Chapter Thirty-Six: Becoming a legal freelancer in the UAE
In November 2020, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) announced that UAE residents, as well as non-residents could apply for freelance licenses.
According to the new law, freelancers can now legally live and work in the UAE. Applicants are not required to take office space and can apply for residency visas for themselves and their families.
To work as a freelancer in the UAE, you need a residence visa and work permit, with the requirements for residents and non-residents listed below:
For UAE residents
If you are a UAE resident on your spouse’s or parent’s visa, you only need a freelancer permit to start working. Full-time working professionals in the UAE can also become freelancers by obtaining a permit.
To apply for a freelance permit, you must have proof of your relevant skill set as well as permission from any employer in the instance that you are looking at freelancing as a side-hustle.
For UAE non-residents
If you are not a UAE resident, you will have to apply for a freelancer visa – a residency permit that will allow you to live and work in the UAE as a freelancer.
There are many options to choose from for both UAE residents and non-residents considering a freelance career to live and work in the UAE legally. Many free zone options offer a freelancer permit that can enable you to get your residency visa and sponsor your family.
The choice will depend on the activity/ industry/ sector, and all processes can be completed online / or by visiting the service center. Costs can vary significantly.
How do I get a freelancer permit?
The free zones that currently offer a freelance permit include:
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Studio City
- Dubai Production City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai Design District
- Abu Dhabi’s twofour54
- Fujairah Creative City
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone
- Ajman Free zone
- Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone
Costs range between AED 7,500 and AED 20,000 (depending on the free zone regulations and your business requirements) and the permit must be renewed annually. The cost will also vary based on whether you need a 1-year or 3-year residence visa or only a permit to work legally as a freelancer in the UAE. If you are already a UAE resident, sponsored by a parent or a spouse, you do not need to cancel your current residence visa and get a new one.
To get started, here are your free zone options:
Dubai Economic Department has launched a freelance visa
Dubai Development Authority and the TECOM Group have launched the GoFreelance initiative, where currently registration is open under four sectors for freelance visas: Media (Dubai Media City), Technology (Dubai Internet City), Design (Dubai Design District) and Education (Dubai Knowledge Park).
The fee for the package is AED7,500 for the work permit only and if a residency visa is required, we can help you through the process (obtention of Immigration Card, Residence Permit. GoFreelance offers a business Centre facility to work from if you wish.
Abu Dhabi: You can get a freelancer permit from twofour54, online. The Media Zone Authority has waived all license fees for the first two years in the media zone, which means that you only need to pay for the visa registration process and health insurance. But it is mandatory to contract the later from twofour54. If you are already under a dependent visa, it might not be the best option.
In addition, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has also launched a freelancer visa option for AED 1,700.
Ras Al Khaimah:
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone permit starts from AED 6,100 and includes access to business Centres and a range of support services and a residency visa.
Fujairah Creative City has many options on offer with a starting price of AED 5,750. Offering flexi desk, online support, internet access, PO box and PRO services.
Ajman Free Zone (AFZA) freelance package start at AED 6,000 plus visa, Emirates ID, and basic health insurance cost. You can apply under several activities, and it includes a visa valid for three years along with Hub facilities.
Umm Al Quwain:
UAQ Free Trade Zone is designed for individuals in the technology, media and film sectors. By obtaining a freelance license and visa from the UAQ FTZ, you become a registered freelancer in the UAE eligible to carry out their chosen profession with full legal support.
If you would like us to help you obtain your freelance permit and visa set-up, please contact us at email@example.com, we can help you explore your options and guide you through the process.
You can reach out to us through WhatsApp to freely discuss your needs.