What is a Mainland License in Dubai?
Before we dive into obtaining a mainland license in Dubai, it’s essential to understand what it is. A mainland license is a legal permit that allows a business to operate anywhere in Dubai’s mainland region. It enables the company to conduct business activities in the UAE, including trading, manufacturing, and professional services.
Dubai offers three types of business licenses – mainland, free zone, and offshore. A mainland license lets you operate your business in any part of Dubai. On the other hand, a free zone license is restricted to a specific free zone, while an offshore license is mainly for non-resident investors and unsuitable for operating a business in Dubai.
Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Mainland License in Dubai
- Choose Your Business Activity
Determining your business activity is the first step in obtaining a mainland license in Dubai. Dubai classifies business activities into various categories based on the nature of the business. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for issuing licenses based on the activity your business falls under. The type of business activity will also determine the fees and the documents required.
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The second step is to select a business name. You need to choose a unique name not registered in the UAE. The name should also reflect the nature of your business. You can check the availability of the name by searching the DED website. Once you’ve chosen a name, you can reserve it for up to sixty days by paying a fee.
3. Determine Your Business Structure
The next step is to determine your business structure. You can set up a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). A sole proprietorship is suitable for small businesses with one owner, while a partnership is ideal for two or more owners. On the other hand, an LLC is more complex and requires more paperwork, but it offers more protection to the owners.
4. Obtain Initial Approval
Once you have chosen your business activity, name, and structure, you must obtain initial approval from the DED. The initial approval is valid for six months and allows you to proceed with the registration process. You need to submit the necessary documents and pay the initial approval fee.
5. Lease a Commercial Space
You must lease a commercial space to obtain a mainland license in Dubai. The type of business activity will determine the size and location of the space required. You must provide a tenancy contract or lease agreement as part of the registration process.
6. Submit the Required Documents
The next step is to submit the necessary documents to the DED. The documents required may vary depending on the business activity and the structure. However, some essential documents include a passport copy, a visa copy, a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the sponsor, a tenancy contract, and a business plan.
7. Pay the Fees
To complete the registration process, you need to pay the required fees. The fees vary depending on the business activity, the structure, and the location. The fees may include the initial approval fee, the registration fee, the commercial license fee, and the fees for additional services such as visas and labor cards.
8. Obtain Your Mainland License
Once you have completed all the steps and paid the necessary fees, you can obtain your mainland license. The license is valid for one year and can be renewed annually. The license allows you to operate your business in Dubai’s mainland region and conduct business activities according to the approved business activity.
Apart from the steps mentioned above, there are additional considerations you need to keep in mind when obtaining a mainland license in Dubai. These considerations include:
- Local Sponsorship
One of the requirements for obtaining a mainland license is having a local sponsor. The local sponsor must be a UAE national or a company owned by UAE nationals. The local sponsor will hold a 51% share in the business, while the foreign investor will hold the remaining 49%.
- Legalization of Documents
The UAE embassy or consulate in your home country must legalize all documents submitted for registration. This includes educational certificates, power of attorney, and other documents required by the DED.
- Compliance with Regulations
You must comply with the UAE government’s regulations to operate your business in Dubai’s mainland region. These regulations include labor laws, commercial laws, and tax laws. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in penalties, fines, or even revocation of your license.
- Language Requirement
All documents submitted for the registration process must be in Arabic or translated into Arabic by a certified translator. The business name should also be in Arabic or have an Arabic translation.
Obtaining a mainland license in Dubai is a complex process that requires careful planning, preparation, and adherence to regulations. The process involves selecting a business activity, choosing a business name, determining the business structure, obtaining initial approval, leasing a commercial space, submitting the required documents, paying the fees, and obtaining the license. By following the steps and considerations mentioned above, you can legally operate your business in Dubai’s mainland region and take advantage of the opportunities available in the UAE market.