Dubai: If you are starting a business in the UAE, you would need to have an establishment card to complete any procedure related to hiring new employees or issuing their visas.
An establishment card is one of the most essential documents for any company in the UAE, as it is your company’s identity card when dealing with immigration authorities in the UAE or the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). If you are planning to set up a business in the UAE or are just starting out as a small business, here is all you need to know about applying for an establishment card.
What is an establishment card?
There are two types of establishment cards
1. The establishment card issued by Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP)
2. The establishment card issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). This card is also commonly referred to as ‘company labour card’.
Juvelyn Legaria, an administrative assistant at Perfect Plus Businessmen Services, a corporate services company in Dubai, explained: “The establishment card is issued by immigration authorities of the Emirate where your company is registered. This card includes the name of the company, name of the owner or sponsors, contact number, card number and the card’s expiry date,” she said.
Legaria later added that an establishment card by ICP is a pre-requisite for issuing a ‘company labour card’, which is the establishment card issued by MOHRE.
She said: “The company labour card is under MOHRE. This card enables company owners to have a quota to apply for work permits and residency visas for employees.”
The establishment card is issued by immigration authorities of the Emirate where your company is registered. This card includes the name of the company, name of the owner or sponsors, contact number, card number and the card’s expiry date
How do I get an establishment card for my company?
These are the steps you need to follow to apply for your establishment card.
Step 1: Apply for a trade licence
Once you decide to start a business, you will first need to approach the economic department in your Emirate to apply for a trade licence. To know more about how you can apply for a trade licence in the UAE, read our detailed guide here.
Step 2: Issue the establishment card with ICP
Once you have received the trade licence for your company, you must then proceed with applying for the establishment card with ICP.
“You can apply for the establishment card through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the Emirate or Amer centres in Dubai. But normally, the application process is done by typing centres or Public Relation Officers (PROs),” Muhammad Zahid, Administrative Officer at Expert Solutions Document Clearing, said.
Regardless of where you apply, you will need to provide the following documents:
• Valid trade licence
• Emirates ID of owner or all partners
• Original Emirates ID of the owner
• Passport copy of owner or all partners
• The residence visa page of owner or all partners (if you are an expat).
• Memorandum of Association (MOA)
"An establishment card gives a company profile for immigration, which is about the company owners and sponsors. If they have their comany registered under immigration, only then they can move on to the 'company labour card'," Legaria explained.
Step 3: Apply for the ‘company labour card’
Once, the establishment card is issued by ICP, it is now time to move on to the last step, which is applying for a ‘company labour card’.
For the ‘company labour card’, the application process can be completed by the owner or a PRO.
Whether you choose to apply for the card online or do it through a Tasheel centre, here are the documents you need to complete the process:
• Trade Licence copy
• Ejari Copy
• Establishment Card copy from ICP
• Passport Copy of all partners
• Residence Visa copy of all the partners
• Emirates ID Copy of the partners
• Passport-sized Photographs with white background
• Original Emirates ID of the Owner
• eSignature Card (provided by MOHRE to registered PROs and typing centres)
• The company’s contact information: mobile number, email, PO Box and address.
If you apply for it online, these are the steps you need to follow:
1. Log in with you UAE Pass and click start
2. Enter company information, such as:
• Trade Licence number
• Issue date
• Establishment name
• The legal form of business
• Establishment sector
• Contact information
• Company address
• Details about the economic activity
3. Enter the owner’s name or partner names – the names must match the information registered on the Establishment card registered by ICP.
4. Upload the required documents
5. Settle the fees and submit the application
6. The application will then be approved by MOHRE.
If all the requirements are met, the card will be issued within three to five days.
How much does it cost?
According to Zahid, the overall cost of issuing an establishment card and applying for a company labour card can cost around Dh800 to Dh1,000