top of page

E Trader License For Dubai Expats

23rd June 2020

There was a lot of excitement when the Dubai Economy (DED) opened up its E Trader License to Dubai expats after it was previously only available to Emirati and GCC nationals. The excitement for the license was from Dubai expats wanting a cheap trade license to operate a home business. However, the E Trader License has also raised some confusion.

History of the e trader license

The e trader license was initially only available to Emiratis and GCC nationals living in Dubai. It was a cost-effective license which enabled them to have a home business and promote their goods and services via websites and social media.

E Trader License or Trader License?

The terms seem to be interchangeable and that is where some confusion has arisen. The E Trader License is an initiative to license business activities on social networking sites. However, nowadays it is referred to as 'DED Trader' or 'Trader License'. The actual license is called a 'Merchant License'.

To add further confusion, when the license was made available to Dubai expats, other than GCC nationals, the excitement generated was due to the anticipation that they would be able to sell online and via social media sites. Unfortunately, whilst there are thousands of business activities available to be selected for these licenses, the 'trading', or 'selling' activities are not available to the non-GCC expats in Dubai.

E Trader license activities for Dubai expats

Non-GCC expats in Dubai can get E Trader licenses for professional services, e.g. a make up artist and hairstylist; but, as mentioned above, the license doesn't enable them to import and sell goods. Some activities are restricted by nationality, so its essential to check in advance.

Up to a maximum of 10 activities can be on one license, providing they are 'related' as per the DED's list of activities. Multiple activities on the e trader license doesn't increase the cost.

E Trader license cost

The Dubai E Trader license cost is AED1,070, renewable annually. There is a further fee of AED300 for Dubai Chamber of Commerce Membership. Therefore, the total cost is AED1,370!

Who is the Dubai E Trader license suitable for?

The E-Trader license is ideal for the Dubai expats who:

  • Want to run a small business from home

  • Want to own their business 100%

  • Want to set up a side business whilst continuing their job

  • Want to test their entrepreneurial skills

  • Want to test the market for their business services

  • Stay-at-home spouses

What are the requirements for a Dubai E Trader license?

  • The applicant must be a resident with a Makani number in Dubai

  • The applicant must have a valid Emirates ID

  • The applicant must be over 21 years old

What are the advantages of the Dubai E Trader license for expats?

Here are the great things about Dubai's E-Trader license for expats:

  • Cheapest license available in Dubai - AED1,070 + AED300 for mandatory Dubai Chamber of Commerce membership. The license is renewable annually and therefore the fees are payable annually too.

  • 100% ownership - no need for an Emirati local sponsor

  • Individual ownership - ideal for an individual starting a business

  • Quick & easy to set up online (but if you still want someone to organize this for you to avoid any errors, then Gateway Group can help you)

  • Enables the provision of activities throughout Dubai (however, if you wanted to provide your services in another Emirate, then it would be necessary to obtain a trade license in the respective Emirate and Gateway Group can help you with this too)

  • Can have multiple activities on the license

  • Can have a company name rather than just the individual's name, e.g. 'Speedy Musical Instrument Repair and Maintenance' rather than just 'John Doe', which looks more professional

  • Can have a corporate bank account

  • Will have a trade license and therefore be operating legally, thus increasing consumer confidence in your business.

What are the restrictions of the Dubai E Trader license for expats?

The Dubai E Trader license for expats (non Emirati national and non GCC national) does have some downsides to be aware of:

  • Does not provide the expat with a residence visa

  • Does not enable the expat to employ staff - effectively, the individual is a sole trader working on their own

  • Does not enable the expat to lease commercial premises e.g. office space, workshop or commercial kitchen

  • Does not enable the expat to sell goods, either retail of wholesale (however, do note that Emirati nationals and GCC nationals can sell goods with the e trader license)

  • Restrictions on activities by nationality - check in advance!

  • Individual ownership - so friends and family can't collaborate on a new business idea.

Who ISN'T the Dubai E Trader license suitable for?

The E Trader license isn't suitable for everyone. It is not suitable for people in the following circumstances:

  • Applicants who do not live in Dubai

  • Applicants who need the license to provide them with a visa and Emirates ID

  • Applicants who need to lease and work from a commercial premise, such as a shop, garage or office

  • Applicants who intend to scale up their business and employ staff

  • Applicants wanting to do their business outside of Dubai e.g. in Abu Dhabi.

Business licenses are unique to their owner - one size doesn't fit all. In this instance, you might not meet the criteria for having an e trader license, it might not enable you to carry out the activities you want; or, it may be too restrictive for your business strategy.

What business license can you have if the E Trader license isn't suitable?

As you will understand from what you have read above, there are various criteria which may make this E Trader license unsuitable for your individual situation and future plans. This is the same with all types of business licenses in Dubai. But, don't worry, if the E-Trader license isn't the right fit for you, there are a number of other license types which you can explore and this is where the Gateway Group can really add value to you starting your business by ensuring you get the right license to fit your needs.

How Gateway Group helps start-ups in Dubai

Gateway Group is the authority on company formation in Dubai. We cut through the red tape and the jargon to focus on YOU as an individual, your actual requirements for starting a business and your goals. Once we know you and understand your circumstances, we can present the trade license option(s) suitable for you - along with the pros and cons for each based upon your situation, so that you can make an informed decision on how to setup your business. We appreciate that you are an expert in your field and don't necessarily know how to select the right business license when you are bombarded with advertising, so we make it simple - like the information provided above - so you can clearly see the right business license for you. Then, Gateway's on-the-ground team will organize your trade license for you. Get Gateway Group's Dubai company formation help uniquely for you!

Call Gateway Group: 600 567562


#GatewayToUAE #ReassuringlyHonest

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE


Related Gateway Group Blogs


Gateway Group Of Companies

Have peace of mind when starting your business in Dubai that you are getting the best license for your needs. Avoid the hassle and uncertainty of organizing your Dubai trade license. Award-winning Gateway Group delivers a straightforward and personalized business setup for your unique situation and requirements. To establish your business in Dubai, Email us:


Gateway Group – We’re Pretty Good At What We Do

Leading Experts in Offshore Company Formations 2020

MEA Markets

Top 20 GCC Entrepreneur (Jenny Hunt)

Learn From the Top 20: GCC's Top 20 Share Their Secret of Success'  by author Firdouz Hameed

CEO Of The Year 2020 The United Arab Emirates (Jenny Hunt)

CEO Monthly

CEO Today Middle East Awards 2020 (Jenny Hunt)

CEO Today Management Consulting Awards 2020 (Jenny Hunt)

Best Company Formation Specialists 2019

Lawyer International

Best Onshore Company Formation Specialists – UAE

MEA Markets 2019 GCC Enterprise Awards

Best Company Formation Specialists 2019 – UAE

M&A Today

CEO Today Middle East Awards 2019 (Jenny Hunt)

Recognized Leaders in Offshore Company Formation 2019

MEA Markets

10 Most Promising Corporate Business Service Providers 2019

Silicon India

FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women in the Middle East (Jenny Hunt)

Top 20 Abu Dhabi Blogs To Follow (Gateway Group Of Companies)




















































































Blog Categories
bottom of page