How to license a business in the
UAE

A license is the mandatory government-issued document that authorizes a business to
carry out permitted activities both within the UAE and abroad.

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The activities that businesses can perform in the UAE are restricted to those listed in the entity’s license issued by the Economic Department in the relevant emirate. To start your business sucessfuly, you should choose the most appropriate type of license depending on the contemplated business activities. Knowing procedures of obtaining the license and pecularities of its renewal and cost is also very important. SORP provides a “turnkey” solution for incorporating your business in the UAE and offers a comprehensive range of services supporting your business needs in the country.


Choose the target for your contemplated
business activity for incorporation in the UAE

Business license is a main statutory document which reflects the date of incorporation and expiry, listed permitted business activities, names of the owner and the manager.

Trading Business
Licensing

Import, export, re-export. Wholesale
and retail. Online commerce

Incorporation of a Mainland company generally does not require a local partner to be a shareholder.

Trading business success in the UAE is boosted by minimal taxation, great geographical location and high purchasing power of the population.
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Professional Services
Licensing

Management consulting, services
provided to the public, restaurants

A local company may be incorporated with 100% foreign ownership. A service agent must be appointed.

Get all the advantages and benefits of doing business in the most solvent market in the world, which values the quality of great services .
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Investment Activity
Licensing

Investment management, financial
consulting, lending and borrowing

The UAE Central Bank and Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) supervise activities in this field.

Tax free activity in the UAE and abroad with the ability to receive interest and commissions, securities and finances, capital and asset management.
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Real Estate Business
Licensing

Real estate agencies, developers,
facilities management and estate
consulting

State control is exercised by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). Business incorporation should be local (Mainland).

Significant infrastructure spending and growth of the construction sector fuels increased demand for the services of professional market players.
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Engineering Services
Licensing

Engineering works, servicing the
facilities, project management and
design

The UAE governs the sector through the Building Department. The ownership type of a company depends on the business activities it engages in.

The multitude of construction projects presents opportunities for engineering contractors in project delivery, building operations, and maintenance.
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Logistics and
Transportation Licensing

Sea, land and air transportation,
freight brokers as well as cargo
warehousing

Licensed in Free Zones and Mainland, additional approvals are required from the relevant departments for specific activities.

Growth of the country's logistics market exposes great development potential. The tax free regime boosts business profitability locally and abroad.
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Tourism and Hospitality
Licensing

Business activity as a tourist
agency, tourist operator company
and consultancy.

The UAE governs the sector through the Department of Tourism and Marketing. Companies can be incorporated both locally (Mainland) and in a Free Zone.

The huge growth potential of tourism and the hospitality sector in the UAE, along with government support, underpins business profitability.
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Construction Works and
Services Licensing

Buildings and infrastructure
construction, design and
performing of finishing works.

The sector is regulated by the Building Department. The ownership structure of companies depends on the business activity they engage in.

Construction flourishes all over the country. High consumer demand fuels an orders pipeline for construction, design, and landscaping contractors.
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Educational Business
Licensing

Pre-schools, schools and higher
education institutions, sport
centers and learning courses.

Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) regulates this. Mainland and Free Zone companies can be set up.

The sector is one of the top priorities for government support in the UAE. A growing demand for quality services provides profitability for business.
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Free Economic Zones foster an attractive environment for those businesses focused only on international operations (i.e. outside of the UAE) and/or the economic activity within a free zone. The best alternative is to incorporate a company locally ( mainland of the UAE) to unlock unlimited investment benefits for conducting a true exterritorial business in the UAE and in any other destination abroad.

100% foreign ownership is now available for mainland companies according to a resolution by the UAE Cabinet of Ministers

On June 1, 2021, amendments to the Commercial Companies Law of 2015 came into force. According to the new regulations, a number of commercial activities that previously required the appointment of a local partner for LLCs are now completely exempted from such obligations for the main type of activity, thereby greatly increasing the advantages of starting a mainland business. Incorporating a mainland company, as opposed to a Free Zone company, generates greater trust in the eyes of counterparties and banks. This opens up unlimited opportunities for the investor both in the UAE and abroad.

The stages of business setup in the UAE

  • Preliminary due dilligence

    Success depends on analyzing the competitive environment and adapting your business strategy accordingly. What works in other countries does not necessarily work well in the UAE and vice-versa

  • Choosing the most appropriate form of incorporation

    Where you incorporate is important and will be guided by the intended theater of operations (local / international). Different jurisdictions provide varying levels of confidence for banks as well as prestige and credibility for your business

  • Understanding licensing procedures

    A business license should match the intended business activity as much as possible. Additional licensing requirements of local authorities should also be allowed for

  • Choosing a type of legal entity

    Depending on the type of license and the jurisdiction, the law dictates what legal entity and organizational structure is permitted, along with foreign & local ownership regulations

  • Obtaining a license and registering

    A license can be obtained after meeting local authority requirements (if any), confirmation of a valid business address and payment of the cost of the license and registration fees

  • Business support and license renewal

    The final stage is choosing the right management consulting company that will provide tailor-made administrative and legal support for business operations. It should also renew your license and other permissions in a timely manner


SORP expert solutions for incorporating
businesses in the UAE

SORP Group provides a set of solutions for licensing most types of businesses in the UAE. Being in close contact with Government
authorities and holding the status of an agent in Free Zones, SORP guarantees prompt and seamless registration procedures.

Define a business model

SORP will advise on a right type
of a license and on appropriate
legal entity for your business

Incorporating and licensing

SORP’s expertise in the local
corporate industry guarantees
a support with utmost diligence.

Local Partner or Agent

Nominee service from SORP
Investment LLC with a waiver
in the Dubai court

Business address in Dubai

SORP Business Center provides
clients with an office lease for the
purpose of licensing and doing
business with Ejari / Estidama,
flexi-desks and virtual office.

Opening bank accounts

SORP has a close cooperation
with leading banks in UAE, providing
clients with a full range of support
to ease compliance and passing all
KYC procedures.

Business Administration

SORP provides legal and tax
consulting, accounting as well as
administration services to ensure
that clients are supported with all
their business and statutory needs.

What UAE law requires for incorporated and licensed businesses

License validity period

Licenses must be renewed annually accompanied by a full year audited financial report, renewed premises lease agreement, and fulfillment of any other requirements of regulators.

Licensing fees

Licensing and renewal is the mechanism whereby the state exercises a form of control over businesses and represents a hidden tax. Mandatory annual renewal payment is required to remain in business.

Bureaucratic procedures

Renewals are subject to the very same approvals as are required when submitting the initial application. This procedure requires permission from the relevant authorities, with a renewed premises lease contract and agent contract to be presented.

SORP’s license renewal services

According to the current legislation, each business license in the UAE must be renewed annually. This requirement remains the same
for all types of entities incorporated locally (mainland) and in free economic zones.

Local partner
or agent

SORP will provide a nominal
UAE partner service and renew the
previously conducted agreements
and current contracts.

Annual office lease at
SORP Business Center

SORP will allow you to save money
each year by providing a lease of
minimal required office space at
its own SORP Business Center.

Professional administrative
support for businesses

SORP provides renewal services
for licenses, permissions and other
statutory documents in the UAE,
including complicated cases.


Benefits and requirements for incorporating
your international business in the UAE

Protection from tax information exchange

Having a UAE tax domicile will exclude a business entity from automatic tax information exchange under the CRS mechanism.

Confirmation of economic presence

Justification is required for conducting operations from within the UAE as proof of the legitimacy of tax optimizations abroad.

Tax planning opportunities

UAE legislation provides an environment free from controls on the movement of capital - an important prerequisite for conducting international business, for tax optimization, and free cash settlements.

SORP services for international business

SORP Group of Companies equips entrepreneurs with a unique set of business tools for effective tax planning and optimization of
international economic activity through the means of UAE legislative norms.

Tax residency
in the UAE

All UAE residents are protected
from an automatic exchange
of tax information when doing
banking transactions.

International tax planning
and optimization

Tailor - made solutions for
enhancing tax optimization
for international business
through the UAE legislation.

Confirmation of economic
presence

Proof of the economic presence
in the UAE through the onshore
management (decision) center
and tax residency.

The global trend towards increased control over businesses leaves fewer legal methods to minimize the tax burden, optimize cash flows and allocate funds to bank accounts. However, incorporating a local (mainland) company in the UAE provides business people with a powerful set of tools for solving such problems. They include protection from automatic exchange of tax information, of information on bank accounts and other assets, under the provisions of the CRS mechanism.

SORP provides a full range of services for a
business setup and management in the UAE

Comprehensive services

SORP offers comprehensive support for acquired companies and their shareholders: from licensing, maintaining Bank accounts to obtaining the status of a tax resident of the country

Individual approach

Your requirements are unique. That is why we treat every business individually to tailor the right services to achieve your priorities.

15 years of successful work

We have helped thousands of clients acquire, build and develop businesses in the UAE

Banking support

Assistance in choosing a bank that is suitable for your purposes, support with bank accounts opening and passing KYC procedures (know your customer).


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