If you’re thinking about starting a business in Abu Dhabi, you can do so completely online.
The procedure has been digitized through Tamm, the official digital portal for all Abu Dhabi government services, from determining the sort of establishment you can open to uploading the required paperwork and obtaining approvals.
The following is a step-by-step approach to obtaining a business license in the Emirate.
How to start a business in Abu Dhabi?
You can complete the entire process online, from choosing your business activity to reserving your trade name:
Step 1: Find the legal form type for your business
To begin the procedure, go to https://www.tamm.abudhabi/journeys/start-your-business/plan/wiki/legal-form on the tamm.abudhabi website.
You must first pick your company’s ‘legal form type,’ which refers to the type of legal entity that your company will be.
These are the three legal varieties you can choose from, according to tamm.abudhabi:
Establishment — A single-person-owned facility that is licensed to engage in specific economic activities that differ depending on the owner’s nationality. The owner, who could be an Emirati, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), or an expatriate, is responsible for the establishment’s financial obligations. In the event of foreign ownership, an Emirati or a firm controlled entirely by Emiratis will be required to act as a local sponsor.
Sole proprietorship LLC – A type of limited liability company that allows a single person to own 100% of a business and be registered as a separate entity from the owner. For tax and liability purposes, it is no longer tied to and associated with the owner. This legal form is only available to Emirati and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals.
Limited Liability Company LLC – A facility with a capacity of 2 to 50 individuals that is established through a contract. The responsibility of all LLC owners is limited to their share of the company’s ownership. A minimum of 51% of the firm’s capital must be owned by Emiratis.
Step 2: Find your business activity
After deciding on your company’s legal structure, you’ll need to choose a business activity. Because the license fee and regulatory requirements differ depending on the type of company activity, it is critical to register your firm. Visit the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development’s (ADDED) ‘Business Activities Information’ service to learn about the permitted business activities in the Emirate: https://www.adbc.gov.ae/BussinessActivityInfo/BussinessActivity.aspx?culture=en
Step 3: Reserve your trade name
Following the selection of the business’s activity and legal form, a trade name that distinguishes the business from others while also conforming to the nature of the activity and legal form should be chosen.
If you want to see if the name you choose for your company is already taken, use this TAMM tool to search for existing Trade Names in Abu Dhabi: https://www.tamm.abudhabi/services/business/ded/tradename-search/home?lang=en
Follow these steps once you’ve decided on a name for your company:
- Enter the name you want to reserve for your company, and you’ll be given suggestions in English and Arabic. The economic department has pre-approved these, and any additional manual approvals required to reserve these names have been waived. If you don’t want to use the suggested names, you may alter your economic name in English and Arabic using the customise option. The name will be reviewed and approved manually.
- Submit an application – After you’ve chosen and customised an economic name, you’ll need to submit an application.
- If necessary, it will be examined by the Department of Economic Development (DED), and you will be able to pay once it has been approved.
- Following payment, the application will be assessed for first approval by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Ports Security (ICP), and the economic name certificate will be available for download.
- As your application progresses through the various phases of approval, you will be advised of its status.
- According to tamm.abudhabi, reserving a trade name can take up to two days.
- Economic name reservation (regular name) – Dh200 for three months
- Economic name reservation (exceptional name) – Dh1,200 for three months
- Security check by Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) – Dh15
Step 4: Obtaining Initial Approval
The investor can begin the steps for issuing the initial approval after acquiring the trade name certificate. The initial approval is the document that allows an investor to proceed with the procedures of obtaining a business license and approaching the appropriate authorities for permission to engage in the required business activity. The authorization of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Abu Dhabi is required for international investors.
The investor can also rent the location of his business at this point. He can go to ADDED’s Commercial Protection Division and other relevant agencies to determine if the proposed site satisfies the conditions and standards, as well as whether it is appropriate for the activity type.
Step 5: Obtaining Approvals from Concerned Authorities
Following the initial permission, the investor would need to visit any relevant body to gain approval and meet the legal criteria, if any are required. The Department of Transportation, the municipality, or civil defense may all be involved. These approvals can be given out electronically as well. Some commercial actions, on the other hand, just require the approval of ADDED.
Step 6: Issuing Business Licence
A leasing contract number may be required for certain operations. You can enter it when completing the online process, or you can add it later as a license amendment if it is optional. However, you will be charged an extra price in that case.
Upload documents: You will be required to upload certain documents based on the legal form and the activities you choose. A local sponsor contract will be necessary if the legal form is an establishment controlled by a non-GCC national. A Memorandum of Association (MOA) is required if the legal form is a Sole Proprietorship LLC or a Limited Liability Company.
Submit the application once all of the details have been added.
In some situations, depending on your chosen activities, you may be required to pay a fee in addition to your application. Your application will be examined by ADDED, and if approved, you will be asked to pay the relevant fee before receiving your economic license, which will be granted and available for download. As your application progresses through the various phases of approval, you will be advised of its status.
- Memorandum of Association (only for LLC and Sole Proprietorship LLC)
- Other documents are required based on selected activities
- Notarised local sponsor contract (only for foreign-owned establishments)
Activity fee – Depends on the activities selected
- Signboard fee – Dh200
- Commercial board fee – Dh100
- Civil Defence fee – Dh500
- ICA approval fee – Dh100
- Economic license fee – Dh100
- Establishment card – Dh350
- Service fee – 25 percent of the total activities cost
Depending on your company activity, you may have to pay additional fees for approvals.