A startup’s guide to commercial business licenses in Dubai

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Dubai has grown in importance as a strategic hub for global trade, with its close proximity to 2.4 billion consumers across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


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Internally, Dubai also offers a world-class range of air, sea and land transport systems that connect the UAE with local, regional and international markets. If you are interested in taking your commercial business to greater heights in Dubai, read this blog for important points to consider:


Simply put, a commercial business license allows a company to import, export, distribute and store specific products in and through the UAE. It also allows companies to offer a range of services, such as brokerage.

The variety of products that you are allowed to trade under a commercial business license ranges from consumer goods such as food, beverages, and clothing to industrial materials.

It is important to note that Free Zone commercial licenses can only be used for trade activities within the respective Dubai Free Zone or between the Free Zone and a foreign country. Additionally, some business activities may require approvals from related UAE regulatory authorities.

For a full list of commercial business activities, contact an IFZA Professional Partner.


Applying for an IFZA commercial license is a straightforward process through our global network of Professional Partners who are trained to assist and guide business owners to efficiently set up their business in Dubai.

There are only a few steps involved:

STEP 1: Decide what you want to sell and where

One of the most important decisions that you need to make when setting up your business in the UAE has to do with your product mix and your target audience. When choosing your business activity, IFZA offers a flexible range of options:

  • Commercial Business License with Specific Business Activities – Each IFZA Business License provides you with a choice of up to 3 business activities for free. IFZA offers the flexibility to amend your license any time and the ability to mix commercial with professional business activities.
  • Commercial Business License with eCommerce Business Activity – This specific business activity permits IFZA-registered companies to electronically buy or sell products or services online only. It may be combined with other business activities.
  • Commercial Business License with Dubai General Trading Activity – Offering the most flexibility, the General Trading business activity permits commercial companies to trade in any number of unrelated products and to change the product mix any time without having to apply for or amend their existing license.

STEP 2: Consult an IFZA Professional Partner

Throughout this whole process of setting up your business with IFZA, you will be guided by our network of Professional Partners and by our competent and dedicated team at IFZA. Once we have established your requirements, you will receive a proposal that includes:

  • Type of License
  • Business Activities
  • Visa Package
  • Office Solutions

STEP 3: Submit your Documentation

We will require the following documents in order to proceed:

  • License Application Form (including Ultimate Beneficial Ownership information)
  • Passport Copy
  • Digital Passport Photo
  • Emirates ID and Visa copy for UAE residents

Upon receiving your documents, our support team will register your shareholders’ documents on the registration portal.

Once approved, the Authority will issue digital forms, to be signed prior to issuance of incorporation documents.

STEP 4: Continuing Client Support

Once the License is incorporated, our team will continue to support and assist you if you require:

  • Visa Processes
  • Office Solutions
  • License Upgrades and Downgrades
  • License Amendments
  • License Renewals

Obtaining a Dubai commercial license does not have to be complex. You only have to make sure that your application documents are complete at the time of submission and free from errors.

Hand in hand with our global team of Professional Partners, we offer peace of mind about your business through the IFZA ecosystem that supports international entrepreneurs and businesses beyond company formation in Dubai.

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Our team of experts are ready to assist you with any questions or inquiries you may have. Let us know how we can support your business goals.

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