Dubai freelancer visa: All that you need to know to get started

Dubai freelancer visa: All that you need to know to get started

- Jade Wong

All that you need to know about Dubai’s freelancer visa

The UAE business landscape has drastically changed in the past two years. The seismic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic across the economy was far-reaching. Jobs lost and new ones created. Digital transformation introduced a new form of division of labour as large corporations sought to outsource many of their vertical and horizontal business activities. Enter the gig economy and the age of freelancers, and the Dubai freelancer visa.

Dubai is booming with opportunities for freelancers as the city brings independent contractors and reputable brands in one of the most business-friendly climates in the region. With EXPO 2020 about to start, Dubai is creating significant opportunities for freelancer workers as the Emirate looks to improve ease of doing business and as countries, companies and brands converge on Dubai for the biggest event the region has seen in recent years.

The following sections outline all that you need to know about the Dubai freelancer visa.

Things to keep in mind

Before undertaking any activity, freelancers are advised to consider several general guidelines:

  • Never undervalue your work. Knowing your own value ensures that your clients will value your work and your time. This needs to extend to your payment policy as well. Cash flow is pivotal to your business, so always get 50% of fees upfront before starting the work, have 75% by midway and so on.
  • What is your long-term goal? Lifestyle or scalable business? Both are compatible but making and saving money is not the only concern for a freelancer. Structuring your business model to support your wellbeing is essential in the long run.
  • Is funding required to start and/or sustain your business? Cash flow need not hinder your business vision. Think realistically about whether you can achieve the desired results with or without funding is key.

Freelancer starter kit

To start working as a freelancer in Dubai you’ll need a residency visa yourself, unless you are on a parent or spouse visa, then you don’t have to apply for a new one, and a work permit – which you can obtain from one of Dubai’s freezones, including Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District. The freezone permit cost around AED20,000, and is subject to annual renewal.

The other attractive option is the GoFreelance scheme set up by Dubai’s Tecom Group, launched in partnership with Dubai Creative Cluster Authority. Applicants can submit their online application at at nearly 70% lower than the standard price. Tecom permit also allows you to sponsor your family members.

Afterwards, applicants need to undertake the following steps:

  1. Select your Freezone
  2. Fill in the application form and upload a copy of your passport and ID
  3. Submit the auxiliary required documents; these include your business plan along with attested copies of qualifications certificates
  4. Provide bank statements to prove satisfactory bank record
  5. After receiving customer confirmation from the respective authorities, sign it and send it back
  6. Pay the duly application fees and ensure you receive the receipt.
  7. After application approval and payment confirmation, authorities will issue a freelance licence within around 10 business days

For a comprehensive FAQ list on Dubai’s freelancer visa check our blog post:

A No Objection Certificate (NOC) is required if the applicant is on a spouse or parents visa. NOC is also mandatory in case of full-time employment. Full time employed freelancers are required to submit a NOC from their employees to complete their application process.

The next step is to apply for a freelancer visa. This is done through the AXS platform. AXS grants access to a number of government and cooperate services. Through this platform, freelancers need to apply for an immigration establishment card first, bearing the additional cost of AED2500. Only after receiving the immigration establishment card, applicants can apply for Dubai’s Freelancer Employment visa under Dubai’s Development Authority (DDA). It’s important to take note that Dubai’s Freelancer Employment Visa is valid for three years.

Once the visa application is completed, applicants will receive an entry permit valid for 60 days from the date of issue.

After completing the final residency visa procedures including medical tests and biometric registration, applicants will receive their freelancer visa, stamped and valid for 3 years from the issue date.

Dubai’s freelance visa costs can range between AED3330 and AED6340 depending on the type (normal or express) and applicant’s placement (within or outside the UAE mainland).

What does it take to become a freelancer in Dubai

Before starting out, freelancers need to do their due diligence and set out their plan and budget. Preparing and knowing the requirements ensures a delay-free application process. This includes sorting out Emirates ID, Attested Qualification documents as well as medical insurance costs. Accounting is pivotal in keeping track of cash flow and expenditures.

The Freelancer will also have to register for VAT if the annual projected revenue exceeds the UAE VAT threshold.

The freelancing lifestyle requires certain aptitudes. Freelancers need to be comfortable working alone, self-motivated self-starters. Networking and building a reputable portfolio is a long process that may take years, therefore financial backup is always important.

Dubai is a place that aspires to make entrepreneurship accessible to freelancers. However, the process of setting up your freelancer visa can be overwhelming given the diverse range of offers given by the licensing bodies, authorities and freezones. From price points to visa features and restrictions. At PRO Partner Group, we provide consultatory services helping you find a the correct licence type, licensing jurisdiction and location that will grow with your business plans. Our agents will liaise on your behalf with the government and freezone authorities ensuring a swift and seamless company set up and visa application process.

If you need assistance with the options for obtaining a Freelance Visa in Dubai or for any other related company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman, Qatar or KSA, then please do get in please get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

Get in touch with Jade Wong

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