Steps to establish a business inside the UAE


The investor can establish his business inside the country via the Internet in a very short time, no more than 15 minutes. As for the usual methods, establishing business within the Emirates Emirates requires the completion of a series of procedures and approvals that are required by the Department of Economic Development, and other concerned authorities to register the facility officially.

Starting a business online

The federal government offers the “Bashir” service to establish business, which is an integrated electronic service that allows investors to establish companies in the UAE electronically (remotely) via an integrated electronic platform integrated with the local and federal government departments and agencies concerned with licensing economic activities in the country in just minutes using a fast procedure Easy and safe, and without the need for investors to visit any government agency.

In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Business Center offers the instant license service, which allows the investor to establish businesses online and obtain the commercial license immediately without having to visit the service centers.

Apply for an instant commercial license in Abu Dhabi.

In Dubai, Dubai Economy, in partnership with other local government agencies in the emirate, launched the Dubai Virtual Business District (VCC) program which will enable entrepreneurs and self-employed people in most parts of the world to start a virtual business in Dubai and obtain a virtual business license, without Require residence or work in the Emirates.

Establishing business as usual

The process of establishing a business in the UAE passes through a series of steps that include the following:

Determine the nature of the activity

Determine the legal form

Trade name registration

Initial approval request

Establishment contract and local service agent agreement

Choose a business location or address

Obtaining additional government approvals

Submit documents and pay fees

Determine the nature of economic activity

The nature of the economic activity determines the legal entity of the company and the type of license, whether commercial, industrial or professional. etc.

There are six types of licenses, including:

Industrial – commercial – craftsmanship – tourism – agricultural – professional


The license can include more than one business activity.

There are over 2000 diversified economic activities to choose from within the list of businesses in the Emirates.

Determine the legal form

The legal form mainly depends on business requirements, as it defines laws and regulations to be adhered to.

You can choose one of the following legal forms within the country:

Solidarity Company

Simple recommendation company

Limited Liability Company

Public Joint Stock Company

Private Joint Stock Company

Trade Representative Office

Civil Works Company

A branch of a local company

A branch of a Gulf company

Branch of a foreign company

Free Zone Company Branch

Individual institution

Holding Company

Note: The legal form must match the economic activity.

To obtain the requirements for each economic activity and its legal form, please refer to the website of the Department of Economic Development in each emirate or to:

Abu Dhabi Chamber: Commercial License Guide.

Dubai Economy: Start Your Business

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq): procedures and requirements

Ajman Department of Economic Development: Issue of economic licenses.

Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development: Issuance of licenses.

Fujairah Government: Establishment of companies in the Emirate of Fujairah.

Reservation and registration of the trade name

The trade name is the name that distinguishes a license from the other so that the customer does not fall into suspicion, and the trade name must be related to the type of license or its evidence.

You can apply for the trade name through the economic development department of each emirate, or through its website or smart application.

Terms and conditions related to choosing a trade name:

The trade name must be followed briefly by the legal form (i.e. the legal form of the company), for example (LLC).

The trade name must not contain inappropriate words, and should not contradict general taste.

The trade name must be compatible with economic activities.

The trade name must not contain the names of the word Majesty, the names of government agencies, or the names and logos of third parties.

The trade name must not be registered by another company.

After completing the trade name reservation, a payment authorization and transaction number will be issued, which should be used as a reference when paying.


The Department of Economic Development approves the trade name, while the Ministry of Economy approves the trademark.

Trade name certificates are subject to renewal.

Initial approval

Initial approval means that the UAE government has no objection to establishing the facility in the country, and states that it is possible to move to the next step to obtain a commercial license, but in all cases it does not give the authority to start operating or doing business directly.

Foreign investors must obtain the approval of the General Administration of Residency and Foreigners Affairs before obtaining initial approval.

Some activities prior to applying for preliminary approval require obtaining government approvals related to the activity, such as:

Activities related to legal matters;

Activities related to security authorities and the Securities and Commodities Authority;

Establishment contract and local service agent agreement

Depending on the legal form of the company, it may be necessary to draft and sign a memorandum of association, and in some cases it may also require the conclusion of a local service agent or company agent agreement.

The establishment contract is concluded if the legal form of the company is one of the following:

Civil Works Company

One-person company

A limited liability company

Simple recommendation company

A public shareholding company

Solidarity Company

Private joint stock company


We suggest that you read:  Business setup in Dubai

Agreements and contracts are documented in any court of the United Arab Emirates or notary public.

Civil institutions and companies wholly owned by non-GCC residents require a local service agent from the United Arab Emirates, and this is done under a contract of service agent notarized by a notary or court.

Choose a site

All companies in the UAE must have a physical address for economic activity, and commercial buildings and the site must comply with the requirements specified by the Department of Economic Development in each emirate, as well as land allocation regulations by the municipality or the competent authority.

 An office and warehouse leasing contract must be provided, as some emirates require a certified document. In Dubai, the lease must be registered through the leasing offices.

Additional government approvals

In some cases, activities require the obtaining of special clearances for licensing by government agencies (federal or local) regulating these activities.

The following are examples of those activities that require approvals:

Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior issues approvals for public transportation services, driving schools, firefighting equipment, alarm and protection systems, used car sales agencies, used spare parts, and car rental.

Ministry of Justice

Legal activities – legal advice

The municipality department in the concerned emirate

Engineering and architecture activities

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

Communication activities

executive board

Tourism and travel – general services – trading charter – ship agencies and marine agencies – car clubs – air transport leasing – branches of foreign companies

The Ministry of Economy

Insurance – insurance consulting

Health Authority of the concerned emirate

Health related activities

Supreme Petroleum Council

Oil and gas fields services, oil well drilling operations

Receive the license

After completing the above steps, the customer can obtain the commercial license through the service centers of the economic departments and through the electronic services platforms of the department.

 Licensing documents for all legal forms:

Initial approval receipt and all previously submitted documents

A copy of the lease certification certificate

The founding contract duly legalized

The approval of other government agencies for the activity, if necessary

Contract for the appointment of a service agent / company agent duly certified.


Fees must be paid within a certain period of days (usually 30 days) upon issuance of the payment receipt.

Failure to pay will result in the order being canceled.

Locations of the Department of Economic Development in each emirate:

  • Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
  • Dubai Department of Economic Development
  • Sharjah Economic Development Department
  • Ajman Department of Economic Development
  • Umm Al Quwain Department of Economic Development
  • Ras Al Khaimah Department of Economic Development
  • Fujairah Municipality – Fujairah Municipality oversees economic activities


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