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Mainland License in the UAE: Your Questions Answered

mainland license

The business ecosystem of the UAE, known for its innovation and vibrancy, offers a multitude of options for enthusiastic entrepreneurs. One such option, the mainland license, stands distinct due to the privileges and flexibility it endows. As you explore this potential avenue for your entrepreneurial aspirations, understanding the nuances of the mainland license becomes paramount. This FAQ delves deep, shedding light on this pivotal aspect of business establishment in the UAE.

Mainland License in the UAE: Your Questions Answered

1. What is a mainland license?

A mainland license, often termed an onshore license, grants businesses the liberty to operate seamlessly within the UAE, spanning free zones and beyond. This is in contrast to free zone licenses, which tether businesses to a designated zone. The expansive operational purview of the mainland license makes it an attractive choice for many.

2. Why choose a mainland license over other licenses?

Selecting a mainland license is akin to unlocking numerous business advantages in the UAE. These include:

  • Comprehensive operational reach, unbound by geographical constraints.
  • Unrestricted avenues for visa procurements.
  • Opportunities to participate in lucrative government tenders.
  • An encompassing range of permissible business activities, catering to diverse sectors.



3. Are there any ownership restrictions with a mainland license?

Traditionally, the mainland business model mandated a local Emirati partner with a 51% ownership stake. Yet, transformative legal reforms now empower specific business sectors with the advantage of 100% foreign ownership, enhancing the UAE’s appeal to global entrepreneurs.

4. What are the primary steps to obtain a mainland license?

Securing a mainland license is a multi-stage endeavor:

  • Initial decisions revolve around determining the appropriate legal structure for your enterprise.
  • A pivotal step involves the registration of a unique and resonant business name.
  • The subsequent application phase is channeled through the Department of Economic Development (DED), the principal authority in this domain.
  • Essential approvals from relevant governing bodies must be meticulously sought.
  • The tangible aspect involves leasing an office space aligning with your business vision.
  • Post the procedural formalities, the license is awarded, signaling the commencement of business activities.
5. What is the difference between a mainland license and a free zone license?

The contrast between the two licenses hinges on specific foundational differences:

  • Spatial operation: While mainland entities enjoy unrestricted operational liberty across the UAE, free zone counterparts are bound to their designated area.
  • Ownership dynamics: The traditional mainland model required Emirati sponsorship, whereas free zones were more accommodating with 100% foreign ownership. The landscape for mainland businesses, however, has evolved favorably for certain sectors.
  • The industry orientation: Free zones often cater to specific industry clusters, whereas mainland licenses offer versatility across multiple verticals.
6. How long does it take to get a mainland license?

Acquisition time varies based on the business sector and required endorsements. Generally, the time frame ranges from a week to a month, provided the paperwork is accurate, and the processes are efficiently managed.

7. Can I get a residence visa with a mainland license?

Certainly. The acquisition of a mainland license paves the way for UAE residence visa applications, encompassing not just the business owner but also their immediate family and workforce.

How Can Choose UAE Help

The journey to obtain a mainland license, while promising, is layered with intricacies. This is where Choose UAE emerges as a trusted ally. Our team of professionals demystifies the process, ensuring a smooth transition from ideation to execution. Eager to embed your business footprint in the UAE’s rich tapestry? Reach out and let us facilitate your mainland business vision.

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