Here’s Your Guide to Getting a Freelance Visa in the UAE

Who knew that which was once little more than a sleepy backwater would become a global hub for trade and commerce! Housing over 90% of expatriates from the world over, Dubai is a land of opportunities. And dreams. Maybe the tax-free salaries and hi-tech lifestyle, maybe the cartload of business opportunities, maybe it’s just the ease of getting a visa, or maybe the flexibility to work while revelling in a high-quality life. Millions of dreamers flock to Dubai with a new spring in their steps every year. Some come to bask in Dubai’s awe-inspiring charm, some to make whoopee, and some to settle down here whether with a work visa, business visa, golden visa, retirement visa, remote work visa, or simply a freelance visa. Yes, the UAE Government offers a bunch of visas and entry permits to make it easy for foreign nationals willing to visit or stay in the Emirate. Conducive regulations, government initiatives and a liberal visa regime are all the more reasons why you should consider Dubai as your spot to live your dream. You might want to take a peek at these popular freelance jobs in Dubai. So, if you are nurturing the dream of working in Dubai as a freelancer in your heart for all your life but living under a rock what to do to make it a reality, we have you covered.  

About Freelance Visa & Freelance Permit 

We can’t thank the UAE Government enough for the new visa system they have introduced to support families as well as the economy. You will be thrilled to bits after learning that not only UAE nationals, UAE citizens, and residents but non-residents also now qualify for freelance licenses in the country and enjoy working and living legally in the Emirates. And the perk is they can even sponsor their families and/or dependents. 

A freelance visa is a residency permit that permits the individual to live and work in the Emirate. 

The visa is valid for three years and renewable. On the other hand, a work permit comes with just one year of validity. While non-residents need a freelance visa along with a license to become a freelancer in Dubai, residents (or the ones who are on their spouse’s or parent’s visa) only require a freelance permit to start their journey as a freelancer. The freelance permit is a renewable licence issued under the TECOM Group with the purpose to make one eligible to work as an independent contractor in Dubai. Full-time working professionals in the UAE can also work as a freelancer by obtaining a permit but only with a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their current sponsor and/or employer. 

Sectors to target with a freelance visa 

Now that you know who is eligible for what it’s time to learn what options are available for you to opt for as a freelancer in Dubai, UAE. Currently, you can choose one out of three sectors to gain eligibility to work in Dubai as a freelancer. 

  • Education  
  • Media 
  • Technology

A freelance visa opens doors for freelancers to make a mark with their choice of professions such as acting, screenwriting, journalism, advertising, training, education advisor, customer service or web development. Click here to check out the complete list of freelance activities that you are allowed to perform with this visa. For each above-mentioned sector, there is a separate authority responsible to issue a freelance permit. Case in point: For the Tech sector, for the Media sector Dubai Media City, and for the education sector Dubai Knowledge Park. 

Benefits of getting Freelance Visa 

Many aspirants walk a tightrope between getting a work visa from a future employer or a freelance visa when planning to migrate to Dubai for work. Pandemic gave employees and employers both a taste of a work-life sans the daily tedious, long commute and the flexibility of planning their day that working at home affords. And they both are embracing the concept! 

Freelancer work is making a huge splash during current times. Work-life balance, independence to decide, flexibility to work, more family time, no bosses, more exposure, diverse assignments, multiple clients, various work sites, what’s not to love about working as a freelance! Whether you are in your home country or a foreign nation, you have tons of errands to run on a daily basis. After being a freelancer, you have the freedom to not only be available when your loved ones need you around them but also address the daily chores that you would pile up for week-off/s. A freelance visa is indeed a boon for those professionals who wish to be the captains of their own ship and navigate their life the way they want. And what better way to start your voyage than Dubai, the commercial centre of the United Arab Emirates. A freelance visa, without a doubt, is the best way to pursue your dreams of economic independence. You can either set up your own company by getting a trade license or a freelance permit. Ahead we will shed some light on the benefits you can enjoy as a freelancer in Dubai. If you don’t have the faintest idea what are they keep reading. 

The procedure to get a freelance visa in Dubai 

You’ll are required to get your freelancer permit issued from a free zone in Dubai, which is mandatory to get your residency visa. Take advantage of the GoFreelance initiative launched by the TECOM Group, in conjunction with the Dubai Development Authority to support eligible individuals further in finding new jobs, bidding on projects and growing their network. Just register yourself on the portal, share your skills and work with the world, and voilà! You’ll get access to the treasure trove of exclusive opportunities. Applicants need to fill up their application form and attach their passport and visa copies and wait for 5-7 working days to get their approval by email. Once your application is approved you then need to visit the Business Centre in Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Media City or Dubai Internet City (depending on the sector you have picked) to present your original passport, sign the documents, and pay the freelance permit fee. You will be required to attach the following documents with the application: 

  • Resume/CV 
  • Recent photograph 
  • Passport and visa copy (valid for at least 8 months) 
  • Bank reference letter 
  • NOC from your UAE sponsor
  • Proof of academic qualifications certified either by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE Consulate in your country of origin (for those applying in the education sector)
  • Portfolio or sample of your work (for those applying in the media sector) 
  • NOC from your UAE sponsor 
  • Proof of academic qualifications certified either by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE Consulate in your country of origin (for those applying in the education sector) 
  • Portfolio or sample of your work (for those applying in the media sector) 


You can expect a confirmation email from the concerned department in 10-15 business days communicating that your permit is approved if all goes perfect. After you receive your freelance visa, you get access to AXS, TECOM’s business service platform from where you can avail a number of government or corporate services. You can apply for the Establishment Card which comes at an additional cost. To apply for the card, you need to produce your freelancer permit and a UAE mobile number. Once you have your establishment card, you can avail of a residence visa in Dubai. For this, you’ll require your original passport, a passport size photo, valid medical insurance and visa (if applicable), along with the card.

Residence visa 

You’ll receive an entry permit within a week’s time after submission of your freelance permit application. You’ll have 60 days from the date of permit issuance to enter the country. After you enter Dubai, you’ll have to look into the succeeding procedures such as medical examinations. Once you are granted the residence visa, you’re all set to begin living and freelancing in Dubai. 

Cost for freelancer visa 

Below is the breakup of the total cost associated with the freelance visa (new & renewal both) 

  • Freelance permit: Cost: AED 7,500 ; Validity: 1 year 
  • Establishment card: Cost: AED 2,000 ; Validity: 1 year 
  • Employment visa: Cost: AED 2,750 ; Validity: 3 years | Cost: AED 5000 5 year-valid visa costs. Residence visa: Cost: AED 3,330 (Normal) & AED 3,900 (Express); Validity: 3 years (If applied from outside the UAE) | Cost: AED 4,960 (Normal) & AED 6,340 (Express) ; Validity: 3 years (If applied from within the UAE)
  • The total annual expense: AED 11,525 (give or take a few)

Note that the visa cost covers visa stamping, medical tests and the Emirate ID but not health insurance. 

A nugget of info. 

Pat your back for the decision you have taken for yourself and your nearest and dearest. After braving tons of dos and don’ts of getting a freelance visa you are capable of doing what thousands of traditional 9-5 employees hanker after. But the liberties that come with a freelance business do not come alone. It’s always followed by specific responsibilities like meeting deadlines and getting things right. Time management and organization skills are keys to rock this transition. Internet is bulging at the seams with myriad project management tools (like Zoho) available at your disposal that can help you be at the helm of your career. Trust us they are awesomely useful, choose one to achieve your goals. Remember what Tom Crean says: “Motivation will die. Let discipline take its place”! 

For a hassle-free freelance business formation 

If you have come this far, I am sure your business idea is not in the lap of the gods. But if it’s still sitting on the fence get in touch with one of the best business setup consultants in Dubai, UAE such as Adam Global to make every phase of your journey free from any bumps. We are the end-to-end solution to any entrepreneurial issues.

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