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How to start a drop shipping business in Dubai, UAE

Want to get selling online, but don’t have extensive savings to get your business up and running? There may be another way. What if you could set up a business that sold products online, but without employing many (if any) staff, and without the need to cover inventory or storage costs? If that sounds appealing, drop shipping could be a great option for you.

In this article, we will cover:

  • How to pick a niche for a drop shipping business?
  • Steps to start a drop shipping business in Dubai, UAE
  • Is drop shipping legal in the UAE?
  • Best license for drop shipping business
  • Do I need a trade license for Shopify drop shipping in Dubai?

How to pick a niche for a drop shipping business?
First of all, let’s define drop shipping: this is a way of running a business where you accept orders from customers online, via a website or social media, but don’t stock or ship products yourself. Instead, drop shipping businesses use suppliers that ship products directly to customers; this makes drop shipping a good option for those wanting to set up a business using only a small amount of savings.

To help boost your chances of success, finding a niche market to focus on is important. If you sell a very specific product, you’ll be able to target certain groups of customers and hone your marketing to suit them — which, hopefully, will result in stronger sales. So, take the time to get out there and explore the competition in your fields of interest. Also, consider: is there something a customer might struggle to get hold of at a Dubai mall that they’ll be looking for online instead? Thinking creatively yet strategically will help you to figure out where to focus your efforts.

Steps to start a drop shipping business in Dubai, UAE

As a top-level guide to getting started, we’ve created the following checklist:

1. Apply for a business license in Dubai
This is a multi-step process — and while none of these steps is particularly complicated, they all require knowledge of how the business incorporation process works in the UAE. This is why we recommend you seek out expert advice to help you navigate the steps.

2. Be specific about your business activity
In order to successfully apply for a business license in Dubai, every business must list its business activity — or activities. You will be able to choose the most appropriate option from a predetermined list, with over 2000 to choose from — so whatever your industry, there will be options that apply to your business. It’s essential that you list every activity your business undertakes; failing to cover all activities can result in fines, or even your business losing its license.

3. Choose your company’s name
As well as your name needing to be snappy and memorable, you’ll also need to choose a name that fits the UAE’s strict naming conventions. The key information to note on this front is that UAE company names should not contain any language that’s considered blasphemous or offensive. It should also not feature the names of any well-known institutions, or any abbreviations of your own name. Using your own full name is permitted, however. It’s also important that your business name has a legal entity — such as FZE or LLC. These are just some of the criteria to consider; please do get in touch with us for a more comprehensive list.

4. Determining your setup type and applying for your license
You will need to choose between free zone and mainland setup. Both come with distinct advantages and limitations — it’s best to seek expert advice on which is best for you. Once this is complete, you’ll be able to apply for your license. How you do this will vary according to your setup type, but in both cases you’ll need to submit:

  • Proof of ID and address for directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies for shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name confirmation
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Articles of Association (AOA)

(Unsure about any of the above? We’ll be happy to help you navigate your way through all the paperwork and forms, ensuring you tick the necessary boxes to be legally compliant in the UAE.)

5. Apply for your visa
This final step contains four stages, including a medical test — but it shouldn’t take more than a week. And once it’s done, you and your business are ready to get drop shipping across the UAE.

We understand that finding your way through the latest regulations can be complicated; that’s why we’re here to help. At Creative Zone, we’re highly experienced in supporting businesses through the business setup process. We’ll get you all set up within a few weeks, managing applications and communicating with authorities on your behalf, so you can start showcasing — and selling — your products online in no time.

Is drop shipping legal in the UAE?
The short answer: yes, as long as you have the correct license and visa. Below, we’ll work through the steps you need to complete in order to get up and running — and to be compliant with all UAE business laws.

Do I need a trade license for Shopify drop shipping in Dubai?
In short, yes. Regulations in the UAE state that foreign companies aren’t allowed to trade within the UAE if they don’t have a trading license. This applies to drop shipping.

Best license for drop-shipping business
To get started with a drop shipping business in Dubai, you’ll need a business license (also known as a trade licence). For a personalised quote and tailored guidance, get in touch with us at CreativeZone; we’re experts in supporting businesses through the steps needed to be able to sell online legally. With our help, you could have the license you need to get drop shipping within a few weeks.


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