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Business, Licenses, Startups

Why Choose a Professional License in Dubai

Last time we looked at the LLC and its benefits as a choice of company set up in Dubai. Today we are looking at the Professional License, what it means, what it is for, and why to choose it.

What is a Professional License?

For any business that is based on providing a service rather than trading a specific product, then it is likely they will need a Professional License, issued from the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Essentially if the foundations of your business is your knowledge or a particular skill, whether offering your applied services or providing consultancy services you will be requiring a Professional License.

Typically Professional Licenses fall into a number of activity groups, ranging from business support services, to sports training services as well as entertainment and artistic performance. As a result, there are a large range of business activities available under the license type.

Unlike an LLC company, a Professional License can be 100% foreign owned, without the need for a local shareholding. However, a Professional License still requires a Local Service Agent (LSA), a UAE National who acts as your sponsor for residency visas.

The other key difference of a Professional License is that it has unlimited liability. Unlike an LLC, in which the liability of the owners is limited to the paid-up share capital, the Professional License has unlimited liability to the owner. As the owner of a Professional License, you could be liable for any debt that the company generates, and creditors will potentially be able to take your personal assets in an attempt to recover their losses.


You will find a Professional License often requires at least one external approval, depending on the activity choice. The approval process is used as a means to ensure that a new company meets a certain standard in the ability to provide the services for which they are applying for a license.

Approvals can range from a simple No Objection Letter (NOC), through to competency exams and attestation of qualifications, as well as minimum number of years of experience for the manager on the license in the relevant field.

It is also important to note that your type of activity may require an approval on your office space. For example if you are going to be doing training activities, you may be required to have a suitable classroom area in your office, along with relevant materials to support learning, such as screens and boards etc.

If your business will be in the consultancy field, then you may be required to do the Management Skills Placement Test, which is required by the DED and administered by the American University of Dubai.

Regulated Activities

On top of the approval requirements, some activities are regulated, and have strict minimum requirements that must be met to allow formation of the business.

For example, architecture or engineering consultancies require a UAE national to own 51% of the business, becoming a Civil Company. Also, the UAE national must hold a B.Sc in Engineering from a reputable institution, be registered member of the Engineer’s association in the UAE, and have a minimum of 3 years professional experience in their field.


There are a lot of benefits of the Professional License, similar to the LLC we discussed last time.

  • 100% Foreign Ownership. This is one of the most attractive features of the license, meaning you can own and operate your business, without the need to deal with an additional shareholder.
  • Cost Effective. Like an LLC, you can choose to locate your office anywhere onshore, so you are not tied into leases with specific authorities. For companies who are starting out, they often choose to use serviced offices, or in some cases co-working spaces, that allow them to obtain their license, provide a flexible working area, and reduce overhead costs. Again, the market fee of 2.5% now makes this more affordable.
  • Wide Range of Activities. The list of activities eligible for a Professional License is considerable, and growing all the time. If you are a specialist in your field and want to start your own business, the chances are there is already an activity that fits your profile.
  • Flexible Market. Again similar to the LLC, your onshore Professional License allows you to engage with a wide range of clients and markets. You can service end user clients, as well as contract with large companies, education institutes and government agencies.

Need Help Setting Up?

If you would like to know more about which license to choose for your business, or which activity you should select, then contact our team for a free consultation on

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