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The first official step in obtaining a new trade licence in Dubai is to reserve a trade name and obtain an initial approval from the Department of Economic Development. To reflect its persistent efforts to enhance the UAE’s top rankings in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report and promote the country as a globally-competitive business hub, the Department of Economic Development has expanded its e-Services window by offering these services through law firms in Dubai.

Unlike the rest of the official set up process, this step is the same for all business structures. The application for trade name approval can be completed online and a list of trade name restrictions and regulations can be found along with the online application. The costs for obtaining a trade name vary depending on the content and language of the name. The process is relatively straight forward – after filling out the online application or submitting the application in person to the DED, you will be given a date on which you can pick up the approval. All fees must be paid before the trade name approval certificate can be released.

Before you can apply for your license, you’ll need an initial approval certificate from the Dubai DED. Note that having an initial approval certificate simply means the Dubai authorities have no objection with you applying for a business license but this does not mean that your license will be approved.

You can apply online or at the counter at the DDED. If you are applying in person, you’ll need to book an appointment by calling the department. There is also the Fanar walk-in service that requires no appointment but costs an extra AED 500. If you already own a business in Dubai and are applying in person, you can book a VIP appointment here for an additional AED 1000.

You’ll need to gather the following:

Trade name Certificate (New trade license in Dubai, UAE)
Registration and Licensing Form, available online or at an enabled typing centre
Passport copies for all partners with visa details for all expat partners
Family book copies for all Emirati partners, if they do not already have business licenses
No Objection letters from the expat partners’ sponsors