Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s virtual business licence allows investors or entrepreneurs from outside the UAE to apply for a business licence in the Emirate from anywhere in the world.
The virtual licence was officially launched in 2021 by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) for non-resident foreigners, and the entire application process is completed online through ‘Tamm’, which is Abu Dhabi’s official government services platform.
What is the Abu Dhabi virtual business licence?
According to ADDED, the virtual licence covers 13 economic sectors. Within these sectors, you also have the option of 100 per cent ownership of a company, if you apply for it to be an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or sole proprietorship.
These are the economic sectors available for the virtual licence:
5. Maintenance and installations
6. Retail trade
9. Leasing services
10. Health and entertainment events
11. Management and provision of the supporting services
12. Wholesale trade and
13. Import and export.
Within each of these economic sectors are many business activities, such as ‘taxation consultation services’, ‘web-design’, ‘tv production’ and ‘event management’.
According to ‘Tamm’, entrepreneurs can add up to six business activities on one licence. However, before you start applying for the licence, you will need to set up a ‘UAE Pass’ account. UAE Pass is a national digital identity for citizens, residents and visitors in the UAE. Creating an account as a visitor on the app is a straightforward process. You can use your National ID, if you are a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizen or resident, or your passport details to complete the process. For a step-by-step guide on how you can complete setting up your UAE Pass account as a visitor to the UAE, use this link.
How to apply for the Abu Dhabi virtual business licence
Once you have set up your UAE Pass account, you can access the ‘Tamm’ platform - www.tamm.abudhabi and follow these steps:
1. Under the ‘Services by government entity’ tab, select ‘Department of Economic Development’.
2. In the ‘economic’ category, select the service - Request for Issuing Economic Licence (Virtual Licence)
You will then be taken through a step-by-step process to set up your business licence. The process, documents and cost can differ slightly, depending on the type of business activity you choose.
However, according to ‘Tamm’, there are some basic steps that all applicants should follow, regardless of their business activity. These are:
1. Selecting the legal type of the business - Sole proprietorship or Limited Liability Company (LLC):
Sole proprietorship refers to a business licence that allows a single individual to own 100 per cent of a business. As it is a business licence, it allows an individual to work with other businesses as well as individuals.
Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a company established by contract between two and up to 50 people. An LLC licence is issued by the economic department of an Emirate and it has no restrictions on where it can trade in the UAE (unlike a free zone company).
2. Finding your business activity:
You can find the list of business activities available for foreigners through the ‘Tamm’ portal: https://www.tamm.abudhabi/services/business/ded/search-and-view-activities?lang=en
'Business activity' is a general term, which refers to any activity a business operates in.
2. Registering a trade name:
Next, you will have to reserve the trade name for your business. If you have a name in mind, and want to know if it’s already taken by another company, you can visit this link from ‘Tamm’ : https://www.tamm.abudhabi/services/business/ded/tradename-search/home?lang=en to search for existing trade names. It is important to keep in mind that trade names for businesses in Abu Dhabi are authorised by ADDED and there are certain guidelines that need to be followed.
1. Follows the business structure acronym (legal form of the company) such as: LLC, EST, PJSC, PrJSC.
2. Does not violate the public morals or the public order of the country.
3. Is compatible with the required type of activity and the legal status of the company or business entity.
4. Does not contain names of any religion, or governing authority, nor names or logos of any external bodies.
5. Has not been previously registered.
3. Enter contact details:
You must then enter their personal details, this includes their full name, mobile number, email address, and nationality.
4. Mandatory documents:
Regardless of the business activity you selected, there are two main documents every applicant must submit:
• A copy of a valid passport
• Recent passport-sized photo.
After you have submitted the application for the licence, you will receive a transaction number from ‘Tamm’ to view the status of the application. You will be able to track the progress of your application by visiting this link: https://www.tamm.abudhabi/services/business/ded/application-status/landing
ADDED will review the application and either approve or reject the request for the licence. If the application is approved, you must settle the fees online and you will receive the official virtual licence through the ‘Tamm’ website - www.tamm.abudhabi
If you want a detailed step-by-step guide on how to start a business in the UAE, click here.
Cost of the Abu Dhabi virtual business licence
The cost for ‘issuing virtual licence’ is Dh790, as per the Tamm website. However, you would need to factor in additional costs for federal service fees, making the total cost go up to approximately Dh1,000. However, it is important to note that the final cost can vary slightly, depending on how many business activities you add on the licence (you would need to pay Dh100 for each additional activity) and the ‘legal type’ that you select.
The licence is valid for one year.