Many foreigners who dream of legally living and working in the Middle East decide to open an individual entrepreneur in Dubai. The basis for obtaining residence for an individual entrepreneur is a freelancer visa. We analyzed the main types of activities suitable for working as an individual entrepreneur in the UAE, the timing, and the cost of obtaining a freelancer visa.
The review we have provided does not constitute legal advice. The publication is for informational purposes only. Contact the Dynasty Business Adviser managers to open an individual entrepreneur in Dubai. They will help you quickly and without extra costs to obtain the desired status.
Features of Individual Entrepreneurs in the Emirates
A foreigner registered as an individual entrepreneur on a freelancer visa can do the following:
- Work for yourself.
- Get an Emirates ID — an analog of an identity card.
- Open a bank account.
According to UAE legislation, self-employed persons are considered specialists who can do the following:
- Work independently.
- Do not involve third-party companies in performing work and services.
- Receive income directly from customers.
Compliance with these criteria simplifies the relocation of specialists to Dubai since registering an individual entrepreneur in the UAE is more accessible than starting a company.
Why Is It Profitable to Be a Freelancer in Dubai?
If you carry out projects independently and do not like to involve co-executors in your work, take advantage of the rights a freelancer visa holder receives. They are the following:
- Relatively high incomes with low expenses.
- No office rental costs.
- Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously.
- Independent planning of working time.
- Development of your brand in the chosen niche.
- Reliable, reputable banks in the UAE.
A freelancer has political, investment, and social stability.
Which Specialists Are Best for Applying for a Freelancer Visa?
Self-employed entrepreneurs who carry out projects in the following areas can open an individual entrepreneur in the UAE:
- Information and digital technologies (programmers, mobile application developers, web designers).
- Business consulting (system and economic analysis, project managers, managers).
- Design and engineering, architecture, graphic design, and digital painting.
- Media, information business, producing and copywriting, editing and journalism, translation, blogging, SEO, SMM, PR.
- Education (teaching, tutoring, coaching, trainers, and entrepreneurs creating information products).
- Legal services.
The list of destinations is not exhaustive but guides individual entrepreneurs in the United Arab Emirates.
How to Open an Individual Entrepreneur in Dubai: What Documents Are Needed?
UAE legislation is friendly to businesses founded by foreigners. Dubai has created over twenty Free Zones where non-residents can register individual entrepreneurs, companies with one or more founders, and 100% foreign capital.
Each Free Zone has its list of documents submitted by freelance visa applicants. The standard list includes the following positions:
- CV describing your education and achievements in your chosen field.
- A photograph that meets the established requirements.
- A certified copy of the international passport.
- Use the local phone number and proof of physical address.
If you have an open work visa, the applicant for a freelance visa must provide an NOC letter. This is a letter from the employer stating that he has no objections to the opening of a freelance visa by an employee of his company.
In addition, a freelance visa applicant may be asked to produce the following papers:
- A copy of the diploma and profile certificate.
- A copy of the passport page with a stamp indicating the UAE entry date.
- ID card (if available) and visa.
A self-employed specialist can be a sponsor for visas for family members (Dependent Pass). But you need to confirm your financial solvency first.
Procedure for Registering an Individual Entrepreneur in the UAE
Registration includes the following stages:
- Stage 1 — get a Freelancer Permit. This is the name of the permit, that is, an analog of a business license for a self-employed specialist. It is subject to annual renewal with payment of a fee. An application for a Permit is submitted to the selected free zone, indicating the required types of activities. The application is supplemented with the necessary documents and a receipt of payment of a fee.
- Stage 2 — issue an Establishment Card. The applicant applies for an Establishment Card and pays a fee (approximately $550).
- Stage 3 — apply for a freelance visa. A non-resident can submit a corresponding application by receiving an Establishment Card. Biometrics, medical examination, and insurance are mandatory conditions for the applicant.
The visa for an individual entrepreneur is valid for two years. The Emirates ID the entrepreneur receives is an identity document.
The Time Frame for Opening an Individual Enterprise in the UAE
If all the documents are completed correctly, and the fees are paid, the visa can be obtained in 7-10 days.
It can take up to two months to open a bank account.
In the last year and a half, due to increased demand, registering an individual entrepreneur may take longer than before. It would be best if you were prepared for this.
Opening a bank account in Dubai alone has also been difficult in recent years. In addition, banks differentiate between freelancing and business. Miscalculations in the relocation procedure may lead to blocking the bank account.
Increasingly, UAE banks refuse to open an account for Russians without explaining why. It is recommended that you apply to several banks to avoid wasting time. Consultation or support from a Dynasty Business Adviser manager on the relocation procedure for non-resident specialists will save time, money, and nerves.
Taxation of Individual Entrepreneurs in the UAE
Individuals can work without paying taxes in Dubai. They do not pay VAT and income tax, and capital gains are 0%.
From June 1, 2023, a new corporate tax has been introduced for businesses, obligatory for payment by residents and non-residents upon receipt of annual income above 375,000 dirhams. The introductory tax rate is 9%.
If the annual income of a self-employed person is less, there is no need to pay tax. Suppose your income for 12 months has reached or exceeded the specified amount. In that case, you must independently register on the website of the Federal Tax Authority of the United Arab Emirates to calculate and pay the tax.
Cost of Registering an Individual Entrepreneur in the UAE
We analyzed the cost of opening an individual entrepreneur in Dubai. It is different in all free zones. Consider the following estimated expenses:
- Obtaining a freelancer visa and migration card.
- Registration fees.
- Notary and consulting services.
- Costs of opening an account at a banking institution.
For example, a freelance visa for an IT specialist in the prestigious free zone of Dubai International Financial Center will cost approximately $18,000. The average cost of opening an individual entrepreneur ranges from $15,000 to $20,000.
Individual entrepreneurs in Dubai are a popular relocation option for self-employed non-residents. This legalization path in the country is faster and easier than opening a company. It opens up excellent prospects for working for yourself, developing your brand, or moving to the UAE with your family.