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How to start a new Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

How to start a new Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

How to start a new Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi  

How to start a new Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Business Centre Potential Investor eService
How to start a new Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi:

Welcome to the Department of Economic Development website. We are pleased to furnish you with a detailed layout of how to start a new business license in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This section provides you with information on requirements and procedures for starting a new business license, in compliance with rules and regulations set by the Department of Economic Development.

There are six steps for Starting Business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi:

  • Determining the New Activity.
  • Determining the Legal Form.
  • Registration of Trade Name.
  • Issuance of an Initial Approval.
  • Obtaining Approvals of Concerned Authorities.
  • Issuance of License.

 1. Determining the Economic Activity:

In order to start the procedures for issuing a business license, the type of activity/activities to be practiced must be specified. Requirements, conditions and fees differ according to the type and nature of activity, provided that some activities have special conditions and specifications related to the location (place and area), which means that they can only be practiced in some locations with special conditions.

 In line with international intents  to standardize economic activities, the Department of Economic Development  in Abu Dhabi has adopted the "International Standard Industrial Classification" of all economic activities (ISIC4) issued by the United Nations, which has become an important tool in the comparison of statistical data on economic activities at the international level.

 2. Determining the Legal Form:

There is a range of legal forms that commensurate with the needs of business activities in Abu Dhabi (such as an establishment, a limited liability company ... etc), where laws, requirements and conditions of the legal forms differ according to the nature of the business.

3. Registration of Trade Name:

After determining the activity and legal form, a trade name must be chosen for the facility to distinguish it from other facilities, and it must appropriately suit the nature of the activity and its legal form.

4. Issuance of an Initial Approval:

The Initial approval is a certificate which entitles the investor to proceed ahead with procedures for obtaining the business license, and apply for obtaining required approvals of relevant authorities to practice economic activities.

The Initial approval is the stage, which precedes issuance of the business license, and it starts after approval of trade names. The initial approval does not allow the concerned person to practice the activity, unless a commercial license is issued.

The Documents required to issue the initial approval

  • Obtaining the approved trade name.
  • Obtaining the approval of the Department of Naturalization and Residence for foreign investors.
  • Copies of valid passports.
  •  Copies of valid Emirates ID.
  • Payment of prescribed fees
  • Collecting the Initial approval certificate.

5. Obtaining Approvals of Concerned Authorities:

Upon obtaining the Initial approval, you will be entitled to approach concerned authorities to get required approvals after fulfillment of terms and conditions. The issuing entity is determined depending on the type of activity to be practiced. Some governmental entities offer electronic services that allow you to follow up the application online. You can follow up your application online with the following entities: 

  • Supreme Petroleum Council
  • Department of Transport
  • Abu Dhabi Municipality – Public Health Division - Al Ain
  • General Authority of Youth & Sports Welfare
  • Abu Dhabi Municipality – Public Health Division – Western Region
  • Abu Dhabi Municipality – Public Health Division – Abu Dhabi
  • Abu Dhabi Chamber
  • Abu Dhabi Sewerage Service Company
  • Waste Management Center
  • General Directorate of Civil Defense
  • Abu Dhabi Environment Health and Safety Center
  • Abu Dhabi Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Types of Licenses:

There are several entities which issue licenses in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, according to the type of license:

Type of License Description Issuing Entity
Commercial License Issued to owners of companies or establishments for practicing business activities.  Example: (general trading, construction, real estate, transportation, clinics, hospitals, etc ...). Department of Economic Development
Agricultural License Issued to the owners of agricultural farms, animal production or sea products. Department of Economic Development
Professional License Issued to artisans who personally practice a profession or craft for his own account, relying on his physical effort, or aided by some tools and equipment.  Example : (carpentry,  typing, steel works... etc )


Department of Economic Development




Issued to professionals who rely on their abilities, mental and intellectual capabilities, talents and scientific capacities.  Example: (consulting offices, law firms, audit offices ... etc). Department of Economic Development

* Some  commercial  licenses in free zones are issued by governmental bodies such as "Masdar Company "and "Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi".


6.  Issuance of Commercial License

The conditions and requirements of the issuance of commercial licenses depend on the legal form of the facility. The below table contains all the legal forms available. You can also review the Companies Law on the Department's website.

Establishment The establishment is a facility owned by one person only, (sole proprietorship) licensed for practicing an economic activity (commercial, professional, agricultural or occupational). The financial liability of the establishment lies with the owner, who bears all the financial obligations of the establishment. In case that the owner of the establishment in a non-citizen, there must be a UAE citizen who acts as a service agent for the establishment.

Licensed business activities must  have one of the following legal forms:

1.  Sole Proprietorship (Owned by a UAE citizen).
2.  Sole Proprietorship (Owned by a GCC citizen).
3.  Sole Proprietorship (Owned by a foreign investor).
4.  Sole Proprietorship (Mubdia'h Program).


Company A facility existing by virtue of a contract concluded between two or more persons who undertake to contribute in a profit economic project, by an amount of money or work. The profits and losses resulting from the project shall be distributed among the partners.


The company must take one of the following legal forms:

1.  Limited liability Company (L.L.C.)

2.  General Partnership.

3.  Commandite Company.

4.  Private Joint -Stock Company.

5.  Public Joint Stock Company.



A branch of the local (Abu Dhabi) or foreign main facility (company or establishment), or a facility from another emirate, practices the same activity / activities of the main facility. The foreign companies and the companies from other emirates may practice their main activity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and have offices and branches only after issuing a license from the Department of Economic Development.

 A branch takes one of the following legal forms:

  1. Branch of a local sole proprietorship establishment (from Abu Dhabi
  2. Branch of a sole proprietorship establishment (from another Emirate)
  3. Branch of a local company (from Abu Dhabi)
  4. Branch of a local company (from another Emirate).
  5. Branch of a foreign company.
  6. Branch of a GCC company.
  7. Branch of a GCC company (with a foreign investor).
  8. Branch of a local company (free zone).
  9. Branch of a foreign company (free zone).


Cooperative Societies Cooperative Societies: Independent group of persons cooperating willingly together in order to satisfy their economic needs through a collective ownership of the project, in accordance with Law No. 6 of 1974 concerning the cooperative societies and its amendments by Law No. 20 of 1981.
Not Available
Special Conditions:
Not Available
Required Documents:
Not Available
For applications follow up call: 800555– Email
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