How to open a travel agency on the UAE mainland in ten easy steps

How to open a travel agency on the UAE mainland in ten easy steps

Are you ready to open your own travel agency in the UAE mainland?

Our following guide will help you for in kick starting your business setup in Dubai.

1- Choose your business activity

The first step would be to decide which kind of travel activity you want to undertake. In Dubai, there are 3 types of travel agency licenses issued by the authorities. They are,

  • As a travel agent
  • An Inbound tour operator
  • An Outbound tour operator

2- Decide the legal structure that fits your business activity

A travel agency in the UAE mainland can be operated as a limited liability company or as a sole proprietorship. Registration and licensing requirements for both these company formation types are different. For example, in the case of LLCs registered as travel agencies, the requirements are tough. When setting up a travel agency in UAE as a sole proprietorship, the business owner will be required to become a certified travel agent.

3- Decide your company name

You must know the rules for naming your business in the UAE.  For example,

  • You cannot use offensive language
  • Your company name cannot contain religious references
  • Company name should not be similar to other organization working in the same sector in UAE
  • You can include words such as ‘global’, ‘international’, ‘East’ or ‘West’ in your company name but it involves extra fees, and several restrictions apply.

A company formation specialist will let you know what’s acceptable to the DED.

4- Gather the required documents

After you have decided your company name and the type of license you want to opt for you will proceed to documentation. You will require,

  • A filled application form
  • Copy of valid passports of the applicants and the manager
  • Certificate of professional qualification/work experience certificate of the manager
  • Clean criminal record certificate of the owner/certificate of good conduct of the owner and manager
  • Study report of the economic and technical feasibility of the project
  • No objection letter issued by the Civil Aviation Authority if you plan to sell airline tickets

5- Apply for business license

Department of Economic Development DED issues the trade license in Dubai (commercial, professional, industrial). All companies are required by law to have trade license irrespective of their business sector. In some cases, further license is required as in case of tourism, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing will issue the tourism license.

6- Apply for your tourism license

Your next step is to apply to the DTCM for one of those three additional licenses: as an outbound operator, inbound operator or travel agent.

Steps to obtain tourism license

  1. Submit the name of the company to the DED.
  2. Get the initial approval from DED to form your company. The form can be filled at any typing center after which you need to get the signatures from all the partners and submit the form at the DED
  3. After initial approval, DED will give a form for the site inspection. Fill the form with complete office details, attach location map and submit the same at the DED along with final documents. Officer from DED will come for inspection prior to issuing the license.
  4. Type the LLC agreement (MOA) from a legal translator and get attested from Notary Public.
  5. All the Partners or Attorney have to attend at Notary to sign the Court Agreement
  6. Submit all the documents, make payment at the counter and get your License.

The validity of your Travel Agency License in UAE is one year and must be renewed after. Upon receiving the license, register the same at Dubai Chamber of Commerce. For this purpose, collect and fill the registration form, put authorized signature, company stamp and submit to Dubai Chamber. You will immediately be issued a certificate. You have already made the payment at DED. Dubai Chamber certificate is required for registration with various government departments and to expand your business to other Emirates in the UAE.

7- Find your office space

After receiving your business license, start looking for office space. In Dubai mainland there are three popular types:

Serviced offices: They are usually owned and maintained by a 3rd party and have everything you need to move in immediately such as desks, phone, internet access and reception cover. Your lease payment would usually cover office rent, use of office equipment and utility bills.

Shell and core Offices:  They require complete fitting and decoration. Bills will have to be paid along with rent.

Sublets: They don’t require any fitting or decoration but you will need your own office equipment and pay bills separately apart from the lease.

8- Apply for employee’s visa

You need to apply within 30 days of an employee’s entry into the UAE, at which point they will have received a tourist or visit visa.

For this purpose, register on the Ministry of Interior’s e Channels portal for staff entry permits. Once the permit is issued, employee can perform an ‘in-country status change’ to activate that entry permit, an important step to obtaining a full employment visa.

9- Open a corporate bank account

In order to open a corporate bank account in Dubai, you need a trade license and continuous minimum balance that ranges between Dh5000 to Dh1 million.

10- Partner with Company setup consultant

Starting out on you own can be exciting and challenging. But in order to ensure an easy and smooth process, we recommend you to consult a company formation expert such as KWSME.

KWSME is your Dubai business setup services provider. We offer free consultation, licensing and registration with transparent and flexible pricing.

Call us at 00971-(04) 871 4313 or email your query at info@kwsme.com

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