Incorporating a company: Commercial permits

You will find here the most frequently asked questions about incorporating a company in Dubai concerning commercial permits.

General Queries

1. Should an application be filled out in the Arabic language or the English language?

This is left to the discretion of the organizer. Both languages are accepted, provided that details are clearly described and the data is accurately set out.

2. Do you accept travelers’ cheques?

No, only cash or a bank cheque issued by an establishment or company is accepted.

3. Can fees be settled using a credit card?

No, the Department presently accepts only cash ( or bank cheques issued by the firm applying for the permit)

Questions relating to the Internet

1. Can a permit fee be paid via the Internet? Is it safe to make such payment by credit card?

Fees may be paid by a credit card through the Internet. Payment by a credit card is now more secure than previously due to the development of more advanced encryption technologies as a deterrent to theft.

2. Can any permanent license such as permits for advertising signboards permits be cancelled through the Internet?

Yes this can easily be accomplished after entering your PIN(personal identification Number) and the number of the license.

3. Can I obtain a commercial permit through the Internet?

Yes; you can visit the Department's website and submit an application supplying the requisite information.

4. What is the nature of business for which a permit involving the offering of Internet services may be granted?

Coffee shops and some minor activities such as typing services.

5. Can payment of fees for new permits be deferred through the Internet up to the expiry date of the trade license?

Yes; this may be done by debiting the fees to the trade license. They will then be collected upon commencement of trade under the license.

Questions relating to the types of Commercial Permits available

1. What are the main types of service offered by the Department's Commercial Permits Section?

This Section issues permits for promotional campaigns, advertising signboards, exhibitions, conferences and any additional activities pertaining to the license.

2. What are the main conditions required for obtaining a commercial permit?

Simple completion of the application form for granting of the permit, as explained in the relevant documents. In the matter of advertising signboards, calligraphers are supplied with application forms for the designing of advertisements.

3. How can I obtain the Guide To Commercial Permits Measures?

It can be obtained from the Commercial Permits Section.

4. What is the period of validity for the circulation of paper advertisements and booklets? What do their fees amount to?

Three months. The fees are AED 250 for paper advertisements, and AED 500 for booklets.

5. Can I circulate paper advertisements describing the various services offered by a given shop in the English language only?

No, the organizers are required to print advertisements in both the Arabic and English languages.

6. What do the fees involved in obtaining a permit amount to?

Fees vary according to each permit in terms of type, specified duration and the total value of any prizes awarded (in promotional campaigns). Reference may be made to the Guide of Commercial Permits Measures in this regard.

7. How long does it take to obtain a permit?

It takes 5-8 minutes?? for permanent permits, but temporary permits will take longer as they require constant verification and review; as in the case of permits granted for the purpose of mounting trade exhibitions and promotional campaigns.

8. What is the difference between a minor and a major campaign?

A minor campaign may last for one month or less and its fees can vary from AED. 500 -1000. Fees can increase if there are to be any raffle draws or a box lock. A major campaign can last for two months or less with raffle prizes equal to more than AED. 50,000 or more than AED. 500 in the case of instant prizes, A major campaign may not be extended for more than a period of two months.

9. Can I obtain a raffle draw box for use in a promotional campaign directly from the Department?

No, the organizer must provide his own box according to the required specifications. The Department will supply a lock for the box only after payment of the required fee.

10. Is it possible for the keys of the draw boxes to become the property of the organizer?

Yes; upon settlement of the required fee of AED 500.

11. What happens if a promotional campaign fails and elicits no response? Is it possible to extend a campaign? What will be done with the campaign's prizes?

A campaign may not be extended after expiry of the period of its validity, and any prizes will remain the property of the Department. even if there have not been any participants.

12. Is it necessary to submit a bank guarantee in order to obtain a permit for a promotional campaign?

No; the bank guarantee is no longer a requirement as in the past. This is in order to facilitate and simplify the formal procedures for applicants.

13. Is there a limited period for the validity of promotional campaign permits?

Minor campaigns last for one month only and may be extended upon payment of an extra charge. Medium or major campaigns last for two months only; however in exceptional cases they may be extended for longer periods.

14. Is it possible to amend the data of a promotional campaign or to defer the draw?

Any campaign data may be modified upon payment of AED. 500. It is possible for deferral of the draw to be approved if sufficient grounds for this are given and upon payment of AED. 1000.

15. What can be done with promotional campaign prizes in the event that their owners fail to claim them?

Such prizes are to be returned to the Department 60 days after the expiry date of the campaign in the event that they are not claimed by any winners.

16. Why not increase the amount of prize to more than fifty thousand Dirhams for minor campaigns?

Following the recent modifications to the rules for promotional campaigns, the value of prizes was increased from ten thousand Dirhams to fifty thousand Dirhams. The Department continues to make efforts to simplify the procedures.

17. Is it possible to proceed with a new promotions campaign as a previous campaign ends?

Yes; this is possible after full settlement of the winner's formalities and his right to any prize claimed, or delivery thereof to the Department in the event that no claim is made.

18. Is it necessary to obtain approval from Dubai Municipality before proceeding with food sampling and tasting campaigns?

Yes, the approval of the Municipality Health Department must be obtained; especially if a product is new to the market.

19. Is it possible to organize a promotional campaign favoring establishments from outside the Emirate of Dubai?

No; any establishment that organizes a campaign must be licensed to carry on its business in the Emirate of Dubai. Otherwise it must have a distributor or representative to promote its business or products on its behalf.

20. Is it possible to obtain a permit for the distribution of cigarette samples in shops?

Yes, provided that the number of participating shops does not exceed 20 locations. No promotion of any such campaign is to be allowed at restaurants, coffee shops, hotels or furnished apartments.

21. Can winners of promotional campaigns receive cash prizes, or can their prizes in kind be exchanged for cash prizes?

No; it is prohibited to distribute cash prizes to winners of promotional campaigns.

22. Can tasting samples of pork meat be distributed to non-Muslims?

No, the distribution of such products is not permitted in shops.

23. Can a representative office obtain a permit for a promotional campaign?

No, representative offices may not carry out any commercial activity using commercial permits.

24. Is it possible for the number of raffle draws to be increased or cancelled during a promotional campaign?

No; a raffle draw may not be cancelled during a promotional campaign; however new draws can be added thereto upon payment of the appropriate fee.

25. Can a promotional campaign's permit be cancelled halfway, if it did not succeed?

Once a campaign commences it may not be stopped.

26. Can a promotional campaign be organized for a period of more than two months?

Yes, but there will be a doubling of the fee in respect of every two months.

27. Is it possible to conduct raffle draws in another Emirate or country?

Yes; however there is a requirement to conduct a separate raffle draw for participants from Dubai, whilst another is conducted for those from outside Dubai in the presence of a representative from the Department who will supervise the process of the raffle draw.

28. Can any shop other than a company's branch office participate in a promotional campaign?

Yes, provided that the designated number does not exceed 20 locations, excluding the branches of the organizing company.

29. Can a promotional campaign's permit be modified after it has been issued and/or during the promotional campaign?

Yes; modification may be made upon payment of the appropriate fee; namely AED. 500. In the event of any postponement of the date of a raffle draw, the fees payable shall be AED. 1000 provided that the campaign's prizes are not modified or altered in any way.

30. Is a merchant permitted to organize more than one event at the same time, such as a promotional campaign with discounted sales, or a special offer with discounted sales?

A merchant may not organize more than one event at a time.

31. Are coffee shops, groceries and restaurants permitted to work around the clock?

The Department has laid down the criteria governing extra working hours according to each activity. For example, coffee shops may remain open up to 2 a.m. only, whilst groceries, restaurants and cafeterias can be granted permits to remain open up to 3 a.m. if they are situated in residential areas, in order to prevent any nuisance to the residents.

32. Is it necessary to have a permit issued by the Department for the purpose of operating a grocery or catering kitchen at an accommodation camp housing laborers recruited by construction companies, and what would the fee payable be in this instance?

Yes, after obtaining approval from the Food Control Section of Dubai Municipality in order to conduct this activity on a temporary basis at the laborers’ camp. The annual fee payable for such a permit amounts to some AED 5000.

33. Are restaurants permitted to serve customers during the hours of daylight throughout the month of Ramadan?

No; however a permit may be obtained from the Department to enable the restaurant to offer home delivery of meals or to deliver them directly to the customers.

34. Can a permit be issued if a trade license has expired?

No, the current computer system used by the Government will not accept expired licenses.

35. Can a permit be cancelled before the beginning of a given event?

Yes; subject to payment of a cancellation fee in the sum of AED 500

36. What are the parameters for the permitted times in which “sheesha” may be offered at coffee shops?

"Sheesha" can be offered up to 2 a.m. and then only inside the coffee shop premises.

37. Can a merchant organize any promotion campaign subsequent to the expiry date for a clearance sale?

Any offer or promotional campaign will be strictly prohibited in this case.


1. Is it possible for a "discounted Sale" period to be extended for a further month?

"A Discounted Sale" period can be extended for a period of one week subsequent to the expiry date of the permit.

2. Is it permitted to display the percentage of discount in a given sale? For example, up to 50%?

This is permissible in the event that there may be uniform discount percentage on all the shop goods, or if the minimum and maximum percentage of discount are mentioned in any variation of such an event.

3. How many times may a discounted sale be organized?

4 times per year

4. What is the difference between a permit for discounted sales and one in respect of special offers?

The price lists for special offers do not require a mention of the original cost price. Price tags of special offers will quote only one price, which is the offered price; unlike the discounted sale where the cost price is mentioned as a comparison.

5. What is meant by partial discounted sales?

These occur when a merchant arranges discounted sales in of respect of a certain portion of his goods whilst the remaining goods are neither discounted nor rebated.

6. Does a merchant have the right to suspend a discounted sale or special offer prior to expiry of the permit's validity?

Yes; he may do so after having advised the Department by means of an official notice in writing and subject to that Department’s approval

7. Can special offers or discounted sales be organized if a trade license has expired?

No, such offers or discounted sales will not be allowed if a trade license is not valid.

8. What is the permitted period for extending a permit period for discounted and clearance sales and special offers?

Discounted sales and special offers may be extended for a further 7 days after the expiry date, and clearance sales may be extended for a further 30 days; provided that any such extension is applied for prior to the expiry of a permit's validity.

9. Can a merchant request a permit for discounted sales or special offers over a period of two months?

A merchant is not allowed to organize such events for any period longer than one month.

10.Is it permissible for a merchant to mention the percentage of discounts in the media?

Yes, provided that it shall correspond to the pricelists approved by the Department.

11. Can a clearance sale be organized without application being made for the cancellation of the relevant license?

No clearance sale will be allowed without cancellation of the license. In the matter of a general trading license, the holder thereof may cancel the business covered by the license in order to obtain a permit for a clearance sale.


1. What are the required conditions for organizing an international exhibition?

A license which has within its scope the organisation and management of exhibitions must be obtained.

2. Is it possible to obtain a license for a trade exhibition to be organized in Dubai? "

Yes; however, certain approvals from other concerned authorities to be contacted by the Department will contact, must first be granted prior to a permit being issued.

3. Is it possible to organize a local exhibition with participation from various companies?

Yes; provided the business activity covered by the license involves the organizing of exhibitions.

4. Can a license holder organize an exhibition for the purpose of introducing his products?

Yes; a license holder may solely introduce his product to the exclusion of all others during such an exhibition.

5. Can a conference or seminar be held whilst an exhibition period is ongoing?

Yes, after specifying the nature of its relevance to an exhibition; whether fees are or are not charged.

6. Is there a charge levied on the sale of tickets of admission to the exhibition?

Yes, the Department collects 10% of the amount received from tickets sold

7. Is it possible to hold a conference or seminar at a hotel in Dubai?

Yes, subject to the approval of the hotel's management.

8. Can a promotional campaign be organized whilst an exhibition period is ongoing?

Yes, subject to the obtaining of the relevant permit from the Department.

9. Can an exhibition's permit be modified?

Yes; upon payment of the appropriate fee charged for such modification.

10. Can an exhibition's permit be cancelled once it has been issued?

Yes; but only in certain specific cases and following the submission of a letter from the organizers explaining the causes of cancellation. The fee payable for obtaining permission to cancel amounts to some AED 500.

11. Will pitching a tent for the purposes of holding a trade exhibition require a permit from the Department and what are the fees involved?

Yes, a permit is required; and this will be issued after approval has been granted by the Building and Roads Department of Dubai Municipality. Fees are charged according to the size of a given tent and will generally vary between AED 5000 - 15000 monthly for each tent pitched at the same site.


1. Is it permissible for signboards displaying brand advertising to be affixed to balconies or higher terraces?

It is strictly prohibited to affix any such signboard in any of these places.

2. In the event that additional fees in respect of advertising signboards are mistakenly paid together with the license renewal fees, is it possible for these to be refunded at a later date?

No; it would be necessary for a licensee to visit the Commercial Permits Section in order to verify the accuracy of such fees and to present full details of the fees set out in a payment voucher.

3. Is it permissible to affix a prominent signboard outside the premises of a shop in order to indicate that shop's location?

No; signboards may only be affixed to a shop boundary and third parties’ boundaries may not be transgressed.

4. What is the acceptable method of display for an advertising signboard?

An advertising signboard should be affixed to a shop's facade according to that facade's size and that of the shop’s premises, so that it is in proportion to adjacent signboards. A given signboard should therefore be of the same height and dimensions as those of adjacent signboards. Fees are to be calculated in accordance with the measurement of space occupied by a given signboard.

5. Can a special signboard be raised for advertising office medical clinics?

Yes; after the preparation of an appropriate design as shown in the Guide of Offices and Medical Clinics Signboards, which will be displayed at the same building and be subject to the landlord's approval. Such advertisement shall be considered additional.

6. What are the procedures involved in obtaining a permit for an advertising signboard?

First, a license must be valid. Any advertising company in Dubai which is licensed to install and create advertising signboards may be commissioned to prepare a design for the trade name in the prescribed form for advertisements. A photograph should be taken of the shop's facade to which it is proposed that the signboard will be affixed. Any advertising signboard must be in proportion with the dimensions of adjacent signboards. Additional, protruding or animated signboards are subject to the approval of the building's landlord.

7. In the event that the location of the shop is shifted, can the advertising signboard displayed at the old premises also be shifted and raised at the shop's new location, particularly after a license has been renewed and the permit fees settled?

An advertising signboard cannot be shifted to a new location in case of possible differences in the new size or the building's shape. It will be necessary to cancel the old permit and create a new design in proportion with the facade of the new location and adjacent signboards.

8. Is it necessary to obtain a representative's card prior to visiting the Commercial Permits Section?

No; a representative's card is required only from those advertising companies which prepare advertising signboards.

9. Can the logos of international brands be affixed to a shop's facade together with its trade name? Is there a fee payable for being allowed to advertise such a product?

This procedure will be allowed subsequent to the registration of such brands with the , Ministry of Economy & Commerce or after a "No Objection Certificate" has been obtained from the agent for such products. The fee charged per brand amounts to some AED 500 per annum.

10. What are the procedures involved in obtaining a permit for mobile advertisements

Such permits may be obtained from the Advertisement Section of Dubai Municipality. The Section also supplies permits for displaying the names of residential buildings externally, advertisements placed on the roofs of buildings, and those which are placed along the roadside.

Counters and Kiosks

1. Is it possible for someone who does not hold a license to obtain a permit for a kiosk or information desk within a commercial centre?

No; a trade license covering the pursuit of such peripatetic activities must first be obtained from the Emirate of Dubai.

2. Is it permissible for a commercial kiosk to be set up in commercial centers?

Yes; after obtaining the required permit and subject to the approval of the Center's management.

3. Is it permissible for a counter to be set up to offer such services as car rental, travel and tourism?

Yes, subject to the approval of the landlord and after the appropriate permit has been issued by the Department.

Additional Offices

1. Do the offices of insurance companies conducting their business at automobile companies’ technical inspection centres require a permit from the Department?

Yes, after approval for conducting such business has been obtained from the site’s owner. The annual fees for such a permit amount to some AED 5000.

2. Is it permissible to conduct business at a further outlet of the additional office covered by the license without a permit?

Conducting business at an additional office is allowed consequent upon the submission of a copy of the additional office's lease, together with a copy of the trade license, always provided that the office is located in the same building as that in which the principal business covered by the license is carried on.