How to Start a Foodstuff Trading Business in Dubai

Updated on April 21, 2020

Foodstuff trading is a very important business activity in Dubai. It is a major contributor to Dubai’s economy and is an activity that has been prospering in the city for many years. The UAE has become an international hub of trade in the Middle East, and so, the import and export of food take place in high volumes. Therefore, starting a foodstuff trading business in Dubai is a lucrative business venture.

Dubai is recognised globally for its food scene. It is home to many local and international restaurants and cafes serving cuisines from all over the world. Therefore, the food and beverage industry relies on the supply of quality food items. This is made possible by foodstuff trading companies in Dubai. Hence, foodstuff trading is always in demand.

License required for foodstuff trading business in Dubai

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the authority that issues business licenses for companies registered in Dubai mainland. You must submit all the necessary documents to the DED since it is the authority that carries out the registration process.

Foodstuff trading companies in Dubai require a Commercial License. They are registered as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This business structure follows a 51-49 shareholding structure. As per UAE law, it is mandatory for a foreign-owned company registered in Dubai mainland to partner with a UAE National, also called a Local Sponsor. As a result, the local sponsor will hold 51% of the company shares and you will hold the remaining 49%.

Documents required to start a foodstuff trading business in Dubai

  • Passport copies of shareholders
  • Visa page of the shareholder – residence visa or visit visa
  • NOC from the current sponsor, if the shareholder has a residence visa
  • Emirates ID of shareholders having a residence visa

Company formation process

  • Submit 3 trade name options for approval from DED
  • Get Initial Approval. You cannot proceed with the application without this approval
  • Sign the Memorandum of Association (MOA) from a Dubai notary public
    *This is done electronically now
  • Rent an office/warehouse and submit the tenancy contract along with the Ejari
  • Submit the Ejari and the tenancy contract to Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Department
  • Get additional approvals, if any
  • Collect the payment voucher
  • Make the total payment and collect the trade license

Sub-activities under Foodstuff Trading in Dubai

In addition to the main business activity of foodstuff trading, you can also add the following sub-activities to your trade license.

  • Egg Trading
  • Flour Trading
  • Ghee & Vegetable Oil Trading
  • Grains, Cereals & Legumes Trading
  • Ice Trading
  • Juice Trading
  • Mineral Water Trading
  • Potatoes Trading
  • Sugar Trading
  • Spices Trading
  • Snack Food Trading
  • Soft Drinks & Carbonated Water Trading
  • Fruits and Vegetables Trading

Role of Dubai Municipality

Dubai Municipality (DM) is the government agency whose Food Safety Department is responsible for inspections and regulation of best practices for foodstuff trading in Dubai. Therefore, every company trading foodstuff in Dubai must register with the Dubai Municipality.

If your company will be engaging in the import of foodstuff, you must conform to the following requirements by the Dubai Municipality Food Control department:

  • Register your company in the DM Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS) – This is to be able to apply for food import requests and to be able to follow up on the status of your import, from inspection to release
  • Acquire food label approval for all items that you will be importing – This is to confirm that your food labelling is in compliance with government standards to avoid rejection of the consignment
  • Register all food items in the DM Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS) before importing them
  • Obtain a FIT analysis result from the Dubai Central Food Laboratory – This is advisable for the food items you will be importing to specify whether the item is fit for human consumption

Role of Dubai Customs

Once you receive your trade license from DED, you will also have to register your foodstuff trading company with Dubai Customs for importation and exportation of foodstuff. You will receive a unique Customs Code upon registration which is necessary during the import-export process.

To gain further clarity on the various registration and import-export processes regarding foodstuff trading, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a business setup consultant. You can contact Shuraa Business Setup and speak with our experts for free to learn more about how you can start a foodstuff trading business in Dubai. Call us on +97144081900 or WhatsApp us on +971507775554. You may also email us at [email protected]/