The Freelance Visa and Freelance Permit in Dubai are legal authorizations designed for individuals who wish to work as freelancers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These permits allow non-citizens to engage in freelance activities in various fields like media, education, and design, adhering to the criteria set by the UAE government and specific free zone authorities.
These permits provide considerable flexibility for those looking to establish a business or work as freelancers in Dubai, aligning with the increasing popularity of the gig economy. The initiatives in Dubai have been tailored to facilitate easier and more affordable access for freelancers to live and work in the city. This includes a 5-year residency option for freelancers and self-employed individuals, which uniquely does not require a sponsor or employer in the UAE.
The Freelance license authorizes individuals to operate as freelance professionals, while the Permit designates them as sole practitioners, allowing them to conduct business under their personal name rather than a brand name.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) offers a freelance permit for 2023, enabling individuals of all skill levels to work within the UAE or globally. This comprehensive approach reflects Dubai's commitment to supporting flexible work models and accommodating the dynamic needs of the modern workforce.
Types of Freelance Visas
As of 2023, Dubai provides a range of freelance visas and permits designed to meet the diverse needs of professionals. They enable freelancers to work legally and autonomously within the city. These options, along with their associated costs and specific details, include:
Under the directives of @HamdanMohammed, @dafz_official launches ‘Talent Pass’ license for freelance work. The new license aims to attract global talent and professionals in the fields of media, education, technology, art, marketing and consultancy.— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) January 9, 2022
(Archive photo) pic.twitter.com/64iECTUU5i
A collaboration between the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (Dafza), Dubai Culture, and The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has led to the creation of the Talent Pass.
This is a three-year visa targeting professionals in media, education, art, technology, marketing, and consultancy. It also allows for renting office space by Dafza and includes commerce licenses for import, export, re-export, general commerce, light manufacturing activities, e-commerce, and service licenses.
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development offers a freelance visa for accounting and auditing professionals, Shariah review consultants, and tax field consultants.
In Dubai, media professionals can obtain a freelance visa through Dubai Media City, which covers around 45 categories including actors, photographers, editors, journalists, and web designers.
In Abu Dhabi, twofour54 provides freelance visas within the media, production, and entertainment industries for two years.
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also offers freelance permits to media professionals starting from AED 6,100.
Dubai Knowledge Park facilitates freelance visas for education advisors, e-learning advisors, executive coaches, researchers, and trainers. Applications can be made through gofreelance.ae, with one-year visas costing AED 2,750 and three-year visas costing Dh5,000, plus additional costs for a freelance licence and Establishment Card.
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also offers permits for educationists starting from AED 6,100.
Freelancers in web, mobile, software development, IT and telecommunication networking, data science, and analytics can apply for visas through gofreelance.ae, with the same cost structure as for educationists.
Dubai Design District offers freelance visas for apparel designers, interior designers, fashion stylists, and various other design professions.
Alongside these, Dubai introduced several new types of freelance permits in 2023:
- Freelance Work Permit: A versatile option for a range of professions, from writers to web developers, without the need to establish a company.
- Investor/Freelance Visa: Ties freelance status to an investment in a Dubai-free zone company.
- Media Freelancer Visa: Specifically for media and creative industry professionals.
- Dubai Virtual Company License: Allows for digital operations without physical office space.
- Freelance Permit for Women: Tailored to support and empower female entrepreneurs and freelancers.
These options demonstrate Dubai's commitment to supporting a diverse and flexible freelance ecosystem.
Source: Dubai Visit Visa Online and Khaleej Times
Green Visa for Freelancers
In 2023, UAE expanded the eligibility for the freelance visa in Dubai, making it accessible not only to UAE nationals but also to residents and non-residents. Additionally, freelancers now have the option to apply for a 5-year green visa. Freelancers who wish to apply for a Green visa need to submit:
- A freelance/self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- Proof of a bachelor’s degree or a specialised diploma
- Evidence of annual income from self-employment for the previous two years amounting to not less than AED 360,000, or proof of financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE.
The cost for issuing and renewing the freelance permit is around AED 7,500, which needs to be renewed annually.
The establishment card costs approximately AED 2,000 for both issuing and renewal, with an annual renewal requirement.
- For a 3-year employment visa, the cost is AED 2,750
- A 5-year visa costs AED 5,000
These visas must be renewed every 3 or 5 years, respectively.
Cost for Non-Residents Applying for a 3-Year Visa:
If you are outside the UAE and applying for a 3-year visa the cost is around
- AED 3,330 for normal processing
- AED 3,900 for express processing
Cost for Residents Applying for a Residence Visa:
For those applying from within the country, the cost is
- AED 4,960 for normal processing
- AED 6,340 for express processing
Overall Annual Expense:
The annual expense is estimated to be around AED 11,525. This cost does not include health insurance but covers medical tests, visa stamping, and Emirates ID.
In addition to these specific costs, it's also important to note that the freelancer license in Dubai has a cost of AED 15,000, which covers the application and the first year’s trade license, with annual renewal fees of AED 10,000.
The costs of the freelance visa and the necessary licenses are subject to change and may vary based on the specific circumstances of the applicant.
Source: dubaibusinessservice.com and Flybiz
Requirements for Freelance Visa in Dubai
To obtain a freelance work permit or license in the UAE, the following basic requirements are generally necessary:
A valid copy of your passport.
Educational or Professional Qualifications:
- Degree or professional qualification certificate.
- The certificate must be duly notarized.
- Attestation by the relevant authority in the country where the certificate was issued.
- Attestation by the UAE embassy or consulate in the country of certificate issuance.
- Attestation by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.
Valid health insurance coverage.
If applicable, an establishment card.
Medical Fitness Tests:
Completion of required medical fitness tests.
Payment of Fees:
Appropriate fees as set by the authority issuing the freelance work permit or license.
By fulfilling these criteria and paying the relevant fees, professionals can legally engage in freelance work within the UAE, taking advantage of the flexibility and opportunities this dynamic and diverse market offers. As always, it's advisable to stay updated with the latest regulations and procedures, as they are subject to change, to ensure a smooth and compliant process for obtaining a freelance work permit or visa in the UAE.