How to get e commerce license in UAE

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E-commerce, a rapidly growing sector in the global market, has firmly planted its roots in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With digitalization pacing at an unprecedented rate, there’s no wonder why so many entrepreneurs are looking to set up online stores in this thriving marketplace.

What is an E-commerce License?

In simple terms, an E-commerce license is a legal permit that allows businesses to conduct commercial activities online within the UAE. Think of it as a passport for your online business, granting you access to the digital world. Without this license, businesses can face hefty fines and severe penalties.

Importance of an E-commerce License in UAE

The UAE government emphasizes the importance of legitimizing businesses. Acquiring an E-commerce license ensures that your online business operates within the stipulated guidelines and standards. This not only safeguards consumers but also enhances the credibility of the business. Additionally, having a legitimate license can give your brand an edge in this highly competitive market.

Pre-requisites for Applying for an E-commerce License

Before diving into the application process, it’s crucial to understand the foundation and prerequisites for the E-commerce license.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for the E-commerce license, applicants need to meet certain criteria:

  1. Age Requirement: The applicant must be at least 21 years of age.
  2. No Criminal Record: A clean slate is essential, especially in financial matters, to ensure the business’s integrity.

Age and Nationality Considerations

While the minimum age is set at 21, there’s no specific nationality requirement. This means that both residents and non-residents can apply. However, it’s worth noting that having a UAE national as a partner or sponsor can expedite certain processes.

Legal Business Structure and Documentation

When setting up any business, especially in the UAE, the legal structure plays a pivotal role. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or part of a partnership, the chosen structure can influence liability, taxation, and even succession planning.

Business Structure Ideal For Key Feature
Sole Proprietorship Individual Entrepreneurs Full control, unlimited liability
Partnership Two or more partners Shared responsibilities, shared profits and losses
Limited Liability Company (LLC) Multiple stakeholders Limited liability to share capital

For the E-commerce license, it’s essential to have all the documentation in order, ranging from passport copies to the proposed business plan.

Step-by-step Process to Obtain the License

Getting a license might seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and information, it can be quite streamlined.

Choose the Right Jurisdiction

UAE offers multiple jurisdictions for businesses, including Mainland, Free Zones, and Offshore. The choice depends on several factors:

  • Mainland: Ideal if you plan to operate within local UAE markets or need to work directly with government projects.
  • Free Zones: Perfect for those targeting international markets. Free zones offer tax benefits and 100% ownership for foreigners.
  • Offshore: Suitable for businesses that don’t require a physical presence in the UAE.

Registration of the Business

Before you can have an online store, you need to have a registered business. Here’s how:

  1. Picking a Trading Name: Your business’s name should not only be unique but also reflect the nature of your E-commerce platform.
  2. Submitting Required Documents: Along with the application form, submit copies of passport, visa (if applicable), business plan, and other required documents.

Remember, each jurisdiction might have its own specific requirements, so it’s always a good idea to cross-check before submission.

Paying the License Fee

Once you’ve selected your jurisdiction and submitted the necessary documents, the final step in the licensing process is the payment. The fee structure varies based on the chosen jurisdiction and the nature of the E-commerce business. Generally, the fees are renewed annually, and it’s crucial to stay updated to avoid penalties. It’s advisable to budget for this fee as it is a critical operational cost for any online business in the UAE.

Benefits of Acquiring an E-commerce License in UAE

Obtaining an E-commerce license in the UAE offers a plethora of advantages that can propel your business towards success:

  1. Boost in Business Credibility: A legitimate license showcases your business as trustworthy and compliant. It can significantly enhance customer trust and brand image.
  2. Access to UAE’s Growing E-commerce Market: The E-commerce sector in UAE has been witnessing exponential growth. With a license, businesses can tap into this lucrative market, gaining access to a vast customer base ready to spend.

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Application Process

When applying for the E-commerce license, having a bit of insider knowledge can simplify the process:

  • Stay Updated: The regulatory environment is dynamic. Always stay abreast of the latest rules and changes.
  • Seek Expert Help: If you’re unfamiliar with the UAE’s licensing procedures, consider hiring a business consultant or legal expert familiar with the region. Their insights can be invaluable.
  • Ensure Complete Documentation: A significant delay in the licensing process often results from incomplete or incorrect documentation. Double-checking your paperwork can save you a lot of time and hassle.
  • Plan Ahead: The licensing process can take time. Factor this into your business launch plans to ensure you’re not rushing at the last moment.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While the process is fairly straightforward, some common pitfalls can derail your application:

  • Overlooking the nuances of different jurisdictions can lead to choosing a non-optimal business environment.
  • Failing to renew the license on time can result in penalties or even a business shutdown.
  • Not adhering to the guidelines and standards set by the UAE government post-acquisition of the license can be detrimental to your business’s reputation.


E-commerce is a thriving sector in the UAE, offering immense opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. To leverage this potential, ensuring your business operates within the legal framework is paramount. Acquiring an E-commerce license might seem cumbersome, but with due diligence, the right information, and careful planning, the process can be smooth. With this license in hand, the digital landscape of the UAE is yours to explore and conquer.


  1. What is the duration of the E-commerce license?
    The E-commerce license typically has an annual validity. It needs to be renewed every year.
  2. Can a non-resident apply for this license in the UAE?
    Yes, both residents and non-residents can apply for an E-commerce license. However, partnering with a UAE national can sometimes make certain processes smoother.
  3. Do I need a physical office to obtain an E-commerce license?
    While some jurisdictions might require a physical address or office, others, especially certain Free Zones, might not. It’s best to check the specific requirements of your chosen jurisdiction.
  4. Are there any restrictions on the products I can sell with this license?
    Yes, there are specific guidelines on products, especially regulated items like pharmaceuticals or high-value goods. It’s essential to check the list of allowed products before setting up your store.
  5. Is there a difference in the license fee based on the chosen jurisdiction?
    Absolutely. The fee varies depending on whether you’re setting up in a Mainland, Free Zone, or Offshore jurisdiction. It’s advisable to research and budget accordingly.