The first step towards buying a commercial property is to have the following documents ready. If your company is based internationally, keep in mind that the documents must be attested in the UAE to continue the process:
• Valid passport copies of all buyers
• Valid Board of Resolution
• Valid Certificate of Incorporation
• Valid Memorandum of Association
• Signee Authority Letter
• Signatory passport copy
Free Zone vs Mainland
Dubai's commercial sector is divided into two main zones – Free Zone and Mainland. As a buyer, it's important that you understand the differences between the two before you decide where to purchase.
Free Zone — Also called free trade zones, these areas offer 100% foreign ownership, 100% customs and VAT exemptions, complete repatriation of capital and profits, and corporate tax exemptions. They are designed to encourage foreign investment and promote economic activity and international trade in Dubai and the wider UAE.
Multiple approvals are usually required to obtain a licence or to operate a business (civil defence for example). These approvals are usually given by the Free Zone itself, which is very convenient for business owners. For a Mainland licence, however, you may have to apply to various different entities for certain approvals making it a longer and possibly more costly process.
Mainland — These are the areas in which all private organisations are allowed to conduct their business. Some examples of Mainland companies include international food chains, luxury shops, automobile manufacturing, and export and import businesses.
Restrictions on foreign ownership have recently been lifted, making this option more attractive for business owners. One of the key advantages of opting for a Mainland business is the ability to trade anywhere without restriction as opposed to a Free Zone company – which can trade only within the Free Zone. There is also greater flexibility on the number of visas allowed with Mainland licenses.
The area that you choose to buy in will depend on your type of company, goals, and budget. It helps to have a professional team of Commercial Consultants by your side during these steps, so you can be sure that you're making informed decisions and understanding every term.
Licence and set up fees
After gathering your documents and deciding on the zone, you will need to apply for a licence if you don't already have it. This is the foundational document required to do business in Dubai.
For the Free Zone, the different licence types in Dubai include professional, commercial, industrial, and tourism.
In this guide, we will focus on the commercial licence as it is the most common one in the emirate. This permit allows you to buy and sell goods and services, as well as trade, import, and export goods within the UAE. To apply for a commercial licence you will only be required to provide a few details and some basic documentation:
• Completed application form
• Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
• Two passport size photos in colour
The set up fees will be determined by the activities your business is permitted to practice, location, type of licence, as well as the name on the trade licence. The approximate fee to obtain a commercial licence in Dubai is AED 10,000. You may also need to consider additional costs such as registrations, visas, and premises – which can add up to around AED 30,000. If you are looking for the most cost effective way to start a commercial business, we recommend purchasing in a Free Zone.
Finding the right property
Now that you've completed the previous steps, it's time to find your ideal commercial space! Dubai is well known for catering to every sector – from offices, showrooms, retail areas and warehouses, to restaurants, full buildings, and plots. That being said, finding the right space without professional guidance can be challenging due to issues such as limited availability, licensing restrictions, service charges, and the need for transportation links.
Another important factor is that some commercial owners prefer not to market their property on any platform – so if you search on your own, you will most likely miss the full spectrum of available spots. We strongly advise working with a dedicated Commercial Consultant in this step of the process as they will understand your needs and guide you towards the best site for your specific type of business. Area specialists will also make this part easier – their expertise in Dubai's main spots will come in handy when searching for the perfect location.
Depending on your case, several local lenders can help you get financing for your commercial purchase.
At haus & haus, we can connect you with trustworthy mortgage lenders at competitive market rates – with packages tailored to your financial capacity and needs.
Once you found the perfect space, you're ready to make an offer! Your Commercial Consultant will then advise you on the next steps and timeline depending on your situation.
Why haus & haus?
We understand that each business has unique requirements. Criteria such as power voltage capabilities, parking spaces, telecommunication systems, and nearby locations are all essential points to consider before investing in your commercial space.
With vast experience in the Dubai retail market and strong partnerships with top developers, the haus & haus Commercial department and area specialists are ready to support you in this new journey. From start to finish and beyond, we will guide you through each step and ensure a smooth process – so you can focus on growing your business and reaching your goals.