With the recent changes in legislation, it is more important than ever for eCommerce businesses to know their Dubai eCommerce license obligations. This blog post will provide you with all the information you need to stay compliant and avoid fines or jail time. You’ll learn everything from how to register your business, what types of licenses are required, what documents are needed, and more!
Part 1: How to register your Dubai eCommerce business
Dubai is one of the most attractive places in the world for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) due to its strategic location, friendly tax structure, and access to a large consumer market. Combined with healthy government spending power, this has allowed it to become one of the wealthiest cities in the world. To encourage more eCommerce businesses to base themselves here, Dubai has recently announced a number of new incentives including the elimination of the General Sales Tax (GST) on international companies for a period of 10 years, along with freehold office space in prime locations.
Dubai is taking its eCommerce business seriously and has established a website to promote its eCommerce capabilities at https://dubaibusinessadvisors.com. Tax benefits, business incentives, and free trade zones are all highlighted by the website to make it easier for foreign companies to get set up in Dubai. The website also contains a regularly updated list of all licensed retailers (no matter what their product or service) including those retailers who previously received a license before registration was mandatory.
Part 2: Types of Dubai eCommerce licenses required for your business
If you’re setting up a Digital or Non-Digital Business, then you still need a Dubai eCommerce license. There are different types of licenses depending on what kind of products and services your company offers – ranging from selling digital products to selling something that requires physical delivery.
Dubai eCommerce is divided into four main categories:
1) Retail Licenses – companies with a physical presence in Dubai offering services or tangible goods for retail sale
2) Business-to-Business (B2B) Licenses – companies that provide services or sell intangible products to another business
3) Sole Agent Licenses – companies who sell products of other companies to Dubai consumers
4) Free Zone eCommerce licenses – companies with a free zone establishment in Dubai can now benefit from tax exemptions.
Part 3: Required Documents for each type of license
Here is the list of required documents that apply to each type of license. If you need help, the Dubai eCommerce Manual contains a helpful guide for each type of license.
Proof of company address (the physical location where your business is operating) Official trade name Certificate of Incorporation Business registration number (provided by Rera) Certificate to conduct commercial activities (provided by Department of Economic Development)
Business-to-Business (B2B) Licenses
Proof of company address (the physical location where your business is operating) Official trade name Certificate of Incorporation Business registration number (provided by Rera) Vendor’s license or certificate to conduct commercial activities. This must be issued from the relevant professional licensing authority in your product/service industry.
Sole Agent Licenses
Proof of company address (the physical location where your business is operating) Official trade name Certificate of Incorporation Business registration number (provided by Rera) Vendor’s license or certificate to conduct commercial activities from the relevant professional licensing authority in your product/service industry.
Free Zone eCommerce licenses
Proof of company address (the physical location where your business is operating) Residency visa Original passport Corporate documents
Part 4: Required Documents for Sole Agents and Wholesalers
If you choose to apply for a sole agent or wholesale license, then you will be required to provide additional information about your company, its shareholders/directors, etc.
- Shareholders and directors – proof of nationality (copy of passport) and proof of residence (copy of utility bill or bank statement).
- Product/service license – the original current license to conduct commercial activities from the relevant professional licensing authority in your product/service industry.
- Product/Service Code – since sole agents will only be selling the products of other companies this code is not necessary. Wholesalers will also need a product/service code to get their license unless the UAE Ministry of Economy approves that your company’s business activities do not require a product/service code.
Part 5: Starting your Business in Dubai
- You should have a local registered agent or representative in Dubai. A registered agent in Dubai will help you establish your business in the region and work with the various authorities throughout registration.
- All documents provided by the government must have an apostille before they are recognized. If your corporate documents are issued in a country outside of UAE, you will need to get them all legalized through Apostille at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs office.
- You should obtain an eDirham number for your company before you start any business activities in Dubai. It is possible to obtain this number via an online portal upon completion of the necessary forms and submission of required documents.
Part 6: Annual Fees
Retail License – AED 2,000 (2,000 AED is around £250 or $375 USD)
Business-to-Business (B2B) License – AED 60,000 (60,000 AED is around £9,500 or $14K USD)
Sole Agent License – AED 75,000 (75,000 AED is around £11,250 or $16.5K USD)
Free Zone License – AED 10,000 (10,000 AED is around £1,333 or $2K USD)
A Retail License will cost you only 2 thousand dirhams to obtain whereas a Sole Agent license can cost up to 75 thousand dirhams if you apply for it.
Part 7: Other Important Documents and Resources
The fee schedule for Dubai eCommerce licenses is available in the official guide to Dubai eCommerce license. You may also follow specific licensing requirements at Dubai’s Department of Economic Development. In particular, please note that the Ministry of Economy has introduced a new online portal where you can apply for any licenses or register business activities.