After naming and registering your business in Dubai, your next step is securing a trade licence from the Department of Economic Development (DED), one of your most significant prerequisites to be eligible to start practicing business activities legally in the remunerative UAE market. To acquire the valuable trade licence in the chosen business activity, you have to follow some mandatory steps towards completing the process of business formation in Dubai or the rest of the UAE for that matter. Select the legal form of your company, choose the right licence type amongst normal licence, instant licence, DED trader licence and apply for one. The steps to obtain a Dubai trade licence are fairly simple and straightforward until you have to carry out specific business activities (What activities, we will see them later) that require additional approval/s from concerned ministries or government departments. Basically, the need to obtain external approvals arises when your business activity falls under the category of special business activities that have their own dedicated governing authority. In case of any doubt get in touch with an experienced business setup consultant in Dubai. There are many prestigious business setup companies in Dubai that are waiting tohelp you with your Dubai business setup process. You may seek guidance from the business specialist if you are not sure about the nature of your business activity and the relevant department/s you should approach for approval.

Who approves Dubai Mainland business licences? What is external approval?

Entrepreneurs are required to seek approval for their new business setup in Dubai Mainlandfrom Department of Economic Development (DED). The aforesaid authority is liable for initial approvals and name approvals. But they can’t give approvals on specific business activities as they are not regulating them but different governmental departments. This is where external approvals come into the picture that have to be requested by business persons from the governing authorities who are responsible to regulate these activities in order to obtain the licence from DED.

Why an external approval is required?

Business persons can be seen as “providers”. Ideally the activities they perform in the market should be beneficial for both consumers as well as environment. They won’t need any external approvals to receive a mainland trade licence from DED until the activities they are planning to carry out are considered the ones that can put a deep impact on human lives such as medical-related activities. In case they are, DED can’t go ahead until the applicant provides the external approvals received from relevant Ministries or government bodies considering the potential impact the activity is going to exert. This helps in balancing the economic cycle and eliminating the risk of insecurity from day-to-day lives. Foreign investors must be au courant with such activities even before applying for the licence so they can steer clear of potential delays, errors and inconvenience. Do not hesitate to seek professional help as Dubai bursts at its seams with numerous business setup consultants in Dubai, who are worth their salt and can help you jump through these hoops.

What are the special business activities that need external approval/s?

Here’s the comprehensive list of specific business activities in Dubai that are governed by separate departments. Business persons have to request permission from these third-party regulatory bodies to get the trade licence from DED and complete the process of Dubai mainland company establishment.

No.Entities/ActivitiesRelated Authority Liable to Grant External Approval
1Gym & FitnessDubai Sports Council/Emirates Body Building Federation (EBBF)
2Travel & Tourism (Domestic/International)Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)
General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)
3Social Club Registration & LicensingMinistry of Social Affairs
4Banks & Financial InstitutionsCentral Bank of the UAE
5Training Institutes/ Educational EstablishmentsKnowledge and Human Development Authority approval (KHDA)
6Printing, Publishing & AdvertisingNational Media Council
7Pharmaceutical & Medical Products TradingThe Ministry of Health & Prevention
8Contracting & Building Maintenance; Architect & Engineering and other related activitiesDubai Municipality
9Manufacturing UnitsMinistry of Finance and Industry
10Tents, Awnings & Tarpaulin ManufacturingEnvironment Protection Section of Dubai Municipality
11Transportation & Vehicle Rental activitiesRoad and Transport Authority (RTA)
12Advocates & Legal ConsultantsRuler’s Office
13Real Estate / Business Centre activitiesReal Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA)
14Medical-related activitiesDubai Health Authority
15Chartered Accountants / Insurance Companies / Insurance BrokersMinistry of Economy
16Oil & Gas activitiesDubai Courts
17Man Power Recruitment AgenciesMinistry of Labour (MoL)
18Cargo Cleaning, Packaging, Fishing Cages ManufacturingDubai Maritime City

What is the process of getting external approvals in Dubai?

If the business activity you wish to conduct needs external approvals, then you will be directed to the concerned authority that is responsible to approve the activity in question. The authority will explain the process of obtaining the approval along with the list of relevant documents that you have to provide to get the approval. Once the external approval is received, the DED will grant the trade licence. The process may be tedious and time-consuming, but business consultants in Dubai can make getting external approval an easy breeze for you.

Do I need to have professional qualifications and local experience to qualify for trade licence to do business in Dubai, UAE?

There are certain special business functions such as Auditing, Legal, Medicine, Management Consultancy and Engineering (to name a few) that require both a professional degree and experience in the country of origin of the applicants. Not only that but the applicant also has to pass the exams/tests conducted by the local regulators to be eligible for the practice in the UAE. For instance, to be able to open a management consultancy firm, the business owner or a director is required to qualify the Management Skills Placement Test conducted by the American University of Dubai (AUD). You may check with a Dubai business setup advisor if you have to undertake any exam or test for your business.

How much does it cost to get a business licence in UAE?

The trade licence in Dubai can cost you anywhere between AED 15,000 – AED 50,000 which can even rise further depending on the types of your offerings. We can’t give you an answer in exact figures as the process of acquiring trade licence involves various costs including the fees to obtain approvals from government bodies. The approval fees vary from activity to activity you choose to conduct in Dubai as a business person as not all activities are same and might pose different types of risks or offer different business opportunities. In view of this, consulting with a knowledgeable Dubai business setup consultant would be a smart move. Get in touch with Adam Global Dubai to make the entire process of setting up a new business in Dubai or any of the seven emirates of the UAE a cakewalk. Your first consultancy is on us!

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