In 2018, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development, or ADDED, set forth plans for the initial phase of what is now referred to as the dual license program. This plan aims to ease the difficulties of conducting business in the region and promote overall economic growth. The initiative is also part of a massive stimulus plan and initiatives to assist small and medium-sized enterprises.

For entrepreneurs and established business owners, the dual license initiative marks significant progress toward establishing an even more business-friendly environment for potential investors. And thanks to constantly evolving measures, there has never been a better time to travel to Abu Dhabi to conduct business.

What is the Dual License Initiative?

In an effort to increase foreign investments, this dual licensing initiative is expected to benefit several business sectors, including financial and trading services. It’s crafted to allow companies to operate in both the capital’s Free Zones and establish an onshore branch. This license will be open to companies headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the region’s Free Zones, including the Abu Dhabi Global Markets, Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone, Twofour54, and Abu Dhabi Global Markets.


Several conditions and documents must be provided for a company to be eligible for the dual license. These documents can vary depending on where the business in question is located. For example, Limited Liability Companies (LLC) will need to provide:

1.     A No Objection Certificate from the company’s current Free Zone Authority

2.    Proof that the company in question has a branch in the Emirate outside of the Free Zone

3.     A copy of the parent company’s Free Zone business license

The Procedure for Obtaining a Dual License

Businesses that choose to secure a dual license will need to apply along with an initial approval request. Once the approval and the necessary documentation are received, the professional license is sent for printing pending the payment of required fees.

The fees for a dual license are on par with the standard fees for license applications. However, it is essential to note that the required costs for licensing may vary depending on several factors. For dual licensing, physical addresses and signboard promotions are not required, reducing the total fees to roughly 80% of standard licensing fees.

License issuance can vary based on the type of activities carried out by the applicant company. Activities that are more technical and require additional approvals from government authorities will take longer to process fully.

Despite being a straightforward process, many entrepreneurs and established companies choose to hire third-party consultation to reduce the workload and handle critical functions such as business license acquisition. Consultancy experts like MSZ possess the experience necessary to manage vital renewals, interface with government authorities, and more. By choosing assistance from business experts, business owners can focus less on smaller issues and more on directing the company.


What’s Involved in the Dual License Amendment?

With the implementation of the dual licensing initiative, several measures have been put into place. Changes undertaken by this program include:

1.     No Requirement for Additional Branch Addresses

Previously, branches located in one of Abu Dhabi’s Free Zones required a separate address. As a result, this would require an additional lease agreement. While still possible to have extra office addresses, branches are now permitted to operate from the same office as their parent company.

2.     The Elimination of the Local Sponsorship Requirement

With the dual license initiative, parent companies now act as the sponsor for a business applying for a dual license, removing the need to find a local agent. By making this change, companies can avoid additional costs and the extensive paperwork that comes with it.

3.     The Appointment of a Branch Manager

A branch holding a dual license is now required to appoint a branch manager for the dual-licensed branch. Additionally, branch managers are asked to keep a Power of Attorney to hold the necessary authority for running a branch.

The Impact of the Dual License Initiative

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development believes that eliminating logistical red tape and improving the ease of conducting multi-branch organizations can significantly boost critical sectors of the economy. The first phase of this process aims to offer more business opportunities in the region.

Looking ahead, the Emirate’s economic expansion will be further invigorated by an enormous stimulus package that’s part of a widely arching financial plan. The dual license aspect has forced existing businesses to consider their current objectives and shift as necessary. Companies based in the Free Zones will also be able to conduct business on the mainland, heavily reducing the cost of doing business.

Need Help with a Dual License? Call MSZ Consultancy Today!

Whether you’re a new investor or an established company forming a new branch, it pays to have an expert on your side. That’s why so many investors choose 3rd party business setup consultants to help navigate the terrain of foreign business, organize their structure, and maximize profits. MSZ Consultancy is proud to have years of experience assisting entrepreneurs with license renewal services, necessary registrations, visa applications, PRO services, and more.

MSZ Consultancy has a dedicated team of legal and business experts ready to help you and your company navigate the ins and outs of business in the UAE. So, if you’re ready to streamline your business operations and get back to what matters most, give us a call for a free consultation today at +971 52 544 1248

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