Setting Up In The UAE: Obtaining A Freelance Permit
Gone are the days when one had to join the nine-to-five grind in order to earn a living. With the advent of technology, transportation, and a multitude of innovations in other areas of life, people can now choose to be their own bosses – make their own schedule, choose their own clients, work at their own pace.
The number of people who choose to take this path has increased in the past few years, especially in the UAE. The process for applying to do so is straightforward and cost-efficient.
Here is a quick overview on obtaining a freelance permit in the UAE.
In the UAE, freelancing is different from part-time work. It is defined as an activity undertaken primarily as a result of your skill or service, based on your competence and expertise in a particular field, licenced by the authority concerned to do so.
You may obtain a Trade License related to your business activity from the licensing authority you have chosen. The kind of license needed depends on the nature of your business, and there are two main ways to set up a business in Dubai, with different license options for both: the first is through the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), and the second is through one of the various free zones located across the seven Emirates of the UAE.
The free zones that currently offer a freelance permit are the following:
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Studio City
- Dubai Production City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai Design District
- Dubai International Academic City
- Abu Dhabi Two Four 54
- Fujairah Creative City
- Umm Al Quwain FTZ
UAE freelancers are allowed to operate in a wide range of fields. Permits are issued for nearly all DED-listed activities, but if you plan on getting a freelance permit from a free zone, your business activity needs to be related to the free zone’s area of focus. For example, if you’re going to set up in the Dubai Media City Free Zone, you need to be working in the media or a related industry.
The application process is simple: your own name is used to create your company name, and your license is issued in seven to ten days.
While both ways are fairly straightforward, the free zone option comes with additional benefits such as 0% corporate and personal tax, and 100% repatriation of profits. Most of the free zones also do not require a No Objection Certificate, whether you just arrived in the UAE or have been here for some time.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, free zones will help you get in touch with the bank most relevant to your needs as part of the standard setup service. The UAE is home to many large and reputable financial instutions that welcome freelancers, so you won’t have a problem with setting up an account.
If freelancing is merely the first step on the ladder to setting up a company of your own, you can easily upgrade your freelancing business license to a company license. Upgrading allows you to apply for multiple visas, and in many free zones, you are allowed to set up a company without upfront share capital.
Freelancers in the UAE are given great freedom and room to grow. Once your own visa has been secured, and providing that you meet salary requirements, you can sponsor your own family members too – or employees if you are setting up a company. Freelancers here are also not always required to submit official accounts or audit – and since nobody likes doing paperwork, this is the ideal setup for the busy entrepreneur.
In order to maximize your understanding of the different free zones and start your freelancing business on the right foot, it is advisable to approach a consultant in the UAE. Contact us to explore your freelance permit options.