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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Trade Names: 2023 Guide to Naming Your Business in Abu Dhabi

3rd July 2023

Your trade name holds immense value as a representation of your business. When starting your business in Abu Dhabi, securing and safeguarding your trade name is one of the first, and most exciting, steps. There are specific rules and regulations governing company trade names. To ensure a successful approval first time, our comprehensive trade names guide for 2023 will assist you in choosing a business name that aligns with the stipulated guidelines.

If your trade name is rejected, it will result in delays for your business setup. You will need to submit revised trade names repeatedly until they satisfy the criteria and one is finally approved. This is called the trade name reservation or trade name registration. It is only after your trade name receives approval that you can proceed with the next stages of your company formation.

Trade name reservation

Trade name reservations have a validity of three (3) months. In the instance your company registration is not completed within three months, and the trade name reservation is due to expire, it can be extended, for an extra fee, as it will need to be valid for your economic license (formally, trade license) to be issued. The validity doesn't apply to Abu Dhabi's freelancer license or instance license as these-types of licenses are issued almost immediately. It does apply to the Abu Dhabi Trader license (formally, Tajer license), Limited Liability Company (LLC) license, Establishment license and Foreign Branch license.

A longer six (6) month trade name reservation can be applied for, it is a little more expensive, but this shouldn't be necessary for most standard business setups. This would be an option for companies which will have a longer setup process, such as those needing special fit outs of their commercial premises or special government approvals, prior to their trade license issue.

2023 Guide: Abu Dhabi Trade Names
  1. The trade name must not already be in use. When you are ready to start your business setup in Abu Dhabi, we will do a name search on your behalf.

  2. The trade name must not have previously been registered. When you are ready to start your business setup in Abu Dhabi, we will do a name search on your behalf.

  3. The trade name must reflect what the company actually does and directly reference at least one of the activities being applied for on the economic license. For example, if you are planning to establish a marketing business with the activity 'Marketing Consultancy And Studies', the name should include the words 'Marketing Consultancy'.

  4. Trade names are not allowed to include geographical places and locations, such as Al Ain, Rome or Panama.

  5. Trade names may include international references, but for a premium fee. Premium trade names with international attributes, such as ‘Global’, 'International’, 'Worldwide', 'Gulf' or ‘Middle East’ are permitted in trade names, but they incur a premium fee which will be payable when setting up the business and subsequently each year when the economic license is renewed. At the time of publishing, the premium trade name fee charged by the DED in Abu Dhabi is AED1,000.

  6. Trade names should not include any religious references, such as 'Allah', 'God', 'Halo' and 'Moses'.

  7. UAE-specific words are prohibited in trade names, such as 'Abu Dhabi', 'Etihad', 'ADNOC' and 'Jumeirah'.

  8. Trade names should avoid made-up words that have no meaning. Made up words will be rejected. It is possible to appeal a rejection if you can prove that the made up word is your existing brand in other parts of the world; however, ultimate approval is at the discretion of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

  9. A Foreign Branch Office or Representative Office must have exactly the same name as the parent company. As branches of foreign companies and rep offices are not stand-a-lone legal entities - they are wholly-owned divisions of their overseas parent company - they are required to take the registered name of their parent company. Sometimes, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development may add a suffix to the name, such as 'XXXXXX - Abu Dhabi' or 'XXXXXX - Abu Dhabi Branch', but this is at their sole discretion.

For your convenience, please find below links to download the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development's list of prohibited trade names and list of exceptional trade names.

prohibited-names الاسماء المحظورة
Download PDF • 112KB

exceptional-names-list الاسماء المستثتاة
Download PDF • 111KB

Trade name approval Abu Dhabi

When deciding upon the name for your company, Gateway Group's recommendation is to carefully consider the above guidelines; then choose your favourite three names; and, submit them to us in your order of preference. Providing you keep to the guidelines, your trade name should be approved. In the unfortunate instance your preferred trade name isn't approved, the second option will automatically be reviewed, and then, if necessary, the third, which will prevent any delays in your business setup. If all three names are rejected, we will revert to you and request three revised trade names and then resubmit them on your behalf.

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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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