The United States, the U.K., China, Germany, and significant world superpowers are in a rat race trying earnestly to attract outstanding talents to their country to grow their economy, strengthen their labor market, and boost their bragging rights on the world stage.
While the United States, the U.K., and China have done little to follow up their desires with significant actions, the government of Abu Dhabi seems to be making a name for itself thanks to introducing a brilliant initiative—a freelance visa.
The freelance visa offers non-residents and UAE residents covered by their parent’s or spouses’ visas the opportunity to work legally in the Emirates.
If you are a freelancer who has dreamt of relocating to greener pastures like the picturesque city of Abu Dhabi, you’d like the UAE freelancer license.
What is the Freelancer License in Abu Dhabi?
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) introduced the freelance license to woo brilliant minds into the country.
Whether you are a UAE citizen, resident, or non-resident looking to take your freelance career to the next level, there is every reason to be excited about the UAE freelance license/permit. However, before you become ecstatic, you must understand the freelance license.
This outstanding initiative was designed specifically for certain business activities deemed beneficial to the UAE economy.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development provides freelance licenses to 48 business activities, many of which are technical or service-related. And as a freelancer, you can offer these services remotely.
What is the Freelance permit?
You shouldn’t mistake freelance visas for a permit. While the former is required for non-residents of Abu Dhabi or UAE who wish to ply their trade in the country, the latter is ideal for residents covered by their spouse’s or parents’ visa.
Such people only need a license to work as a freelancer. Plus, holders can easily apply for a residence visa and don’t have to list office space, as it’s not a compulsory requirement.
How Does Freelance Visa Contribute to Economic Development in Abu Dhabi?
Holders, the private sector, and the entire UAE economy enjoy the Abu Dhabi freelancer license benefits.
While holders benefit from the affluent community, infrastructures, and flexibility of working in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi economy and even UAE citizens benefit from the abundance of talents flocking into the country.
Advantages of the Freelance License In Abu Dhabi
The freelancer license in Abu Dhabi has attracted UAE non-residents and residents thanks to its enticing benefits.
Freelancers or self-employed who qualify and are given the visa will be allowed to participate in corporate activities from an authorized location or where they live.
In addition, with the Abu Dhabi freelancer license, professionals don’t have to go through much stress to apply for a work permit. You can apply for a work permit even without a sponsor.
Business Activities Covered by Freelance Visas in Abu Dhabi
Before you become excited about a freelance license in the UAE, you must note that not all freelance activities are covered under this initiative.
Here are some of these activities that are covered under the new freelancer license:
- Information technology consultancy
- Web designers
- Project development
- Design and programming of electronic chips
- Software development
- Jewelry design, costume jewelry
- Gardening services
- Agricultural extension services
- Food safety consultant
- Reviewing accounting and auditing systems
- Islamic financial institutions
- Fashion design
- Interior designers
Do you offer software development services or boast of other technical expertise? Then, you can apply for an Abu Dhabi freelancer license.
This also applies to others who offer the pro services above. However, if you are a UAE resident covered by your parents’ visa, you’ll need a freelance permit to start working.
How Much Does the Abu Dhabi Freelance Visa Cost?
Abu Dhabi freelance license/permit costs AED 800 (Up to 6 activities – Additional Activities: AED 100 each). Abu Dhabi FreeLancer visa costs AED 7500. The total cost can range from AED 12000 to AED 15000 (including the health insurance fees), and your visa will be valid for two years (for non-GCC nationals).
Worthy of note is that the stated costs cover your medical test, visa stamping, and Emirates ID.
Validity of the Abu Dhabi Freelance License
The Abu Dhabi freelance license has an expiry period of two years. Afterward, you are required to renew it annually after its initial expiration.
Holders of the freelancer visa can also sponsor their family members in the United Arab Emirates. But, the sponsorship will be under the family visa, not the company’s name. Like the typical Abu Dhabi freelancer license, a family visa expires after two years.
Getting a freelancer permit
Many free zones offer freelancer permits in the UAE. You’ll need to apply to the free zone of your choice to get your permit.
UAE Free Zones that Offer Freelancer Permits*
- Abu Dhabi’s twofour54
- Ajman free zone
- Dubai media city
- Dubai Internet City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Fujairah creative city
- Dubai design district
- Umm Al Quwain (comes with two residence visas and family sponsorship)
*Regardless of the zone you apply to, you can work across the UAE in your specialty.
If you are eager for office space, Flexi desk, or PRO services, you may want to consider applying in the Fujairah free zone. This zone also offers three activities, including four visas (one is free).
Also, you may consider getting your freelancer permit from twofour54 for those looking to avoid license fees.
The Media Zone Authority has waived all license fees for the first two years in the media zone. So, all you have to pay for are the visa registration process and health insurance.
How to Apply for Freelance License and Permit in Abu Dhabi
Don’t fret! Applying for a freelancer license or permit in Abu Dhabi is a piece of cake. All it takes are a few simple steps.
We have highlighted them below:
1- Go online and apply for the permit
Application for a freelance permit in the UAE can be made via the Abu Dhabi Business Centre (ADBC). On the site, choose “FreeLancer License” and complete the application.
You’d be required to submit some supporting documents:
- Application Form
- Passport (copy)
- Passport Photo
- Up-to-date CV
- Visa copy (if you are applying from within the UAE)
- Attested Certificate / Academic Qualification / Record by issuing entity (copy)
- Experience Certificates
- NOC letter from your UAE sponsor or employer if you are on a permanent contract and work in the private sector.
- Letter of intent from a business partner of the zone stating their interest in working with you as a freelancer or a detailed business plan outlining your experience/plans/strategy for working within the zone.
You can apply to the private, business, government, public, or entertainment industries.
However, suppose you are applying to the education sector. In that case, you’d need to provide health insurance, a freelancer permit, a UAE phone number, an original passport and passport photos, an establishment card, a university degree, or other proof of academic qualifications.
Your degree must be approved by your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE Consulate.
Also, if you are under your spouse’s or parent’s visa, you’ll need to get a No-Objection Certificate (NOC letter) from your sponsors before applying for the permit.
2- Monitor the application
After the online application process, an email will be sent to you after approval (it can take 10-15 days). Afterward, you must visit the Abu Dhabi Business Centre or twofour54.
There, you’ll sign the necessary documents and pay the fees. After this, your permit will be sent to you through email.
3- Apply for your Freelancer Visa
After receiving your permit, you can access TECOM’s business service platform (AXS). With this platform, you can benefit from several government services and apply for the establishment card, which costs AED 2,000 (to be renewed annually).
After receiving the establishment card, you can apply for a residence visa. The standard residence visa is for three years.
4- Finish the residency visa process
You’ll be given an entry permit after applying for the Abu Dhabi FreeLancer Visa. Once you get this permit (valid 60 days from the issue date), you must undergo visa processes, like your medical test. Afterward, your residency visa will be approved and issued to you.
Whether you are a UAE resident who’d like to freelance after regular work hours or a non-resident who wishes to enjoy working in Dubai or Abu Dhabi benefits, the UAE freelancer offers you the opportunity of a lifetime.
Thanks to this wonderful initiative by the economic development department, individuals who render specific services can contribute to the growing economic activities of the UAE while growing their freelance careers.
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