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Dubai: Want to start and run a business through your laptop from anywhere around the world?

In the last few years, local economic departments in the UAE have launched virtual business licences that allow foreign entrepreneurs and UAE residents to establish online businesses without needing a physical office space. In fact, you can even set up the some of these businesses without being physically present in the UAE yourself.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur on a tight budget or a foreign investor who wants to expand their investment portfolio to the UAE, here is all you need to know about virtual licences in the UAE.

Four licences that do not require office space

  1. Dubai Virtual Company licence
  2. Abu Dhabi Virtual licence
  3. Abu Dhabi Tajeer eCommerce licence

1. Dubai Virtual Company Licence

The Dubai Virtual Company Licence is an option available to citizens and 'tax residents' of 112 countries across the world.

The licence allows investors and entrepreneurs to conduct location-independent business activities, like online marketing or fashion and jewellery designing.

The licence allows you to establish and manage an online business registered in Dubai, even if you are not a UAE resident, or physically present in the country. Because the business does not need any physical presence in the UAE, you can set it up without needing to rent an office in the country.

2. Abu Dhabi Virtual Licence

In 2021, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) introduced the ‘Virtual Licence’ for non-resident foreign investors to obtain a business license from anywhere around the world to operate in Abu Dhabi.

According to ADDED, the virtual licence covers 13 economic sectors, with the option to have 100 per cent ownership of the company if you apply for the company to be an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or sole proprietorship.


3. Abu Dhabi’s Tajer eCommerce licence

If you are a UAE resident and want to sell products on social media or establish an online business, you must apply for the Tajer eCommerce licence from ADDED.

Through this licence, you can establish a business without having a physical office space for three years and apply from over 1,000 business activities sanctioned by ADDED.

What is a business activity?
'Business activity' is a general term which refers to any activity a business operates in. Economic departments across the UAE offer entrepreneurs various business activities that they can select based on the type of business they wish to run. Some examples of business activities include building contracting, general trading, media or marketing services or educational services.

To know more about the licence, click here.

Dubai’s Estidama Licence

Apart from the business licences listed above, many business also have the option to apply for a 'virtual lease' in Dubai, which again would allow you to set up your company without a physical office space. This is referred to as the Estidama licence, which is virtual lease option that is suitable for smaller companies with fewer staff.

Through this licence, you can get a virtual office space from a licenced business centre in Dubai and access all the amenities and administrative services of a physical office without paying rent or expenses for office-related services. Essentially, employees can work from anywhere, but the company will have a physical address, P O Box, and a reception and conference room, as business centres in Dubai provide these services.