Freelancing in the UAE
Freelancing is gaining popularity all across the world with numerous benefits. The freedom to choose the time, comfort, and pay, all add up to a fulfilling work-life balance.
The UAE too has joined the league of the gig economy. Businesses are changing their outlook towards hiring freelancers and the government is making acquiring jobs quite easier within the country.
Here is a brief guide about all you need to know to start freelancing in the UAE.
What do you need to start freelancing in the UAE?
Freelancers in Dubai and other places in the UAE are permitted to take up gigs as long as they have the required permit or a freelance license and a residence visa.
The freelancer permit will recognize you as an independent contractor or a sole practitioner by which you can acquire gigs and start a business under your own name and work as an individual. The permit has to be renewed every one or three years.
Who can apply for a freelance permit in UAE?
In a nutshell, individuals working in Media, Education, and Tech and IT sectors can apply for the permit. So if you wish to work in sales and marketing, graphic designer, actor, editor, app developer, customer service, legal consultation, advertising, journalism, photography, education advisor, trainer, copywriter, and translator, you can apply for a license and start freelancing.
Recently the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) announced a new freelancer license that covers 48 different activities.
How to get a freelance permit?
The best and easiest way to get a freelance permit is to apply within the free zones. These free zones also provide resident visas if you do not already have one.
The most popular ones include Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, Fujairah Creative City, Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone Authority or RAKEZ, SHAMS, and Ajman Freezone.
The process is simple:
- Step 1: Submit your application in any of the free zones mentioned above.
- Step 2: Pay the fee after your application is confirmed by email. For this, you will have to visit their business centers or sign the documents and pay the fee in person.
- Step 3: You receive your permit via email. After this, you can apply for an establishment card and residency visa as well.
What do you need to apply for a permit?
Following is a general list of documents you will need to apply to any of the free zones.
- An updated resume or CV
- A copy of your passport and visa
- NOC from your UAE sponsor (if applicable)
- Reference letter from the bank
- Passport size photograph
- Credentials and certificates attested by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Portfolio (if applicable)
Some places, like Abu Dhabi, also require professional references and work offers.
How much does it cost to get a freelance permit?
The costs for a freelance permit are different for every free zone, but on average, it can cost somewhere between AED 700 to AED 20,000. While calculating the costs, you should also pay attention to the renewal costs which you will have to pay after every year.
So now that you have your license, here is a list of freelancing websites where you can find some great gigs in the UAE:
- Upwork: It connects professionals and freelancers with businesses. All you need to do is to make a profile on the website so that interested clients can contact you.
- Bawabba: This is an online community where freelancers can find jobs in 160 different types of services in the UAE. Yes, this is a UAE-centric freelance platform.
- FreelancerUAE: This is another UAE-centric platform where one can find freelance projects with ease.
- Fiverr: It is a global freelance marketplace that is trusted by thousands of businesses and professionals across the world.
- Truelancer: This is a simple website where projects are posted and freelancers can get quotes for the gigs.
The UAE is the hub of all economic boom and has a plethora of opportunities for freelancers. All the world’s eyes are on the region to see the markets swell. It can be said that UAE is the next best freelancing market in the world.
Looking to start a freelance career in Dubai, UAE? Freedom2Work is your one-stop-shop for all things freelancing. Get in touch with us to apply for a freelance license and a residence visa.
Address: 213, Vakson Commercial Building, Umm Al Sheif, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Phone number: 800-FREEDOM (373 3366)
Frequently asked questions
1. Do freelancers pay VAT in UAE?
- For the purpose of payment of VAT, freelancers are divided into different categories. If they earn more than AED 375,000 annually, freelancers must register for VAT. Below this limit, registration is optional.
2. What is the benefit of a freelance visa in the UAE?
- Acquiring a freelance visa allows one to work as an independent contractor for all companies and businesses across UAE and provides access to all free zones across the country.
3. Which is the cheapest free zone in UAE?
- Ajman Media City is considered to be the cheapest free zone in UAE as it permits freelancers to work at the lowest cost.
4. What do I need to work as a freelancer in Dubai?
- To work as a freelancer in Dubai, you will require a residency visa and a work permit, both of which can be acquired from a free zone or any freelance license authorities.
5. What kind of freelance work can I do?
Here are some ideas for you to start freelancing:
- Sales and marketing
- Graphic designer
- App developer
- Customer service
- Legal consultation
- Education advisor