What are the Requirements for a Business Trade License in Dubai?

Establishing startups in Dubai

Dubai, the bustling metropolis in the United Arab Emirates, is a thriving hub for businesses from all over the world. Its strategic location, tax benefits, and world-class infrastructure make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. However, before you can start your venture in Dubai, you must acquire a business trade license. In this article, we will walk you through the entire process, the requirements, and answer some frequently asked questions to help you understand the process better.

What are the Requirements for a Business Trade License in Dubai?

To set up your business in Dubai, you need to obtain a trade license. The type of trade license you require will depend on the nature of your business activity.

Here are the general requirements to obtain a business trade license in Dubai:

  • Determine the Business Activity: The first step is to identify the type of business activity you wish to engage in. Dubai offers three main categories of business activities: commercial, industrial, and professional. Each category has specific licenses, and you must choose the one that aligns with your business activities.
  • Choose the Legal Structure: You must decide on the legal structure of your business. Options include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and others. The legal structure will determine your liability, ownership, and ability to conduct business in Dubai.
  • Select a Trade Name: Your trade name is crucial as it represents your business identity. Ensure that the name complies with the rules and regulations set by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai. Avoid offensive language and verify that the name is not already taken.
  • Prepare the Required Documents: The documentation process is essential and may vary based on your business type and legal structure. Generally, you will need your passport, visa, No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor (if applicable), business plan, tenancy agreement, and other relevant documents.
  • Local Partner or Sponsor: Depending on the legal structure, you may require a local partner or sponsor to start your business. In some cases, the sponsor may hold 51% ownership, as per the UAE law. It’s essential to choose a reliable and trustworthy local partner to safeguard your interests.
  • Obtain Approvals and Permits: Certain business activities may need additional approvals and permits from various government authorities. For example, businesses related to food, healthcare, or education may require approvals from respective regulatory bodies.
  • Submit Application to DED: With all the required documents, you can now submit your application for the trade license to the Department of Economic Development. The application process can be done online or through an authorized service center.
  • Pay the Fees: There will be specific fees associated with the trade license application, which may vary based on your business activity and legal structure. Be prepared to pay these fees during the application process.
  • Approval and Issuance: Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed by the DED. If everything is in order and meets the requirements, your trade license will be approved, and you will receive your business trade license.
  • Renewal and Compliance: Trade licenses are typically valid for a specific period, after which they must be renewed. Ensure that you comply with all regulatory and legal requirements to avoid any penalties or issues during the renewal process.

Types of Trade Licenses in Dubai

Dubai offers several types of trade licenses, each tailored to different business activities. Let’s explore some of the most common types:

1. Commercial Trade License

A commercial trade license is suitable for businesses engaged in trading activities. This includes buying, selling, and distributing goods. It allows you to import, export, and store goods within Dubai.

2. Industrial Trade License

Businesses involved in manufacturing, production, and industrial activities require an industrial trade license. This license permits you to establish manufacturing facilities within Dubai.

3. Professional Trade License

Professionals such as consultants, freelancers, and service providers need a professional trade license. This license allows you to offer specialized services within Dubai.

4. Tourism Trade License

For businesses operating in the tourism sector, such as travel agencies, tour operators, and hotels, a tourism trade license is essential.

5. E-commerce Trade License

In the digital age, e-commerce businesses are thriving. An e-commerce trade license enables you to conduct online sales and transactions within Dubai.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can foreigners own a business entirely in Dubai?

Yes, foreigners can own a business entirely in Dubai, but the legal structure may vary based on the business activity. In some cases, you may require a local partner or sponsor to hold the majority share.

Are there any restrictions on trade names in Dubai?

Yes, there are restrictions on trade names in Dubai. The name should not violate any religious or cultural sentiments, should not be offensive, and should not be already registered by another business.

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

The Department of Economic Development is the authority responsible for issuing trade licenses in Dubai. They review applications, ensure compliance, and approve licenses for businesses.

Can I operate multiple businesses under one trade license in Dubai?

In some cases, you can operate multiple businesses under one trade license, provided they fall within the same business activity category.

What are the penalties for operating without a valid trade license in Dubai?

Operating without a valid trade license in Dubai can lead to hefty fines, closure of the business, and possible deportation for the business owner.

How long does it take to obtain a trade license in Dubai?

The duration to obtain a trade license can vary based on the business activity and the completeness of your application. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.


Acquiring a business trade license in Dubai is a crucial step towards establishing your dream venture in this thriving business hub. By following the outlined requirements, choosing the right trade license, and fulfilling all necessary documentation, you can set up your business smoothly. Dubai offers a welcoming environment for entrepreneurs, and with the proper guidance and compliance, you can unlock vast opportunities and achieve remarkable success.

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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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