Freelancing has become increasingly popular in the UAE, and thankfully Freelance Permits are now available in many Free Zones based in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. These permits allow for specialised individuals in the media, technology and education sectors to offer their services on a consultancy basis, even if they have a full time job – this initiative has become legalised (with the correct permit) by the UAE to boost diverse skills into the local market. Freelancer Permits can be obtained from Twofour54, Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Knowledge Park (DKP), Dubai Internet City (DIC), Dubai Development Authority (DDA) and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone Authority (RAKEZ).
Currently, individuals based in the following sectors can apply for a permit, these include:
- Media: Actors, journalists, film directors, editors, photographers, writers, animators, artist, audio/sound engineer, brand consultant, cameraman, choreographers, commentators, composers, content provider, copywriters, creative directors, critics, events planners, designers, journalists, lighting specialists, market analysts, marketing specialists, musicians, PR specialists, print media specialists, social media specialists, social media influencers, translators, stylists, web developers/designers plus other more specified roles within the above mentioned specialties.
- Technology: Web/mobile/software development and architecture, IT and telecommunication networking, data science and analytics, customer service
- Education: Educational advisor, eLearning advisor, executive coach, researcher, trainer
Below, we answer many questions raised by individuals looking at obtaining a freelancer permit in the UAE:
Question: Can I obtain a freelancer permit if I am employed somewhere else?
In specific Free Zones, this is not an issue. However, a NOC must be provided by your current sponsor/ employer. However, in some Free Zones, it is a mandatory requirement to obtain a visa from that Authority.
Question: If I hold a freelancer permit can I work from home or at the premises of a company I have a contract with?
Yes, you will be working as an independent supplier; therefore, if you have an agreement with a particular company, you are permitted to conduct business from their office.
Question: Will I have to be audited?
This is not currently required; however it is highly advisable to keep accounts.
Question: Do I need to register for VAT?
If you are making between AED 187,500 and AED 375,000 annually, then you should register for VAT. If you make any amount over AED 375,000, it is a mandatory requirement.
Question: Do I need a company bank account?
No, you will not have a trading name; all payments will be made to your bank account.
Question: Can I register a trading name or do I conduct business under my name?
You cannot use a trading name; the permit is issued to you as an individual in your name.
Question: Can I hire employees?
No, you cannot hire employees on a freelance permit, but you can sponsor your dependents.
Question: Can the permit holder apply for a UAE residence visa?
Yes, you can apply for an employment visa once the freelancer permit and establishment card are issued. Certain entities require medical insurance to be able to process visas.
Question: Are there any office space options for permit holders?
There are options of flexi-desks and workstations located in the Free Zone’s permitted for use by freelance permit holders; some locations also offer meeting facilities.
Question: Am I eligible for a freelance permit? What are the requirements?
Only individuals with the appropriate credentials or certificates relating to the allowed activities are permitted to apply for the permit. To apply, you must have the following:
- Passport Copy
- Visa Copy (if you have one)
- Bank Reference Letter (this can be from either your local or international bank)
- Sponsor/Employer NOC (if you currently have a work permit and a residency visa)
- Portfolio – PDF or online link (for media related activities)
- Credentials and Certificates (for related educational activities)
- Other documentation may be required dependent on the Free Zone
Question: How long does the application process take?
- Permit Application and Issuance: 7 to 14 business days (once all documents have been approved and required document signed)
- Visa Application: 14 to 21 business days (after permit issuance)
PRO Partner Group can assist you with applications for Freelance Permits and talk you though all set up options. For more information, contact PRO Partner Group on email@example.com and one of our business set up experts aid you in your requirements.
— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) May 5, 2019