Top Business Setup Consultants in UAE
Business License in UAE

4 Major Types of Business License in UAE

There is a wide range of Business Licenses in UAE that caters to specific investor requirements. The number of company registrations in UAE is showing steady traction over the years with more and more new company incorporations.

The availability of numerous types of business licenses in UAE helps foreign investors to effectively establish a company under the specific business license type. The government of the UAE is constantly introducing entrepreneur-friendly policies like Long Term Residence Visa, reducing certain business setup fees, etc.

UAE aims to drive its economy to greater heights by inviting more investors to the UAE market and providing world-class infrastructure for business setups.

Free Zones, Mainland, and Offshore Business License in UAE

The Free Zones, Mainland, and Offshore provide the investors with a whole lot of options to choose setting up the company in UAE.

Based on the nature of your business, business activities selected, and the target audience. You can choose which business jurisdiction and business license in UAE for establishing the company. 

There is a host of business license types in UAE for the investors to choose from, whether you set up your business in any of the three business jurisdictions.

How to get a Free Zone Business License in UAE?

Obtaining a Free Zone business License in UAE enables the investors to start a company in the Free Zone. Investors can choose from a list of business activities, business license types, and set up their dream company.

Following are the broad steps in obtaining the Free Zone Business License in UAE.

  1. Choose the tradename for the company and get the name approval from the respective Free Zone authority
  2. Select the right business activity as well as the business license type
  3. Submit the investor passport copy, photograph, and application form to the Free Zone
  4. Make the required fee payment for obtaining the business license
  5. The Free Zone authorities will review the application and issue the business license for the investors
  6. The investor must next apply for a UAE residence visa and bank account with the trade license received

Obtaining a business license from the Free Zone is one of the most streamlined processes. However, there are certain documentation and process to follow to obtain the business license from the Free Zone the most hassle-free way.

AURION will assist investors to obtain the business license at the fastest possible time at the lowest cost.

How to get a Mainland Business License in UAE?

Mainland companies are a preference for investors who aim at expanding their business to the local UAE market. Also, Mainland companies have a provision to add more branches and hire more staff easily.

The most common company type in the mainland is the limited liability company and here is how you can obtain a mainland business license and start operating an LLC Company.

  1. Reserve the company trade name and get approval from the respective Department of Economic Development (DED) of the Emirates
  2. Select the trade activities and business license type depending on the business requirements
  3. Submit the application form, the investor passport copy, and photograph to DED
  4. Pay the required fee for obtaining the business license from the mainland of UAE.
  5. The business license will be issued after the approval from the DED
  6. With the business license, the investor can apply for a corporate bank account as well as take a UAE Residence visa under the company.

The latest amendment of 100% expatriate ownership in mainland companies is a major factor in the popularity of mainland companies in the UAE. Global investors can open a fully-owned mainland company in a wide range of business activities.

There is no requirement of a UAE National Sponsor anymore for opening a mainland company in UAE.

How to get an Offshore Business License?

Offshore is a business jurisdiction in the UAE that consists of Non-Resident Companies. There are no residence visas attached to the companies and also they cannot own or lease physical office space in UAE.

Offshore businesses are mainly virtual companies registered with the same address of their REGISTERED AGENTS and are international companies operating globally. They mostly facilitate international trade and operations remotely.

The Offshore companies will not be having a trade license but instead, they have a Certificate of Incorporation. Offshore companies in UAE are formed to boost international trade among countries. They are non-resident companies indulged in global trade operating from UAE.

Choosing the Right Business Jurisdiction

The rationale behind choosing the right business jurisdiction mainly depends on whether you are targeting only international markets or are you also considering UAE and the rest of GCC markets for your business.

There are a host of benefits in UAE like growing domestic demand from the ex-pat population, applying for government contracts, Low taxation, a wide range of business licenses, business activities, etc.

Whereas in the case of Free Zones, you get benefits such as 100% foreign ownership, 100% profit repatriation, customs duty exemption, world-class infrastructure, easy company formation, etc.

To know more read: Company Formation in Free Zone & Company Registration in the Mainland of Dubai

Types of Business License in Dubai

Business License in Dubai
Business License in Dubai

Business license in Dubai is a must-have for business investors to conduct trade and business operations in UAE. Business License in Dubai will provide the legal status for the companies and the ability to establish office space in the Free Zone or the Mainland according to the investor’s business requirements.

Choosing the right business license is of utmost importance and one of the first steps in the company formation process in the UAE. Business activities are classified into majorly four business licenses in UAE.


Depending on the nature of the business activity and business requirements, the investors can choose from a wide range of business license types and business activities from the Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore Business jurisdictions in UAE.

The most popular Business License types available in Dubai are the following.

Commercial License in Dubai

Commercial License in UAE is for companies involved in buying and selling goods. The Commercial License in Dubai allows companies to conduct trade in the UAE or even outside of UAE.

There are various Commercial License types in UAE for specific business activities.

For example, if you are only focused on trading in the local market, you can apply for a general trading license in the UAE.

Similarly, for any sort of imports/exports, there is an import-export license that you will have to register from the concerned Business License issuing Authority.

For the trade of specific items like Computers, Automobiles, equipment, building materials, there are specific business license types and business activity lists in the UAE.

The investor has to choose a specific Business License in Dubai while registering the company with the respective free zones, mainland or offshore.

Here is a list of Commercial Activities for Business License in Dubai

  • Publications and media materials trading
  • Used Furniture trading
  • Oil & gas trading
  • Spare parts trading
  • Gold & precious metals trading
  • Trading in chemicals
  • Trading in Automobile
  • Safety equipment trading
  • And many more

Professional License in Dubai

Any individual or company related to the utilization of the intellectual abilities of the individuals is mandatory to have a Professional License for operating their services in Dubai and the rest of the UAE.

If the owner is more than one person, the business entity can be registered as a Civil Works Company.

Consulting, audit, legal services are covered under the Professional License in Dubai. Also, IT service providers, professionals, artisans, craftsmen, etc., could also apply for the Professional License in UAE.

List of Business Activities that fall under specific Professional License category in the UAE.

  • Consultancy & Services
  • Insurance Consultancies
  • Computer Consultancies
  • Information technology Consultancies
  • IT Infrastructure Consultancy
  • Environmental Consultants
  • Tax Consultancy
  • Marketing Consultancies
  • Management Consultancies
  • And many more

Industrial License in Dubai

For businesses involved in the industrial and manufacturing activities in Dubai and UAE are awarded Industrial License. It is mandatory for the company to have a physical office in the UAE to issue an Industrial License.

Type of specific Industrial License types available

  • Garments Manufacturing License
  • Meat products Manufacturing
  • Dairy Products Manufacturing
  • Animal & Birds Feed Manufacturing
  • Carpet Manufacturing
  • And many more

Freelance Permit

Freelancing has already gained popularity in the UAE. The Free zones of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah are offering Freelance Permits for individuals.

These permits are focused on specialized individuals in the media, technology, art, and entertainment sector to offer their services on a consultancy basis, apart from their full-time jobs.

Currently, the Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Internet City, Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone Authority, Fujairah Creative zone, Twofou54, etc., offer Freelance Permits to individuals.

Freelancer Licenses are issued to the following creative and media professionals.

  • Actor
  • Animator
  • Audio/Sound Engineer
  • Cameraman
  • Content provider
  • Copywriter
  • Media Specialist
  • And many more

Small Business License in UAE  

There is immense potential in UAE for small business owners due to the growing requirement and demand for various support services in the region. Large multi-national companies, restaurant chains, retail units, etc., depend on small companies for several support services such as distribution, transport, logistics, and more.

The Free Trade Zones in UAE are launching special promotional packages with attractive benefits for the small businesses in UAE to obtain a trade license at a lower cost. Small business License in UAE is gaining traction as new entrepreneurs and freelancers are always looking at ways to keep their operational cost low.

To cost-effectively conduct business and trade operations for new entrepreneurs, obtaining a small business license In UAE is the ideal way. The investor gets access to a wide range of business activities and access to the best business infrastructure, all at a lower cost.

License Issuing Authority

Business License in Dubai mainland is issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED). When it comes to Free Zones, it is the respective Free Zone Authority that issues the business license. The same goes for the Offshore Business types too.

When starting a new business, entrepreneurs are faced with a number of important decisions. The first one is, which business activity you are going to trade under. It depends on the industry you are going to trade in and the types of business activities you wish to undertake.

Choosing the business activity in UAE can be quite confusing. There are over 3000 permitted activities to choose from the activity list of DED and free zone authorities. AURION will assist you to select the right business activity and set up your business in Dubai.

Dubai keeps attracting more and more foreign investors due to the excellent facilities and infrastructure offered.

When you are looking at a start to enter the UAE and the world market by opening your business in Dubai, the Free zone business licenses are the most sought-after one. Free Zones Company Licenses are popular due to the ease of company formation, a wide range of business activities, and a host of business benefits for the investors.

To know further about Business licenses in UAE and Company Formation in the UAE, talk to our experts right away!

Contact: Aurion Business Consultants