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How to get a freelance license from DED?

How to get a freelance license from DED?

DED freelance license is an official document, giving individuals a possibility to start freelance work at any of the Free Zones, situated all along the UAE. If you are about to start your freelance career in the UAE – the very first thing for you to do is getting this document.

What is it?

It is a document, given to a person as a proof, that he or she has got legal rights to start working on the territory of the UAE as a freelancer. But pay attention that such a person is not tied to any firm as a permanent worker, otherwise the license would not be given, or at least the process would become more complicated.

In the UAE, the authority to give such a permission is given to Free Zones. These are the places where the workers and companies are settled all together at massive hubs. The main difference between this document and the trade license (which is also given by DED) is that a freelance license allows you to work only as an individual. You can only open a personal bank account with no opportunities for any types of partnership. The same rule goes for work itself: freelance license never gives you legit rights to hire employees in any form, you can only work for yourself.


Advantages of getting a license

Working as a freelancer in the UAE gives you a lot of benefits:

  • A chance to get a residency visa. The most common option is 3 years, but the other ones are possible and may vary depending on the emirate, where the free zone of your choice is settled.
  • Minimal cost of license.
  • An opportunity to work at a flexible time-schedule, according only to your rhythm and lifestyle.
  • A chance to work for leaders of the industry within dozens of fields: from art and music to fashion and media production industries.
  • Chance to take part in educational and additional programs to level up your skills or even to get a new profession without interrupting your current work.
  • A chance to get a job in the firm, settled in the UAE but work online while being present at your own country or elsewhere.

And adding to the list of advantages, you can still send your application even if for a moment you’re an employed worker of the company at your place. In such a case you’re only to get from your present employer a special document – No Objection Certificate (NOC) as a proof that the employer is not standing against you working on a freelance and it would not interfere with your main work.

Process of getting a license

Getting a license requires several steps and operations. Let’s take a look at the main steps of the process.

Step 1: Choosing a zone


The very first thing to do for you as a freelancer with the idea to start an international career in the UAE is to take a look at the list of all the available jurisdictions, where it is allowed to get a license to start your freelance career in the UAE. The majority of these jurisdictions are large economic zones, settled within the country and uniting firms of all levels with their potential freelance workers. Pay attention that each zone introduces their types of work opportunities. At this stage you need to be sure that the zone of your choice has got offers within your skill set.

Step 2: Application form and additional documents

The next step is to ask a chosen zone for an application form. It is to be filled in and sent back together with some other documents:

  1. A business plan.
  2. Passport copy.
  3. Residence visa copy.
  4. Resume.
  5. Portfolio.
  6. Copies of qualification certificates.

In some jurisdictions the list may vary, with some additional documents, but still this list looks like a minimum required set of documents.

Step 3: Visa


To work in the UAE citizens of any other countries are to own a visa, which is issued by the sponsor, settled in the country. For freelancers a great option to get such a visa is asking for a service of the licensing agent.

Step 4: Working space rent

Also, to get a license, freelance should have a place to work. It could be an office space, which a specialist rents in the chosen jurisdiction zone. The process of renting a space to work becomes even easier, as a lot of free zones offer special programs to cover all the necessities of their future residents, including solving the problem with working and living space.

Allowed types of activities

Not all the professions are allowed to be operated on a freelance basis, at least in the UAE. Working as a freelancer in this country means that a specialist meets the criteria of these categories:

  1. Provides his services to individual or different companies (but not to just company on constant terms).
  2. Work for companies within governmental structure.
  3. Receive all the payments himself, having only a personal bank account and not involve any 3rd parties in the financial part of the work.

Free zones for foreign freelancers in the UAE

Here’s the list of free zones within the UAE, where you can get a freelance permit, rent an office and a place to settle and start your journey in the world of freelance. Each zone pays attention to a specific industry or a set of co-dependent spheres.



Rakez is a jurisdiction with 50+ industries that are successfully united at the same huge platform. It has got a reputation of being one of the largest jurisdictions for freelance workers, not only in the UAE, but in the whole world.


Tecom is a perfect place to work for all the creative specialists working with modern technologies. It is a residence of 6000+ companies within the sphere of technology: from industry leaders to small but rapidly growing startups, based on new creative ideas.



Sharjah Media City Free Zone (which is also known as SHAMS) is a great choice for innovative services dealing with modern technologies. SHAMS is settled in a world-class level hub, having absolutely everything that creative industry business representatives may ever need. Here there are all the facilities for dynamic and forward-thinking people.

Specialists of any type can find something to work on at this free zone. It’s a department, introducing almost 50 different activities for freelancers as well as possibilities for foreigners to get a license and a working visa.

Twofour 54

Twofour 54 is a free media zone, located in Abu Dhabi. It is aimed at creating world-class media content: from films and videos to music, video games and digital events. Today this zone is a home for 400+ companies. Among them, you can see both world known giants of the industry, like CNN or Sky News, as well as hundreds of rapidly growing medium level companies.

It is one of the most popular choices of foreign freelancers. The reasons are obvious: simplicity of applying procedure together with reasonable charges for visa and annual payments. And also, getting a license in this jurisdiction does not require educational credentials or any other additional permits, which is always great for newcomers.



Ajman Free Zone is named after its residence city, located on the western coast of the UAE –Ajman. This is one of the most rapidly growing regions, with a great historical background. This is a place where history, local culture and traditions are greatly connected with a modern vibe.


Fujarah Creative City is one of the newly appeared media innovation clusters. Here you can enjoy advantages of lower living cost level as well as lower cost of operating license, compared to some other zones in the region, e.g. Dubai Media City or twofour54. Fujarah Creative City offers all the facilities for remote business setup.

Because of the lower costs, this zone has become a prior choice for smaller companies who are only starting their way and trying to establish their international business in a new place. Main fields that are welcomed at Fujarah Creative City:

  1. Professional training.
  2. Media technologies.
  3. Content creating.
  4. Media production.
  5. Additional services in the sphere of media.



Dubai Design District (also called D3) is one of the most popular zones for representatives of creative spheres, willing to start their business in the region of Dubai.

Dubai Design District is one of the oldest business zones on the whole UAE territory. It started operating back in 2013 and was opened by TECOM Investments company. The project was developed with massive support at the level of government and was considered as an important source of additional money, invested in the economy of the region. Now it can be clearly seen that the plan was successfully fulfilled.


Due to the benefits of its cross-continent location, Dubai Media City has got a strong reputation as a global media hub, uniting creative people, going to work there from all over the world.

DMC is a place where representatives of different fields of media can join and work together to get more benefits from each other’s work. It is possible as Dubai Media City has got all the facilities, infrastructure, equipment and technologies for media sphere companies within different fields to operate jointly at the same place in the supporting atmosphere.



Dubai Knowledge Park is an absolutely unique place. It is known as being the only Free Zone, uniting freelancers, working in the knowledge-based sphere:

  1. Teachers.
  2. Professional trainers.
  3. Consultancy specialists.
  4. Coaches.
  5. HRM workers.

DKP was settled back in 2003. It has got a simple aim: finding the most talented people and developing their talents, by this turning the whole UAE into a country with a knowledge-based economy.

Getting freelance license

In general, the process of getting a DED freelance license is fairly easy, especially if compared to other countries, where regulation in this sphere is quite complicated. It may take you some time to bring all the documents for application, but with all the benefits of working on a freelance term in the UAE – it is definitely worth it without any doubts.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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