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Your Guide to the General Trading License in Dubai, UAE (2024)

Table of Contents


Dreaming of establishing a thriving trading business in Dubai? Look no further than the General Trading License in Dubai, your gateway to importing, exporting, and distributing a diverse range of goods within the UAE and beyond. This comprehensive guide, updated for 2024, equips you with the knowledge and insights to navigate the licensing process confidently.

Unpacking the Essentials: What is General Trading?

Think beyond brick-and-mortar stores. A General Trading License empowers you to engage in a vast array of commercial activities, including:

  • Import and export of goods: Source products from anywhere in the world and distribute them domestically or internationally.

  • Wholesale and retail trade: Sell goods in bulk to other businesses or directly to consumers.

  • Trading of diverse commodities: Deal in anything from electronics and apparel to food and furniture, subject to specific regulations.

Demystifying the Difference: General Trading vs. Trade License

While similar, these licenses have distinct purposes:

  • General Trading License: Offers broader flexibility, allowing you to trade multiple unrelated goods under one license.

  • Trade License: Focused on a specific activity or product category, such as foodstuff trade or construction materials.

Decoding the Cost:

The cost of your General Trading License varies based on several factors:

  • Business setup location: Mainland, Free Zone, or Offshore Zone each have different fee structures.

  • Company structure: LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc., can impact fees.

  • Visa requirements: The number of visas needed for employees can influence costs.

Expect a range of AED 15,000 to AED 50,000 or more. Remember, additional expenses like office space and legal fees may apply.

Activities Permitted under a Dubai General Trading License

Required Documents for General Trading License in Dubai

Whether you’re a UAE resident or not, be prepared to gather:

  • Personal documents: Passport copies, visas, Emirates ID (if applicable).

  • Business documents: Business plan, MOA, trade name reservation certificate, lease agreement (Mainland & Offshore), bank reference letter.

  • Additional documents: Depending on your specific activities, additional permits or approvals might be required.

Obtaining your General Trading License in Dubai requires presenting specific documents to the relevant authorities. The exact list may vary depending on your business location and structure, but here’s a comprehensive overview of essential items to have ready:

Essential Documentation:

  • Business Plan: This is your roadmap, outlining your business activities, goals, and financial projections. Ensure it’s detailed, realistic, and persuasive.

  • Shareholder & Director Details: Passport copies of all involved individuals, their visa pages, and Emirates IDs (if applicable).

  • No Objection Certificate (NOC): If any shareholders/directors are employed in the UAE, an NOC from their current employer is required.

  • Proof of Address: Utility bills, rental agreements, or other documents verifying the residential addresses of all stakeholders.

  • Memorandum of Association (MOA): This formal document clearly defines your business activities and objectives.

  • Trade Name Reservation Certificate: Secure a certificate confirming your chosen business name is available for use.

  • Lease Agreement: For Mainland and Offshore licenses, a physical office space lease agreement is mandatory.

  • Bank Reference Letter: Obtain a letter from your bank confirming the good financial standing of your shareholders and directors.

Remember: This is not an exhaustive list. Additional documents or permits might be necessary based on your specific activities. The Department of Economic Development (DED) or your chosen Free Zone authority can guide specific requirements.

Pro Tip:

Consulting with a business setup consultant can significantly simplify the process and ensure you have all the necessary documents in order. Their expertise can save you time, effort, and potential delays.


Start assembling your toolkit today and get ready to unlock the exciting world of trade in Dubai!

Eligibility Criteria for a Dubai General Trading License

Aspiring to embark on your trading journey in Dubai? Securing a General Trading License is your key to success. But before taking the leap, understanding the eligibility criteria is crucial. Let’s demystify the essential requirements:

1. Local Presence:

  • Physical office space: Dubai or Free Zone location is mandatory, demonstrating commitment and local ties.

  • Local sponsor or partner: Foreign ownership requires a resident sponsor holding at least 51% shares, ensuring local knowledge and compliance.

2. Financial Requirements:

  • Minimum share capital: The amount varies based on your chosen license type and location. Mainland licenses typically require higher capital compared to Free Zones. Ensure you meet this threshold before applying.

Additional Considerations:

  • Business activities: Your intended trading activities should fall within the permissible scope of a General Trading License. Specific items or industries might require additional permits.

  • Legal structure: Choose a suitable legal structure like LLC or Sole Proprietorship, each with its own eligibility requirements.

  • Visa requirements: Depending on your setup and employee needs, securing relevant visas becomes part of the eligibility equation.

Remember, eligibility is just the first step. Gathering the necessary documents, meeting location-specific regulations, and navigating application procedures are crucial aspects of securing your license.


With thorough preparation and expert guidance, obtaining your Dubai General Trading License becomes a clear path to achieving your trading ambitions

Unlock Expansive Trade with a Dubai General Trading License: Benefits and Options

The General Trading License in Dubai empowers you to navigate the UAE’s dynamic commercial landscape with remarkable flexibility. Let’s explore the key benefits and different license types to guide your informed decision:


  • Diversify your portfolio: Trade a wide range of products without limitations, allowing you to adapt to market trends and customer demands.

  • Maximize your reach: Access the entire UAE market, opening doors to a diverse and affluent consumer base.

  • Expand globally: Connect with international markets by leveraging Dubai’s strategic location and trade agreements.

  • Streamlined setup: Experience a relatively efficient application process with reduced paperwork compared to other license types.

  • Free Zone potential: Consider Free Zone licenses to easy setup, eased visa requirements, and specialized infrastructure depending on your industry.

License Types:

  • Mainland License: Issued by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), this license grants access to the entire UAE market and requires a physical office space. Ideal for businesses targeting the local market and seeking broader reach.

  • Free Zone License: Offered by various Free Zones within Dubai, these licenses provide tax benefits, modern infrastructure, and specialized support for specific industries. Suitable for businesses seeking international expansion and industry-specific advantages.

  • Offshore License: Issued by designated Offshore Zones, these licenses allow international trade and financial activities but restrict local market operations. Best for businesses focusing solely on international trade and asset management.

Tailoring your choice:


The ideal license type depends on your specific business objectives, target market, and industry-specific needs. Considering factors like desired market access, tax implications, and operational requirements will help you make an informed decision. Consulting with business setup experts can ensure you select the most suitable license and navigate the application process smoothly

Steps to Obtain a Dubai General Trading License in 2024

The vibrant commercial landscape of Dubai beckons ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to establish their General Trading ventures. To guide you seamlessly through the 2024 licensing process, let’s unpack the key steps:

1. Select your License:

  • Mainland License: Offers access to the entire UAE market, requiring a physical office space. Ideal for businesses targeting local consumers and wider reach.

  • Free Zone License: Grants tax benefits and specialized infrastructure within designated zones like JAFZA or Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). Perfect for companies seeking international expansion or industry-specific advantages.

  • Offshore License: Allows international trade and financial activities but restricts local market operations. Best suited for businesses solely focused on global trade and asset management.

2. Secure a Unique Name:

  • Choose a distinct and available business name.

  • Obtain a Trade Name Reservation Certificate from the Department of Economic Development (DED).

3. Prepare Your Paperwork:

  • Application form: Ensure accuracy and completeness.

  • Shareholder and director details: Passport copies, visas, Emirates IDs (if applicable).

  • No Objection Certificate (NOC): Required if shareholders/directors are employed locally.

  • Bank reference letter: Demonstrates financial standing.

  • Lease agreement: Proof of physical office space (Mainland & Offshore).

  • Memorandum of Association (MOA): Outlines business activities and objectives.

  • Business plan: A comprehensive roadmap for your venture.

4. Navigate Fees:

  • Registration fee: Mandatory for all licenses.

  • Trade name fee: Secure your chosen name.

  • License fee: Varies based on chosen license type and location.

5. Achieve Initial Approval:

  • Submit your application and documents to the DED or relevant Free Zone authority.

  • Await their review and receive initial approval.

6. Secure Office Space (if applicable):

  • Mainland & Offshore: Rent a DED-compliant physical office.

  • Free Zone: Opt for a virtual office or physical space within the designated zone.

7. Finalize the Process:

  • Submit any additional documents requested.

  • Pay any remaining fees.

  • Celebrate obtaining your official General Trading License!

Remember: While this provides a general overview, consulting business setup experts ensures smooth sailing through specific requirements and nuances.

Activities Permitted under a Dubai General Trading License

Activities Permitted under a Dubai General Trading License

How LFL Group Can Secure Your Dubai General Trading License

Launching your trading venture in Dubai holds immense potential, but navigating the licensing process can seem daunting. That’s where LFL Group steps in, your trusted partner for acquiring your General Trading License and unlocking limitless possibilities.

Here’s how LFL empowers you:

1. Expert Guidance: Our team of seasoned professionals demystifies the licensing procedure, explaining different options like Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore Licenses, and guiding you towards the one that best aligns with your business goals and industry.

2. Streamlined Documentation: No more paperwork headaches! We help you gather and prepare all the required documents, ensuring accuracy and compliance with DED regulations. This includes your business plan, MOA, lease agreement, and other essential paperwork.

3. Efficient Applications: Leave the application process to us. We’ll meticulously fill out forms, handle submissions, and follow up with authorities, ensuring a smooth and timely completion.

4. Local Knowledge: Dubai’s regulations can be nuanced. Our local expertise guarantees you navigate regulatory hurdles efficiently and avoid potential delays.

5. Cost Optimization: We understand budgets matter. We’ll explore cost-effective licensing options and advise on potential exemptions or fee reductions you might qualify for.

6. Ongoing Support: Your journey doesn’t end with the license. We offer ongoing support for visa processing, business setup, and compliance, ensuring your venture thrives in the long run.

Your Trusted Partner in Dubai:

LFL Group isn’t just a service provider; we’re your trusted partner in achieving your Dubai trading aspirations. Our proven track record of success, industry expertise, and personalized approach ensure you navigate the journey with confidence.

Ready to unlock your trading potential in Dubai? Contact LFL Group today for a free consultation and let’s turn your dream into a reality!



Empower your trading ambitions with a Dubai General Trading License, seamlessly secured by LFL Group. Navigate the process with confidence, optimize your costs, and unlock a world of opportunities. Contact us today and pave the way for your trading success in the dynamic landscape of Dubai.

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Anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit and the right qualifications can apply! As long as you meet the eligibility criteria set by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and can comply with their regulations, you're good to go. This includes both individuals and companies.

Choosing the right license type is crucial! In Dubai, the main options are:

● Mainland License: Grants access to the entire UAE market, but requires a physical office space. Ideal for businesses targeting local consumers and wider reach.

● Free Zone License: Offers tax benefits and specialized infrastructure within designated zones like Jebel Ali or DMCC. Perfect for international expansion or industry-specific needs.

● Offshore License: Allows international trade and financial activities, but restricts local market operations. Best suited for businesses solely focused on global trade and asset management.

The specific requirements might vary depending on your chosen license, but some essentials include:

● Passport copies of shareholders and directors

● Detailed business plan

● Memorandum of Association (MOA) outlining your activities

● Lease agreement for your physical office space (Mainland & Offshore)

● Bank reference letter demonstrating financial stability

Patience is key! Processing times can vary based on your chosen license and location. Typically, you can expect:

● 5-7 business days for Mainland and Offshore Licenses

● 3-5 business days for Free Zone Licenses

Absolutely! Remember, it's an annual process. Just ensure you're compliant with regulations and pay the necessary fees.

Yes, but there might be consequences. Submit a request to the relevant authorities, but know that canceling before the validity period ends could incur penalties.

Sorry, but this license is strictly for Dubai! If you want to expand to other Emirates, you'll need to obtain additional licenses for each one.