July 1

DED Dubai: The Complete Guide to Issuing Your License in 5 Minutes

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Awad Makkawi

This article will cover all you need to know in one spot to get your business up and running and provide useful info fast on how DED Dubai can help.


A quick look into DED and what you can expect from them.

About DED - Department of Economic Development in Dubai?

DED is the government body that's tasked with improving Dubai’s business environment and accelerating Dubai’s economic growth.

It’s the “engine behind Dubai’s economy”.

And is made up of 4 agencies:

  • Dubai Exports: how often will you be in touch? Is it a daily 5 minute call, is it every 2 days, once a week, longer? How often will you have in person meetings for updates and project review?Think of it this way: If the marketing company you hire is to be seen as a partner and extension of your team, then ask yourself how often would you communicate with your team?
  • Dubai FDI: Dubai Foreign Direct Investment. This is the arm that guides and supports foreign companies looking to enter this market
  • Dubai SME: Created to support the growing startup and sme (small and medium enterprise sectors. Currently the UAE has the most active startup sector across MENA.
  • Dubai Economy: This refers to the Dubai Competitiveness Office.

Clarifying these points will set expectations and lay the ground work for accountability from both sides.

If the agreed communication process is not met, then at least you both know where you stand and quick, data driven decisions can be taken regarding whether the relationship proceeds or ends.

DED Goals

All in all, DED Dubai has 3 main goals:

  • Support in achieving Dubai Governments vision and economic growth (for SMEs, exports, FDI, industrial sector and trade)
  • Create a competitive investment landscape to attract both local and foreign investment
  • Provide an environment that encourages creativity and business happiness. This includes regulating business activities, simplifying processes, healthy business sustainability, future forward policies and legislation.

In addition, DED Dubai is also the government body responsible for regulating economic activity of all businesses in the mainland i.e. Outside of Freezones.

This includes business registration sector, corporate strategy sector, commercial compliance and consumer protection.

Now let’s get into the nuts and bolts of all you need to know to get your business setup in the mainland.

Your DED Legal Entity

First things first:

License activities are broken down into 3 categories: Commercial, Industrial and Professional.

And there are 16 types of Legal entities that can be started:

For startups in Dubai, understanding your Legal entity is essential for your Cap Tables and Share Distribution especially if you are considering raising funding in the future.

There are 4 options of legal forms when using the DED Instant License application:

  • Sole proprietorship: This can only be owned by a UAE or GCC National if the License Activity is Commercial or Industrial. If a License activity is Professional, the owner can be a non-UAE National. The owner will require a UAE National as a Local Service Agent (LSA) and to provide evidence of qualification for the activity selected.
  • LLC Single Owner: This can only be owned by UAE Nationals.
  • Civil Company: Is a business partnership for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and engineers. If the owner is a non UAE or GCC National, a local service Agent is required.
  • LLC: Must have a minimum of 2 shareholders with one being a UAE National and a minimum of 51% of the company owned by the UAE partner. The capital requirement for an LLC must be mentioned in the MOA. Shares cannot be offered to the public.

With that covered, lets jump into the actual process to get your DED license issued online.

How To Login And Use DED Dubai Online Services?

In the navigation bar of the DED homepage click on "Our Services".

Hit Login to enter.

For the video we used a Guest Login but you’ll need to
create a DubaiID to issue your license.

If you want to test the Guest login, click OTP (one time password) and you’ll get a text message with a password.

Enter the password.

Once you’re in, there’s a huge number of e-services that you can use online from the convenience of your device without having to visit DED premises in person.

Take a look below:

Next is to figure out license costs to decide whether this is feasible for your business.

Estimated License Costs

Use the DED cost simulator to get an estimate of license costs.

Click on the Enquiries tab and open “Estimated Cost to Issue License”.

Follow the instructions, enter business activity and partner info to get an idea of the fees to issue your license.

Costs will vary based on license activity but to be on the safe side you can estimate in the region of AED 15K - 20K excluding other costs such as Labor cards and visas.

The market fee is 2.5% of the office rental amount whereas for the DED Dubai instant licenses it's fixed at AED 3000.

Below is a video running through how to do this:

If the numbers work for you then it's time to issue your license online.

The Step By Step Process To Issue Your New Instant DED License

License issuance used to be a difficult, time consuming process.

Now this can be done online in 5 minutes flat and doesn’t require a registered office address or a
Memorandum of Association (MOA) for the first year.

Note: you'll need to provide these documents when renewing the license for the second year. Also, uploading the MOA or Local Service Agent Agreement at the time of renewal will be more expensive than producing these documents from the start.

Check out this quick demo for getting started with your instant license:

You can either check which activity your business falls under as shown in the video.


Use this list of all
 2000+ activities with their activity number to make things simpler.

Also, some license activities have further requirements.

For example:

Certain Consultancy
licenses require an exam to be taken with AUD.

In such cases the system prompts you for this requirement before you can proceed with having the license issued.

Next up:

The documents you need depend on the type of Legal Entity you're starting.

To support with getting started quickly, Instant Licenses do not need any documents.

However, you will have to provide proper business documentation down the line.

Here’s a list of
all the documents needed categorized per legal entity.

No more back and forth confusion on what’s required 🙂

In general, these are the minimum requirements:

  • Passport and visa copy: Of all partners
  • Emirates ID: Of all partners
  • NOC: From Local Service Agent (Sponsor) if applicable
  • Signed MOA: This can either be the eMOA generated online by DED or it can be prepared for you by a registered Legal Firm, DED Legal Department or the Notary Public. The MOA will include the share distribution and company capital (although the minimum capital is not specified, market practice is often AED 300K for an LLC). Once ready, all partners meet at the Notary Public to sign the agreement and have it attested. If the Notary finds mistakes in the MOA regarding any laws and regulations you will be asked to make the amendments before signature and attestation. That’s why it’s strongly urged to have it created with a law firm rather than wasting time making corrections.

Further Approvals

Some business activities require approvals from other authorities too.

For example:

A healthcare related business may require approval from
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) along with DED.

Such authorities have their own documentation and fee requirements as well.

Print Voucher, Payment Options and Receipt

Payment is the final step before receiving your license.

After verifying your application, you’ll receive a payment voucher.

If you decide to pay later:

You have 30 days to complete the payment through any of the available
payment options here.

Renewing Your License With DED Dubai

It's a simple and straightforward process:

  • Login to DED
  • Select eServices
  • Click Renew license
  • Enter your license number
  • Hit renew and pay required fees

These are documents you’ll need:

  • Valid Tenancy and Ejari contract for your office
  • Signed and attested MOA
  • ​Current license to be renewed
  • Any extra approvals from other authorities such as DHA, RTA TRA etc as mentioned earlier

DED Dubai have also introduced an SMS Auto renewal system.

Send an SMS to 6969 with your license number.

If all the above documents are in order, the renewal fees will be auto generated and the payment invoice will be sent to the registered mobile and email of the license to proceed with payment via any of the available channels.

How To Amend Your DED Dubai License?

Applications for License amendments must be done in DED offices or at an authorized service provider such as Tas-Heel.

​Amendments include changes to:

  • ​Add/Remove a business activity
  • ​Local Service Agent
  • ​Partnership share distribution
  • Add/Remove a Partner
  • Business location
  • Trade Name
  • Company Manager

Then follow the same steps as above:

  • ​Apply for an amendment to the license
  • ​Obtain any external approvals if required from authorities other than DED Dubai
  • ​Prepare updated documents such as amended and attested MOA, No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Sponsor, Partner passports, visas and Emirates ID copies, Valid Tenancy Contract and Ejari etc
  • Pay license amendment fees and obtain amended license.

​Typically, costs for amendments range between AED 1000 - 3000.

How To Cancel Your DED Dubai License And Close Business?

​Not a pleasant thought but still it's information that I wish I'd known when we had to shut down one of our trading businesses a few years ago.

The reason is that closing a business involves unforeseen costs and time constraints.

So better safe than sorry.

Freezing Your Business License


Know that you can freeze your business license for up to 3 years for around AED 2000.

To do this, you’ll need the following when applying to freeze the license:

> Letter from owner/manager stating request for freezing the license and reason for it
> Proof of cancellation of staff Labor Cards from Ministry of Labor

Ministry of Labor Homepage

​Then follow the same steps as above:

  • ​Apply for freezing the license at DED Dubai or an Authorized Service Provider
  • ​Obtain any external approvals as needed
  • ​Collect and submit required documents
  • Pay fees

Canceling Your Business License

Appoint a registered auditor to liquidate the company.

This starts with a letter from partners or board members stating that the company is to be liquidated and state the name of the appointed liquidator company.

With this letter, the Liquidator can act on your behalf.

From here, cancellation is broken down to 2 stages.

Stage 1

The following needs to be done:

  • ​Staff must be notified of liquidation
  • ​Bank account closure
  • ​Establishment card, Visas and labor cards to be cancelled (including partners)
  • Any outstanding payments to be settled (eg. staff, rent, utilities and other liabilities)

Note: the last 3 points also include fees to be paid.

Stage 2

​Once all the above is resolved, the liquidators provide their Final Declaration Report.

Which is their report stating that all required elements for cancellation are complete.


They return to the DED Offices, submit all the documents, pay remaining deregistration fees of AED 3,020 to DED and obtain a Certificate of Deregistration confirming that the license has been canceled.

DED Complaints

You can use the following channels to file complaints:

DED Contact Information

  • Main office contact number: 00971 4 44 55 555
  • Email:
  • Location: Business Village, Deira, Dubai
  • Timing: 7:30am to 2:30pm Sunday to Thursday

If you visit the DED office in Business Village, you'll find the Instant License office as soon as you enter Block A.

You can also visit official DED service providers if you prefer.

To do so, here’s the
list of approved vendors that can help you out.

Anything missed or further information you’d like to know regarding the DED?

Let me know in the comments.

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