How to Get a Trade License in Abu Dhabi?

Trade License in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a thriving business hub that attracts entrepreneurs and investors from around the world. Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi requires obtaining a trade license, a legal requirement for conducting commercial activities in the emirate. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the types of trade licenses available, the step-by-step process for obtaining one, the associated costs, renewal procedures, and other essential information to help you seamlessly navigate the trade license process.

Types of Trade Licenses in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi offers various trade licenses to cater to different business activities and structures. Here are the main categories:

  1. Commercial Trade License: This license is suitable for businesses engaged in trading activities, such as import, export, distribution, and general trading.
  2. Professional Trade License: Professionals like consultants, engineers, lawyers, and accountants require this license to legally operate their services in Abu Dhabi.
  3. Industrial Trade License: Businesses involved in manufacturing, production, or industrial activities need to obtain an industrial trade license.
  4. Tourism Trade License: Companies operating in the tourism sector, such as hotels, travel agencies, and tour operators, require a tourism trade license.
  5. E-Trade License: This license is designed for businesses that operate exclusively online or through electronic channels.
  6. Service Trade License: This category includes service-oriented businesses such as restaurants, salons, repair shops, and maintenance companies.

Within each category are subcategories and specific licenses tailored to the nature of the business activity. Identifying the appropriate license type for your business is essential to ensure compliance with Abu Dhabi’s regulations.

Step of Trade License in Abu Dhabi

Obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi involves a straightforward process, but it requires careful preparation and adherence to the necessary requirements. Here are the typical steps involved:

  1. Choose a Business Activity: Determine the specific business activity you plan to undertake and identify the corresponding trade license category.
  2. Select a Legal Structure: Decide on the legal structure of your business, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or a branch of a foreign company.
  3. Name Reservation: Reserve a unique trade name for your business with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED).
  4. Secure a Physical Office Space: Acquire a physical office space or a workspace in Abu Dhabi, as this is a requirement for obtaining a trade license.
  5. Prepare Required Documents: Gather all the necessary documents, including passport copies, emirate ID, proof of residency, business plan, and any other supporting documents required by ADDED.
  6. Apply for the Trade License: You can submit your trade license application, along with the required documents and fees, to ADDED through their online portal or in person.
  7. Obtain Initial Approvals: Once your application is reviewed and approved, you will receive initial approvals from ADDED and other relevant authorities.
  8. Complete Additional Requirements: Depending on your business activity, you may need to fulfill additional requirements, such as obtaining specific permits, approvals, or certifications from other government entities.
  9. Final Issuance: After completing all the necessary steps and requirements, the ADDED will issue your trade license, allowing you to legally operate your business in Abu Dhabi.

It’s important to note that the process may vary slightly depending on the specific business activity, legal structure, and other factors. It’s advisable to consult with local experts or professional service providers to ensure a smooth and efficient trade license application process.

Cost of a Trade License in Abu Dhabi

The cost of obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi varies depending on several factors, including the type of license, the legal structure of the business, and the number of activities or services covered under the license. Here’s an overview of the common costs associated with obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi:

  1. Trade License Fee: The trade license fee is the primary cost and can range from AED 1,000 to AED 20,000 or more, depending on the license type and the business’s legal structure.
  2. Establishment Card Fee: This fee is charged for issuing the establishment card as legal proof of your business’s existence. The cost typically ranges from AED 500 to AED 2,000.
  3. Rental Deposit: If you are renting an office space or a workspace, you may need to pay a security deposit, which can range from a few months’ rent to a full year’s rent, depending on the landlord’s requirements.
  4. Additional Approvals and Permits: Depending on your business activity, you may need to obtain additional approvals, permits, or licenses from other government entities, which can incur additional fees.
  5. Visa and Immigration Costs: If you plan to hire employees from outside the UAE, you will need to factor in the costs associated with visa applications, medical examinations, and other immigration-related expenses.
  6. Professional Service Fees: Many businesses hire professional service providers, such as business consultants or legal advisors, to assist with the trade license application process. Their fees can vary depending on the scope of services required.

It’s important to note that these costs are subject to change, and there may be additional fees or charges depending on your specific business requirements. It’s advisable to consult with local experts or professional service providers to obtain an accurate estimate of the total cost involved in obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi.

Renewing a Trade License in Abu Dhabi

Trade licenses in Abu Dhabi are typically valid for one year and need to be renewed annually. The renewal process is relatively straightforward and can be done through the ADDED’s online portal or by visiting their service centers. Here are the general steps for renewing a trade license in Abu Dhabi:

  1. Prepare Required Documents: Gather the necessary documents, such as your current trade license, updated business information, and any other supporting documents required by ADDED.
  2. Submit the Renewal Application: Fill out the renewal application form and submit it along with the required documents and renewal fees.
  3. Pay the Renewal Fees: The renewal fees are generally lower than the initial trade license fee and can vary based on the type of license and business activity.
  4. Obtain Approvals: Once your renewal application is processed and approved, you will receive a renewed trade license for the upcoming year.

You must renew your trade license before its expiration date to avoid penalties or disruptions to your business operations. ADDED typically sends renewal reminders to license holders well before the expiration date.

Benefits of Obtaining a Trade License in Abu Dhabi

Obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi offers several benefits to businesses, including:

  1. Legal Compliance: A trade license ensures that your business operates in compliance with the UAE’s laws and regulations, avoiding any legal issues or penalties.
  2. Credibility and Reputation: Having a valid trade license enhances your business’s credibility and reputation, making it easier to establish trust with potential customers, partners, and stakeholders.
  3. Access to Services and Facilities: With a trade license, you can access various government services, facilities, and infrastructure designed to support businesses in Abu Dhabi.
  4. Ability to Hire Employees: A trade license allows you to legally hire employees and sponsor their visas and residency permits, enabling you to build a workforce for your business.
  5. Banking and Financial Services: Most financial institutions in Abu Dhabi require businesses to have a valid trade license before opening corporate bank accounts or accessing certain financial services.
  6. Participation in Tenders and Contracts: Many government and private sector organizations require businesses to hold a trade license to participate in tenders, contracts, or projects within Abu Dhabi.
  7. Protection of Intellectual Property: Obtaining a trade license can help protect your business’s intellectual property rights, such as trademarks and patents, in the UAE.

By obtaining a trade license, you not only comply with legal requirements but also gain access to valuable resources and opportunities that can contribute to the growth and success of your business in Abu Dhabi.

Documents Required for a Trade License in Abu Dhabi

To obtain a trade license in Abu Dhabi, you will need to provide a set of documents to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). The documents required may vary depending on the type of business activity, legal structure, and other factors. However, here are some commonly required documents:

  1. Passport Copies: Provide copies of the passports of all shareholders, owners, or partners involved in the business.
  2. Emirates ID Copies: Submit copies of the Emirates ID cards for all shareholders, owners, or partners.
  3. Residency Visa Copies: If any of the shareholders, owners, or partners are residents of the UAE, provide copies of their valid residency visas.
  4. Proof of Business Premises: Provide a copy of the tenancy contract or title deed for the physical office space or workspace you have secured in Abu Dhabi.
  5. Business Plan: Prepare a comprehensive business plan outlining your company’s objectives, strategies, target market, financial projections, and operational details.
  6. Memorandum of Association (MOA): If your business is structured as a limited liability company (LLC), you will need to submit the MOA, which outlines the company’s ownership structure, shareholders’ rights, and other legal aspects.
  7. Articles of Association (AOA): The AOA document, which defines the company’s management structure, decision-making processes, and other operational guidelines, is also required for LLCs.
  8. No Objection Certificate (NOC): If you are an existing company or have a trade license in another emirate, you may need to provide an NOC from the relevant authority.
  9. Educational Certificates: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to provide copies of educational certificates or professional qualifications for the owners or key personnel.
  10. Trade Name Reservation Certificate: Provide the certificate confirming the reservation of your desired trade name with ADDED.
  11. Initial Approval Certificate: ADDED issues this certificate after reviewing and approving your trade license application initially.
  12. Activity-specific Documents: Based on your business activity, you may need to submit additional documents or obtain approvals from other government entities, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, or Department of Tourism and Culture.

It’s important to note that the document requirements may change or be updated by the authorities, so it’s advisable to consult with local experts or professional service providers to ensure you have the most up-to-date list of required documents.

Additionally, depending on their origin and the specific requirements of ADDED, some documents may need to be attested, translated, or legalized. Preparing all the necessary documents accurately and completely can help streamline the trade license application process.


Obtaining a trade license in Abu Dhabi is crucial for establishing and operating a business legally in the Emirates. Understanding the different types of trade licenses, the application process, costs, renewal procedures, and document requirements can help you navigate the process efficiently and ensure compliance with the UAE’s regulations.

Abu Dhabi offers a business-friendly environment and a range of trade licenses tailored to various industries and business activities. Whether you are a professional, a trader, a manufacturer, or an entrepreneur in the service sector, there is a trade license category that suits your needs.

When applying for a trade license, it’s essential to carefully assess your business requirements, gather all the necessary documents, and seek guidance from local experts or professional service providers. This proactive approach will ensure a smooth application process and position your business for growth and success in Abu Dhabi’s thriving economic landscape.

With a valid trade license, you can enjoy the benefits of legal compliance, enhanced credibility, access to government services, and the ability to hire employees and participate in tenders and contracts. By adhering to the regulations and renewing your trade license annually, you can establish a strong foundation for your business and contribute to the dynamic and diverse business community in Abu Dhabi.

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