How to Get Your Freelance License & Visa in Dubai, UAE

Freelancing can be an incredibly rewarding career choice – both from a personal and business perspective.

From a business standpoint, the financial rewards can be far greater when you remove the middleman – and their markup – and bill directly for the work you carry out. On a personal note, freelancing offers much greater flexibility – allowing you to work when you want, where you want and how much you want.

Being able to work with such flexibility on offer takes discipline, however. This is why successful freelancers must be driven to succeed, focused and incredibly self-motivated. Freelancing, while rewarding, can be a lonely place. When setting up as a freelancer in the UAE, you essentially become a one-person business. It’s your name on the door so to speak and the success or failure of your ‘business’ lies solely with you.

Why Become a Freelancer in the UAE?

If you think you’ve got the requisite skills to succeed as a freelancer, however, there are plenty of good reasons to try. Freelancing is booming around the world right now. Over 40% of US workers are expected to be freelancers by 2020. Over in the UK, that projection increases to around 50%.

Here in the UAE, all of the signs point to a similar surge in the popularity of freelancing. Head of LinkedIn Talent Solutions for Southern Europe and MENA, Ali Matar, says an increase in companies using freelancers is one of the major trends the company foresees in the coming year, adding that the trend is ‘reflected in the UAE.’

The UAE is also known to be incredibly welcoming to freelancers. There are several online marketplaces for freelancers to promote their services and pitch for work, with Nabbesh being the largest and most popular. In the last few years, the UAE also began issuing entrepreneur visas – something of a game-changer for freelancers. The entrepreneur visa allows foreign nationals to move to the UAE without a solid offer of work, allowing would-be freelancers the chance to start building a network of clients from inside the country.

Many UAE free zones also offer freelance permits. These permits allow freelancers to set up in a free zone. Free zone freelance permits are an affordable and relatively straightforward way for freelancers to set up in the UAE and many also offer other benefits such as the use of desk space and office facilities as required. Setting up in a free zone also brings with it a number of other benefits including zero customs duty, 0% corporate and personal tax and 100% company ownership.

Have You Got What it Takes to Become a Freelancer?

We’ve covered the main things that you’ll need if you wish to become a freelancer – that’s drive, determination, resilience – and of course a comprehensive skill set in your chosen field. You’ll also need some business nous, the ability to sell yourself and a head for admin. Sure you may get to a stage where you can outsource your accounting or your IT, but right now that’s your job.

You’ll also need a little financial backing. No need for a huge buffer, but registering your business, applying for your visa – not to mention supporting yourself before the clients start rolling in – costs money. Which brings us to…

Looking for the Cheapest Freelance Visa in UAE?

Looking for a freelance visa in UAE in 2020 and concerned about cost? Then Creative City Fujairah is an option to consider. The free zone offers a freelancer permit which includes a one-year trade licence and establishment card, the use of flexi-desk facilities (such as meeting rooms, PRO services, a P.O. Box and internet access), as well as eligibility for up to three visas. As for the freelance visa UAE cost, the freelancer package starts at around AED 19,995.

If you are looking to get your company license in Dubai, Dubai free zone visa, or the cheapest trade license in the UAE. Then our team can help.

Applying For Your Freelance Visa

As well as a good option if you’re looking to secure the cheapest freelance visa in UAE, setting up in the UAE with a freelancer permit is also incredibly straightforward. You can either apply directly to the Department of Economic Development or Municipality in the Emirate you are setting up in, or apply to a free zone. Many free zones, including Creative City Fujairah, allow you to apply online.

To ensure there are no omissions or mistakes in your application, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation expert when making your application. They can manage your entire application for you, informing you as soon as it is successful. In most cases, licences are issued in a matter of days.

A Flexible Setup

Working as a freelancer is an incredibly flexible way to do business in the UAE. As no NOC is required from your local sponsor or employer, it is possible to get started on your freelance career as a side-project before going full time once you have a steady stream of work.

There’s also no need to take on office space when applying for your permit, meaning you’re not tied to a lengthy and costly lease. You can literally work from wherever suits you best – your home, the local coffee shop, a co-working space. The choice is yours.

Your administrative responsibilities are also incredibly minimal as a freelancer. In most cases, you are not expected to submit accounts and there is no auditing requirement.

Freelancing – a Stepping Stone or a Lifelong Career?

A question that’s asked a lot of freelancers is – do you think you’ll do it forever? This is a tough question for anyone to answer. For some, freelancing is the ideal job now and in the future. For others, it is a stepping stone – a foot in the door before setting up a full company.

If you’re in the latter category, the process for switching to a full setup is easy. Simply apply once more to the DED or speak directly with your free zone. Once you’ve upgraded to a company setup you can employ staff, apply for multiple employee visas and take on premises if you wish.

Working under a freelance permit for the long-term can also provide stability. While you don’t have to take on business premises, you are certainly welcome to. What’s more, as a freelancer in the UAE, you’re able to sponsor family members for their visas as well as applying for your own.

Ultimately, whatever your plan – whether freelancing is the first step to world domination or a career path you wish to stay on forever – you can achieve it with a UAE freelance permit.

We are BIZ, the official Dubai representative office of Fujairah Creative City Free Zone. If you are looking to open your company in Dubai, get a free zone license, or start a small business in Dubai, then we can help. From visa applications (including UAE investor visas) to all the necessary admin tasks, we handle it all – leaving you free to get on with your business.


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