fees. This step initiates the review process, during which government authorities will evaluate your application and documents.

Receiving Your Business License

Once your application is approved and all fees are paid, you’ll receive your business license. Congratulations! This license grants you the legal right to operate your business in Dubai.

Additional Steps After Obtaining the License

After securing your business license, there are a few more steps to ensure you’re fully compliant and ready to thrive:

Opening a Corporate Bank Account

A corporate bank account is crucial for managing your business finances. Choose a bank that aligns with your business needs and offers the services you require.

Obtaining Visas for Employees

If you plan to hire employees, you’ll need to apply for their work visas. Each jurisdiction has its own process, but generally, you’ll need to submit visa applications along with the required documents.

Complying with Legal Obligations

Maintaining compliance with Dubai’s regulations is an ongoing process. This includes renewing your business license annually, filing taxes, and adhering to any industry-specific regulations.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can foreigners own businesses in Dubai?

Yes, foreigners can fully own businesses in Dubai’s free zones. In the mainland, a local sponsor is required, but there are legal structures to ensure foreign ownership.

What are the benefits of setting up in a Dubai free zone?

Dubai’s free zones offer 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, full repatriation of profits, and simplified import/export procedures.

How long does it take to get a business license in Dubai?

The processing time varies depending on the business activity and jurisdiction. In some cases, you can receive your license within a few days.

Do I need a physical office for a free zone company?

Most free zones offer options for virtual offices, allowing you to operate without a physical presence. However, certain activities may require a physical office.

Can I change my business activity after obtaining the license?

Yes, it’s possible to change your business activity, but you’ll need to go through the relevant authorities and update your license accordingly.

What is the role of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in the licensing process?

The DED is responsible for issuing business licenses in the mainland. It ensures that businesses operate within the legal framework and comply with regulations.


Securing a business license in Dubai opens the door to a world of opportunities and growth. By understanding the intricacies of the process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the Dubai business landscape with confidence. Remember, Dubai rewards innovation and determination, so take the plunge and embark on your entrepreneurial journey in this dynamic city.

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we provide full support for everything related to business setup, and transaction clearance to help our customers setup their businesses whether the mainland or in the free zone, and for any size business.
ITQAN offers license renewal services and packages in collaboration with a team of consultants and professionals who will take care of renewing your trade license and changing your business without any hassle.
Once the setting up process is completed, you can open your bank account right away through a short, easy, hassle-free process with ITQAN Team who is specialised in clearing legal transactions and following up all governmental procedures you won’t have to provide any additional paperwork or make visit bsnks.

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