import export business in dubai

How to Start Import Export Business in Dubai | Benefits and Costs

Dubai is a city known worldwide, offering vast opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs due to its location and economic condition, it is highly favorable for expatriates interested in the import-export business in Dubai. There are a number of good reasons to select Dubai for business purposes including the city’s strategic location and its robust economy makes it a prime choice for such ventures.

In this article,

We will explore the benefits and costs associated with knowing how to start an import-export business in Dubai. Also, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide, shedding light on the potential advantages and the financial aspects you need to consider.

Starting an Import Export Business Benefits in Dubai

import export business

Setup Phase

The process is swift when it comes to setting up an import-export business in Dubai. Dubai’s government has taken significant steps to simplify the setup process for businesses and a broader initiative to diversify the economy and encourage entrepreneurship.

For business registration, the DED in Dubai has a well-structured process for registration, including a clear list of required documents and a step-by-step guide on how to submit them. The DED offers excellent customer service and is ready to assist at every step

Dedicated to specific industries, Dubai provides several free zones, offering numerous benefits, such as

  1. Fully 100% foreign ownership
  2. Zero taxes, and
  3. World-class infrastructure.

It is not about a quick setup to start an import-export business in Dubai. It is more than that, like making strategic decisions that align with your business goals.

Tax Benefit

The tax benefit is the most compelling reason to start an import-export business in Dubai. Dubai can enjoy significant tax benefits and it has a tax-friendly environment that is highly attractive to businesses and entrepreneurs.

The UAE residents do not have to pay income tax, which means that their earnings from import-export business will not incur to personal income tax. Compared to many other countries, this is a major advantage as in other countries personal income tax can take a significant chunk out of your earnings.

In the UAE, the corporate tax rate is very low. In many cases, UAE businesses pay zero corporate tax. This is true for businesses operating in free zones in Dubai. In these free zones, the companies can benefit from 100% tax exemption.

It is not only a factor to start a business of import-export in Dubai. Other factors such as

  1. Market demand
  2. Competition, and
  3. Logistics also play a crucial role in the success of your business.

100% ownership

To start an import-export business in Dubai, 100% foreign ownership is a significant advantage. It sets Dubai apart from many other international business hubs.Foreign investors are required to enter into joint ventures with local partners in many countries which leads to shared profits and control. In Dubai, investors can retain full business ownership. It is beneficial in the import-export industry due to the strategic decision-making. Entrepreneurs can make these decisions independently with 100% ownership no need to consider the local partner interests. For entrepreneurs, retaining all profits can be a significant motivator,  driving them to work harder, strive for greater success, and innovate more in their import-export business in Dubai.

Start Import Export Business in Dubai – Step by Step

import export business in dubai

Choose Your Business Activity

Selecting business activity is the very first step to starting the best import-export business in Dubai. It is crucial as it will guide your strategies and business operations. The diverse economy of Dubai offers a lot of opportunities including electronics, textiles, food items, and machinery. It is necessary to understand that for every product there is a market in Dubai separately in Dubai. Conduct thorough market research to identify the high-demand products that offer good profit margins.

It also involves the regulations and requirements understanding associated with that particular product category. Importing and exporting food products may require additional licenses and compliance. To consider the logistics associated with your chosen business activity is also important. It could add to operational costs such as some products may require special storage and transportation.

Select a Trade Name

A trade name is a crucial step when starting an import-export business. It is the identity of your business. Through this, your business will be known to your customers, the public, and the suppliers. It should be relevant and unique to your business activity, reflecting the nature of your import-export business, and must resonate with your target market. Want to stand out in the Dubai market? Then select a well-chosen trade name that makes your business stand out in the competitive Dubai market and help establish your brand

The DED in Dubai has specific regulations regarding trade names. The trade name should not violate public morals, it should not be previously registered and must be followed by the legal form of the company. It is important to remember that trade name registration is a separate process from the business licensing process. After choosing a trade name, now register it with the DED. It protects your trade name and prevents others from using it.

Determine Your Business Location

Determining the right location is critical for your import-export business in Dubai. It significantly impacts your business operations, overall success, and logistics. Location is important and for import-export businesses Dubai offers a wide range of locations. The competitive and profitable locations Dubai offer are, fee zones, commercial districts, and industrial areas. They not only offer unique advantages that cater to different business needs but also help entrepreneurs to gain desired profits.

For businesses, free zones are specially designed economic zones that offer numerous benefits, including 100% foreign ownership, streamlined business setup processes, and tax exemptions. Among them JAFZA and DMCC are popular. Industrial areas or commercial districts can provide easy access to local markets and robust infrastructure. So setting up a business there is a good option, as these areas may have different regulations and costs compared to free zones.

Complete Application and Pay Fees

It involves submitting a set of required documents to the DED in Dubai. The process involves documents that are a detailed business plan, lease agreement, and copies of passports for all shareholders for your business location. To streamline this process, the DED has made significant efforts, offering a clear guide on how to submit these documents. To provide applicants the needed assistance they also offer excellent customer service to assist applicants at every step of the process, which make their process at ease

There are several factors that are included when starting an import export business in Dubai. These factors consist of different types of fees such as the type of license you are applying for, the nature of your business activity, and the location of your business. When planning your business, it is important to budget for these costs.

Receive Your License and Open a Business Bank Account:

The next step is to receive your business license. It is a legal requirement and serves as official permission to conduct your chosen business activities in Dubai. In Dubai, the DED is responsible for issuing business licenses. On approving your application, the DED will issue your business license. It is typically an efficient process, reflecting Dubai’s commitment to fostering a supportive business environment.

Obtaining a business license is a significant milestone as it marks the official start of your import export business in Dubai. Opening a bank account is also one more crucial step to complete. For managing your business finances, a business bank account is essential, allowing you to receive payments from customers, pay suppliers, and keep track of your income and expenses. Several banks offer business banking services with various features designed to support businesses in Dubai.

Cost of an import-export license in UAE?

In Dubai, starting an import export business involves various costs. The most significant cost among them is the cost of obtaining an import-export license as it is a legal requirement for conducting import-export activities in the UAE. It depends on several factors including the type of goods you plan to trade, the nature of your business activity, and the location of your business.

The expatriates who want to start a business in the mainland have to bear the cost of an Import Export License in the UAE starting from AED 16,200 and can go up to AED 24,683, it can vary depending on your specific business requirements and operational activities.

These costs are just for the license. Also, you need to learn about the additional costs associated with setting up your business, such as

  1. Renting office space
  2. Purchasing equipment, and
  3. Hiring staff

When planning your business, it is crucial to budget for these costs. The license cost is a significant factor but it should not be the only one considered when starting an import export business in Dubai. Some other factors such as: market demand, competition, and logistics also play a crucial role in the success of your business.


It holds great potential to initiate an import export business in Dubai due to it’s strategic location, robust economy, and supportive business environment making it an ideal hub for global trade. Choosing your business activity such as trade name, determining your business location, and completing the necessary paperwork each step is crucial in setting up a business in Dubai.

The benefits of 100% ownership, and quick setup processes, tax advantages further enhance Dubai’s appeal as a business destination.

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