Getting Started

Getting a licence for your company is an important step in launching your business in Dubai. To receive a trade licence, you’ll first need to reserve a trade name and get initial approval from the Department of Economic Development (DED). The DED is responsible for regulating all economic activity for businesses outside the Free Zones. The DED is in charge of licensing, classification of economic activity permitted within the city, issuing trade permits for marketing activities, and setting business work hours.

In addition, the DED Legal Affairs office is on hand to provide advice and counsel on individual cases. You can apply for a licence on an urgent or fast-track basis that allows you to start your business immediately, while giving you the flexibility to complete the licensing process later. Consult with authorised law firms or consultancies for setting up businesses throughout Dubai to assist you with this process.

You can go online to get an application for trade name approval and a list of trade name restrictions and regulations. The costs for obtaining a trade name vary depending on the content and language of the name. After filling out the online application or submitting the application in person to the DED, you’ll be given a date when you can pick up the approval. You must pay all fees before you can receive the trade name approval certificate.

You can usually submit your initial approval applications at the same time as you submit your trade name approval application. The documents you need vary depending on the business structure of your company. At this point, you’ll also need to submit any necessary special approvals from the ministries corresponding to your business. If you’re planning to open your new business within a Free Zone, keep in mind that the process for registering a trade name is usually taken care of by the Free Zone Authority, but each Authority has a different application process.

Opening a branch of an existing company requires an added set of documents that verify the legitimacy of the branch and the future managers. A list of necessary documents for licensing a branch or any form of business can be found on the DED website (see links below). You can register your new company electronically with the Ministry of Economy using the New Agency Registration eService.

Useful links:
New business registration procedures in Dubai

Register and apply for new company in Dubai online

Search for trade name in Dubai 

Special licences and approvals

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