travel agency in dubai

How to start a travel agency in Dubai, UAE?

The UAE is among one of the world’s most alluring and enticing country for tourists to visit. It has attracted millions of tourists on a yearly basis and that number is soaring on to great heights with time. Now since the tourist number is on the course to hit the government’s Tourism Vision 2020 target of 20 million visitors to Dubai alone, it’s an ideal time for you to set up a travel agency business in the UAE. Official statistics predict tourism will be worth AED 116bn by 2027 – that’s 5.4% of UAE GDP – directly or indirectly supporting over 750,000 jobs.

The sector is tightly synchronised, so if you’re confused about how to open a travel agency in Dubai whilst complying with the rules, advice from our specialists can save you from high-budget extravagant headaches of setting up travel agency business, down the line.

Process for setting up a travel agency in Dubai:

1. Establish your business activity:

The first step is for you to decide exactly what sort of business activity you want to conduct; will you specialise as a travel agency business, an inbound tour operator or an outbound operator? There are plenty of activities to choose from across all the different markets you could carry out.

2. Choose a company name:

Before deciding with any name, you should get familiar with the rules; words such as ‘global’, ‘international’, ‘East’ or ‘West’ are acceptable but can sustain extra fees, and several restrictions would apply.

For example, offensive words are judiciously forbidden, like God’s name, either in English or Arabic.

3. Apply for a business license:

In Dubai, trade or business licenses (commercial, professional, industrial and tourism) are issued by the DED. All companies, regardless of sector, should atleast have a trade license. The application usually requires your memorandum of association (depending on the legal form of your business), certificate of incorporation and shareholder passport copies.

Certain sectors demand additional licenses from relevant issuing authorities, and in the case of tourism, it’s the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

4. Apply for your tourism license:

Your next will be applying to the DTCM for one of those three additional licenses: outbound operator, inbound operator or travel agent.

You’ll need an outline of your business plan, a clean criminal record certificate and, a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority (if you plan to sell airline tickets), for starting a travel agency in Dubai. Furthermore, this must be renewed annually 30 days before expiry.

5. Set up employee visas:

Be sure to apply within 30 days of an employee’s entry into the country, and soon you would receive a tourist visa.

Simply register on the Ministry of Interior’s e-channels portal for staff entry permit. Once issued, employees can perform an ‘in-country status change’ to activate that entry permit, a difficult step in getting a full employment visa.

You’ll need your trade license, passport copies, and establishment card – a service that files your company with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). Remember, it’s also your responsibility to obtain ‘OK to Board’ approval prior to inbound travel for employees from the South Asian subcontinent.

6. Open a corporate bank account:

No bank will recognise your business without a trade license but select your bank wisely; a poor choice may become a bad decision for your travel agency business.

Most will require a continuous minimum balance, ranging between AED 1 million to just AED5,000. Additionally, some need proof of residency status for at least one of the shareholder’s whilst others don’t.

Why it pays to use a company formation expert

Company formation specialists can save you time making sure you have all the right paperwork. Some banks may require business plans and reference letters from business partners. However, most will ask for your trade license, a board of directors’ resolution and a copy of the company’s memorandum and articles of association.

Smooth processes for travel agency business save time and money.

Six important steps can set you on course to establishing a successful travel agency business. However, they require substantial paperwork and plenty of hidden traps. Can you afford to get it wrong? Setting up your own business has never been easier. SHURAA BUSINESS SETUP takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business.

For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +97144081900 or WhatsApp on +971507775554. You can also drop an email on

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