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Moving to Dubai as a freelancer? Requirements, costs and taxes

Are you a freelancer? Would you like to live and work in the dynamic and astonishing city of Dubai? Legally working as a freelancer in Dubai requires the compliance with some important legal requirements and conditions, like getting a visa.

In this blog post, we will explain the different types of freelance visas in Dubai, their requirements, costs, benefits, and how to apply for them. In this post you will find all the information you need to start your freelance journey in Dubai.

What is a freelance visa?

The freelance visa is an authorization allowing individuals to legally live and work as freelancers in the United Arab Emirates and, in particular, in Dubai. Being, therefore, able to engage in freelance activities to the extent they meet some criteria.

Are there different types of freelance visa?

As from January 2024, there are many different types of freelance permits and visas. The most common are:

Freelance Work Visa

It allows foreigners to independently work in Dubai. It targets different types of professions, including marketers, designers, IT workers, and many more. This type of visa is generally used by that type of freelancers who desire to offer their professional services without needing to set-up a company.

Investor-Freelance Visa

Type of visa which links the freelance status to an investment in a free zone company. It requires establishing a company in a free zone and, therefore, it is generally used by those freelancers who need, due to legal, regulatory or operational reasons, to render their services through a company.

Media Freelance Visa

This visa targets professionals in the media and creative industries, like journalists, photographers, content creators, among others.

Freelance Permit for Women

Specific type of permit targeting women. Its aim is to empower female entrepreneurs and freelancers to pursue their freelancer ambitions and goals.

Benefits to freelance visa holders

Those freelancers holding a freelance visa would unlock many benefits, like:

Low investment

Freelancers do not need to invest large amounts of money in fixed assets or incur burdensome operating costs to get the visa and work as a freelancer in Dubai. In fact, there is no need to rent an office and equipment, working from home is totally valid.

Family sponsorship

Freelance visa holders can sponsor their family members and spouse to live with them in Dubai. On the other hand, sponsorship is not allowed with respect to employees.

Contracting in the UAE

Freelance visa holders are allowed to work as independent contractors for companies within the UAE and have access to different free zones’ business center.

What formalities does the visa application process generally imply?

Applying for the freelance visa is a simple process but it implies complying with some minor steps:

Step 1: Applying for a freelance permit or license to be registered as a freelancer in the UAE.

It should be noted that the application for said license could be carried out in one of the several free zone in Dubai. Opting for one free zone or the other is generally driven by the area of expertise of the freelancer. Some of the options are:

Step 2: Applying for the freelance visa.

At the time of getting the freelance permit, the freelancer would also get access to TECOM’s business service platform. Through that platform the freelancer should apply for the establishment card and, after receiving said card, applying for the freelance visa.

Step 3: Completion of residency visa procedures.

Upon filing the visa application, the freelancer will receive an entry permit valid for 60 days. As from that moment, the freelancer must comply with some residency procedures like a medical test and paying some fees. Upon complying with those residency procedures, the visa would be stamped.

Some of the documents to prepare and handle within the process are: resume; recent passport-size photo; proof of address; passport; bank reference letter; professional qualifications and experience certificates; business plan; and the non-objection letter.

The process may generally take up to 30 days.

How long does this visa last?

The visa would be generally valid for three years as from the date of issuance. However, durations may vary depending on the free zone and package chosen.

What are its costs?

Getting the freelance visa should not cost that much. Those costs may change from year to year and may differ depending on the field of expertise of the freelancer and the free zone.

For instance, one year fee is AED 4,382 (EUR 1,078: USD 1,193) and the fee for a two-year visa is AET 4,750 (EUR 1,170; USD 1,293). An additional fee of AED 2,000 (EUR 492; USD 545) is levied on the issuance of the establishment card.

What about taxes as a Dubai resident?

Deciding to apply for the freelance visa and reside and work in Dubai should not be impacted by local taxes. In fact, the UAE offers freelancers a 0% corporate and personal tax and no tax on cash and profit repatriation to foreign countries.

However, a 9% taxation may apply in certain circumstances. Said taxation continues being attractive considering the tax pressure freelancers may face in other countries.

Are you ready to take your freelancing career to the next level? Do you want to enjoy the perks of living and working in Dubai as one of the most exciting and innovative cities in the world? Don’t miss this opportunity to grow your freelancing business and achieve your goals in Dubai. Apply for a freelance visa in Dubai today and start living your dream as a freelancer in Dubai.

Relocate & Save has advised and helped freelancers moving to Dubai, assisting them with the entire visa application and registration in any of the available free zones.

Our presence and local contacts in Dubai make Relocate&Save the perfect partner to trust. If you have any questions and would like to receive tailored advice, you can write to us at [email protected] or through the contact form.

Picture of Andreu Capmajó
Andreu Capmajó

Tax director

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