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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Introducing the Abu Dhabi Freelance License

8th April 2022 (Updated where indicated.)

An Abu Dhabi freelance licence allows an individual to practice certain professional activities based on their own skill set. Check out an overview of the license below.

Freelance license Abu Dhabi buy online right now

Legal Form: Establishment

Mainland or Free zone: Mainland. The freelance licence enables the individual to work with companies throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Ownership: 100% by an individual

Local Sponsor / Local Service Agent: Not required

Commercial Premises: Not required.

Business name: The individual can choose the trade name they operate under but it must reflect the business activity on the freelance licence.

Bank account: Corporate accounts can be opened with freelance licences, but not all banks offer this facility, so do check first.

Employing Staff: It is not possible to employ staff with a freelance licence.

Freelance Visa: Applicants can apply for a visa upon issuance of their freelance licence, if required. A freelance visa is valid for three years.

Family Visas: Applicants can apply for dependent visas for their spouse and children, if required, only after obtaining their own residence visa. The applicant is the sponsor of the family visas in this instance. The family visas are valid for two years.

Licence Validity: 12 months. Renewable annually.

Gateway Group’s Opinion On The Abu Dhabi Freelance Licence

The Abu Dhabi freelance licence is ideal for any individual wanting to start their own business in a field in which they are qualified and competent. Even if individuals are in existing employment, this Abu Dhabi licence enables them to start a side hustle, making it a great way to test the market before giving up the safety net of a regular salary.

It is a perfect one-man-band business licence for those who only ever intend to have a small business working on their own, and for housewives with specialist skills wanting a cheap license to legally freelance and earn some money of their own or to boost their household income. It is also a cost-effective solution for specialists to remain in the UAE if they are unemployed.

Traditionally, freelance license activities were quite restricted, mainly in the areas of media, IT and education. They tended to focus on professional services only; however, more and more activities are being opened up all the time for this type of license, especially in the field of arts and crafts, making this a great option for crafters, artisans and individuals specializing in handmade creations.

Given that the freelance licence in Abu Dhabi allows individuals to choose a trade name rather than having to operate in their personal name, combined with being able to open corporate bank accounts, it enables them to build a brand identity which inspires professionalism, credibility and confidence. Having a corporate bank account will also help the individual with book keeping by preventing business monies getting confused with personal monies in a personal account.

Price is always important for startups and what makes this licence cost effective, when compared to other options, is that it doesn’t require the individual to lease a commercial premise, giving them the freedom to work from home, coffee shop, or wherever, saving unnecessary expenditure on an unwanted lease – making it ideal for today’s modern professionals who work on-the-go.

Add to the above, the peace of mind of owning the licence 100% outright, without the need for a local sponsor, the freelance licence is extremely attractive.

We also love that this licence type gives individuals the freedom to be self employed and in control of their visa, with the option to sponsor their family visas too.

Updated 30th August 2023

How to get your Abu Dhabi freelancer license quickly and easily

To help you on your freelancing journey, Gateway Group has created a unique collection of freelancer packages, so you can get setup with your own license, and visa if you need one, quickly and easily. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Decide what type of package you need: Freelancer License Only or a Freelancer License & Visa Package

  2. Choose the package which aligns with your specialist skill. There are lots to choose from, including: media, tax consultancy, IT systems, cyber security, HR, jewellery design, photography, sculpture etc.

  3. Read all the package information carefully to ensure you meet the requirements to apply.

  4. Buy your chosen package.

  5. Upon completion of your purchase, you'll be invited to upload your documents and details to our cloud portal, which is extremely easy to use and will guide you step-by-step.

  6. Once everything has been successfully uploaded, the Gateway Group Business Setup Team will take over to arrange the applications and submissions for your freelancer license (and visa if you opted for this).

  7. Within a few days we'll be sending you a copy of your new economic license and congratulating you on becoming your own boss!


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Written by Jenny Hunt

Founder, Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates

FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women in the Middle East

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Links to some of our freelancer packages

Check out some of our other blog posts for freelancers


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