How to get your influencer license in the UAE

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Social media influencing is big business around the world. A conservative estimate values the market at around USD 1.3bn – a figure that is expected to double by 2020. Other studies have thrown up much higher figures in the region of USD 10bn.

Whichever figure is correct, there’s no escaping the fact that there is money to be made on social media. Here in the UAE, influencers charge an average of USD 1,000 to USD 5,000 for a single post with some commanding fees of up to USD 10,000.

As the market has grown so too has the legislation within it. Last year, the UAE National Media Council (NMC) introduced new measures aimed at making the influencer industry more professional and transparent.

The new rules require any influencer who is paid directly for their posts to obtain both a trade license and UAE influencer license – otherwise known as a social media license.

 While the application can be complex, with the right guidance you can apply for your trade and social media influencer license in Dubai, UAE, and be ready to trade within a matter of weeks. Here’s how to make your application.

 

Applying for an influencer license in Dubai

The first step to becoming a licensed influencer is to apply for your trade license. You can apply either directly to the Dubai Department of Economic Development or to one of the UAE’s many free zones.

Setting up in a free zone is perhaps the most cost-effective approach. Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City offer benefits such as a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions.

You can also apply for an influencer license in the UAE if you hold a freelance permit. These can be obtained from many free zones across the UAE and are often cheaper than full trade licenses.

If you opt to apply for a trade license and set up a company, the next step is to choose a company name. This takes a little more thought in the UAE than in other parts of the world. Why? Because the UAE has a strict, yet easy to follow, set of naming conventions. An expert in company formation can help you make sure you adhere to them.

In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

If you are setting up as a freelancer, then this step is not necessary as your company name is simply your own name.

 

Making your visa application

You will need to hold a UAE residency visa and Emirates ID before you can apply for a social media license in the UAE.

The process for applying for your own visa, as well as those of your employees, is particular, yet straightforward. It is advisable to work with an expert in UAE company formation when making your application.

As the holder of a UAE trade license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.

The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your company, your chosen setup and, for dependant visas, your personal earnings.

 

Applying for your social media influencer license in Dubai, UAE

The final step is to apply to the NMC for your influencer license. You can either do so via the NMC website or work with a company formation specialist who can manage all your applications for you – trade license, Emirates ID, visa, and influencer license.

Before making your application, you need to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. You must be:

  • A UAE or GCC citizen
  • Over 25
  • Of good reputation
  • Not currently a member of the NMC

As part of your application, you must provide the NMC with:

  • Emirates ID photocopy
  • Registered tenancy contract or title deed
  • Trade license photocopy

 As the social media influencer license in Dubai is an e-license, the entire application process takes just 15 minutes.

 

Influencer license cost

There are several costs involved in obtaining a UAE influencer license. However, that’s not to say the license is overly costly.

Should you choose to set up in Fujairah Creative City Free Zone, for example, you can get a media trade license for just AED 18,000 – this price includes eligibility for two visa. If you wish to add use of the free zone’s co-working facilities, the total cost rises to just AED 21,675

The National Media Council (NMC) in the UAE made it mandatory in 2018 not only Social Media Influencers but all parties who undertake paid or unpaid form of advertising, news dissemination, brand promotion and the like online will now need to secure a E-Media license from the NMC. The NMC fee is AED 2775 and has to be renewed annually.

 

Are you an influencer?

With the industry on the rise and the licensing process becoming less complex, now is the time to get involved in the UAE’s social media influencer marketplace.

Having said that, while the steps needed to set up as an influencer in the UAE are not overly complex, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your business, visa and influencer applications are complete at the time of submission and free from errors.

To help you ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist when establishing a new company in the UAE.

As well as handling your license application, a company formation expert can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.

Many also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.

In short, company formation experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best.



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