Step-By-Step Guide to Start a General Trading Company in Dubai

Dubai is a global business hub offering tons of opportunities for different trade activities in the UAE. It is one of the favorite places in the world among entrepreneurs and magnates to start a new business with easy rules, regulations, and taxation policies. You can set up any kind of business, company, or trading activity. Because of its strategic position and sea route connectivity, Dubai is known for trading businesses for establishing trading businesses with maximum returns.



In the UAE, there are multiple trading options available for starting a new business, but starting a general trading company in Dubai can be a valuable investment in the country. If you are starting a business in Dubai, you need to apply for a trade license. A general trading license in Dubai allows you to conduct export as well and import activities in various sectors like clothing, furniture, electronics, accessories, etc. A general trading license covers it all apart from a few exceptions of products such as alcohol, cars, guns, and medical goods.

To set up a general trading company in Dubai, you need to follow the proper procedures to establish a legal company and operations. Here’s the step by step guide on getting a general trading license in Dubai.

Make a business plan

The first and the most important part is to decide on what kind of business and trade activities you want to set up. You need to prepare a full-fledged business plan before applying for a general trade license in Dubai. Your business plan should cover all the factors including:

  • Market
  • Products and activities
  • Office space requirement
  • Total number of employees
  • Initial investment
  • Investors and financing
  • Marketing tactics
  • Competitors

Choose appropriate jurisdiction

Once you are ready with your business plan, it’s time to find out the right jurisdiction and location to set up your business. In Dubai, the market is classified into three jurisdictions for different kinds of activities and operations:

  • Free zones
  • Offshore
  • Mainland

Setting up a free zone company offers a lot of business and tax benefits. You can avail of a 100% exemption on corporate and personal income along with 100% ownership of the business as a foreign investor. Offshore companies are best for those who want to set up a business in the UAE to operate their trade activities outside the country.

Both offshore and free zone companies are not allowed to operate their activities in Dubai mainland. That’s where mainland business comes into the picture that gives you more exposure to the customers for your business activities. But, for setting up a mainland company in Dubai, you need a local investor who will hold 51% shares of the business.

Find a Sponsor

If you wish to set up a mainland company in Dubai, you will need a local sponsor for your business. It is necessary for setting up a mainland business in the country that allows 51% ownership of the business with a UAE national. There are two types of sponsorship that you can get for your business: local sponsorship and corporate sponsorship. A corporate sponsor can give you 100% ownership of the business through the Investor Right Protection Contract.

Legal Formalities

Now you need to follow some legal formalities to get your general trading license to carry out your business activities legally.

  • Decide on an appropriate trade name for the company
  • Plan your business activities to put them in your trading license. You can include up to 10 activities in your general trading license.
  • Filling up the initial application form and apply for approval from DED
  • Getting external approvals if required depending on your chosen business activities
  • Prepare all the required documents like Memorandum of Association (MOA) of the company and other legal documents.
  • Choose your office or business location and obtain a tenancy contract properly attested by Ejari.
  • Submit your final application to the Department of Economic Development (DED) for the license.
  • Pay the required fee for the issuance of your general trading license.

If you are applying for a general trading license to operate your business activities for a free zone of offshore company formation, you will be required to submit the following additional documents in original to the Commercial Registry at the trade license and commercial registration department.

  • A duly signed license application by the company’s managers or legal representatives
  • Memorandum of Association (MoA)
  • An attested company name approval letter from DED
  • Passport copies of all the partners

On the final submission of the application form along with all the documents, the company officials will check and verify your application and documents. They will then add your trade name for the company to the commercial registry. After this, DED will forward your documents to the Federal Ministry of Economy for its publication. After a successful publication, the ministry will issue the approval letter.

These are the mandatory step to be followed for getting your trading license and start a general trading company in Dubai. You have to go through a tailored procedure of complete legal formalities and guidelines. Get ready to start your business in Dubai and leave the rest to us. For more details about our business setup services in the UAE, connect with our business setup consultants for free!