DED Dubai: The Complete Guide to Issuing Your License in 5 Minutes
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: ensures the smooth workflow of the export sector supporting both buyers and suppliers
Dubai FDI: Dubai Foreign Direct Investment. This is the arm that guides and supports foreign companies looking to enter this market
- 3Dubai 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.
- 4Dubai Economy: this refers to the Dubai Competitiveness Office.
All in all, DED Dubai has 3 main goals:
- 1Support in achieving Dubai Governments vision and economic growth (for SMEs, exports, FDI, industrial sector and trade)
- 2Create a competitive investment landscape to attract both local and foreign investment
- 3Provide 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:
- 1Sole 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.
- 2LLC Single Owner: This can only be owned by UAE Nationals.
- 3Civil 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.
- 4LLC: 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.
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.
Legal Contract & Required documents
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:
Some business activities require approvals from other authorities too.
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 licence.
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:
These are documents you’ll need:
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?
Amendments include changes to:
Follow these 4 steps:
1: Apply for an amendment to the license
2: Obtain any external approvals if required from authorities other than DED Dubai
3: 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
4: 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
Then follow the same steps as above:
1: Apply for freezing the license at DED Dubai or an Authorized Service Provider
2: Obtain any external approvals as needed
3: Collect and submit required documents
4: 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.
The liquidator will go to the DED, apply for license cancellation and pay the required fees of AED 2,020.
They’ll receive a Certificate of Dissolution to go ahead with the liquidation process.
Now they can start to audit financials and settle outstanding payment collections and debts.
Liquidators need to be paid and the more work they have the higher the cost.
This alone set us back AED 9000 when we did our liquidation.
Liquidators then publish an announcement of liquidation in 2 arabic local newspapers.
The ad needs to be published for 1 day only but debtors are given 45 days to submit any claims for payment.
Clearly there’s a cost for this publication too.
See how the fees pile up if you’re not ready for it?
During The 45 day window
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)
- Receive cancellation approval from any other authorities if involved such as RTA and DHA
Note: the last 3 points also include fees to be paid.
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.
You can use the following channels to file complaints:
DED contact information
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.