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Obtaining a trade license is a crucial step for anyone looking to start a business in Abu Dhabi. A trade license is a legal document that allows individuals or companies to conduct business activities within a specific jurisdiction. Having a trade license in Abu Dhabi is not only a legal requirement but also essential for establishing credibility and trust with customers and partners.

Abu Dhabi has been an ideal destination for business owners as well as aspiring entrepreneurs from across the world. Thanks to the affordable cost of getting a trade license in Abu Dhabi.

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi is a wise option for companies as it is one of the most affordable Emirates for commercial activities. The trade licenses in the Abu Dhabi Mainland are regulated by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) with a validity of one year.

In this article, we will explore in detail the types of business licenses in Abu Dhabi, the documents required, and the approximate prices as well as the process involved in company registration in Abu Dhabi.

Types of Trade Licenses in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi offers various business licenses to businesses based on their nature and activities. Here are the main types of trade licenses available:

1. Commercial License

This is the most common type of license, and it is required for businesses that are involved in trading activities, such as the buying, selling, and distribution of goods. This includes businesses that import and export goods and those that sell them retail or wholesale.

2. Industrial License

This license is required for businesses that are involved in manufacturing activities. This includes businesses that produce goods from raw materials and businesses that assemble goods from pre-made components.

3. Professional License

This license is required for businesses that provide professional services, such as consulting, accounting, legal services, and healthcare.

4. Tourism License

This license is required for businesses involved in the tourism industry, such as hotels, travel agencies, and restaurants.

The type of license that you need will depend on the nature of your business. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for issuing all trade licenses in Abu Dhabi. Additionally, businesses may need to obtain special permits or approvals from other relevant authorities depending on their specific activities.

We recommend consulting with business setup experts at Shuraa to determine which license and approvals you need for your business setup in Abu Dhabi.

The E-commerce License (Tajer Abu Dhabi)

Tajer Abu Dhabi, also known as the Abu Dhabi Trader License, is a special type of trade license issued by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) specifically designed for e-commerce businesses.

  • Unlike the general trade licenses, Tajer Abu Dhabi addresses businesses that operate online to allow them to conduct business through websites and social media platforms.
  • A major benefit of this license is that you don’t need to have a physical store or office space to obtain it. This makes it attractive for startups, small businesses, and freelancers who operate virtually.
  • While Tajer Abu Dhabi allows for e-commerce activities, it’s not for all business types. There are business activities listed eligible for this license.
  • Initially restricted to UAE nationals for specific activities, the program has broadened. Now, GCC nationals and UAE residents can apply under various legal structures.

Documents Required to Get a Trade License in Abu Dhabi

The exact documents required to get a trade license in Abu Dhabi can vary depending on your specific business setup, but here’s a general list of common requirements:

  • Certificate of trade name
  • Copies of passports and visas (for all shareholders)
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA) (Only applicable if you have a local sponsor)
  • Copy of your UAE residency permit
  • Bank letter
  • Tenancy contract
  • Ejari attestation
  • Additional documents (depending on your situation)
document required for trade license

How to Get a Trade License in Abu Dhabi?

Obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi involves several steps, including:

1. Choose Your Business Activity and Legal Structure

Identify the specific activities your business will undertake. There are various categories with numerous sub-activities.

Decide on your business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or a branch of a foreign company. Each has its own requirements and implications.

2. Reserve a Trade Name

Pick a unique and appropriate trade name for your business that complies with DED guidelines. You can submit a reservation application online or through DED service centers.

3. Secure a Physical Office Space (Unless Applying for a Tajer License)

For most licenses, you’ll need to acquire physical office space in Abu Dhabi. Secure a tenancy contract and be prepared to present it during the application process. (Not required for Tajer Abu Dhabi e-commerce license).

4. Apply for the Trade License

Submit your completed application form, along with the required documents and fees, to the Abu Dhabi DED. Depending on your business activity, you might need to obtain specific permits, certifications, or approvals from other government entities.

5. Secure Business Location

Lease a commercial space suitable for your business operations. Obtain the tenancy contract and have it attested by the relevant authorities.

6. Final Trade License Issuance

After fulfilling all the requirements and approvals, the DED will issue your official trade license, allowing you to operate your business legally in Abu Dhabi.

Consider consulting with business setup specialists in Abu Dhabi at Shuraa Business Setup for guidance throughout the process.

Instant Trade License in Abu Dhabi

  • Any interested parties, including residents and visitors and avail instant trade license facility in Abu Dhabi
  • The small business license in Abu Dhabi allows a combination of trading as well as professional and service-oriented business activities
  • More than 2,500 activities qualify for instant trade license in Abu Dhabi without having an office space for the first year of business
  • The license comes with a default visa quota for up to three employees
  • You do not need to obtain an NOC from current visa sponsor to apply for instant business license
  • You can get the instant license in Abu Dhabi in just one working day

Why Get Abu Dhabi Business License?

There are several compelling reasons to acquire a trade license in Abu Dhabi if you’re planning to operate a business there.

1. Legality and Recognition

A trade license acts as a legal permit, authorizing you to conduct business activities within Abu Dhabi. It signifies your compliance with local regulations and establishes your business as legitimate.

2. Business Setup and Operations

The trade license in Abu Dhabi serves as a foundational permit to allow you to establish your business presence and conduct commercial activities within the emirate.

3. Access to Market Opportunities

With a license, you gain access to Abu Dhabi’s thriving market and its potential customer base. This opens doors to conducting business and generating revenue.

4. Investor Confidence

For businesses aiming to attract investors, possessing a trade license demonstrates seriousness and adherence to regulations. This can be a crucial factor in securing investment opportunities.

5. Banking and Financial Services

Securing a trade license can simplify opening business bank accounts and accessing financial services necessary for operating your business.

What is the Cost of Obtaining Abu Dhabi Trade License?

The Abu Dhabi Trade License cost generally ranges from AED 10,000 to AED 30,000. However, you should know that the overall cost of obtaining a trade license isn’t fixed and can vary depending on several factors:

Cost of Obtaining Abu Dhabi Trade License

1. Type of License

There are different licenses for various business activities (commercial, industrial, professional, etc.), and each might have its own fee structure.

2. Legal Structure

The legal structure you choose for your business (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.) can influence license fees.

3. Business Activity 

The specific activities your business engages in may affect the applicable fees.

4. Location

The location of your business (specific areas within Abu Dhabi) might have slight variations in fees.

5. Tenancy Cost (except for Instant License)

For most licenses, you’ll need physical office space and a tenancy contract. The cost will vary depending on location and office size.  This can be a significant cost factor, but the instant license eliminates this upfront requirement.

Shuraa professionals can guide you through the process, estimate costs based on your requirements, and potentially help optimize your application for cost-effectiveness.

How to Add Activity in Trade License Abu Dhabi

Adding activities to your existing trade license in Abu Dhabi involves a few steps. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

1. Gather Required Documents

  • Application form for amending a trade license
  • Copy of your current trade license and registration certificate
  • Completed business license amendment application
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) from relevant government entities if your new activities require them (e.g., Department of Health for medical services).
  • Proof of your company’s good standing (financial statements etc., may vary).

2. Initial Approval

Submit your application and required documents to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant authority that issued your original license. Await DED’s initial review and approval to proceed with adding the activities.

3. Secure Approvals from Other Entities (if applicable)

Depending on the new activities you wish to add, you might need specific permits or approvals from other government departments. DED will guide you in this aspect.

4. Pay Applicable Fees

Once approved, settle any fees associated with amending your trade license.

5. Collect Your Updated Trade License

Upon successful completion of the process and payment of dues, you’ll receive your updated trade license reflecting the newly approved activities.

Simplify Your Abu Dhabi Company Formation with Shuraa

Getting a trade license in Abu Dhabi is a key step if you want to start a business here. It makes your business legal and gives you access to many benefits, like signing contracts and growing in a strong economy. The process can seem complicated with all the steps and documents needed, but it’s worth it for the success and growth of your business.

To make it easier, consider getting help from Shuraa Business Setup. Our experts can guide you through the entire process, from registering your company and getting the trade license to handling paperwork, visa help, office space, and more.

To speak to our corporate legal advisors for free, contact us today at +971 44081900 WhatsApp us at +971 507775554 or drop an email at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a physical office to get a trade license in Abu Dhabi?

Not necessarily. The instant trade license option allows you to obtain a license initially without physical space. However, a regular trade license typically requires proof of a commercial office lease agreement.

2. What are the steps to renew a trade license in Abu Dhabi?

You need to review your tenancy contract, attain approvals from various administrative authorities, and file your renewal application. Once you’re done with these steps, simply pay the Abu Dhabi trade license renewal fee from the payment voucher.

3. How can I get a trade license in Abu Dhabi?

You can follow the below-mentioned process to obtain an Abu Dhabi business license:

  • Choose the license type
  • Enlist the business activities
  • Pick a legal structure
  • Register a trading name for your venture
  • Submit your application for initial approval by the DED
  • Find a local sponsor
  • Sign a Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Find a location to incorporate your business and secure a tenancy contract
  • Obtain Trade License

4. How long does it take to get a trade license in Abu Dhabi?

The processing time can vary depending on the complexity of your application.  A regular license can take 4-6 weeks, while the instant license can be issued on the same day if submitted during working hours.

5. What happens if I don’t renew my trade license?

Operating a business with an expired trade license is illegal and can result in fines and penalties. It’s crucial to renew your license before its expiry date to maintain legal compliance.

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