Before starting the formal procedures of obtaining a trade license, you will want to be sure every aspect of the new business has been planned. New businesses will need start-up funds, either from friends and family, or from lending institutions. Each bank has different requirements for business loans and business banking services, so it’s important to find a bank that suits your needs.
If your future business is in a new field or this is your first business, it might be a good idea to take a basic course in business management or a course specifically designed for the market you’re trying to reach. Most of the major universities in Dubai offer masters of business administration programs. There are also several training institutes that run business-related workshops throughout the year.
Most importantly, it’s important to understand Dubai’s commerce laws before you get started. The Department of Economic Development is a good resource for researching the laws that will affect to your business.
Starting a business consists of eight steps:
SELECT A BUSINESS ACTIVITY: There are more than 2,000 business activities available in Dubai, which fall into different classes and groups. Please note that some of the business activities require approvals from government bodies other that the DED.
SELECT A LEGAL FORM FOR YOUR BUSINESS: A ‘legal form’ is a description of what sort of business you are starting up. It is not a form that needs to be filled in. When you select a legal form for your business in Dubai, you must take into account the business type, business activities, the number and the nationality of owners and the ownership options. Companies in Dubai can take various legal forms. Depending on your particular business activity not all of these legal options may be open to you. Please check which business activities go with which legal forms.
SELECT A TRADE NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS: When choosing a name for your business or company you should follow general trade name guidelines. You can apply for a trade name online or go through an authorised document clearing office or law firm. Please note that to access online services, you need aBRL online user account.
APPLY FOR AN INITIAL APPROVAL CERTIFICATE: An Initial Approval Certificate is a document which says that the Dubai Government has no objection to you starting a business and means you can take the next steps to getting a business licence. There are various ways to apply for your Initial Approval Certificate, depending on the legal form of your business.
PREPARE A MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION AND LOCAL SERVICE AGENT AGREEMENT, IF RELEVANT: Depending on the legal form of your company, you and your business partners may need to draft and sign a Memorandum of Association (MOA). In some cases, you will have to sign a Local Service Agent (LSA) agreement with a UAE national, who will represent your business with regards to licensing and compliance.
ESTABLISH YOUR BUSINESS LOCATION: All businesses in Dubai must have a physical address. Before you finalise the location of your business, the Dubai Municipality Planning Section has to confirm the property’s availability and suitability and compliance to public health and safety requirements. You can also choose to locate your company in an authorised business centre, in which case you do not need location-related approvals from Dubai Municipality.
WHERE NECESSARY, OBTAIN LICENSING APPROVALS FOR YOUR BUSINESS ACTIVITY: Some business activities require special licensing approvals by different government departments. For example, if you want to set up a hospital, it is not enough to get licensing approvals from DED only but also from the Dubai Health Authority.
COLLECT YOUR BUSINESS LICENCE: Now that you have completed the steps above, you need to submit all the documents to the DED counters. Depending on your business activity, the processing of your business licence ranges from 1 – 7 days.