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Abu Dhabi Instant License (Establishment)

About the Abu Dhabi Instant License (Establishment)

Abu Dhabi Instant Licenses are issued same working day for applications made during government working hours. The business setup formalities come after the license issuance, but must be completed within 90 days. Issued by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), Abu Dhabi Instant Licenses are suitable for working with the UAE federal government, Abu Dhabi government and quasi government organisations such as ADNOC and Mubadala. Permitted to work throughout the emirate of Abu Dhabi, this license-type is ideal for companies needing a quick market entry, such as meeting tender obligations.


✔️  Quickest license issuance in Abu Dhabi

✔️  Can work with the UAE federal and Abu Dhabi governments

✔️  Restricted business activities - just 67

✔️  100% foreign ownership - individual owner

✔️  Local Service Agent not required

✔️  Abu Dhabi mainland license, operate throughout Abu Dhabi emirate

✔️  Unlimited number of visas

✔️  Corporate banking facilities

✔️  12 months validity, renewable

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Who Can Apply

Who is this license suitable for?

✔️  Individuals

✔️  Entrepreneurs

✔️  Solo-preneurs

✔️  Startups (individual owners)

Who is eligible for this license?

✔️  Applicants must be over 18.

✔️  UAE citizens

✔️  GCC nationals (must have previously visited the UAE)

100% Foreign Ownership for GCC nationals

Local Service Agent no longer required

Mainland or Free Zone?

Abu Dhabi Establishment Legal Structure & Ownership

The Abu Dhabi Establishment License is a mainland license, issused by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), enabling the license holder to work throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This is not a free zone license.

Legal Form

An Abu Dhabi Establishment is wholly-owned by one person, who assumes total responsibility for the finances and liabilities associated with the license, in their individual capacity. 


An Abu Dhabi Establishment is owned 100% by an individual.


If two or more persons are wanting to start a business together, the Establishment company license is not suitable. An alternative license-type should be considered.

Share Capital

Not applicable.

Local Sponsor?

A Local Service Agent is no longer required.

Exisiting Residence Visa

If the business owner is an existing UAE resident, it is not mandatory to change their existing visa; however, they would be entitled to apply for an investor visa.

Abu Dhabi Establishment License Visa

The individual named as the owner on the Establishment license can apply for an investor visas, if required. Once the trade license has been issued, it will be necessary to apply for an Establishment Card, before starting the visa application process and to do this, it will be necessary to have a Tawtheeq contract for a commercial premise. Upon successfully obtaining their own visa, the license holder can then sponsor their family members, providing they meet the requirements.

Quick & Easy to Setup

Almost instant (same working day)

Abu Dhabi Instant License (Establishment) Details

Economic License Application

Once the documents are ready for the Abu Dhabi Instant License application to be submitted, the license is usually issued the same day during government working hours on working days. Thereafter, the Tawtheeq lease must be arranged and submitted within 90 days to complete the application.

Economic License Validity

The Establishment License is issued for a period of 12 months.

Economic License Renewal

Establishment licenses need to be renewed annually. Delays in renewing the license will incur fines for the company, which will increase each month the license is not renewed.

Economic License Cancellation

When the Establishment license is no longer required, the company needs to arrange liquidation and cancellation of the license from the official registry. Failure to cancel the license will incur fines accruing and liabilities relating to non-filing of tax returns.

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Abu Dhabi Establishment License Visa

License Holder

Type of Visa

Investor Visa

Visa Validity

Two Years. To ensure it remains valid, you must not stay outside of the country for more than six months at a time.

Visa Renewal

The visa needs to be renewed every two years. Delays in renewing your visa will incur fines increase on a daily basis until the visa is either renewed or cancelled.

Visa Cancellation

When the visa is no longer required, it needs to be cancelled, any fines paid, and removed from the immigration system.


Is the Visa Mandatory or Optional?

Applying for a visa under the Establishment license license is optional.

Who is the sponsor of the visa?

The Establishment license sponsors your visa, which means you have full control, and that is why the license must be issued first. The license needs to be renewed and kept active all the time you want the visa.


Processing Time

Approx. 10-14 working days. However, during the process, it will be necessary for you to arrange your health insurance which may add extra days.

Visa Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for all visa holders. It is your responsibility to arrange your health insurance cover. It must be arranged via an Abu Dhabi registered insurance provider or broker. It can only be applied for during the visa application process, which is the time when some of the documents required are created. Delays in arranging or renewing your health insurance incurs fines issued by the Abu Dhabi Health Authority (HAAD). Whilst the insurance and visa systems are now linked, occasionally we are still requested to provide a copy of the insurance card (not the certificate of insurance) as proof of an active policy.


We strongly urge all applicants to seek out indicative health insurance costs in advance, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions. Insurance premiums are based upon the level of coverage required, age, sex, and pre existing conditions. Applicants are often shocked at how expensive health insurance is.

Visa Medical

All visa applications, new and renewal, require the applicant to have a visa medical, which includes a blood test, screening for HIV, and an Xray, screening for Pulmonary Tuberculosis. If you haven’t previously had an Emirates ID card, you’ll also need a biometrics appointment with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, to provide your fingerprints and an eye scan. If this all sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry, our team will make all of the necessary arrangements and we’ll accompany you to the appointments with all of the paperwork you’ll need. You, literally, just have to turn up.


Abu Dhabi Establishment License Only

✔️  Full name

✔️  Residential address

✔️  Mobile number

✔️  Email address

✔️  Source of funds

✔️  UAE Pass App (download on your mobile phone and register)

✔️  UID Number (only for overseas applicants)

✔️  Passport copy (minimum 6 months validity)

✔️  Visa copy (only UAE citizen and resident applicants)

✔️  Emirates ID copy (only UAE citizen and resident applicants)

✔️  Proof of expertise in the activity being applied for:

       University degree (Attested) or

       Certificate of experience or accredited accomplishments (Attested)

✔️  No Objection Certificate (NOC) in Arabic addressed to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (only applicants who are currently working in the UAE).

Abu Dhabi Establishment License & Visa

If you HAVEN'T previously had a UAE visa

✔️  Everything in the Establishment License list PLUS:

✔️  High resolution, passport size, studio photo, white background (soft copy)

✔️  Health insurance

​✔️  Marital status

✔️  Mother’s name

✔️  Religion

✔️  Home country residential address

✔️  Home country telephone number

✔️  Tourist visa copy or visa on arrival stamp


If you HAVE previously had a UAE visa

✔️  Everything in the Establishment License list PLUS:

✔️  High resolution, passport size, studio photo, white       background (soft copy)

✔️  Health insurance

​✔️  Marital status

✔️  Mother’s name

✔️  Religion

✔️  Home country residential address

✔️  Home country telephone number

✔️  UAE residential address

✔️  Previous residence visa copy

✔️  Previous Emirates ID copy

We're making it easier to register your business in Abu Dhabi.

Our website is currently being upgraded.

We're adding all of our services onto our site to provide you the best and easiest experience for setting up your business and applying for visas in Abu Dhabi.

Although this license setup isn't available to buy online yet, don't worry, we can still setup your company right away. Fill out the form below to let us know you want this service and one of our team will contact you.

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Be your own boss

For individuals wanting 100% ownership

Delving into the Details: Helpful Information You Need To Know

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Business Activities

· Restricted business activities - choice of 67

· Business activities determine the type of commercial premises and any specific fitout required.

· Some business activities require special approvals from government departments.

Business Name

The business owner chooses the company name (trade name). The trade name must reflect the nature of the business activity(ies) on the license and not already be in use.

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Commercial Premises

Upon issuance of the Abu Dhabi Instant License, an Abu Dhabi Tawtheeq lease contract for a commercial premise needs to be arranged and submitted to the DED within 90 days. (A Tawtheeq contract means the lease is officially registered with the Department of Municipalities & Transport. Without a Tawtheeq lease, a lessee can't open a dispute or claim against the landlord if ever needed.)

Commercial space must be:

  • suitable for the activities on the license, e.g. retail activities need to have a shop or warehouse; whilst consultancy activities need office space

  • large enough to accommodate the anticipated number of visas

Be aware that some business activities have specific fit-out requirements, e.g. training activities require a training centre of 100sqm as a minimum, and have specific fit-out instructions which must be adhered to.

Employing Staff

An Abu Dhabi Instant License (Establishment) can't register in Immigration and Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) to start processing either the license holder's visa or any employee visas until a Tawtheeq lease contract has been obtained. To employ staff, the expat Establishment license holder is required to have their own visa under the license first.


There are no restrictions on the number of visas an Establishment company can apply for, but they should have a genuine need for the employees and provide a suitable working environment.

  • Abu Dhabi Establishment visas are issued for two years

  • Establishments must pay employee salaries via the UAE's federal payroll system, the Wage Protection System (WPS).

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  State-of-the-art commercial premises throughout Abu Dhabi

Offices, Retail, Industrial, Hospitality

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Business Bank Account Opening

Abu Dhabi Establishments can open business bank accounts and avail business banking facilities. However, it is likely that the banks will require the Tawtheeq lease to be arranged first. Bear in mind, banks regularly update their account features and conditions to be competitive, reflect their current appetite for risk and to comply with industry regulations.

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Exit Strategy

Abu Dhabi Establishments are suitable for these types of exit:

If the company simply intends to stop operations and close. When the time comes, it is simply a case of liquidating the business and cancelling the license.

If the intention is to create a saleable business. When the time comes to sell the company, the sale is conducted by way of a share transfer to the new owner(s).

UAE Tax Compliance


All businesses in the UAE need to record their financial transactions and ensure their financial records are up to date.

Mandatory VAT registration - when taxable supplies and imports exceed AED375,000. Voluntary VAT registration - when taxable supplies and imports reach AED187,500. New businesses can register voluntarily if their expenses exceed the voluntary registration threshold.

Corporation Tax

Corporate tax is levied at 9% on taxable income exceeding AED375,000, whilst taxable income below this rate is subject to 0% rate. All businesses are required to register for corporation tax, whether or not their taxable income meets the threshold.

Economic Substance Regulations

The UAE's Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) require UAE mainland and free zone companies, and certain other business forms, that carry out any of the defined 'Relevant Activities'  (listed below), to maintain and demonstrate adequate economic presence in the UAE relative to the activities they undertake, and to comply with notification and return filing obligations.

ESR Relevant Activities

  • Banking

  • Insurance

  • Investment Fund Management

  • Lease - Finance

  • Headquarters

  • Shipping

  • Holding Company

  • Intellectual Property (IP)

  • Distribution and Service Centre.

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Still have questions?

We're here to help. Scan the QR code to Whatsapp us.

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Why Use Gateway Group

for your business setup in Abu Dhabi

✔️ We are highly experienced in setting up Abu Dhabi Instant Licenses. Our Abu Dhabi business setup team are here to help you through the company registration, from application to license issuance.

✔️ We have the ability to setup your Abu Dhabi Instant License electronically - eliminating the need to complete any paperwork.

✔️ Upon completion of your license registration, you will receive an electronic copy of your Commercial Registration Certificate and Economic License, confirming the existence and validity of your new company.

Strategic Partnership with Abu Dhabi government preferred partner Business Setup Gateway Group

Strategic Partnership

with Abu Dhabi government

Gateway Group was chosen as preferred partner for business setups by Abu Dhabi Residents Office, part of the Department of Economic Development (DED). This strategic partnership is committed to attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Abu Dhabi and supporting foreign companies entering the market to promote the ease of doing business in the emirate.


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