Applying for a trade licence

Once you have selected your business activity and legal form, you can apply for an Initial Approval Certificate from the DED, which gives you the go ahead to start a business and take steps to getting a full trade licence. This certificate records partners, legal type and activities of the trade licence; it is valid for six months and is not renewable.

You must register and reserve your trade name before or at the same time as applying for your trade licence.

There are several ways to apply: at a DED branch, via dedabudhabi.ae if you have a BRL account, through a law firm or PRO registered with the DED, or at a government service centre.

Once you have completed this step, you can lease your business premises and then apply for a full trade licence.

Prerequisites

  • You are setting up a company outside a free zone
  • You have registered your trade name (See Registering a trade name)
  • You have sponsorship from a UAE national, who will have a 51% stake in your business (if setting up an LLC or public/private shareholding company)

        OR

  • You have sponsorship from a local service agent (if setting up a branch company, sole proprietorship or civil business)

What to bring

General

  • Trade licence application form (download it at dubaided.gov.ae)
  • Proof of reserved trade name 
  • Approval issued by other government authorities according to the type of activity; call 800 555 to check if this is required
  • Company’s Memorandum of Association (attested) (two copies)
  • Permission from Abu Dhabi Courts to practise business in Abu Dhabi (if aged under 21)
  • Fee: Dhs.100 for Initial Approval Certificate

Branch company or foreign representative office

  • Approval from Ministry of Economy (MOE) for industrial/commercial licences 
  • Power of attorney issued in favour of the director for companies not registered with the MOE
  • Director’s passport (copy)
  • Company’s board of directors resolution authorising opening of the branch in Abu Dhabi, if not registered with the Ministry of Economy (translated into Arabic)
  • Main company’s certificate of incorporation (translated into Arabic) (copy) 

Individual establishment or sole proprietorship

  • Applicant’s passport with residence visa (copy)
  • NOC from applicant’s current sponsor
  • Director’s passport, if any (copy)

Limited liability company (LLC)

  • Applicant’s passport with residence visa (copy)
  • NOC from applicant’s current sponsor
  • Director’s passport, if any (copy)
  • Company’s board of directors resolution to subscribe to the new company if the partner is an existing corporate entity in the UAE or aborad (attested and translated into Arabic)

Professional/civil business company

  • Applicant’s passport with residence visa (copy)
  • NOC from applicant’s current sponsor

Public or private shareholding company

  • Business plan/feasibility study (two copies)

Procedure

@Department of Economic Development (DED)
  • Submit your application with paperwork and fee (plus Dhs.50 fee for copy of licence application) to any DED office
  • The initial approval for trade licence is typically granted within one day
  • Initial approval is valid for six months, during which time you need to apply for the final trade licence

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