Types of Licenses in UAE

1 - National Proprietorship (100% National)


  • Selection and approval of trade name (to be approved by the Department of Economic Development);
  • Lease contract involving the headquarters through which the activity is intended to be practised;
  • UAE national’s passport photocopy + personal photograph;
  • Definition of activity (Commercial, professional or vocational);
  • Acquiring competent authorities’ approval whenever required for certain activities; and
  • Completed application forms prepared for the purpose by the Department of Economic Development, Commercial Register and Chamber Membership.

2 - Commercial Companies (51% Minimum National Share)


  • Getting the selected trade name approved (by the Department of Economic development) in accordance with the requirements provided in the Commercial Company Law.
  • Partnership agreement duly authenticated by the Notary Public (National(s) share should not be less than 51%) and without prejudice to other provisions and requirements provided in the Commercial Company law in respect of the company type.
  • Lease contract involving the headquarters through which the activity is intended be practiced.
  • Passport photocopy + personal photograph of each partner.
  • Definition of required activity and getting it approved by respective competent authorities whenever required for certain types of activities.
  • Bank certificate to the effect that the company capital has been already deposited at one of the banks operating in the Emirate, along with a statement showing the cash shares of partners.
  • Completed licence application-forms, Commercial Register and Chamber Membership; and registration of the partnership agreement at the Ministry of Economy.
  • Foreign investors are to obtain the approval of the Immigration & Naturalization Department (i.e. an investor’s visa).

3 - Foreign Company Branches


  • Adopting the same mother company's name for the branch in Abu Dhabi (to be approved by the Department
  • of Economic Development).
  • Detailed statement on the activity required to be practised by the branch and getting it approved by respective competent authorities whenever required for certain activities, with consideration to that the branch activity must be from among those practised by the mother company’s headquarters.
  • Contract agreement concluded with a services agent holding the UAE nationality. The agreement must be duly authenticated by the Notary public.
  • Submission of a duly attested "Undertaking" issued by the mother company pledging to bear any financial liabilities on behalf of its branches in the UAE.
  • Duly attested decision taken by the concerned administrative body at the mother company confirming willingness to open a branch in Abu Dhabi.
  • Duly attested official certificate issued by the competent authorities at the country in which the foreign company is registered. The certificate must state for the company registration, legal status, capital, along with names, capacities and powers of its representatives.
  • Duly attested facsimile of the mother company's letter of incorporation or articles of association.
  • Latest duly attested couple of balance sheets accredited by the mother company, along with auditor report, profit/loss account and other balance sheet-related explanations.
  • Statement showing main operations and activities practised by the foreign company outside the UAE, and accounting for its previously accumulated experiences.
  • Duly attested power of attorney in favor of the company's representative in Abu Dhabi, along with his passport photocopy and personal photograph.
  • Passport photocopy and personal photograph of the national services agent if he is a natural person. In case he is a legal entity, an official certificate confirming that all partners are UAE nationality holders should be attached along with copies of issued licences.
  • Statement showing the number of employees expected to be recruited in the company branch in Abu Dhabi.
  • The branch capital amount must not be less than Dhs250,000 (Two hundred and fifty thousand dirhams); and
  • All documents should be translated into Arabic by an authorized legal translator and duly attested by the UAE Ministry of Justice.

4 - Appointment of Commercial Agent (Exclusive Distributor)

Foreign companies unwilling to acquire a licence but still interested in finding access to their products inside the UAE or seeking to offer their services, may appoint a commercial agent in accordance with the provision of Federal Law No. 18 of 1981 Regulating Commercial Agencies and amending laws thereof.

Such agent may promote the foreign company’s products and services through exclusive sales or distribution within the specified UAE-based area covered by the agency. This can be done by virtue of a relevant agreement which should be duly registered with the Ministry of Economy.

However, foreign companies may have one agent to cover the whole UAE territories or one agent in each emirate. The agency shall remain in place only as per the relevant duration agreed upon in the contract.

5 - Gulf Establishments and Companies

GCC countries' nationals shall be allowed to practise all economic activities and professions, barring the activities listed in the Ministerial Resolution No. 26 of the year 2005.

6. Freezones

There are numerous Freezones throughout the UAE. With a Freezone license you will be allowed to deal and trade with foreign companies but not within the UAE. If you want to do business within the UAE, you will need to appoint an Agent.

Abu Dhabi Freezone Ras Al Khaimah Freezone RAKEZ Dubai Freezone - DMCC Ras Al Khaimah Freezone