Have you ever dreamed of stepping off the daily grind and starting out on your own? With a residence visa and a freelance permit, being a freelancer is absolutely possible in the UAE. However, this type of permit is for people working in the media, IT, and education fields only.
With a freelance permit, you are free to practice your craft in the UAE. Your permit can eventually be upgraded to a trade licence, if you are planning to expand and hire people. But if you prefer to go solo and keep costs at a minimum, then freelancing is the way to go.
Guide to Applying for a Freelance Permit in the UAE
Before anything else, know about the free zones that offer a freelance permit in the UAE. Each has its own requirements and procedures. In today’s post, we’ve gathered the steps to getting a freelance permit in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah free zones.
In Abu Dhabi, you can get a freelance permit from twofour54 free zone.
- Begin by logging into the official website of twofour54 free zone.
- Accomplish the online application. Be sure to prepare the following documents to complete your application: passport copy, passport-sized photo, updated resume, two professional references with contact details, and a work offer/letter of intent from a twofour54 business partner.
- The free zone authority will review your application and contact you within three working days regarding the result.
- Upon approval, the free zone authority will set up a meeting with you to complete the licensing and residency procedure.
- Make the necessary payments. Take note that for your first two years in the media zone, the Media Zone Authority has waived all licence fees. This means that you will only need to pay for health insurance and the visa registration application process.
- You will receive a sole proprietor’s business license and an employment visa (valid for two years), which will be converted into a residence visa.
In Dubai, you can apply for a freelance permit under three sectors: media (Dubai Media City), tech (Dubai Internet City), and education (Dubai Knowledge Park). You can choose only one activity for tech and education sectors. For media, however, you can choose up to three activities (e.g. photographer, graphic artist, and animator).
- Start by logging into https://gofreelance.ae/ and clicking the “Freelance” option.
- Accomplish the online application. Be sure to have these on hand: application form, passport copy, updated resume, bank reference letter, No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your UAE sponsor, work samples or portfolio (media sector), certificates and credentials (education sector). NOTE: Additional documents may be asked from you.
- Once your application is approved, you will receive a notification via email.
- Proceed to a business centre in Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, or Dubai Knowledge Park to sign your documents and to pay the necessary fees. The freelance packages costs AED 7,520 per year. This is inclusive of an AED 20 Innovation Dirham & Knowledge Fee, your freelance permit, and access to the business centre.
- If a visa is required, the business centre will assist you through the process.
In Ajman, you can apply for a freelance permit at Ajman Free Zone (AFZA). The freelance package includes several categories to choose from, a visa valid for three years, and access to business hub facilities.
- Begin by clicking https://www.afzindia.com/invest-in-ajman.html and choosing the “freelance license” package.
- Accomplish the online application. Don’t forget to prepare the following: valid passport, visa copy, passport-sized photo, and NOC from UAE sponsor (if you are a resident in the UAE).
- The review process usually takes just one working day. Once your application is approved, proceed to the business hub to complete your registration.
- Make the necessary payments. The freelance license package costs AED 6000, including your visa, health insurance, and Emirates ID.
In Fujairah, you can apply for a freelance permit at Creative City Fujairah. The free zone offers two packages: Commercial Plus One and Freelancer Company.
“Commercial Plus One” is the smallest company set-up suitable for individual owners and can be processed within one working day. The package includes up to two visas, along with a trade license and establishment card, which are both valid for one to three years. It also comes with a “Flexi-Desk” facility including Internet access, online support, P.O box, PRO services, and conference rooms subject to availability.
The “Freelancer Company” package is suitable for start-ups and actually provides all the perks of a regular business set-up. The package includes up to three visas, along with a trade license and establishment card, which are both valid for one to three years. Similar to the previous package, it also includes a “Flexi Desk” facility.
To apply for any of these packages, you can start by logging into https://www.creativecity.ae/about/packages. You can also contact them by calling +971 9 207 7666 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ras Al Khaimah
In Ras Al Khaimah, you can apply for a freelance visa at the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone or RAKEZ.
- Start by logging into https://rakez.com.
- Accomplish the application form and submit the following documents: passport copy, residence visa copy (if applicable), NOC from UAE sponsor (if applicable), work samples/portfolio or certificates.
- Make the necessary payments. The freelance package starts from AED 6,100 and includes a residence visa and access to support services and business centres.
- Receive your freelance permit. That’s it!
Notably, the freelance permit applies to the following professions: actor, animator, announcer, art critic, artist, audio technician, chief editor, literary writer, literature critic, events coordinator, events manager, choreographer, composer, correspondent, journalist, news editor, news producer, film and TV director, film producer, theatre director, photographer, social media influencer, marketing coordinator, market research analyst, and others.
If you are keen on becoming a freelancer in the UAE, just take note of all the steps mentioned above. On the other hand, if you are planning on having a part-time job, check out our guide to working part-time in the UAE. Good luck and cheers to a rewarding career!
DISCLAIMER: The above guide is presented for information-sharing purposes only. To know more about how to work as a freelancer in the UAE, please visit the official websites of twofour54, Go Freelance, Ajman Free Zone, Creative City Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone.