A Complete Overview of the General Trading License in Dubai

In addition to its favorable business environment, the Government of Dubai provides incredible policies and facilities, attracting many investors and business owners eager to establish their ventures in the city.

The demand for goods that facilitate ease of doing business is also high. However, if you aspire to start a new business in Dubai, you must navigate a comprehensive process and obtain a valid license before entering the market.

Understanding the General Trading License

A general trading license is one of the many licenses available for business owners and investors in Dubai. In addition to importing and exporting, wholesale trade and the general trading of items like apparel, electronics, and furniture are all viable options, making it a popular choice among businesses.

One of the key advantages of this license is its allowance for conducting business not only in Dubai but also in other Emirates. However, for those dealing with specialized products like frozen food, pharmaceuticals, alcoholic beverages, and the like, specific approvals from relevant authorities are required. With astounding local, national, and international market opportunities, traders can benefit greatly from exploring various trading options.

At present, investors in Dubai have three choices for establishing their businesses: mainland, free zone, and offshore companies. Each option offers a distinct array of advantages and limitations. Therefore, learning as much as possible about each option is essential.

Trade License vs. General Trading License: What’s the Difference?

In the UAE, businesses must acquire a license before engaging in commercial activities. Among the commonly issued licenses are general trading licenses and trade licenses. While they may sound similar, there are distinct differences between them.

A general trading license enables businesses to engage in retail and wholesale activities for any goods, both within and outside the UAE, except for prohibited items that necessitate approval from relevant authorities.

Compared to a trade license, the scope of a general trading license in Dubai is more extensive. This means that businesses holding a general trading license have the flexibility to trade a wide range of goods, including import and export activities, as long as they are not exempted.

On the other hand, a trade license is limited to specific types of goods that are registered under the license. Businesses with a trade license are only permitted to trade in goods explicitly specified in their license. Other commodities accessible on the market cannot be traded unless registered under the license.

Activities under the General Trading License

A general trading license in Dubai allows for a wide variety of businesses to operate, including but not limited to the following.

  • Import and Export
  • Wholesale Businesses
  • Retail Store
  • Online Selling
  • Trading Multiple Products
  • Medical Products

Required Documents for Obtaining a General Trading License in Dubai

To proceed with obtaining your general trading license, there are a few essential documents that you will need to gather and submit. These documents include:

  • Business plan for your planned trading activities
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) from relevant authorities
  • Parent company’s trade license
  • Trade name reservation certificate
  • Photo and identity documents
  • Valid residence permits
  • Tenancy contract
  • Memorandum of Association

The abovementioned documents are typically required when applying for a general trading license in Dubai. Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the application process and the relevant authorities responsible for handling your application.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Your General Trading License in Dubai

The Department of Economy & Tourism Dubai (DED) takes charge of the general trading license application process, facilitated through their self-service online portal, Invest in Dubai. Let me briefly outline the application process for obtaining your general trading license in Dubai.

1.  Choose a Trade Name

Choosing a trade name for your business is one of your most important decisions. Your trade name will identify your business to customers and potential investors, so choosing a name that is unique, memorable, and relevant to your industry is important.

2.  Select Business Activity and Arrange Required Documentation

Your initial responsibility is to determine the operational specifics of your trading business and create a business plan that aligns with these decisions. It is essential to address the following matters from the outset, as the application process may vary depending on the nature of your business. Take the time to make informed choices in the following areas, as they will influence your application process.

When applying for your general trading license, it is important to provide a clear and comprehensive list of activities you intend to engage in. This will help the Department of Economic Development (DED) process your application and issue you the appropriate license.

3.  Submit Initial Approval Application

To initiate your application for a general trade license for your new business, you will need the following:

  • Identity documents
  • A business plan

To acquire a general trade license in Dubai mainland, you can initiate the application process by:

  • Opening an online account on the Invest in Dubai website.
  • Visiting one of the DED service centers in Dubai during office hours.

Once you have submitted your application, the DED will review it and make a decision. You will be issued a general trade license if your application is approved.

Please note that the DED may require additional documentation depending on the specific nature of your business. For example, if you are dealing in special products such as frozen food, pharmaceutical products, or alcoholic beverages, you must obtain special approvals from the relevant authorities.

4.  Rent an Office Space 

Once you have paid the required fees, the system will generate an initial approval certificate for your business. You can use this certificate to lease or rent land or office space.

If you are operating in a free zone, you can also use a shared or virtual office or coworking space.

Both free zones and the mainland provide a wide range of leasing options for office spaces, warehouses, and land, each with varying price ranges.

5.  Obtain Customs Clearance

All businesses that import goods into the country must obtain customs clearance.

To do this, you must:

  • Register with a customs authority in the Emirates.
  • Obtain an import code from the customs authority.
  • Pay the applicable fee.

Registering with any customs authority in the Emirates can facilitate this process. Remember to comply with the regulations and requirements set by the customs authority while obtaining customs clearance for your imported goods.

6.  Get Additional Permissions and Attest Memorandum of Association (MoA)

Once you have rented the office space, assessing whether you need any additional permissions or NOCs from other relevant authorities is important. Generally, the general trading license encompasses all legal trading activities, including import and export.

However, in certain cases, you may be required to obtain NOCs from entities such as the Dubai Municipality or similar authorities. Before issuing the NOC, these authorities typically request your business plan and a photograph of your rented premises.

Following that, you will need to prepare a formal Memorandum of Association (MoA) that outlines the fundamental structure of your company.

7.  Submit Payment and Apply for the General Trading License

To complete the process, you must deposit the licensing or business center fees either at one of the DED centers or through a wire transfer. Once the required fees have been paid, you can submit your application and upload all the necessary documents conveniently through the designated online portal.

Typically, it takes less than ten minutes to approve your general trading license application.

After approval, your trading license will remain valid for one year. The Department of Economic Development (DED) will notify you via SMS before the expiration of your license, reminding you to promptly settle the renewal fees and complete the renewal process seamlessly through the online platform.

It is important to stay vigilant about the renewal process to ensure the uninterrupted operation of your business.

Cost of General Trading License in Dubai

The cost of a general trading license in Dubai tends to be slightly higher due to its inclusion of multiple product trading capabilities under a single license. This broader scope allows for greater business growth and diversification, making it a more cost-effective option than a single-activity license.

The price for a general trading license in Dubai typically ranges from approximately AED 15,000 to AED 50,000 or potentially higher. The total cost is influenced by various factors such as the chosen business location, warehouse size, office space, additional approvals required, jurisdiction preferences, and visa applications.

At ExpressPRO, our team of experts will handle all financial transactions, ensuring the authenticity of payments. We aim to secure the most affordable general trading license in the UAE without any unexpected additional costs associated with incorporating your general trading business in the UAE.

Get Your General Trading License in Dubai, UAE 

Acquiring a general trading license in Dubai presents an excellent opportunity to establish your business in one of the world’s most vibrant and business-friendly economies. The costs associated with company setup and the application for a general trading license are reasonable, and the process is relatively straightforward.

ExpressPRO supports individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses in transitioning to Dubai and forming new ventures. Our experienced professionals are dedicated to providing guidance and assistance, helping you explore the best free zones in the UAE to elevate your business to the next level, whether in the mainland or a free zone.

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