How Can I Get a General Trading License in the UAE?

A general trading license is a business license that allows you to deal in most items from a physical location. Your general trading establishment can be located on the mainland, in a free zone, or offshore. However, the sale of certain restricted items like alcohol and firearms cannot be carried out with a general trading license.

The first step is to identify a location for your general trading establishment. If you are planning to sell consumer goods and/or fresh produce, it would make sense to be located on the mainland. If you are located in a busy market or in a residential area, you would be assured of better business than elsewhere. However, if you were into the trading of say, industrial components, then it is not really necessary to be located in a residential area or close to one. You could choose to establish your general trading company in a free zone and take advantage of lower startup costs.

A business setup consultant experienced in matters of business setup in Dubai can advise you on the best location for your business.

Once you have zeroed in on a good location, you can then proceed to find out suitable premises for your general trading establishment. If you are planning to sell frozen foods, then it is important to secure the approval of the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. This is also required if you are planning to sell fresh produce or commodities. You need a temperature-controlled warehouse where the foods, whether packaged or raw, can be stored safely.

Steps to Obtain a General Trading License in Dubai

  1. Choose a name of your company, albeit one that will be approved.
  2. Draw up the company formation documents, allocating shares to each owner.
  3. Get the company formation documents notarized by a Notary Public.
  4. Decide on a physical location for your general trading establishment
  5. Enter into a Tenancy Agreement with the owner of the premises.
  6. Register the Tenancy Agreement so that it becomes a Tenancy Contract.
  7. Apply for company registration and a General Trading License with Dubai Economy.
  8. Receive a payment voucher outlining the necessary fees to be paid.
  9. Make the payment, get company registration & General Trading License.

You need to choose a name for your general trading establishment. In Dubai, there are certain norms when it comes to company nomenclature. For instance, the name of a country cannot be part of the trade name of your general trading establishment. Nationalities and geographic regions are permitted to be a part of the trade name. A first name can be part of the trade name provided it is the first name of one of the shareholders in the company.

You also need to decide what kind of company it will be. It could be a Sole Establishment (this is the same as a Sole Proprietorship), a Limited Liability Company, a Private Joint Stock Company, a Public Joint Stock Company, a Branch Office, or a Representative Office. The minimum number of shareholders in a Limited Liability Company is two and the maximum numbers allowed is 50. All the shareholders in a Limited Liability Company own an equal percentage of the shares.

If you wanted to have majority shareholders and minority shareholders in your company, it would be better to set up your company as a Private Joint Stock Company. It is to be kept in mind that a Private Joint Stock Company needs to have a minimum of three shareholders. If you already own a company overseas and were looking to expand your presence to the United Arab Emirates, you could think of establishing your company in the UAE as a Branch Office, fully owned by the parent company. A Representative Office is similar, except for the fact that it is not allowed to turn a profit – all business must be outsourced to the parent company.

So depending on the business model you have in mind, there could be a best-fit for your company.

After you have decided on a name for your company, and also selected a physical location for your trading establishment, you can register your company with the Department of Economic Development, Dubai. You are also allotted a General Trading License when your application for company registration is approved. It is recommended that you get in touch with a business setup consultant, who can guide you through the process.

He/She will tell you that you will need copies of the following documents for company registration.

  1. Copies of the passports of all shareholders,
  2. Copies of the pages where Residence Visa or Visit Visa is stamped for those already in the UAE
  3. Emirates ID of those already in the UAE
  4. No Objection Certificate from current Local Sponsor, if already in the UAE

Upon receiving your General Trading License, you can commence operations immediately. Having a business setup consultant by your side can prove to be an immense advantage, as he/she can run a search to see if the trade name you have in mind is available. He/She can further tell you that terms like ‘Global’ and ‘International’ are not allowed to be the first part of your trade name. He/She can help you obtain the necessary approvals from various Government agencies, if needed.

Why Choose A&A Associate LLC for Getting a General Trading License in Dubai?

At A&A Associate LLC, we have years of experience when it comes to business setup in UAE. We can let you know of affordable premises for your general trading establishment in Dubai. In case a free zone is what would be best for your general trading establishment, we can advise you on the right free zone for your company, depending on your business model. We have been of assistance to clients from 100 countries around the world, and we have an excellent client satisfaction rate so far.

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