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How to start an import export business in Dubai, UAE

There are a huge number of reasons why you might want to carry out import and export in Dubai. It’s literally situated at the crossroads of the world, with easy access to the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe. On top of that, it has world-leading transport hubs allowing easy movement of goods in and out.

In this article we’ll look at what you need to know to get started, and we’ll also cover the all-important import-export license cost in Dubai.

We will look at:

  • Benefits of starting an import export business in Dubai, UAE
  • Steps to start an import export business in Dubai, UAE
  • Cost of an import-export license in Dubai, UAE
  • Documents required for an import-export license in Dubai, UAE
  • Working with Creative Zone


Benefits of starting an import-export business in Dubai, UAE
Let’s start with location – the UAE connects to Africa, Asia and Europe, and it has major international airports and seaports. It also has a well-established road network throughout. Beyond that, Dubai and the UAE is well known globally as a business hub, drawing investment from around the world.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) notes that in 2019 the UAE exported USD 315.9 billion worth of goods (and USD 72.5 billion of services). In terms of import of goods, the figure was USD 267.9 billion (and USD 72.7 billion for imported services.)

The main destinations for UAE exports are Saudi Arabia, India, Iraq, Switzerland, Oman and China. When it comes to imports, China, India, the US, Japan and Germany rank highest.

One of the main draws for the import-export business entrepreneur in the UAE is the ease of setup. Working with a company formation specialist such as Creative Zone means you can be up and running quickly – while ensuring you remain compliant. We’ll look later at the many benefits of the country’s free zones, as well as the mainland option.

Steps to start an import-export business in Dubai, UAE

Let’s break down how you go about obtaining your import-export license for Dubai, UAE.

1. Decide on your trading activity: The primary decision is deciding exactly what you want to trade as this will impact the exact type of license you will need. You may want a general trading license which would enable you to trade in unrelated goods. Other popular options include anything from jewellery to beauty products – all the way to parts for automobiles and aircraft. Either way, it’s important you ensure your chosen activity aligns exactly with the business activity you are going to undertake. To make sure everything here is clear and compliant, it’s worth bringing in the services of a company formation specialist.

2. Choose a company name: The UAE is fairly strict when it comes to naming companies, so it’s important to be aware of the regulations. Essentially, you must avoid any language that could be seen as offensive or blasphemous. You must avoid any name that is already held by a well-known organisation. If you’re naming your company after yourself, ensure that you don’t abbreviate your name. So John Smith Trading is fine, but J Smith Trading is not. Of course you will also need to ensure your chosen company name is still available for you to register.

3. Choose a setup: You can start your import-export business either on the Dubai mainland or in a UAE free zone. Thanks to the excellent locations of the free zones (with direct links to ports, airports and highways) this is often the best option. In addition, free zones offer 100% exemption from all import and export taxes as well as no currency restrictions. You can also repatriate all capital and profits. However, you will need to take some extra steps if you ever wish to trade directly with the local UAE market – a company formation specialist can talk you through this process (a mainland setup does immediately allow you to trade directly with the UAE markets.)

4. Apply for your license:
For mainland setups, you may apply directly to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or municipality in your chosen emirate; or if you’re choosing a free zone then you would go to that particular zone’s managing authority. A company formation expert can talk you through this entire step and even carry it out on your behalf.

Cost of an import export license in Dubai, UAE
Now let’s look at import-export license cost in Dubai.

Generally, the cost would be approximately AED 15,000 to AED 17,000. However, costs would vary for multiple shareholders, and you also need to consider any tax implications when it comes to wanting to sell goods to the local market. To get an up-to-date price, which is tailored to your specific requirements, contact Creative Zone for an accurate quote.

Documents required for an import-export license in Dubai, UAE
The exact documents required to start your import export company in Dubai will depend on your business activity and where you choose to set up. In most cases, however, you will be asked to provide:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner/s
  • 2 passport size photos
  • Customs import codes, where applicable

Working with Creative Zone
So those are the key points around setting up your import-export license in the UAE. And
now is the time to work with a specialist to ensure your new business is set up smoothly.

When you’re looking to set up an import-export company you can be sure what you’re getting from Creative Zone is the latest, up-to-date info from people who deal with this every day.

While the setup process can be somewhat stressful, you can fast-track it by working with a company formation specialist. It’s the quickest way to get set up in the UAE, letting us take care of all the details and ensuring your application is free from errors.

We can also help you with opening a corporate bank account and also offer important advice on the type of financial institution that would best suit your requirements.

Here at Creative Zone, we offer you the best solutions to start your company in the UAE. You get fast, reliable and unbiased advice on your unique business setup requirements. We can help you choose the right kind of license for your chosen business activity/activities and take you through the entire process from start to finish.

You can let us deal with the hassle of registering a company while you focus on your business. And working with us means you get the best budget friendly and cost-effective solution to help make your business dream a reality.

Over 10 years, Creative Zone has helped more than 36,000 entrepreneurs set up their businesses. Whether it be a mainland business setup, offshore company setup, free zone company setup, or issuing of trade licenses and any related activity for registering a company, Creative Zone is your one-stop-shop.


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