Freelancing is gradually becoming the new work norm, thus revolutionizing how organizations and individuals worldwide engage the global workforce. As a rapidly developing region, the Middle East offers a wide variety of opportunities and amenities that attract more and more freelancers from around the world. Without any doubt, the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing global markets with a constant demand for highly skilled talents. It also boasts a high living standard, including the opportunity to earn a tax-free salary in several countries of the region.
The best way to start working as a freelancer in Dubai, arguably the most vibrant business hub in the entire region, is to register as a freelancer with one of the Dubai authorities.
The most important thing to understand from the start is the difference between a Freelance License (Permit) and a Freelance Visa. Remember: Freelance License refers to the ability to work in Dubai, while Freelance Visa is a residency document.
Freelancers may not always require a Resident Visa to live in the UAE (if their visa is under a spouse or a company), but a Freelance License is always a must. The law states that such a permit is mandatory for those seeking to offer their services publicly and charge fees. You also need to have a Freelance License first before applying for a Freelance Visa.
So, is a Freelance Visa worth getting after you get your Freelance Permit? YES! If you get a Freelance Visa in Dubai, you will benefit from 0% corporate and personal tax and 100% repatriation of profits. Additionally, the visa holder is allowed to move into Dubai with his/her family.
Your first steps with having an approval for working in Dubai should lead you to the appropriate Licensing Authority. You should choose the right one based on your area of expertise (Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Hub, etc.). Each free zone has different costs and requirements for the Freelance Permit. However, regardless of where your permit (and/or visa) is issued, you retain the same rights to work in the whole UAE.
The next step will be the application process. In general, it is considered easy and similar in each of the different authorities. In most cases, you must provide your passport copy together with your Residence Visa Page (if any), NOC (Non Objection Certificate) from external authorities as per Article 8 of the Licensing Categories Decision (LCD), and a self-declaration form (applicable if you are a valid visa holder). The last bit will be the Act of Declaration obliging yourself to work in good faith and abide by the laws, rules, regulations, and policies implemented by the Authority.
You would need to pay approximately AED 7500.00 fee (again depending on the authority) and wait for approximately 2 working days. The best thing is that you can do everything online with customer service working 24/7! In general, your license is valid for up to three years, giving you the ability to work not only onsite but also from abroad. What is also interesting is the fact that you can receive your license even if you are currently employed by a company.
More information can be found here: https://dda.gov.ae/en/registration-licensing/setting-up-a-business/freelancer/freelancer-license-registration-sole-professional-license
Freelance Visa refers to certain groups of professions such as artists, sportsmen, designers, banking and IT professionals, education specialists, and media persons. It concerns such industries as education, marketing, IT, consultancy, event management, editing, copywriting, design, etc.
There is no need to be a UAE citizen to be authorized for the Freelancer Visa. The only requirement to receive it concerns your academic qualifications, degree, or a recognized prize. Everything you need to begin the application process is a valid passport, up-to-date picture, an updated CV, and an application form. You need to wait approximately 3-4 working days and pay a fee of approximately AED 20,000. After the positive decision, you will receive a document valid from 2 to up to 10 years.
There are several types of Freelance Visas: