Gatestone Group

Dubai is well-known for its investment potential, zero personal income tax, and free trade agreements with several nations and trade groups, including the European Union and India. The nation’s geographic location provides a natural bridge to the major import and export continents, such as Europe and Africa, making the import-export sector its greatest business draw to date. The export of gas and oil, which accounts for 30% of the United Arab Emirates (UAE’s) GDP, is the main driver of the country’s economy. Read this blog if you are planning to launch an import-export company in Dubai.

Steps to Start an Import and Export Business in Dubai and the UAE

The first steps of starting an import-export business in Dubai, UAE, are much like in other business setups. The only difference is that the formalities for the issuance of an import-export license vary, and below are all the steps in which Gatestone Group can assist you swiftly and efficiently:

1. Choose the jurisdiction of your business

The first and most important step in starting a business is deciding its jurisdiction, which will lay the foundation for your next steps. Generally speaking, the processes on the mainland, free zone, and offshore vary. All of them have pros and cons, and you should go with the one whose pros weigh more than the cons for your business.

2. Give your business a name

Once you have decided on a suitable jurisdiction, the next step is choosing a business name. It is important because, during the next steps of documentation and more, you must mention a specific business name (usually three of your selected choices in order of preference).

Please note that the UAE has strict regulations regarding business names and logos. Your business name should not replicate any official or existing name or logo, and it should also not violate any religious or moral boundaries.

3. Register your business with DET or a free zone

The next step after deciding on a location, name, and logo is registering business with Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET). This includes deciding on a business activity, settling on a trade name, and completing the legal framework. Free zones have a slightly different registration procedure, but it generally entails the same processes as the mainland.

4. Get your import and export license

Below is a list of documents that must be completed before applying for an import-export license:

  • Trade name substitutes
  • Commercial operations
  • Copy of each shareholder’s passport
  • Copy of each shareholder’s valid UAE residency visa
  • If the partner is on a tourist visa, a copy of the visa page or entry stamp

These documents are essential for applying for an import-export license, but needs can also vary depending on the location, so remember to cross-check.

After that, apply for a trade license to enable import and export operations. The products you plan to import and export must be specified in your application.

5. Clear your registration with Dubai Customs and obtain Mirsal Code

To receive an import-export code, you must register with Dubai Customs after receiving your trading license. You can clear customs for the import and export items by using this code. Without this, you will not be eligible to do business in the UAE.

6. Open a bank account for your business

Open a corporate bank account to handle the financial aspects of your company. It is essential for transactions involving foreign suppliers and customers.

7. Get Establishment Card

An Establishment Card is an official identification card of your company and a confirmation of its legal existence. It includes essential company details such as the company name, card number, expiration date etc. The card is issued by the immigration authority and enables business operations in the UAE such as licenses, permits, opening a corporate bank account, applying for employee visas etc.

8. Get visas

You will need to get visas for yourself, your staff, and any partners to operate your business in the UAE and abide by other formalities according to UAE labour law.

Benefits of Starting an Import and Export Business in Dubai, UAE

There are countless benefits to starting a business in Dubai, UAE. Some of the most evident benefits of starting an import and export business in the UAE are:

1. Strategic positioning

The UAE is a perfect centre for international cargo transportation because of its location at the intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Businesses may readily connect with a large network of buyers and sellers because of this strategic position.

2. A conducive business environment

The government of the UAE has cultivated a business-friendly atmosphere by providing free trade zones, simplified rules, and tax advantages. This facilitates and lowers the cost of starting and running an import/export company.

3. A free market

There are not many trade barriers in the UAE’s extremely open economy. This makes it possible for companies to import and export a large range of products.

Start Your Import and Export Business the Easy Way with Gatestone Group

Establishing an import and export company in Dubai can be profitable and present prospects for growth. Get in touch with Gatestone Group right now for further professional advice on obtaining an import-export business license and discovering the import and export procedures in the UAE. All your business-related questions will be addressed by our expert business setup advisors. Contact our team via email at [email protected] or call +971 52 410 0849 or +971 4 450 1023 to schedule a free consultation.


Starting an import-export business in Dubai, UAE, is a great idea to step into the global trade environment. Starting an import-export business is much like other businesses in the UAE; the only difference lies in the documentation needed and the customs approval process required. Once you have smoothly completed all the procedures, the UAE has so much more to offer.


Starting an import-export company in Dubai mainly includes costs such as the license fees, office space rent, visa fees, and charges associated with customs.

Art exports is an evolving export business in Dubai. The thriving Dubai art scene presents profitable chances for international art exchange. The city provides an excellent platform for art enthusiasts and collectors, with a 5% levy on imports of fine art.

The UAE has a huge import market. The main imports, according to OEC statistics 2022, include cars ($12.9 billion), refined petroleum ($19.5 billion), diamonds ($17.5 billion), broadcasting equipment ($20.3 billion), gold ($57.1 billion), and refined petroleum ($19.5 billion). The country’s top importers are China ($57.7B), India ($31.6B), the United States ($18.7B), the United Kingdom ($11.5B), and Saudi Arabia ($8.82B).


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