We use cookies for statistical purposes.

  • Unit OT 14-44, Central Park Offices, Dubai International Financial Centre
  • clients(at)dubai-lawyers.net
  • +971 56 979 4813
Our Articles

Obtain a Trade License in Dubai

Obtain a Trade License in Dubai

Foreign investors starting any type of business in Dubai – UAE must pay attention to the requirements of the Company Law which provides for all the steps one must complete in order to have a company up and running. An investor must also obtain the business license to operate in UAE, as this reflects the operations the business will carry out.

 Quick facts  
Who needs a trade license for business in Dubai

Foreign and local investors who want to start a business in Dubai

Authority that issues a business license

DED (Department of Economic Development)

Types of trade licenses

– commercial,

– industrial,

– professional,

– for tourism

Activities that require a commercial license

– import and export,

– sale of goods,

– services

Activities that require a professional business license

– accounting,

– IT,

– education,

– marketing,

– management,

– healthcare

Documents for obtaining a trade license

– Articles of Association,

– rental lease,

– approved trade name from DED

Trade license required for branches (YES/NO)


Timeframe for trade license issuance A few weeks
Validity of a trade license 1 year
Requirements for free zone companies The same as for companies in Dubai mainland
Average cost of a trade license Between AED 30,000 and AED 50,000, depending on the activities
Posibility of changing the trading license (YES/NO)


We provide support to obtain a trade license Yes
We can represent foreign investors Yes
Online formalities available


A Dubai company may apply for one of the following licenses:

  • the trade license, also known as the commercial license in Dubai;
  • the industrial license;
  • the professional license.

Our company formation representatives in Dubai can offer complete information about each type of business license required in UAE, including the general trading license in Dubai. We can also assist with the registration of a company in Dubai which implies obtaining a trade license, when such permit is necessary. Talk to us about obtaining a trade license in UAE.

Who issues the Dubai trade license?

Obtaining a business license is perhaps the most important part of company incorporation in Dubai. The most employed type of business permit is the trade license in Dubai, also referred to as the commercial license and which designates most of the activities that can be carried out across the UAE. The trade license is issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai.

Also known as a general trading license in Dubai, this business permit can be used for the following activities:

  1. for the import and export of goods, and it is usually requested by trading companies registered in Dubai;
  2. for carrying out various types of commercial activities, such as the sale of goods and services in Dubai;
  3. for companies registered in Dubai free zones;
  4. for professionals offering services in a specific industry.

Our company registration consultants in Dubai can offer more information on the uses of a trade license in UAE and how to apply for one based on the industry you plan to operate in. Here is a video presentation about the procedure of obtaining a license, with the mention that we can help you obtain a trade license in UAE:

How to obtain a general trading license in Dubai?

In order to obtain a general trading license in Dubai, the incorporation documents of the company must provide for the activity of the company which must be related to the trading field. It is also important to notice that most activities in Dubai and generally in UAE can be completed under a general trade license.

In order to obtain the trade license for a company in Dubai, one must first select a trading name, have the Memorandum and Articles of Association prepared, and then filed with the DED for initial approval. One must also have a rental agreement as proof of the registered address of the Dubai company. Then the application for the commercial license in Dubai can be filed.

The general trading license in Dubai can be issued for companies dealing with import and export. Goods like electronics, foodstuff, textiles, furniture, or equipment can be traded by a company in Dubai. This means that one should establish an import and export company for which a general trading license is issued by DED. It is important to note that such a license cannot be issued for companies with import and export activities dealing with cars, medicine, chemicals, or alcohol. There are specific conditions to meet in this direction and approvals to obtain from particular governmental and municipal authorities. The tenancy contract attested by Ejari, plus the Memorandum of Association are among the necessary documents for obtaining a trading license in Dubai. DED will verify the license application and issue the documents you need for your firm in Dubai. We have a dedicated team of specialists in company formation who will help entrepreneurs obtain the proper business license in Dubai.

Foreign investors who open companies abroad should know that they will need different types of business permits and licenses, according to the local laws. For example, in Canada, a company can be registered at a federal, provincial or territorial level. The registration requirements are different for each province and territory.

The professional trade license in Dubai

The professional trade license is a special business permit and is usually issued in one of the following industries:

  • accounting and finances;
  • management;
  • IT;
  • healthcare;
  • education;
  • advertising;
  • marketing etc.

The professional trade license comes with many advantages, among which is the fact that it can be obtained by sole proprietors in Dubai. It also grants the right to full foreign ownership when obtained by a sole trader. It must be noted that the foreign citizens applying for a trade license must first become residents of Dubai in order to have full foreign ownership over the sole proprietorship.

Our Dubai company formation advisors can offer more information on how to apply for a professional trade license in this city or in one of its free zones or in another emirate in UAE. You can also have more information in the following infographic we have prepared for you:

The trade license in a Dubai free zone

The requirements applicable to those opening companies in mainland Dubai also apply to those setting up companies in free zones in Dubai and seeking to obtain a general or professional trade license. Our agents can offer information about a Dubai free zone license cost.

The trade license, when applied for in a Dubai free zone, will be issued by the authority of the respective free zone. The particularity of the trading license issued to a free zone company is that it can only be used for completing trading or commercial activities in the respective free zone. Nevertheless, free zone companies come with many advantages, and our company formation experts in Dubai can also help foreign investors who want to register free zone companies with full foreign ownership. Our agents can help you with company incorporation in Dubai in a free zone in a time frame of 1-3 weeks.

Advantages of obtaining a trade license in Dubai

Foreign investors opening companies in Dubai have several licensing options when starting a business in this Emirate. The trade license comes with many advantages compared to other licenses, among which the fact that it is quite easy and fast to obtain, the paperwork requirements being relatively reduced. The general trading license in Dubai is usually issued within five working days.

Another advantage of the Dubai trade license is that it is one of the cheapest, the usual fee for such a license ranges between 30,000 and 40,000 AED, depending on several aspects which need to be considered. Also, the trade license allows local companies to enter into national and international trading activities.

A less-known advantage of the commercial license in Dubai is that it permits the establishment of holding companies in Dubai. In other words, foreign investors interested in setting up holding companies in Dubai can obtain a trade license for this purpose.

Our Dubai company formation representatives can help foreign investors who want to set up holding companies here or in another emirate in UAE. Moreover, you can find out all the details about a trade license in UAE from our specialists.

If you want to open a company as a foreign investor and move to Dubai, you may be interested in information about immigration to Dubai. We recommend that you contact our local specialists and discover the services offered in this regard. We will help you obtain the necessary visa, residence, and work permit, as well as explain the formalities for those who want to do business in this city. You can also obtain residency by investing in the real estate sector, respectively by buying a property.

The following documents must be presented to the Trade License and Commercial Registration Department within the DED when applying for a trade license in Dubai:

  • a standard application form which must be filled out and signed by the company’s legal representative;
  • the company’s statutory documents, both in original and copy;
  • the DED’s letter with the approval of the company name;
  • the DED’s letter attesting the approval for setting up the company;
  • the tenancy agreement;
  • all shareholders’ details (copies after their passports).

One must also pay attention if any other special licenses are required.

Commercial license for LLCs

A commercial license for a limited liability company in Dubai is issued if the UAE national owns 51% of the business, while the foreign investor has 49%. Our specialists can offer more details about small business license cost in Dubai as well as for the home business license in Dubai.

We remind you that the Department of Economic Development issues the commercial licenses in Dubai. Assistance and guidance throughout the entire process can be offered by one of our company incorporation agents in Dubai.

Interested in starting a business in Dubai? Our recommendation is to collaborate with one of our local agents to discover information about incorporation. We mention that the minimum share capital is USD 1 for a limited liability company, and the registration process normally does not exceed three weeks. We also supply a registered agent, so get in touch with us to find out all the details that interest you in this endeavor.

Laws regulating trading in Dubai

The UAE Ministry of Economy controls trading activities in the UAE. The ministry issues laws and enacts them. The most important legislative documents that influence and control the manner in which companies can perform trading activities in Dubai are:

– the Companies Law;

– the Commercial Agency Law;

– the Control Law;

– the Electronic Transactions Law.

Certain items are not allowed to be imported into or exported out of the UAE. The list includes:

– all types of narcotics,

– electronic cigarettes,

– new or used tires,

– dangerous waste,

– counterfeit or fake currencies,

– crude ivory,

– live animals and birds,

– live fish,

– alcoholic drinks,

– all kinds of ammunition and weapons,

– chemicals and radioactive substances,

– veterinary vaccines and serums, medicines and medical equipment,

– seeds, fungicides, organic and chemical fertilizers, animal products or all kinds.

Our Dubai lawyers can give you additional information about the customs laws applicable in the countries that are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the United Arab Emirates.

FAQ on the trade license in Dubai

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on the Dubai trade license:

1.  Can I obtain a trade license in Dubai even if I am a foreigner?

Yes, foreign investors can also obtain trade licenses in Dubai provided that they register companies here.

2. Do I need a trade license for each category of goods if my company sells various products in Dubai?

No, the general trading license will cover all the activities of your company if you want to sell goods in Dubai.

3. Do I need to apply for a trade license if I open a branch office in Dubai?

Yes, foreign companies opening branches in Dubai also need to apply for trade licenses, if their activities are related to the industries which require such a license.

4. Can I change the trade license into another type of permit?

Yes, if the case requires, the company can change its business license.

5. Do I need other licenses for other activities if I have obtained a trade license in Dubai?

Yes, you will need another license(s) if the trade license will not cover all the activities you want to perform.

6. Is it hard to obtain a trade license in Dubai?

No, there are no complexities regarding the trade license in Dubai. If all the documents are approved, DED will issue the necessary trade license for your business in Dubai.

7. Who needs a general trading license?

Companies with import and export activities involving textiles, furniture, foodstuff, and electronics, to give a few examples, require having a general trading license. The same Department of Economic Development issues this kind of license, as soon as the needed documents are submitted. You should talk to our team of specialists and find out how we can help.

8. Is the Memorandum of Association required for obtaining a license?

Yes, the Memorandum of Association is among the necessary documents for a business license application. It is important to prepare the documents with the help of a specialist, to avoid any possible rejection.

9. How fast can I obtain a trade license in Dubai?

Normally, if the documents are accepted, a trade license can be issued quite rapidly. The formalities are straightforward and allow entrepreneurs to start the business in a fast manner.

10. Do I need support from a specialized agent?

Yes, it is quite recommended to have the support of a specialist who can properly handle the formalities for obtaining a trade license. If you are interested in this matter, we suggest you talk to one of our company formation agents in Dubai and ask for help and guidance.

Making investments in Dubai

Dubai is quite a developed business destination in the Middle East and a great choice for international investors concerned with generating profits with their activities. Interested in making investments in the real estate sector in Dubai? You can simply open a company in this field or make investments in this direction without restrictions. The real estate sector is quite thriving and an attraction to businessmen of all kinds. The energy sector, oil and gas, transportation, retail industry, tourism, financial services, and automotive are among the preferred sectors for doing business in Dubai. The business license in Dubai can be easily obtained and the company incorporation formalities are extremely simple. We have gathered some interesting economic facts and figures about UAE that you might find helpful:

  • UAE registered around USD 154 billion in terms of total FDI in 2019.
  • UAE ranks 16th out of 190 economies in the world, as presented by the 2020 Doing Business report issued by the World Bank.
  • 100% ownership is accepted in more than 120 economic activities in UAE since 2019.
  • The tax regime in UAE is extremely appealing and investors enjoy the numerous exemptions available.
  • Around USD 13 billion was the total value of greenfield investments in UAE in 2019.

For assistance with the company registration and trade licensing procedures, please contact our Dubai company incorporation agents.