How to get a trade license in Dubai?

The Emirates benefits from a strategic location at the heart of the Middle East, perfectly placed to conduct business with every corner of the globe. This position, along with the country’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, makes it one of the most prestigious business hubs in the world. As well as a thriving business landscape and a hugely encouraging environment for entrepreneurs, the UAE is also home to an incredibly attractive tax regime – which remains at zero percent on both personal and corporate income.

As entrepreneurs from across the globe rush into the country to enjoy the tax-free environment it possesses, they need to know about the processes involved in setting up a business in the UAE. For every business entity to function in the country, they require approval from the government to start its activities. Obtaining a trade license is needed if you wish to trade lawfully as a company. Trade licenses are issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and are mandatory to start your business. 


Trade licenses are categorized into four depending on the different types of business activities. Companies in Dubai can apply for any of the following licenses:

  • Commercial License: is issued to an entity that will engage in a trading activity like buying and selling goods. Individuals or companies having a commercial license in Dubai can only perform activities mentioned in the license.

  • Industrial License: is issued to an entity that will engage in manufacturing or any type of industrial activity. You need to have a physical office in the UAE for this type of license. Entities are only allowed to manufacture the items for which they have obtained the license.

  • Professional License: is issued to professionals of any field who deal in a specific job.  Professional licenses are available in Dubai for Consultants, Auditors, Doctors, and Lawyers, etc.       

  • Tourism License: is issued to companies or individuals who engage in travel and tourism business.


Business licenses will either restrict or extend the company’s reach. You must apply for a general trade license in conformance with the Department of Economic Development’s regulations to become a registered dealer to trade both online and offline. There are several variables involved in understanding the requirements of a business trade license in Dubai. To the types of trade licenses available and opting for the right license for your business.


The Department of Economic Development is responsible for monitoring and regulating the economic activities in the mainland and onshore. For free zones and anyone in the offshore business, the licenses are provided by the relevant free zone authority. Obtaining a trade license in Dubai can take a couple of days to many weeks. 


Step 1. Select a business activity

Decide on a business activity that you want to conduct in Dubai or any other emirate. Try to envision the workability of the business activity and if you can conduct the business activity in the region.

Step 2. Choose a local sponsor or partner 

Select a local sponsor or a partner for your business and also decide the extent of services you require from them.

Step 3. Select a Legal Form or Legal Structure

Every type of business setup in Dubai or anywhere across the UAE has a legal form or a structure. This legal structure is implied by the Department of Economic Development and must be adhered to by the company.

Step 4. Reserve Trade Name

Decide on a trade name for your business or company that will regulate as an identity for your business. You must reserve a trading name following the Department of Economic development’s guidelines.


Step 5. Apply for Initial Approval

Apply for initial approval with the Department of Economic Development after you have received the initial paperwork. This provides an opportunity to start your business in Dubai.

Step 6. Get External approval

Some businesses may require additional approvals from the Dubai municipality, ministries, and other judicial entities. Getting external approvals is also important and must be followed so that the company is licensed.

Step 7. Rent an office

It is essential as well as a mandate in some circumstances to have an office space in Dubai. 

Step 8.  Get Ejari for the office space 

Business setups in Dubai need to show their Ejari documents to the DED to get their business license from DED.

Step 9. Submit important documents

All important and legal documents must be submitted for a trade license to the DED. Below are the important documents which need to be submitted:

  • Filled application form signed by the company’s legal agent.

  • Original as well as a copy of the company’s statutory documents

  • DED letter approving company name

  • DED attestation letter approving the setup of the company

  • Tenancy agreement

  • Shareholder’s complete details and their passport copies

Step 10. Make relevant payments

At this stage, you must pay all fees. After the successful submission of required documents and payment of fees, you will receive a business license after a week. 



An expired trade license can cause problems for your business activities. You need to renew it within a specified time frame to ensure that your company meets the desired standard of compliance set by DED.

  • Tenancy contract should be valid for at least a month 

  • Submit the BR/1 form with all the necessary documents to DED

  • Apply for a trade license renewal

  • Receive the payment voucher from DED

  • Make payment using the payment voucher and complete the registration process

The DED only issues renewal of the license after completion of the payment. 

A valid trade license is one of the critical factors that ensure the smooth functioning of your business in the UAE. Trade license renewal in time saves you from the possibility of banning or blacklisting your company.


Obtaining and renewing a trade license requires a lot of documentation and paperwork. Our experienced business setup consultants can assist you with all the documents, paperwork, or approvals required to obtain a trade license. To get in touch with us, call us on + 971 4 353 0020, +971 52 454 2020, +971 4 220 00030. You may also drop an email to;