Dubai: Are you a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur who wants to enter the UAE market? Well, if you do wish to set up a company in the UAE, you can do so without the need to move to the UAE or even make a visit.
A virtual company licence – which is offered by the economic departments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai – allows foreign investors to set up a business from anywhere in the world. However, the licence has specific requirements that need to be met. If you are interested, here are the details of each of these options, and how you can apply for one.
Abu Dhabi Virtual Licence
The Abu Dhabi Virtual Licence is a digital business licence offered by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). According to ADDED, the licence is for investors and companies from outside the UAE and does not require physical residency in the country. If you wish to apply for an Abu Dhabi Virtual licence, these are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Create a UAE Pass account
UAE Pass is an app launched by the UAE government, which allows user to access over 5,000 government services. If you are not a UAE resident, you can still register as a user by following these steps:
1. Download the ‘UAE Pass’ app, which is available for Apple and Android devices.
2. Open the app and tap on ‘Sign up’.
3. The app will then ask you if you have an Emirates ID (this is the identity card issued to all UAE residents). Tap on ‘No, I don’t have an Emirates ID’.
4. Enter your personal details, like your name, date of birth and nationality.
5. Enter your mobile number (the app allows you to enter non-UAE numbers) and email address.
6. You will then receive a verification code on both your mobile and email, which you need to enter.
7. Set a pin for the UAE Pass app. You will need to enter this pin every time you access a government service and select the option of logging in using the UAE Pass.
8. You can also additionally set ‘facial recognition’ as an easy way to verify your identity as a user.
Once you have set up your UAE Pass account, you can then proceed to setting up the virtual licence.
Step 2: Register for the Virtual Licence
1. You would then need to visit the Abu Dhabi Business Centre (ADBC) website – www.adbc.gov.ae/citizenaccess/CustomPage/InfoDeskAll.aspx
2. You will get the option of logging in using your UAE Pass. Simply click on the button and you will receive an authentication request from UAE Pass on your phone. Enter the verification pin and you will then be directed to the ADBC dashboard.
3. Under the ‘Commercial licence’ tab, select ‘Abu Dhabi Virtual licence’.
4. Fill in the ‘economic name’, or the name of your company that needs to be registered.
5. Fill in the contact information.
6. Select the activity to be carried out. According to u.ae, the official UAE government website, you can open a virtual licence in Abu Dhabi in any of the following 13 economic sectors:
- maintenance and installations
- retail trade
- leasing services
- health and entertainment events
- management and provision of the supporting services
- wholesale trade and
- import and export.
7. Upload a digital copy of your passport.
8. Review the data that you have filled in and click on ‘Submit’.
Step 3: Make the payment
Once you have submitted the application, you will receive a text message and an email to complete the payment process. According to u.ae, the fees for applying for the virtual licence is Dh1,000, in addition to federal fees that are determined according to the activity selected and the legal form.
Once you have made the payment, the virtual licence will be issued.
Dubai Virtual Company Licence
Dubai Economy along with other Dubai government entities launched the Dubai Virtual Commercial City (VCC) programme to enable entrepreneurs and freelancers across the world to start a virtual company in the UAE even if they do not live in the UAE.
Who can apply for the Dubai Virtual Company Licence?
For an individual to get a virtual company licence in Dubai, he or she must:
• Not be residing in the UAE
• Be a citizen or ‘tax resident’ of one of the approved countries. The list of approved countries is provided below.
• Conduct location-independent business activities globally in the pre-defined sectors which focus on creative industries, technology, and services.
List of approved countries
The Dubai Virtual Commercial City website provides a list of 112 countries that are part of the approved list. If you are a citizen or tax resident from any of the approved countries, you will be able to apply for a Dubai Virtual Company Licence.
Here are the steps you need to follow:
Step 1: Fill in the registration form
You can find the registration form for a Virtual Company Licence on the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) website - https://vcl.dubaided.gov.ae/anonymous/createapplication
Enter your personal details, including your full name, date of birth, nationality and residency details and trade name details for the company you wish to set up.
You will be asked to select the business activity. The allowed business activities for virtual companies in Dubai are as follows:
Computer programming, consultancy and related activities:
- Computer Systems & Communication Equipment Software Design
- Electronic Chips Programming
- Social Media Applications Development & Management
- Cyber Security Architecture
- Public Networking Services
- Cyber Risk Management Services
- Auditing, Reviewing and Testing Cyber Risks
- Managed Cyber Security Services Provider
- Marketing Services Via Social Media
- Fashion Design
- Jewellery Design
- Design Services (interior design, garden design)
- Calligraphers & Painters
- Product Design
Service activities related to printing and advertising:
- Books Binding
- Typesetting Services
- Colour Separation Services
- Design & Artwork Services
- Greeting Cards Production & Distribution Services
- Promotional Gifts Preparing
Step 2: Upload documents
You will then be asked to upload the following documents:
- Passport copy (with the passport valid for at least three months)
- Proof of address.
- Proof of tax residency (if applicable).
- A recent photo on white background.
Step 3: Wait for approval
Once the application is submitted, the approval process can take up to 30 days, according to the Virtual Commercial City website.
Step 4: Payment after approval
Once you do receive an approval for the licence, you will need to complete the payment process.
- Dh200 for trade name reservation
- Dh680 per year for the virtual licence
- Dh300 for identification and validation
(Licence renewal fees are Dh680 annually.)
Once you have completed the payment process, the virtual company licence will be issued.