Mainland License – How To Obtain

Based on our client’s core business needs and investments, we offer tailored recommendations for their legal structure.


Select the appropriate type of business license for your mainland business.

Investors must first register a legal entity with DED in order to be granted a license to conduct business on the UAE mainland. Three types of mainland licenses are available:

  • A standard license is one that, if applicable, needs the activity's approval from additional governmental bodies. In addition, a lease agreement, or Ejari, is necessary in addition to the memorandum of association.
  • An instant license is one that needs additional government agency approval for the activity (if any). In addition, a lease agreement, or Ejari, is necessary in addition to the memorandum of association.
  • Startups are given Trader Licenses so they can conduct business online on different social media platforms. With this type of license, professional and service-related activities are allowed, but trading and commercial activities are not.

Choose the most suitable legal structure for your UAE mainland business.

As part of an Instant License, there are available following legal forms:

  • Sole Proprietorship – encompasses professional endeavours, held by a single individual with unrestricted financial responsibility.
  • Civil Company – a partnership with two or more people engaging in professional activity and unlimited financial risk.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – comprises business and industrial operations with a minimum of two partners and a maximum of eleven managers. The only money that partners are accountable for is the amount they put into the business.
  • One–Person Limited Liability Company (LLC-SO) – comprises both commercial and industrial operations, and it is owned by a single individual or entity with limited liability up to the amount of invested share capital.

Company formation steps in mainland

There are various steps you must take in order to launch a business in the UAE Mainland. Upon receipt of all necessary documentation, the establishment process of a mainland business can take up to 21 working days. The timeline might extend if certain business activities require outside approval. Please be aware that restrictions on foreign ownership still apply to the following activities: currency printing, fish trap services, banks, exchange houses, military activities, security, defense, and finance.

We suggest that you review the essential procedures for acquiring a UAE Mainland License in order to better prepare yourself.

Select business activities

Dubai Economic Development (DED) offers 2000+ activities to choose from. To choose the right activities for your business, get advice from our Business Setup Experts.

Choose your Mainland License type

It can be either a Standard License, Instant License or a DED Trader license.

Choose the legal type applicable to your business

The following legal forms can be 100% owned by Foreign Investors:
Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
Private Joint Stock Companies (PJSC)
Civil Companies and Sole Proprietorships can be 100% owned by foreign investors

Provide your legal parties' details and their applicable roles

  • Make sure to provide partners' details such as ownership share, contact details – email ID and contact number, passport copy, EID and visa copy (if applicable).
  • Note what will be the applicable parties’ roles: partners, managers local service agents (if any).

Choose the company’s Trade Name

Provide at least 3 proposed company names. Besides not violating public morals or public order, the trade name must be compatible with the company’s legal status and type of activity. It must not contain the names of religions or governing authorities, nor the names or logos of external bodies, and must not be previously registered.

Apply for DED initial approvals

If the company’s name has been approved, you can apply for DED initial approval, which is necessary for securing a commercial site lease contract or obtaining approval from other Authorities.

Apply for business activity approval (if required)

Some business activities require certain approvals from Authorities such as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Health Authority and others. Check if your business activities require special approval with our Business Setup Experts.

Obtain legal documents – MOA or LSA Agreement

  • DED LLC companies will require a signed Memorandum of Association, signed electronically or in Notary public by all concerned parties.
  • Sole Proprietorship will require a signed Local Service Agreement between the shareholder and local agent.
  • Civil Company will require a signed Memorandum of Civil Agreement in Notary public between all parties involved (company partners and local agent / sponsor).

Obtain your Office Lease Agreement

The minimum office/ commercial space requirement is 140 sq.m.Please note that there is a strong correlation between the size of the office and your visa eligibility in DED mainland companies.

Apply for DED Payment Voucher

This is the final voucher that will indicate the full license fees to be paid to obtain the issuance of the company’s license

Final license and related documents issuance

Once the previous steps are completed, documents must be submitted to the DED Authority to obtain the Trade License and other related documents for the company such as: commercial registry, shareholder’s details and Memorandum of Agreement. All of these documents are issued electronically.


The final step in getting a work permit

The Trade License is not the final step in the company formation process. Following the license acquisition process, you can launch your business by doing the following:

  • Passport
  • Establishment Card application – a document that specifies the information about the company, and is required to apply for residency visas sponsored by the company.
  • Visa applications for investors and partners are submitted after the company establishment card has been issued.
  • Opening a corporate bank account – is essential for the company’s activities and is possible after the company’s authorized signatories obtain resident visas.
  • Ministry of Labor (MOL) file account opening application – MOL number is a unique ID that is used to identify establishment in MOL database. It will allow the company to request employee visa quotas.
  • Quota application – allows the company to apply for employees’ visas.
  • After the requested quotas have been approved, the company can start the hiring procedures and apply for sponsorship of employee visa applications.

We can help you establish a mainland UAE company.

It can take a while to set up and obtain a Mainland License in the United Arab Emirates; however, getting legal counsel will speed up the process and assist foreign companies in choosing the right legal structure for their enterprise.

1Pro Centre DMCC can help you choose the best corporate structure for your mainland business and can guide you through the registration process all the way to the point where your business is operational and complies with UAE laws and regulations.

In addition to assisting your business with its initial setup in the UAE, we also offer assistance with bank account opening, bookkeeping, tax compliance, and visa applications.