General Trading License in Dubai, UAE (2024 Guide)

General Trading License in Dubai

General Trading License in Dubai, UAE (2024 Guide)

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Are you seeking a strategic location for your business that offers easy trading and endless growth opportunities? A general trading license in Dubai can make this a reality! According to UK government publications, over 5,000 British companies operate in the UAE, including BP, Shell, Rolls Royce, Standard Chartered, and HSBC. 

The UAE government has implemented several economic and institutional measures to foster a diverse economy. Dubai’s cultural and ecological benefits make it one of the most attractive locations for new businesses. As a result, some of the world’s most prestigious corporations have headquarters in Dubai, and new enterprises are emerging daily. A general trading license in Dubai positions you for success, enabling you to trade in various sectors such as food, electronics, fashion, furniture, and jewellery. 

What is General Trading?

In Dubai, engaging in general trading is akin to assuming the role of a versatile entrepreneur in the business arena. It involves the procurement and distribution of a diverse array of products across various industries. However, before beginning this trading, obtaining a license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) is important, as it serves as the regulatory authority for such activities. 

General trading encompasses the importation of goods, their subsequent local distribution, and in certain instances, their re-exportation to other destinations. While some trading endeavors may proceed without requiring specialized permissions, others necessitate adherence to specific regulatory protocols. 

Securing authorization for particular trading activities mandates the acquisition of a specialized license, a process that entails obtaining approval from relevant government departments. Once the necessary administrative formalities are completed and the requisite paperwork is in order, the pathway to commencing trading operations becomes clear. 

What Is a General Trading License in the UAE?

A general trading license in Dubai permits importing, exporting, and trading a wide range of goods and products. This license is highly versatile, allowing you to trade diverse items with a few exceptions, such as tobacco and products that do not meet health standards. Discover the flexibility a general trading license offers for your business in Dubai. 

Unlike a standard trading license, which restricts you to trading a single type of product within one industry, a general trading license allows you to trade multiple products across different sectors. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to diversify their trading activities. 

Why Do You Need a Dubai General Trading License?

For international entrepreneurs eyeing business ventures in Dubai, getting a general trading license is important. This license holds particular significance if your business aims to trade an array of products across diverse sectors, consolidating all these activities under one comprehensive permit. Obtaining a Dubai General Trading License lays the foundation for a seamless and legally compliant business operation in the city. 

With the acquisition of a Dubai General Trading License, your business gains the authority to engage in the lawful purchase and sale of a broad spectrum of products. Armed with this indispensable license, your enterprise assumes a pivotal role in the trading landscape, catering to the needs of businesses not only in Dubai and the UAE but also extending your reach beyond borders. 

Why Consider Starting a General Trading Business in Dubai?

A general trading license in Dubai offers numerous benefits, making it an attractive option for entrepreneurs seeking diverse trade opportunities and a favourable business environment. Here are the key advantages: 

Local and International Trade Opportunities

With a Dubai General Trading License, you can import, produce, and sell a wide range of goods locally or export them to lucrative international markets. 

Low Tax Benefits

The UAE boasts one of the world’s lowest tax rates, making it a cost-effective location to start a business and trade goods with a General Trading License. 

Flexible Product Range

Enjoy the flexibility to trade a variety of products with minimal restrictions. While initial license fees may be higher, the long-term benefits are substantial. 

Efficient Licensing Process

The licensing process is efficient and transparent. By submitting the necessary documents, you can obtain your general trading license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) within a week, avoiding lengthy registration procedures found elsewhere. 

Visa Sponsorship for Dependents

The general trading license facilitates visa applications for employees and dependents, making it easier to acquire UAE visas. 

Prime Global Trade Position

Dubai’s strategic location at the heart of global trade offers abundant opportunities for your trading business to thrive. 

Superior Infrastructure Support

Benefit from Dubai’s exceptional infrastructure, including warehouses, logistics companies, top-notch seaports and airports, and a simplified customs process, which will enhance your business operations. 

Comprehensive Business Networks and Support Services

Access a wide range of support services for your trading company, including logistics, warehousing, legal, marketing, finance, and more. 

Benefits of Establishing a General Trading Company in Dubai 

For investors and entrepreneurs eyeing Dubai as the destination for their general trading company, the benefits are abundant: 

  • High-Quality Infrastructure: In Dubai, you’ll find upscale office spaces furnished with state-of-the-art amenities and offering flexible rental or lease arrangements. This environment fosters a conducive setting for businesses, enabling streamlined and efficient operations.  
  • Easy Business Setup: Establishing a corporation in the UAE is notably straightforward. With all the required documentation prepared, entrepreneurs can finalize the setup process in as little as 3-4 working days. 
  • Low Capital Requirements: Dubai stands out from many other jurisdictions by not requiring businesses to provide a bank guarantee or deposit share capital. Moreover, UAE businesses have the unique advantage of being able to repatriate 100% of their capital, providing them with unparalleled financial flexibility. 
  • Favorable Tax Environment: The corporate tax landscape in the UAE is notably advantageous. Businesses holding a UAE license are only required to pay corporate taxes on profits exceeding AED 375,000, a rate substantially lower than what is seen in many other countries around the world. 
  • No Trade Barriers: Opening a Business in Dubai is quick and affordable, especially for mainland traders. Exemptions from capital requirements and audits increase profits, while no trade barriers ease operations in the UAE. 

These compelling benefits position Dubai as an attractive hub for establishing a general trading company, offering a supportive and efficient business environment conducive to growth and success. 

What Kinds of Business Licenses Are Available in Dubai, UAE?

Dubai presents four primary business license types, complemented by specialized licenses in different economic zones. These main licenses are widely favored in Dubai Mainland. 

Commercial Trade License   Professional Trade License    Industrial Trade License   Tourism Trade License  
The commercial trade license caters to businesses engaged in buying and selling goods, encompassing activities such as trading, importing, exporting, renting, brokering, and beyond.  The professional business license is exclusively for businesses offering services to individuals or other businesses.  Dubai’s industrial trade license caters to businesses engaged in local manufacturing activities. To qualify for this license, owning physical office space within the country is a necessary  The tourism license in Dubai is for tour-organizing businesses, a newer trade license in the UAE. 
A commercial trade license is still required for businesses in Dubai that are trading internationally.  A professional license in Dubai Mainland grants access to lucrative government contracts.  The industrial trade license allows importing raw materials, processing, packaging, selling, and exporting finished products.  This license was implemented by the government to oversee the UAE’s tourism sector, mandatory for travel agencies, hospitality establishments, tour operators, and related businesses. 

How To Get a General Trading License in Dubai?

Here’s a concise get to obtain a General Trading license in Dubai: Choose your location, finalize a company name, secure office space, and obtain customs clearance. 

  1. Decide on a location

To start a trading firm in Dubai, you have three options: Mainland, Free Zones, or Offshore. You can freely trade products in the UAE if you get a mainland general trading license in Dubai. For ordinary commerce, it is generally advisable to have a mainland license. However, if you choose a free zone, you can have restrictions on moving your items around.  

  1. Choose your trading activity

The UAE’s Department of Economic Development (DED) lists authorised business activities. For your ordinary trade business, you may pick up to 10 activities.   

You can include all operations that are regulated commodities that fulfil health and safety requirements but do not require external approvals, such as weapons, pharmaceuticals, and so on. Furthermore, you must select the activities you intend to do based on the nature of your business and submit a list of those activities to the authorities.  

Naming rules in Dubai include: 

  • Transliteration into Arabic or English without special characters. 
  • Prohibition of offensive, religious, or geographic terms. 
  • Restrictions on starting with specific words like “Universal” or “International.” 
  • Checking for duplicate names in both languages. 
  • Categorisation into premium categories A and B for trade names. 
  • Avoidance of obscene language or public decency offence. 
  • Requiring embassy approval for country or government-related names. 
  • Six-month validity with mandatory renewal. 
  • Trademark registration through the Ministry of Economy. 
  • Franchises can use trade names with the submission of contracts to the Department of Economic Development. 
  1. Select your company name

The rules governing company names in the United Arab Emirates are simple and not uncommon. You can’t, for example, use the same or a very similar name as a globally recognised company, use inappropriate language, or include God’s name in your brand.   

Furthermore, companies are prohibited from insulting remarks or language that offend a community’s sensibilities or religious beliefs. Moreover, if you want to name it after someone, be sure to include their complete name.  

It’s crucial to note that the restrictions differ slightly depending on whether your company is based offshore, on the mainland, or in one of the UAE’s free zones. Offshore companies have the most freedom, followed by free zones — while the mainland has the most restrictions. Hence, it is advised to check with the relevant authority for the limitations depending on where you wish to set up your business.   

  1. Get the initial approval

You’ll need initial permission when your company name has been authorised. You must contact the appropriate government to obtain your general trading license in Dubai.   

To receive this permission, you’ll need the trade name registration payment receipt with a few other legal papers, such as the Memorandum of Association (MOA) from the relevant government agencies.  

Furthermore, if all your documentation is in order, you will receive an initial permission certificate stating that the authorities have no objections to you forming a business in the UAE.  

  1. Lock a physical space

A general trading business in Dubai needs an official location for its operation. It is preferable to rent rather than buy an office space in the UAE since you must pay a large deposit. You must register for office space with Ejari and establish your rental contract before applying for a trade license.  

A mainland license permits you to open a warehouse without restrictions, but a free zone license restricts operations and storage. Some free zones, such as IFZA, allow you to run your business from a virtual office. Depending on your requirements, you can select any of these.  

  1. Submit your general trading LLC license application

Once you’ve completed the above stages, you can quickly apply for your general trading LLC license. In this phase, you’ll also need the first permission document and any additional legal papers required for verification.   

Ensure you complete the application accurately and double-check everything before submitting it. Complete all needed payments within time. Furthermore, if your general trading license doesn’t cover some of your business operations, you may need to seek extra permissions.  

Documents Needed for a General Trading License in Dubai

Below are the documents needed for a general trading license in Dubai: 

  • For Individual Shareholders 
  • Copy of passport 
  • Passport-size photo 
  • Copy of residence visa 
  • Copy of Emirates ID 
  • For Corporate Shareholders 
  • Certificate of incorporation 
  • Certificate of incumbency or equivalent 
  • Memorandum of association 
  • Board Resolution 

These documents verify the company’s identity, residency, and legal existence and authorise trading activities. 

Activities Allowed Under UAE General Trading License

While encompassing a wide range of activities, some common business endeavours permitted under a general trading license in Dubai include: 

  • Importing and Exporting 
  • Operating Retail Stores 
  • Online Selling 
  • Trading in Multiple Products 
  • Dealing with Medical Products (Subject to Dubai Health Authority approval) 

General Trading License in Dubai Mainland 

Dubai offers the flexibility to obtain a general trading license either in the mainland or within one of its Free Zones, with both options providing competitively priced packages tailored to your company formation needs in the city. 

General Trading License in Dubai Free Zones 

In Dubai’s free zone jurisdictions, foreign investors are permitted to form companies. However, several authorities need a minimum share capital of AED 1 million to get a general trade license. But the business and jurisdiction may impact expenditure. 

Dubai General Trading License cost 

Obtaining a general trade license in Dubai typically costs between AED 15,000 and AED 50,000, but this can vary based on several criteria. These include the company’s location, warehouse capacity, office space, any further approvals, business jurisdiction, and visa applications.  

When you work with Shuraa’s expertise, you can be confident that your transactions will be transparent and genuine. We attentively manage all payments to obtain the most cost-effective general trade license in the UAE for you. Furthermore, there are no hidden costs involved with establishing a business in the UAE. 

Distinction between General Trading License and Standard Trade License

Allows trading a wide range of products  Allows trading only one group of products 
Allows trade across multiple industries  Limits trade to only one industry 
The cost of a license is comparatively higher  The cost of the license is comparatively lower 
The broad scope of business diversification  No scope for business diversification 


How Long Does it Take to Get a Trade License in Dubai? 

Upon submitting your trade license application, the waiting game commences. But fret not – acquiring a Dubai trade license is typically a swift process, usually taking around three to four weeks for approval. However, this timeline can vary based on factors such as the completeness of your documents and the specific business activity you’re pursuing. To expedite the process and ensure prompt approval, meticulous attention to detail is crucial. Take the time to thoroughly review all your application materials before submission, ensuring they’re flawless. This careful approach significantly enhances the likelihood of your trade license being swiftly approved, setting the stage for your business ventures in Dubai. 

What is the Instant Trade License in Dubai? 

Dubai’s Instant License is customized for individuals or entities venturing into commercial or professional business ventures, offering rapid acquisition within minutes. Expert guidance streamlines the process, making obtaining this license hassle-free. It’s an excellent option for those keen to kickstart their business endeavors quickly and with ease. 

Obtain Your General Trading License with Shuraa 

General trading licenses are among the most sought-after business licenses in the country, and for good reasons. Securing the best deal for a general trading license in Dubai can be challenging. Therefore, it is crucial to reach out to the right experts for proper advice and support in forming your company in a new country. 

Shuraa Business Setup has been assisting foreign investors and entrepreneurs in establishing and managing their business ventures in Dubai and throughout the UAE for over two decades. We’ve served 35,000 entrepreneurs, both local and international, with their UAE company registration needs. 

Our team of seasoned corporate advisors provides comprehensive business setup services. Whether you have inquiries about obtaining a general trading license in Dubai or need guidance on opening a business bank account in Dubai, you can rely on us to offer the most transparent and reliable assistance. 

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