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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Trader License: Start Your Business Without An Office In Abu Dhabi

17th December 2018 (Updated 6th March 2019, and thereafter where indicated.)

Entrepreneurs and freelancers can now start a business in Abu Dhabi and a commercial premise is not required! This is part of the Abu Dhabi government's commitment to helping entrepreneurs and boosting the economy. This means entrepreneurs and freelancers can now start a business without needing to spend on leasing an office space just to meet the requirements of obtaining their trade license.

Until recently, it was mandatory for all companies to lease a physical commercial premise in relation to their trade license. This was a financial burden for entrepreneurs and freelancers which didn't have the requirement for such premises from the outset. Contrary, a licensing system called Tajer, has been available for Emiratis which enables them to open up a new business and a premise is not required in Abu Dhabi.

The government has now opened up its Tajer licensing system to expatriates. This enables Expat entrepreneurs and freelancers to register for a trade license and a premise is not required in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: 31st August 2023

The Abu Dhabi Tajer license has been renamed Trader License, so all mentions below have been updated, accordingly.

Updated: 31st August 2023

Gateway Group has created a complete guide to the Abu Dhabi trader license, which provides information about the legal structure and ownership, who is eligible to apply, the criteria for applying, and so much more, in an easy-to-understand format.

Restrictions of the Trader license

  • Only applicable to UAE residents with a valid Emirates ID.

  • Only applicable to certain trade license activities. (We recommend checking if your preferred license activity is exempt prior to commencing the business setup.)

  • Premises exemption only applicable for the first two years of operation (Updated 31st August 2023: currently extended to the first three years of operation.)

  • Employing staff is restricted to just three people.

  • A local sponsor is still required. (Contact our Abu Dhabi Business Setup Team about our local sponsor service.)

Opening corporate bank accounts

Banks recognize the Trader license and do not insist on companies supplying a Tawtheeq contract as part of the documents required to open a new bank account. All that is required is the passport and Emirates ID cards of the shareholders and a copy of the trade license.

Updated 31st August 2023

Do be aware, that bank are continuously updating their regulations in accordance with the UAE Central Bank's requirements, as well as their own appetite for risk. Some banks will only open corporate accounts for businesses which have a commercial premise and they will send out an independent inspector to check the premises. However, if you cant find a bank willing to accommodate your trader license, there are numerous digital payment platforms nowadays, which could provide a suitable solution.

Given that premises are not required in Abu Dhabi, this makes starting a company in Abu Dhabi now much more cost effective and attractive for entrepreneurs and freelancers. These new initiatives enable startups to invest in developing their businesses rather than paying out fees. Cashflow can be spent in the wider economy and hopefully this will result in a win-win situation for everyone in Abu Dhabi.

For assistance with your Abu Dhabi company formation, arrange a consultation with Gateway Group. We will assess your current position and future plans to guide you to the most appropriate location and legal structure for your new business. We also manage the whole commercial registration from start to finish. Our on the ground experience and expertise means we can take care of the company formation whilst you focus on developing your business.

Updated 31st August 2023

Do you know about the Abu Dhabi Freelancer License

An alternative option for freelancers and entrepreneurs is Abu Dhabi's freelancer license. A commercial premise is not required with this license, but it is only available with a limited number of business activities. To learn more about this license-type, you can check out our complete guide to the Abu Dhabi freelancer license.


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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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Check out some of our other blog posts for freelancers


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