Ready to start a business in the UAE, but want to double-check that you’re ticking every box in terms of legalities? With our tips on setting up on your own while you’re already employed elsewhere, you can make sure your side hustle is law-abiding and good to go.
Can you start a business while being employed in Dubai?
In short: yes, but only when you have the proper paperwork in place. Make sure that before you start setting up a business, you have a no objection certificate (or NOC) in place so you’re able to trade legally while you’re still employed elsewhere.
An NOC can be issued by a range of individuals — from landowners and employers to various representatives — for a number of reasons, including carrying out a trade exchange, making an offer on a property or in order to run a business. This document, in all its forms, is a legal way to show that a specified third party can’t object to the activities referenced in the document. In the context we’re covering in this guide, an NOC can be issued to show that an association, establishment or individual has no objection to an employee of theirs starting their own business.
Steps to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC)
As an employee, you can apply directly to your manager or your employer’s HR department for an NOC if you’d like to start your own business.
Documents required to get a NOC
To get your NOC, you’ll need to write a letter to your employer — mentioning your details and explaining the purpose for which the NOC is required. For more information on the supporting documents you’ll need, get in touch with us today; we’re here to offer tailored support to each of our clients, making sure they have all the guidance and advice they need to get up and running fast.
Steps to start a business in Dubai
Once you have your NOC, it’s time to set up your business. As a top-level guide to getting started, we’ve created the following checklist:
1. Apply for a commercial license in Dubai
There are three main types of license in the UEA: commercial, industrial and professional — though the government also issues a range of other licenses that are specific to certain activities. Today we’re looking at what’s needed to apply for a commercial license.
This is a multi-step process — and, while none of these individual steps is particularly complicated, they all require knowledge of how the business incorporation process works in the UAE. This is why we recommend you seek out expert advice to help you navigate the steps.
2. Be specific about your business activity
In order to successfully apply for a business license in Dubai, every business must list their business activity — or activities. You will be able to choose the most appropriate option from a predetermined list, with over 2000 to choose from — so whatever your industry or line of work, there will be options that apply to your business. It’s essential that you list every activity your business undertakes; failing to cover all activities can result in fines, or even your business losing its license.
3. Choose your company’s name
As well as your name needing to be snappy and memorable, you’ll also need to choose a name that fits the UAE’s strict naming conventions. The key information to note on this front is that UAE company names should not contain any language that’s considered blasphemous or offensive. It should also not feature the names of any well-known institutions, or any abbreviations of your own name. Using your own full name is permitted, however. It’s also important that your business name has a legal entity — such as FZE or LLC. These are just some of the criteria to consider; please do get in touch with us for a more comprehensive list.
4. Documents required for a commercial license in Dubai
You will need to choose between free zone and mainland setup. Both come with distinct advantages and limitations — it’s best to seek expert advice on which is best for you. Once this is complete, you’ll be able to apply for your commercial license. You will need to submit:
- A completed application form
- Passport copy of the proposed owner, or owners
- Two colour passport-size photos
5. Apply for your visa
This final step contains four stages, including a medical — but it shouldn’t take more than a week. And once it’s done, you and your business are ready to get selling in the UAE and beyond.
Why work with Worldwide Formations
It can be difficult to navigate the UAE laws and regulations around setting up a business — especially when you’re also juggling a job elsewhere — but we’re here to help. At Worldwide Formations, we’re here to help. Our expert team is well versed in guiding entrepreneurs like you through the set-up process, working through applications and communicating with authorities on your behalf — so nothing stands in the way of you and your business goals.