A Brief Guideline for E-commerce License in Dubai

How to Apply for an E-commerce License in the UAE

The process of obtaining an e-commerce license may vary between jurisdictions within the UAE. This guide provides an overview of the necessary documentation and procedures for each step of the application process.

Step 1: Prepare the following details and documents

Before applying for your e-commerce license, ensure you have prepared the following:

  • Proposed company name
  • Intended business activity
  • Copies of your passport or visa/entry stamp
  • Share ratio of your company
  • Contact numbers, emails, and complete addresses of all company shareholders
  • Photos, if required by the free zone

Step 2: Liaise with your chosen free zone / mainland jurisdiction

After you have prepared all necessary documentation:

  • Submit your documents to the free zone or mainland jurisdiction of your choice.
  • Upon receiving your documents, your e-commerce license application will enter the stage of initial approval.
  • Most jurisdictions require pre-approval before issuing your license. The application process in free zones typically takes between 3 to 7 days, while in the mainland it can be processed on the same day or within 2 days.

Step 3: Wait for your documents to be released

Once your license is issued, digital copies of your documents will be sent to you. Some free zones may require original documents, which will be sent at a later date.

Step 4: Start your visa application

If the e-commerce license package you selected includes visa(s), the visa application process will begin after the immigration card has been issued.

Which Free Zones Offer an E-commerce License?

Several free zones in the UAE offer e-commerce licenses. Some of the top UAE free zones where you can apply for an e-commerce license include:

  • Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)

  • Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)

  • Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)

  • Sharjah Media City (SHAMS)

  • Dubai South

  • Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP)

  • Fujairah Creative City

What Are the Different Types of E-commerce Licenses in the Mainland?

If you are applying for a mainland e-commerce license, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the options provided by different mainland jurisdictions.

Dubai

The eTrader license, issued by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), enables entrepreneurs to conduct business activities via social media channels. Currently, the eTrader license is only available to UAE and GCC nationals living in Dubai. A general trading license, allowing online commercial activities, can also be obtained.

Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) issues the Tajer Abu Dhabi, an online trading license for UAE and GCC nationals. It permits adding online business activities to existing trade licenses, or obtaining a new license for online business activities.

Sharjah

Home-based and online businesses operating via social media channels can apply for the Eitimad license, issued by the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD). This license is available to UAE nationals living in Sharjah who are at least 18 years old.

Ras Al Khaimah

The Virtual Merchant License, launched by Ras Al Khaimah, allows entrepreneurs to conduct business activities online. This license covers activities such as online retail, IT, real estate brokerage, advisory/consultancy, and professional and information activities performed via technological channels.
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FAQ

Can You Get an E-commerce License from the Mainland?

Yes, you can! Mainland jurisdictions also provide e-commerce licenses, as discussed below.

How much does it cost to start an e-commerce company in the UAE?

The cost to start an e-commerce company can vary depending on your specific requirements. A basic business setup package can start from AED 5,500. However, the cost can increase depending on factors like needing office space or additional residence visas.

Which jurisdictions offer e-commerce licenses?

Many jurisdictions in the UAE offer e-commerce licenses. These include both free zones like the DMCC, DWTC, and Dubai South, as well as mainland jurisdictions like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.

What are the requirements for an e-commerce license?

To apply for an e-commerce license, you generally need to provide the following:

  • Proposed company name
  • Intended business activity
  • Copies of your passport or visa/entry stamp
  • Share ratio of your company
  • Contact information and addresses for all company shareholders
  • Photos, if required by the free zone

How long does the application process take?

The length of the application process can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In free zones, it generally takes between 3 to 7 days. In the mainland, it can be processed on the same day or within 2 days.

Can non-UAE residents apply for an e-commerce license?

It depends on the jurisdiction and type of license. For instance, the eTrader license in Dubai is currently only available to UAE and GCC nationals living in Dubai. However, other jurisdictions and license types may allow non-residents to apply.

Are there any restrictions on the type of business activities that can be conducted with an e-commerce license?

Business activities may be restricted depending on the specific license and jurisdiction. It’s best to check with the relevant authority or a business setup consultant to ensure your intended activities are permitted.

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