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How to Start an Import Export Business in Dubai, UAE?

The UAE has a skyrocketing economy with the leading economic KPIs among the world’s top economies. On top of that, the UAE’s business-friendly infrastructure and sustainable ecosystem are the primary reasons behind the growing trend of setting up the Import Export business in the UAE among overseas and local investors. 

The growing dependence of countries on each other amid globalization has dramatically surged the demand for imported goods and the supply of export items. Dubai is at the center of Asia, Europe, and Africa and is the central hub to fuel import and export activities worldwide. The lack of sufficient food and other vital resources has made it inevitable for the UAE to limit its imports. On the export end, UAE’s export-based income in 2020 was around $216B, making it the number 24th largest exporter in the world.

Regarding Import activities that address various consumer needs, a survey found that around 35% of consumers are willing to pay premium prices to buy their favorite imported brands. Let’s discuss how you can capture the high potential local and international markets by setting up an Import Export business in Dubai.

import export business in dubai

How to Start an Import & Export Business in Dubai, UAE?

You need a Dubai Import Export license to start your trade activities in Dubai. To get your trade license and start your Import Export business in the UAE, you must complete and follow the following steps and prerequisites.

Step 01 – Partner With the Business Formation Services Provider

To start your Import Export business in the UAE, you need different approvals from the relevant authorities and fulfill legal requirements and documentation. The process dramatically varies depending on your particular trade activities. Therefore, it is recommended to onboard experienced business formation service providers in the UAE. Business formation service and consultancy providers in the UAE can help you choose between various alternatives, including your trade name, business activities, and company legal structure.

Once you finalize your trade name, business activities, and company legal structure, the real process begins with initiating an application with the relevant authorities depending on your business jurisdiction.

The online application for business registration that finally leads to trade license approval requires you to fulfill all the documents and provide your personal and business information. Once you complete your documentation and other application requirements, the application is submitted for reviewal and approval by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).

Step 02 – Consider Renting an Office Space or Flexi-Desk

After paying the trade license and registration fees, you must secure an office space or warehouse location for daily business activities in Dubai. You can either purchase or rent a furnished or non-furnished office space per your budget and requirements. 

Dubai’s warehouses and office spaces offer all the facilities required for smooth business and trade operations. Keep in mind the size of your office space determines how many employee visas you can apply for under your tradename.

Step 03 – Secure Your Dubai Import Export License

The most critical permit to start Import Export business in Dubai is the trade license issued by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. You cannot start your business activities in the UAE without getting your trade license. Dubai’s import-export business license cost is based on your trade activities and the company’s legal structure. You can expect your import-export business license cost in Dubai to be up to AED 24,000.

The application for a trade license is submitted to the Dubai Department of Economic Development via its online registration portal with all the required documents.

Step 04 – Acknowledge the Terms & Conditions of Dubai Customs

Once you get your trade license, you can start your business activities. To free from any troubles in the future, it is recommended to consider Dubai customs requirements that define the legal limits and liabilities of your business operation in the UAE.

International import and export regulations in the UAE are articulated to support the business and trade community in the Emirates. But you need to ensure that the Dubai customs regulations align with the criteria of the country of origin or destination.

The items you will import must be declared to UAE Customs to avoid any delay or denial from the authorities. Additional regulations are also applied to items like food, lifestyle, healthcare, or pharmaceuticals.

If you fail to comply with the regulations and directions set up by customs, you may face hefty fines or even permanent business closure. Therefore, opting for an experienced business formation and consultancy service provider who can help you design your company policy under customs regulations is suggested.

Step 05 – Choose the Right Visa Category

To trade different goods with your Import Export business in Dubai, you need a valid UAE visa to become eligible for the transportation and shipment of goods. The UAE government has a strict custom law that binds you to get a UAE visa for all your shipments.

You can choose from two different types of limited visa categories

  • Transit visa – Valid for up to 14 days
  • Import-Export visa – Valid for up to 30 days

If you have planned a permanent stay in the UAE, which is the case with creating an Import Export business in Dubai, a UAE residence visa is the long-term solution.

Read our detailed blog to learn how to apply for a UAE residence visa.

Documents Required for Import Export Business

You must submit these documents to apply for your Dubai Import Export license.

  • Trade name reservation
  • Document of approved Business activity
  • Passport copy with valid UAE visa
  • Passport copies with valid UAE visas of all the shareholders in case of shared partnership
  • Copy of Emirates ID

Additional documents are required based on your business activities and the company’s legal structure as required by the relevant authorities. Once you complete all the required documents, you can apply for your Import Export license in the UAE, which will be issued within a few weeks.

Import Export License Cost

The cost of a Dubai Import Export license is around AED 24,000. The cost may vary depending on different aspects such as your particular business jurisdiction, type of business activities, number of employee visas, the legal framework of your company, etc. It is recommended to consult any experienced business formation consultancy provider to get the accurate cost of your trade license cost in the UAE.

Import Export business in Dubai

Why Start an Import & Export Business in Dubai or UAE?

Dubai is known for its rich history of trade and commerce. For ages, traders from around the world visited or passed this deserted land to embark on trading goods with different edges of the world. It makes this Arab land a center point of all trade activities between Asia and Europe. To date, its geostrategic importance is standstill with the world’s growing dependence on the UAE market.

Now Dubai is known as one of the prime trade harbors by enabling trade between two densely populated regions of the world – Asia and Europe. The UAE is attracting foreign investors by offering business-friendly facilities like tax exemptions on corporate tax and import/export duties, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and growing demand from the consumer segment for imported goods.

Overseas businesses in Dubai and UAE can leverage 0% corporate or personal tax if their annual income is under AED 375,000, with only 9% of the tax to be paid above AED 375,000. Foreign investors and entrepreneurs gearing up to open an Import Export business in Dubai have promising opportunities to leverage the modern business infrastructure of the UAE, making it their perfect decision to start business activities in the land of opportunities. 

With a modern airport that accommodates aircraft like Antanov and Airbus A380 and the world’s biggest seaports that harbors gigantic carriers, you’re just hours away from thriving global business hubs worldwide. 


The Import and Export activities are continuously expanding in the UAE with the world’s growing dependence on the UAE and vice versa. You can ensure promising success by setting up an Import Export business in Dubai and leveraging the perks of booming UAE’s economy. For a hassle-free and smooth onboarding experience, partner with the right business formation service providers.

Connect with Airzone to find the right business formation service and consultancy providers to help you start your business in Dubai.