Freelance Visa and Permits in UAE Explained
If you want to start your own business or would like to work from home UAE government has provided a great opportunity by granting the freelance permit. However, in order to work as a freelancer, you must need a UAE residence visa and a freelance work permit.
Freelancing in UAE gives you the freedom to work for yourself, but there are different options to consider.
So, what’s a freelance permit? It’s like a permit from the government that allows you to work legally in UAE, but it’s not the same as a visa. You can get it from certain government departments or special zones designed for businesses.
To live in UAE, you need a visa. However, you don’t necessarily need a freelance visa if you have a freelance permit.
For instance, if you’re on a family visa sponsored by a family member, you can still get a freelance permit. Similarly, if you already have a full-time job and an employment visa, you can also get a freelance permit to do freelance work on the side. Sometimes, you might need a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your visa sponsor as part of the application process.
In UAE, you can get a freelance work permit from different places. It might be issued by a government department like the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), or more commonly, by special zones called free zones.
For instance, Dubai’s Media City, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, and Ajman Creative City are free zones where you can get freelance permits, and there are similar options in other emirates too.
It’s important to know about freelance permit in Dubai Here are some key points :
- The freelance permit cost mentioned earlier doesn’t include the expenses related to your visa, Emirates ID, and health insurance. These are separate costs that you’ll need to consider when calculating your total expenses as a freelancer in Dubai.
- You can apply for a freelance work permit even if you’re not currently in the UAE. Once your freelance work permit application is approved, you’ll receive an entry permit, which allows you to enter the UAE. The authority can then assist you with the visa application process. If you’re already in the UAE on a visit visa, you can also apply for the work permit and visa.
- Some free zones offer a sole proprietorship license instead of a freelance work permit. This allows you to set up a company as the sole owner with 100% ownership. However, this might require you to shift your visa to the free zone’s visa.
- A freelance permit is suitable for professionals in the media, technology, and education industries who want the flexibility to work independently and build a network of clients. It’s ideal for those who don’t want a full-time job or prefer short-term contracts. It’s also a good option for individuals living outside the UAE who want to work on short-term projects.
- Some free zones may require a business plan as part of your application. This plan should outline the contracts you have and potential contracts, demonstrating your eligibility for the permit.
- Depending on your needs, you can choose one or more economic activities when applying for a freelance permit. Different free zones offer different options.
To apply, you can contact the relevant authority or register online through their official websites or apps.
Getting a freelance permit in UAE involves multiple steps and costs. It’s essential to consider all the associated expenses, and the permit is well-suited for those who want independence in their work and don’t want to commit to a full-time job.
Benefits of Freelance Visa and Permit in UAE
Having a freelance permit and visa in Dubai comes with several benefits:
- With a freelance visa, you have the freedom to work for multiple companies or clients. This flexibility is great if you prefer not to have a traditional 9-to-5 job and want to take on various projects.
- Freelance visas in Dubai are often more affordable than setting up a full-fledged company. This affordability allows you to offer your services at competitive prices, making you more attractive to potential clients.
- Unlike traditional business setups, you don’t need to invest in office space when you have a freelance visa. This reduces overhead costs and makes it easier for freelancers to enter the market.
- Freelancers with a Dubai freelance visa can access free zone business centers, providing them with essential resources and facilities to conduct their work efficiently.
- With a freelance visa, you can sponsor your family members to come and live with you in Dubai. This can be a significant advantage for those who want to have their loved ones close by while pursuing their freelance career.
- Applying for a freelancer visa in Dubai is cost-effective, with validity options of 1 or 3 years and access to multiple free zones. It can also facilitate family reunification if your spouse resides in Dubai, making it an attractive option for those seeking opportunities in the city.
- There are numerous job opportunities and assignments available for freelancers in Dubai through official marketplace websites. This allows you to connect with companies and individuals who are specifically looking for freelancers with your skill set.
These different types of freelance visas offer flexibility and opportunities for both residents and non-residents to pursue freelance work and establish a legal presence in Dubai. It’s important to check the specific requirements and procedures for each type of visa to determine which one suits your situation best.
What can you do with a Freelance Permit in the UAE?
Once you have a freelance permit in UAE, you can do the following:
- Provide your services to regular people and companies.
- Bill your clients and get paid for your work.
- Work with government organizations if needed for your freelance services.
Freelancers in UAE can sometimes use shared office spaces provided by certain free zones. These co-working spaces give freelancers a professional place to work, and they also provide opportunities to connect with other professionals. It’s like having an office without the long-term commitment or the need to work from home.
Types of Freelance Visa in Dubai
In Dubai, there are different types of freelance visas available, depending on your situation:
- Freelance Visa and Work Permit for Residents:
- If you’re already living in Dubai, you can apply for a freelance work permit even if you’re employed full-time.
- In the case of full-time employment, you’ll need a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your employer or sponsor.
- Freelance Visa for Non-Residents:
- If you’re not a UAE resident, you need to apply for a freelancer visa to get a residency permit.
- This permit allows non-residents to live and work in Dubai as freelancers, and you’ll also need to apply for a residence visa.
- Dubai Talent Pass:
- The Dubai Talent Pass was introduced by Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (Dafza), Dubai Culture, and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to attract global talent.
- It’s available to freelancers in various industries such as technology, marketing, art, media, education, culture, and consultancy.
- The cost of freelance visas obtained through the Dubai Talent Pass is AED 9,500, and it’s renewable annually. The renewal fees may vary depending on your field of work.
- Green Residence for Freelancing and Self-Employment:
- The Green Residence is a 5-year residency visa designed for freelancers and self-employed individuals.
- To be eligible, you must meet certain requirements:
- Obtain a self-employment or freelance permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
- Have a minimum education level of a bachelor’s degree or a specialized diploma.
- Show a minimum annual income of AED 360,000 from self-employment over the past two years or demonstrate financial solvency during your stay.
Overall, a freelance visa in Dubai offers flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and various opportunities for freelancers in different industries, making it an attractive option for those looking to pursue freelance work in the UAE.
A Freelance Visa based on your Occupation or Job Type.
In the UAE, there are different types of freelance visas available based on your profession. Here are some of the professions and the corresponding options for freelance visas:
- Banking and Finance Professionals:
- Banking and finance professionals can apply for a freelance visa through Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development. This includes professionals in auditing, accounting, tax consulting, and Shariah review consultancy for Islamic financial institutions.
- Media Professionals:
- If you have experience in the media industry, you can apply for a freelance visa through Dubai Media City.
- This category covers a wide range of professions, including actors, photographers, animators, artists, audio/sound engineers, cameramen, choreographers, journalists, web designers, and many others.
- An alternative option is twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, which offers freelance visas valid for two years.
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also provides freelance permits at competitive rates.
- Education professionals can obtain a freelance visa in Dubai at a reasonable cost. The cost for the first year is AED 2,750, and for the second year, it’s AED 5,000. Additionally, there’s an Establishment Card fee of AED 2,000.
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also offers freelance permits for educationists.
- IT Professionals:
- IT professionals working in fields like mobile and web development, software development, data science, analytics, customer service, and IT networking can apply for a freelance visa.
- Applications can be made through gofreelance.ae, and the cost varies depending on the duration of the visa.
- Couture Designers and Related Professions:
- Professionals in the couture industry, including apparel designers, fashion stylists, interior designers, and wedding planners, can obtain a freelance visa.
- The cost for this category is relatively affordable, with options for one-year and three-year visas, along with an Establishment Card fee.
The UAE offers great flexibility for freelancers in various sectors, making it easier for them to work and establish their own businesses in Dubai. The availability of different types of freelance visas allows individuals to pursue their careers independently while benefiting from the supportive business environment in the region.
How to Seek a Freelance Visa and Permit in UAE
To obtain a freelance visa and license in the UAE, you can follow these general steps:
- Choose Your Freelance Activity: Decide on your professional field or activity. The type of activity you choose will determine the licensing authority or free zone you should apply through.
- Select a Licensing Authority: Based on your chosen activity, pick a suitable licensing authority or free zone. You can choose from options in Dubai, such as Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, or Dubai Knowledge Park, or consider free zones in other emirates. Each free zone may have different costs and requirements for obtaining a freelance permit.
- Apply for a Freelance Permit: Submit your application for a freelance permit or freelance license, along with the required documents. This permit allows you to legally work as a freelancer in the UAE.
- Apply for a Freelance Visa: Once your freelance permit is approved, you can apply for a freelance visa. This visa not only allows you to work but also live in the UAE. In some cases, it may permit you to sponsor family members.
- Receive Approval and Collect Your Visa: Once your application is approved, you will receive your freelance visa. These visas are typically valid for two to three years, providing you with the legal status to work and reside in the UAE as a freelancer.
Please note that specific requirements and processes may vary depending on the free zone or authority you choose for your freelance work. It’s essential to check with the chosen authority for detailed guidelines and fees related to the application.
Documents required to apply for a Freelance Visa in Dubai and other Emirates
Becoming a freelancer in the UAE doesn’t typically have strict professional background requirements. Instead, you’ll need to gather specific documents for your application. These documents typically include:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your UAE residence visa and Emirates ID (if you’re a UAE resident)
- A No Objection Letter (NOC) from your current sponsor (if you’re a UAE resident)
- A recent photograph
- Your CV (resume)
- A portfolio of your work if applicable
Obtaining a freelance visa will give you a residence visa, which allows you to live in the UAE legally. You’ll also need a work permit or freelance license to operate as a freelancer in the UAE.
It’s important to note that your passport should have at least 8 months of validity when applying for this visa, whereas other visas usually require a minimum of 6 months.
If you plan to work in education, you’ll also need to show proof of qualifications recognized by your home country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Freelance Visa and Permit Authorities in UAE
To get a Freelance Visa in Dubai or other emirates in the UAE, you first need a freelance permit from the authorities. There are different options to consider:
Dubai South Free Zone: This is a cost-effective choice for getting a Freelance Visa in Dubai. You can find more information on their website dubaisouth.
GoFreelance under Dubai Development Authority: GoFreelance, run by the Dubai Development Authority, covers a wide range of freelancing activities in design, education, media, and technology. Be cautious of companies that offer freelance permits without official government approval.
Abu Dhabi Options: Abu Dhabi provides two main options – the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development Freelance Permit and Twofour54. The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development offers 59 freelance activities, while Twofour54 is suitable for those working within its free zone.
Freelance Visa in Other Emirates:
Various northern emirates offer options for freelance visas, some under the name of freelance permits due to their cost-effectiveness. Here are some options in different emirates:
Umm Al Quwain: The UAQ free trade zone offers an affordable solution with a wide range of business activities.
Ajman: Ajman free zone offers a cost-effective option where one license can sponsor two resident visas.
Sharjah: SHAMS free zone has an affordable option designed for media professionals.
Ras Al Khaimah: RAKEZ provides freelance visas based on your educational certificate.
Fujairah: Fujairah’s Creative City offers affordable freelance visa packages.
When exploring these options, be sure to understand the specific conditions and costs for each to make the best choice for your freelancing needs.
How to apply for a Freelance Permit in Abu Dhabi:
You can avail of the freelance permit from the twofour54 free zone in Abu Dhabi valid for two years at a cost of AED 530.
Step 1: Log in to https://www.twofour54.com/en/
Step 2: You may Select how to start a business or set up as a freelancer
Step 3: Fill in the online application by submitting
- passport copy,
- passport size photo,
- updated CV,
- 2 professional references (with contact details),
- work offer or a letter of intent from a twofour54 business partner.
If you do not have a work offer or letter of intent You may submit:
- Introduction – personal/professional background, work experience
- Work – work you have done within the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi or work you plan to carry out and the contacts as references
- Liabilities – financial overview of expected income
Your application, references, and documentation will be reviewed by the free zone authority and will contract you within 3 working days with feedback.
Once you receive the approval, the free zone authority will initiate the process for licensing and residency procedure. You will then need to sign the documents and make the necessary payments.
You’ll be issued a sole proprietor’s business license and an employment visa valid for two years (for non-GCC nationals), which is convertible into a residence visa.
How to apply for a Freelance Visa and Permit in Dubai
Currently, registration is open under three sectors for freelance visas in the Emirate: Media (Dubai Media City), Tech (Dubai Internet City), and Education (Dubai Knowledge Park).
Step 1: https://gofreelance.ae/
You will find Media activities, Education activities, Tech activities, Design activities:
Step 2: Click on Apply.
During the application process, you may be asked to upload the following documents:
- Application Form
- Passport/Visa Copy
- Bank Reference Letter
- No Objection Certificate from UAE Sponsor is required to complete the freelance process
- Portfolio or Sample of Work (media sector only)
- Credentials and Certificates (education sector only) or any other documents as required by authorities.
Step 3: Submit the application for approval.
Once your application is approved, you will get an email notification to visit any business centers in Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, or Dubai Knowledge Park to personally sign documents and pay the fee. The approximate cost would be AED 7,500/-
Step 4: Apply for the Freelance Visa:
Once you have the freelance permit, you’ll gain access to the AXS platform, where you can apply for the establishment card (additional cost).
After getting the establishment card, apply for a freelance employment visa through the Dubai Development Authority (DDA).
Step 5 : Complete Residency Visa Procedures:
Upon applying for the freelance visa, you’ll receive an entry permit within 5-7 working days, valid for 60 days.
Complete residency visa procedures in Dubai, including a medical test.
Your residency visa will be stamped, valid for three years from the date of issue.
You will receive your freelance permit in your email.
In case if you do not have a visa, authorities will guide you to get the process done.
How to apply for a Freelance Permit in Ras Al Khaimah:
Actor, Editor, Animator, Announcer, Art Critic, Artist, Audio Technician, Chief Editor, Choreographer, Composer, Correspondent, Cinema and TV Director, Theatre Director, Events Coordinator, Events Manager, Film Developer, Film Producer, Programme Organiser, Instrumentalist, Journalist, Light Technician, Literary Writer, Literature Critic, Make-up Technician, Market Research Analyst, Marketing Coordinator, Motion Picture Photographer, Music Critic, Musician, News Editor, News Producer, Orchestrator, Social Media Influencer, etc can avail the freelancer visa from the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone or RAKEZ authority.
Step 1: Log in to https://rakez.com
Step 2: Submit your documents:
- Passport copy
- Valid UAE Residence Visa copy (if applying for a permit without visa)
- Sponsor’s No Objection Certificate (if applying for a permit without visa)
- Portfolio/sample of works or qualification certificate
Step 3: Make the payment by cash or cheque or bank transfer or pay by online by following the customised link in your invoice.
Freelancer permit from Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone or RAKEZ authority starts from Dh6,100 and includes access to modern business centers, a range of support services, and a UAE Residence Visa.
Step 4: Receive your freelancer permit.
How to apply for a Freelance Permit in Fujairah
Step 1: Log in to https://www.creativecity.ae/about/packages
They provide different packages which include:
- Commercial C* (NEW) no visa eligibililty
- Commercial FZE no visa eligibility
- Commercial FZ LLC no visa eligibility
- Elite Packages (NEW) all inclusive
- Commercial Plus One with 2 visa eligibility
- Freelancer Company with 4 visa eligibility
- Baby Business 6 visa eligibility
- Genius Package 15 visa eligibility
Step 2: Choose your option from various packages available and get started
Step 3: Fill the contact details as requested in contact form and submit
You will be contacted by the Freezone authority representative.
How to apply for a Freelance Permit in Ajman
Ajman Free Zone (AFZA) offers a Freelance Licence package in UAE with a variety of job categories.They provide visas that will be valid for three years along with Business Hub facilities.
The applicant must have a valid passport, visa copy, no objection certificate from the sponsor (if you are already a resident holder in UAE), and a color passport size photograph.
This package comes at a fee of Dh6000 plus visa, Emirates ID, and health insurance cost.
Step 2: Choose your option form the various packages available
Step 3: Fill the application and submit
The processing time would be one working day if approved.
Costs for Freelance Visa in Dubai:
Once you’ve gathered all your required documents, you can apply for a freelancing visa. Normally, it takes 5 to 7 working days to get the license. But if you want it faster, there’s an express option, which costs more.
Here’s how the cost breaks down for a freelance visa in Dubai:
- A one-year freelance permit costs AED 7,500.
- A one-year residence card costs AED 2,000.
- A 3-year employment visa costs AED 2,750.
- A 5-year employment visa costs AED 5,000.
If you’re applying for a 3-year residency visa in Dubai from outside the UAE, it’s AED 3,330 for the normal process or AED 3,900 for the express process.
Please note that the fees for freelance permits cover the cost of the Emirates ID card and medical tests. If you want a long-term visa, you first need an entry permit, so consider both the freelance visa cost and the residence card.
If you have inquiries or need more information about freelance permits and visas in Dubai, you can contact the following Dubai free zones at these phone numbers:
- Dubai Media City: Dial +971-4-391-4555
- Dubai Internet City: Call +971-4-391-1111
- Dubai Knowledge Park: Reach out at +971-4-390-1111
- Dubai Design District: Contact them at +971-4-433-3000
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs on Freelance Visa in UAE
What is a UAE freelance visa?
A UAE freelance visa, also known as a freelance permit, is a legal document that allows individuals to work as freelancers in the United Arab Emirates. It permits them to conduct business activities as self-employed professionals.
Who can apply for a freelance visa in the UAE?
UAE freelance visas are typically available to expatriates and UAE residents who want to work as freelancers in various industries, such as consulting, design, writing, and more
Can I work for a single client or multiple clients with a freelance permit in the UAE?
You can work for multiple clients with a freelance permit in the UAE. This flexibility is one of the advantages of holding a freelance permit.
How long is a freelance permit typically valid in the UAE?
Freelance permits in the UAE are usually issued for one to three years, depending on the specific terms and conditions of the free zone where you obtain the permit.
What is the cost associated with getting a freelance permit in the UAE?
The cost of a freelance permit can vary depending on the free zone and the specific activities you plan to engage in. It typically includes registration fees, license fees, and visa processing fees.
Do I need to have a physical office space to get a freelance permit in the UAE?
Many UAE free zones do not require freelancers to have a physical office space. You can often work remotely, as long as you comply with the free zone’s regulations.
Are there any restrictions on the types of freelance activities I can engage in with a UAE freelance permit?
While there are various activities allowed, some regulated professions may have specific requirements or restrictions. It’s essential to check with the relevant free zone authority for specific details related to your field of work.
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