A Guide to Starting a Travel Agency in the UAE

Investing in a travel agency in the UAE can prove to be a lucrative venture if executed with a well-thought-out strategy. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that the travel agency industry in the UAE is subject to strict regulations, and thus, it’s vital to seek professional guidance to ensure that your company’s launch is in full compliance with the UAE’s laws and regulations.

How to Open Your Travel Agency in the UAE? 

The UAE offers a plethora of opportunities for individuals, including both locals and expatriates, to embark on a path towards entrepreneurial success. It’s common knowledge that the UAE hosts a vast number of investors, and with a well-conceived business plan, obtaining the necessary capital for your travel agency shouldn’t pose significant challenges. However, it’s important to bear in mind that obtaining a business license in the UAE necessitates meeting a set of mandatory requirements.

If you want to open a travel agency in the United Arab Emirates, here’s how to do it:

1. Choose a Name for Your Travel Agency

The first step in launching your travel agency is coming up with a unique and marketable brand name. It needs to be attractive, accurate, and visually appealing. It would help if you had something that could accurately represent your business. In short, think beyond the box when coming up with a name for your business.

Names that contain the terms “global,” “international,” “East,” or “West” may incur additional costs and have other limitations, so it’s essential to learn the criteria before settling on a name.

2. Select Your Business Category

It is a good idea to decide what type of agency you would like to run if you are thinking of starting your own travel agency. For instance, if you’re located in Dubai, you can choose between becoming an inbound or outbound tour operator, or you can become a travel agent. You have access to a diverse range of markets, each of which offers various activities from which to pick and choose.

3. Get a Business License

The DED is responsible for issuing all business licenses in Dubai, including commercial, professional, industrial, and tourist licenses. Before opening your travel agency business in Dubai or UAE, you should get the necessary permits from the appropriate government authorities. A valid trading license is required for all businesses. Copies of shareholder passports, the company’s certificate of incorporation, and the memorandum of association (if applicable) are also required.

In some industries, additional licenses from appropriate issuing authorities are required; the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is one of those authorities in the case of tourism.

4. Apply for a Travel Agency License

If you are thinking of starting a travel agency in the United Arab Emirates, you need to make sure you apply for the correct kind of tourist license, including:

  • Outbound operator license
  • Inbound operator license
  • Travel agent license

When beginning a travel agency in Dubai, you must also have a comprehensive business strategy and a Notification of Compliance from the Civil Aviation Authority (if you intend to offer airline tickets). Every year, the license must be renewed to keep it valid. To avoid having it default, you must renew it at least 30 days before it is set to expire.

5. Obtain Employee Visas

If you want to employ people from other countries, you will also need to apply for an entrée visa for each worker. In most cases, a tourist visa can be obtained quickly if an application is submitted within 30 days of an employee’s arrival in the country. Staff entry permits can be obtained quickly and easily through the Ministry of the Interior’s online registration system. After receiving their entry permission, workers must take the laborious step of completing an “in-country status change” to become eligible for a full employment visa.

A business license, passport copies, and an establishment card, a document issued by a service that registers your company with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) are all required. Don’t forget to get the ‘OK to Board’ before letting staff from the South Asian subcontinent travel abroad.

6. Establish a Corporate Bank Account

Establishing a corporate bank account for your business is one of the essential steps to forming your travel agency. You are free to select the bank that best suits your needs. All banks have different minimum balance requirements, ranging from 5,000 to 1,000,000 AED. Without a trade license, applying for a corporate bank account is impossible. Proof of permanent residency will also be required.

You can save time by leaving the responsibility of obtaining necessary authorizations to professionals specializing in a business setup. While business plans and letters of recommendation from partners may be necessary for some banks, a trade license, a resolution from the board of directors, and a copy of the company’s memorandum and articles of association are standard requirements for most.

Steps to Obtain a Travel Agency License 

The procedures that need to be followed to acquire a tourism license:

  • Obtain the DED’s approval by submitting the company’s name.
  • You need to get approval from DED before you can form your company. After filling out the form at any typing centre, you must obtain signatures from all partners and submit it to the DED.
  • DED will provide a form for the site inspection after initial approval. Complete the form, attach the location map, and submit it along with the final documents to the DED. An officer from DED will inspect the property before issuing the license.
  • Get the LLC agreement (MOA) attested by a Notary Public after a legal translator has translated it.
  • All Partners or Attorneys must appear before a Notary to sign the Court Agreement.
  • Make sure all the documents are submitted, make the payment at the counter, and you will receive your license.

UAE Travel Agency Documents You’ll Need

To open a travel agency business in UAE, you need the following legal documents: 

  • An application form has been filled out.
  • Both applicants and managers must provide copies of their valid passports.
  • Manager’s certificate of professional qualification/work experience.
  • Certificate of good conduct for the owner and manager or a clean criminal record certificate.
  • Report on the project’s economic and technical feasibility.
  • When selling airline tickets, you need a letter of no objection (NOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Benefits of Establishing a Travel Agency in the UAE

The advantages of establishing a travel agency in one of the world’s most popular tourist spots include:

1. Diverse Travel Destination

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a diverse and exciting travel destination. People from high-net-worth backgrounds flock here, including A-list celebrities, VIPs, and culture vultures. With such a wide variety of vacation options, skilled travel agents have plenty of room to grow their businesses.

2. An Ideal Location

The United Arab Emirates has excellent connections to all of Asia, Europe, and North Africa. It is the home of some of the most prominent airlines in the world, including Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airlines, as well as one of the busiest airports globally.

3. Supportive Tourist Policies

Since tourism accounts for almost 10% of GDP and 317,400 jobs in the UAE, it stands to reason that the government will take any measures necessary to maintain these figures. Supportive tourist policies and laws are regularly evaluated and revised in the UAE.

4. Lower Fuel Prices

The cost of fuel is substantially lower in the UAE compared to other parts of the world, which helps to make trips and other forms of travel more financially feasible.

5. Business Friendly Tax Environment

If you establish a travel agency in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you will have the opportunity to increase the profit margins of your business. The government has made it a priority to encourage entrepreneurial activity and provides one of the most business-friendly tax environments in the world.

6. Business Setup is quick

Using the services of a company formation expert such as ExpressPRO, foreign nationals can quickly and easily establish a travel agency in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, if you establish your business in a free zone, you can have full ownership rights without needing a UAE sponsor.

How ExpressPRO Assist in Establishing a Travel Agency in the UAE? 

The above actions provide a glimpse into starting a travel agency in the United Arab Emirates. To legally operate a travel agency on UAE territory, one must first go through the proper channels to secure the necessary license.

Planning on opening a travel agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates? If you are interested in starting a business but have no idea how to begin, you have come to the right place. Across the UAE, ExpressPRO has been instrumental in the launch of a significant number of enterprises.

Establishing a new business in Dubai can be challenging, especially in the competitive travel and tourist industry. Our collaboration will spare you from unneeded setbacks like delays or rejections and speed up the procedure.

Once you have provided us with some essential documents and a few details about the nature of your firm and the activities it engages in, the specialists here at ExpressPRO can get started on your project. We will take care of the paperwork for your business license and visa, liaise with the appropriate local agencies, and let you know when it’s safe to begin trading. That’s how easy it is.

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I recently contacted ExpressPRO to set up my business in Dubai and I couldn't be happier with their service. The entire process was smooth and efficient, thanks to their professional and... knowledgeable team. They guided me through every step, from company formation and trade license acquisition to opening a bank account.read more
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Prompt reply and coordination and excellent services by Irshad Ismail. He assisted very professionally and helped me to get my license on time.
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I am very lucky to met you, Hassan. Throughout the entire application process, I encountered issues like my name being written in reverse order, even during the medical check-up, you were online to... answer my questions in real-time. You were attentive to my worries even on weekends and during the Ramadan period. When Dubai faced its first major flood in 75 years, I still received your immediate response. Your dedication is truly commendable.The process for obtaining residency in Dubai is now longer due to the increasing population influx. Fortunately, applying through ExpressPro has been a breeze - fast, efficient, professional, and with prompt responses that provide peace of mind. I highly recommend this company. Once again, thank you, Hassan. May Allah bless youread more
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Sheen Gurrib
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