UAE Company Setup | Guide on Business Licenses

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An entrepreneur can set up a company on the mainland, in a free zone, or as an offshore company depending on the nature of the business, and choose a license based on the activities and services he wants to conduct. A business license is mandatory as it provides the business with legal recognition from the authorities.

The UAE Department of Economy Development (DED) is responsible for issuing business licenses. Each Emirate has its own Department of Economic Development with a series of procedures and approvals required to acquire a business license. 

The process for setting up a new business in the UAE consists of obtaining initial approvals, preparing and processing legal documents, obtaining an office, filing documents, making payments, and receiving a license. Only after the issuance of a license, the process of opening bank accounts and obtaining visas can be initiated.

Jurisdiction & Types

  • UAE Mainland Business License

The license is issued from the DED of each Emirate and it offers complete control over your business but requires a UAE national as a local sponsor for some business activities. Dubai Mainland companies have no restrictions and are allowed to do business anywhere in the UAE and across the globe.

  • UAE Free zone Business License

Business setup in free zones offers 100% foreign ownership. Companies are allowed to do business only within the free zone or outside the country.

Learn more: Encouraging Entrepreneurialism: Dubai Free Zones

  • UAE offshore Business License

Offshore Company implies full foreign ownership and refers to any corporate firm that has a business outside of its registered jurisdiction. All offshore licenses in UAE are issued from approved license authorities.

Types of Business Licence in UAE

  • Commercial License

A commercial trade license permits a company to sell or buy goods, commodities, and services. There are various business activities like trading, transport, shipping, and storage, restaurants and coffee shops, and many more trading and commercial sectors.

  • Professional License

It is issued to individuals or a group of people whose work is to employ knowledge. These are consultancy agencies, auditing firms, law firms, etc.

  • Industrial License

It is offered for business activities like the production and manufacturing of new products from natural resources or man-made raw materials. Some of the industrial activities are related to food mills and packaging, carpet manufacturing, fodder and fertilizers manufacturing, etc.

  • Tourism License

This type of license has become a standard option among businesses as UAE is a popular tourist destination. It applies to businesses that offer services for tour and travel activities. These can be accommodation, tour management, etc.

Looking to start your business in the UAE?

Make a list of your desired business activities and contact Palladium Group to start. You will get a free consultation from our company formation manager that will help you to get all activities in a single license.

Drop an email at or Whatsapp us on +971 50 908 1938