Setting Up As A Freelancer In The UAE

March 29 2019

Setting Up As A Freelancer In The UAE

The UAE is a land of opportunities and there are plenty of jobs out there for one to explore.Freelancing is an option many consider in the UAE and increasingly many companies are choosing to employ freelancers across various fields – namely programmers, web developers, writers, data entry, designers, and more at a smaller cost compared to full-time employees. Though it appears as a viable and attractive option to work for many people in the country, there are many professionals who are still not sure about the rules and how they should be going about it without disrupting their daily routine.

Here are some of the most common questions on freelancing in the UAE to help you with making your decisions accordingly:

1. Is freelancing as a job permitted in UAE?

As long as you have the requisite permit and approvals, freelancing is very much permitted in UAE.

2. Can I freelance on a tourist visa?

No. You can only freelance when you have both a residence visa and a work permit visa.

3. What could be the easiest route to consider being a freelancer in UAE?

If you are not sponsored by a spouse or father, then it is better to apply for both a freelance work permit and a residence visa from a free zone. There are many free zones who offer a freelance permit, namely:

  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Production City
  • Dubai Knowledge Park
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubai Design District
  • Fujairah Creative City
  • Abu Dhabi’s twofour54.

One has to ensure that the professional activity has to be related to that of the free zone. The permit will identify you as a sole practitioner and will enable you to carry out the business under your birth name as opposed to that of a brand name. In this case, the free zone will then offer you shared office space and a shared PO Box.

You can have another option wherein you set up an office in the free zone which will allow you to legally conduct your business in UAE.

4. What will be the costs that it will incur? What documents are needed to submit to the free zone?

It depends on the free zone that you aim to establish yourself and it is likely to cost well over Dhs 10K to Dhs 20K. Also, you will need to renew your license on a yearly basis and this would be in the range of the set-up costs. The documents you will typically need to submit includes:

  • Business plan
  • NOC (No objection certificate) from your current sponsor (if any)
  • Latest copy of your passport.

5. If I have a freelance permit, from a free zone, can I deal with the mainland or with onshore companies?

There is no strict prohibition on being associated with a mainland/ on-shore company. However, there are possibilities (which may be in fine print of course!) depending on your activity and the kind of free zone you might be associated with.

6. If I have a residence visa which is sponsored by my spouse or father, can I do freelance? Can I work on a temporary basis for a company?

No matter what the visa, you will still need a work permit if you are interested in freelancing. Once you obtain a temporary work permit from the Ministry of Labour, you can be recruited by a mainland group for a maximum term of six months.

In addition to that, if it is a part-time job which involves lesser working hours at a company, you can also avail a part-time work permit through the company that you wish to work for. For both the part-time and temporary work permit, you will also need NOC from your existing sponsor.

7. In case I have a full time job, can I freelance for other companies during my free time?

You will need a part-time work permit from the Ministry of Labour with due approvals from both your current employer as well as your part-time employer.

Do get in touch with us today for a detailed chat!


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