Freelancers enjoy work flexibility like setting their hours and working from anywhere in the world. The pandemic has proved that work can be done remotely without losing quality or efficiency. The pandemic has also given rise to the gig economy without any intention. The freelancing journey has become easier than before, as freelancers can now get a freelancer visa and work legally with regulations that support their business.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are ranked among the best places to live and work, and living in the UAE is an attractive option for freelancers. The UAE government has recently introduced the freelancer permit for residents and the freelance visa for foreigners, which is great news for freelancers wishing to live and work in the UAE.
If you are interested in a UAE freelance visa, Dubai provides a freelancer visa. If you are interested in getting a freelance visa in Dubai or interested in living in the UAE, we hope here to provide a helpful guide. It’s important to note that no matter where you got your freelancer visa or permit from, you can still live anywhere in the UAE. So, we’ll mainly focus on how you can get a freelance visa in Dubai while mentioning the other cities that offer a freelancer permit and visa.
But before we get started, let’s make sure you understand all the terms related to freelancing in the UAE.
Your Guide to Freelancing in UAE: Terms You Should Be Familiar With
Freelance Visa vs. Freelance Permit
So, do you want to start your freelancing career in the UAE or Dubai? Which one do you need: a freelance visa or a freelance permit, or do you need both? Let’s see the difference.
If you live in the UAE, you don’t need a visa as you already live there. You are already sponsored by a spouse, a family member, or an employer. You may have a full-time job in the UAE, but you wish to start freelancing. So, you need a freelance permit, an authorization to start working as an independent contractor, a sole practitioner. So, the freelance permit is for UAE residents. It’s also called a freelance license.
A freelance visa in Dubai or any other city acts as a residency visa. Before issuing a freelance visa, you should issue a freelance permit. A freelance permit will qualify you to apply for a freelance visa. You need a freelance visa to live and work in the UAE as a freelancer.
Freelance Visa vs. Residence Visa
If the freelance visa acts as a residence visa, what is the difference between the two? The freelance visa is relatively new, and you can get the visa through a freelance permit. This means that you don’t need an employer or a sponsor to get the visa. You just need your skills, talents, and certifications if needed.
If you’re considering freelancing in the UAE, you must have come across the term “free zone.” What is a free zone, and what a free zone has got to do with freelance permits?
Free Zones in the UAE are investment and business areas with independent business laws and regulations where foreign investments and businesses can have full ownership of their business. Other benefits include 100% exemption from corporate and income taxes as well as exemption from customs duty. The many free zones make Dubai and other cities a preferable option for many businesses.
Where Can You Issue a Freelance Permit or Freelance Visa in the UAE?
If you are a UAE resident, you can apply for a freelance permit through the Dubai Development Authority for DH 7500.
If you don’t live in the UAE, you have to pay for the freelance permit (DH 7500) in addition to the freelance visa fees.
The UAE government has offered many other ways to get a freelancer visa through the free zone to make things easier. A couple of free zones in the UAE offer freelance visas and permits, and you can easily apply online.
Some of the UAE cities have free zones like Abu Dhabi. For example, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development recently announced that freelancers could live and work in the UAE. Also, the Ajman Free Zone offers freelance visas in 40 categories costing DH 6000.
Below are some of the cities and free zones that offer freelance licenses and visas in the UAE. Each free zone has its own set of rules and freelancer categories.
Ras Al Khaimah
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Internet City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai Design District
- Ajman Free Zone
Freelance Visa in Dubai
Most people want to live and work in Dubai, so they are often searching for ways to get a residence visa in Dubai, and freelancing is a great way if you and you prefer to work on your own.
These are the free zones in Dubai that offer visas and permits for freelancers.
Dubai Internet City
The Dubai Internet City is built to be a “leading tech hub” in the region that offers co-working spaces and commercial spaces for businesses to succeed and thrive.
Dubai Media City
Dubai is the place that “houses the largest global and local media brands.” Because of Dubai Media City, Dubai was named “the capital of Arab Media” in 2020.
Dubai Knowledge Park
Because great talents are the real capital of businesses, Dubai Knowledge Park was established to be the “leading HR and training hub” in the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa)
Dubai Design District
If you’re looking for the place of the best brands in art, design, and fashion, you’ve come to the right place.
To simplify the process of getting a freelance visa in Dubai, the UAE, with the cooperation between the four free zones in Dubai has introduced the GoFreelance. It’s a website where you can apply for freelance licences and visas to start your freelance business in Dubai.
Since the free zone areas in Dubai specialize in tech, media, design, there are only several fields that qualify you to get a freelancer permit and freelance visas through Dubai’s free zone. So, are you qualified to get a freelance license in Dubai?
What Freelance Work Qualifies You for A freelancer Visa?
Luckily, there are many work areas, and most probably, you’ll find that what you do qualifies you for a freelance licence and a residency visa. So let’s see the activities that qualify you for a freelance visa in Dubai.
Many professions qualify you to get your permits for media professionals, such as copywriter, graphic designer, illustrator, market analyst, scriptwriter, social media influencer, web developer, etc. These are some of the freelance jobs needed in the media sector.
As for tech, the professional services that will qualify you for freelance business registration in Dubai are software development, web development, data science, customer service, etc.
You can get your freelance permit and visa for the education sector if you are a research, e-learning advisor, etc.
The GoFreelance website lists several design activities like concept design, costume design, interior, and jewelry design.
Documents for a Freelance Permit and Visa
Required Documents for UAE Residents
If you live in the UAE, whether you work full-time or on your parent’s visa or your spouse’s visa, you only need a freelancer permit (a freelance license). For a freelance permit, you will need the following documents:
- Application Form
- Bank Reference Letter
- NOC or No Objection Certificate
- Passport and Residency visa copy
- For the education sector, you’ll need proof of academic qualifications certified and approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the UAE consulate.
- For the media sector, you’ll need a portfolio of your work.
Note: The No Objection Certificate (NOC) is from your employer or your sponsor.
Required Documents for Non-residents
Before applying for a freelance visa in Dubai, you should first apply for a freelance permit which you can easily do through the GoFreelance website.
- A one-year visa cost is DH 2,750
- A three-year visa cost is DH 5,000
To apply you need:
- Application Form
- Passport Copy
- Portfolio for the media sector and certification for the education sector.
You can pay for the permit by credit card, and you will receive it by email.
After submitting a visa application, you will receive an entry permit to complete all your visa requirements (medical tests, etc.)
Paperwork required for the visa:
- Freelancer licence
- Establishment card (costs DH 2000 and must be renewed annually)
- Valid medical insurance (health insurance)
- UAE phone number
- Passport photo
- Original passport
The cost of the visa includes the visa stamping, Emirates ID, and medical test.
Perks of a Freelance Visa
If the freelance lifestyle appeals to you, then this is your chance to be a legal freelancer in the UAE. Now, it’s easier than ever to get a freelance visa in Dubai or the other UAE cities. Let’s see some of the perks of a freelance visa.
- It acts as a residency permit
- You can sponsor family members and apply for residency visas for yourself and your family members.
- An employment visa requires an employer, while for a freelance visa, you need only your talents. To get an employment visa, you need a sponsor.
- Renting office space is not a must to start your business in the UAE with a freelancer visa.
- With a freelancer visa, you get access to the business centre of the free zone, in addition to a flexi desk and co-working space for freelancers.
- You get to start your own business at one of the best places to work without having to pay the additional cost of having office space.
- Some freelancers are eligible for a corporate bank account and not just a personal bank account.
Living and working in the UAE is no longer a dream. What are you waiting for? Now is the time you join many other freelancers and apply for a freelance permit and visa, and you’re ready to live the dream. Getting a freelancer visa in Dubai nowadays is easier than you think.
We hope you enjoyed this article. If so, you might enjoy these resources:
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