Business Setup in Dubai

Step By Step Guide To Get a General Trading License in Dubai

Step By Step Guide To Get a General Trading License in Dubai

Step By Step Guide To Get a General Trading License in Dubai

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a general trading business in Dubai? Congratulations, you’re about to embark on an exciting journey! Dubai’s strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and business-friendly environment make it a prime destination for traders from around the globe. This comprehensive guide’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of obtaining a general trading license in Dubai, ensuring you’re well-equipped to navigate the regulatory landscape and kickstart your business venture.

Understand the Regulatory Landscape

Before diving into the licensing process, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Dubai’s business regulations. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the governing body responsible for issuing trade licenses. Research the requirements, restrictions, and fees of a general trading license.

Define Your Business Activities

Clearly outline the scope of your trading activities. General trading licenses in Dubai allow businesses to engage in a wide range of trading activities, from importing and exporting goods to distributing products. Ensure your business activities align with the license you’re applying for.

Choose a Business Structure

Select the appropriate business structure for your trading venture. You can opt for a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or branch of a foreign company. Each structure has legal and financial implications, so choose wisely based on your business goals.

Select a Trade Name

Choose a unique and memorable trade name for your business. Ensure it complies with Dubai’s naming guidelines and doesn’t violate trademarks. A compelling trade name can leave a lasting impression on potential customers.

Secure Premises

Identify a suitable location for your business activities. Depending on the nature of your trading business, you might need warehouse space, a storefront, or an office. The location should adhere to zoning regulations and be conducive to your operations.

Meet Legal Requirements

Complete all legal formalities, including drafting the Memorandum of Association (MOA) and obtaining initial approvals from relevant authorities. This step involves outlining the company’s ownership structure, capital investment, and distribution of profits and losses.

Apply for Initial Approval

Submit the necessary documents to the DED to obtain initial approval for your general trading license. These documents typically include your passport copy, proposed trade name, business plan, and lease agreement. The DED will review your application and provide feedback.

Lease Agreement

Having a valid lease agreement for your business premises is crucial. The agreement should comply with Dubai’s real estate regulations and cover the intended duration of your license.

External Approvals

Certain business activities require additional approvals from specific government departments or regulatory bodies. For instance, food-related businesses need approval from the Food Safety Department.

Obtain Your License

You can now apply for your general trading license upon fulfilling all the requirements and receiving the necessary approvals. The DED will review your application and, upon successful evaluation, issue your license.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated obtaining a general trading license in Dubai. Armed with your trading license, you’re ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey. Remember, every step you’ve taken brings you closer to realizing your business dreams. If you need expert guidance and assistance throughout this process, Make My Company is here to provide tailored solutions to make your business setup experience smooth and hassle-free. Good luck with your exciting venture in Dubai’s dynamic business landscape!

Q1: What is a general trading license in Dubai, and why do I need it?

A general trading license in Dubai allows you to engage in various trading activities, including importing, exporting, and distributing goods. It’s a legal requirement to operate a trading business in the city. This license legitimizes your business and grants you access to Dubai’s robust marketplace and global trade networks.

Q2: Can I apply for a general trading license as an individual, or do I need a local partner?

Yes, you can apply for a general trading license as an individual without needing a local partner. Dubai offers various business structures, including sole proprietorships, which allow full ownership by a single individual. However, if you opt for a company structure other than a sole proprietorship, you might need a local partner who holds a certain percentage of the company’s shares.

Q3: What are the key steps to obtain a general trading license?

The process involves several steps:

  • Research and Understanding: Familiarize yourself with Dubai’s business regulations, DED requirements, and trade activities allowed under the license.
  • Business Activities: Clearly define the scope of your trading activities and ensure they align with the license category.
  • Business Structure: Choose a suitable business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or branch.
  • Trade Name: Select a unique and compliant trade name for your business.
  • Premises: Secure appropriate premises that meet zoning and operational requirements.
  • Legal Formalities: Complete legal formalities, draft the MOA, and obtain initial approvals.
  • Initial Approval: Apply for initial approval with required documents like a passport copy, trade name, business plan, and lease agreement.
  • Lease Agreement: Ensure a valid lease agreement for your business premises.
  • External Approvals: Seek additional approvals if required by specific government departments.
  • License Application: Submit your application to the DED and await issuance of the trading license.

Q4: What documents are needed for the initial approval?

For the initial approval application, you’ll need documents like your passport copy, proposed trade name, business plan, and lease agreement. The business plan should outline your trading activities, financial projections, and operational strategies.

Q5: How long does obtaining a general trading license typically take?

The timeline can vary based on factors such as the complexity of your business activities, completeness of documentation, and DED processing times. On average, the process can take several weeks to a few months.

Q6: Are there any specific requirements for business premises?

Your business premises should align with the nature of your trading activities. It should adhere to zoning regulations and meet specific requirements set by relevant authorities. For example, a warehouse might have different requirements than a retail storefront.

Q7: Can I operate my business from a free zone with a general trading license?

Generally, trading licenses are issued by the DED and are valid for onshore operations. If you’re interested in operating from a free zone, you must obtain a license from the respective free zone authority, which might have different requirements and benefits.

Q8: What support services can a business setup consultancy provide during this process?

A business setup consultancy like Make My Company can offer various services, including guiding you through the setup process, assisting with documentation, liaising with government authorities, and ensuring compliance with regulations. They can streamline the process and help you make informed decisions.

Q9: Can I later add or change business activities under my general trading license?

Yes, you can apply to add or modify business activities under your general trading license after it’s been issued. This process involves submitting the necessary documents and obtaining approvals from relevant authorities.

Q10: How can I ensure my trading business complies with Dubai’s regulations post-license issuance?

Staying compliant requires ongoing effort. Regularly review regulation changes, renew licenses on time, maintain accurate records, adhere to tax obligations, and ensure transparent financial reporting. Consider seeking professional advice to ensure continuous compliance.

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