Thanks to the UAE’s thriving tourism sector and affluent community, catering has long been big business in this part of the world. And whether dining in, ordering take out or grabbing a bite from one of the emirate’s many food trucks, Dubai is at the centre of this market.
Here you’ll find every cuisine imaginable. And despite a new restaurant popping up on every corner, there is still a huge demand for great food.
There’s more great news for the businesses setting up out here too. When you work with a local expert it’s never been easier to start a catering or food delivery service business in Dubai. There are a few hoops to jump through, as always, but provided you do your homework and know what to expect, you can be up and running in no time.
How to start a catering business in Dubai
Starting a catering business in Dubai is a little different from starting most other business types. As well as obtaining your catering business license, you’ll also need to meet a few more requirements in terms of food hygiene and safety. All is explained in the simple six step process below.
Step 1: Choose your business activity
Every business in Dubai must list a business activity, or activities, on its business license. While you will be in the catering industry, it’s important that you list every activity that applies to your business when making your application. For example, food delivery, food truck, café etc. You can list more than one but are only permitted to carry out licensed activities.
Step 2: Choosing your company name
A step of the business incorporation process that takes on more importance here in Dubai is the choosing of your company name. That’s because as well as the need for a name that’s catchy and captures the essence of your business, you’ll also need to stick to the UAE’s clearly defined naming conventions.
In short, UAE company names must not contain any blasphemous or offensive language, any references to well-known institutions or any abbreviations of your name – though your full name is acceptable.
Your name should also have a legal entity attached to it such as FZE or LLC. It must also relate to your business activity, not resemble the name of any other company and be available to register.
Step 3: Setting up in a free zone or the mainland
The next key step to starting your business is to decide on the type of setup you require. There are two common options in the UAE – free zone and mainland.
Both bring their own advantages and have several distinct differences. If you choose to set up in the mainland, for example, you can trade directly with the local market without the need for a distributor or local agent.
If you set up in a free zone you cannot do this, however you do benefit from customs tax exemptions and other financial incentives such as the ability to repatriate all capital and profits to your country of origin.
Step 4: Applying for your license
Now for the most important step — applying for your trade license. This process will differ a little depending on the nature of your catering business and on whether you intend to set up in a free zone or in the mainland.
If you’re setting up in the mainland, you can make your license application directly to the Dubai Department of Economic Development. If you’ve chosen a mainland setup, you should apply directly to the managing authority of your chosen free zone.
In either case, you should make your application with the help Worldwide Formations.
As part of your application process, you will be asked to submit several documents along with your application form, including:
- A copy of your passport – and that of any other shareholders
- Your business plan
- A copy of your signature
- A No Objection Certificate from your current employer (if applicable)
Step 5: Meeting additional catering license requirements
A trade license is not the only requirement for starting a catering business in Dubai. You’ll also need to apply to the Dubai Food Safety Department for your catering certification.
As part of this process, you will need to provide details of your kitchen or food prep area. This includes the location of entrances, exits, and ventilation. Finally, you’ll also need to agree to adhere to the UAE Food Code which stipulates the requirements for those wishing to prepare and sell food.
Step 6: Applying for your visa
The final key step in starting a catering business out here is obtaining your visa. This process involves four stages including a medical fitness test and biometric capturing. In all, it usually takes less than a week.
As the holder of a Dubai business license, you can also sponsor others such as children, a spouse or domestic staff for their visas too, providing you meet the eligibility criteria.
What is the cost of food delivery service license?
Of course, one of the most commonly asked questions when starting this type of business is — how much is a catering license?
The answer is usually in the region of AED 15,000 to AED 25,000. However, this is only one component of the total cost of setting up a catering business. You will also need to factor the cost of premises, equipment, ingredients, and any additional approvals that you require.
For a personalised quote, inclusive of your license and visa, get in touch with Worldwide Formations.
Let’s start your catering business in Dubai
By following the steps above, it is possible to obtain the appropriate license and approvals to start a catering business in Dubai.
However, it is always advisable to undertake the steps with the assistance of a registered company formations agent to eliminate any potential hassles that might arise.
With more than 15 years of experience in company incorporation, Worldwide Formations can help you get your business up and running within a week or two. We’ll manage your license and visa application and correspond with all relevant authorities for you. All you need to do is wait for the green light to start trading.