Do you make handmade items at home in Dubai? Here’s what the UAE law says about selling them
12 December 2018| Last updated on 12 December 2018
Many residents residing in Dubai offer homemade items for sale…
The crafting community in Dubai is a thriving group and is largely made up of women; from artists and painters, to decoupage, woodwork and pottery – there’s a whole host of talented artisans living across the emirates that offer lovely, handmade items.
If you’re active on social media, it’s very easy to find and discover the works of said crafters in the country. They often advertise on Facebook, and may ask customers to collect their items from their home.
But not all are aware that there are actually laws and procedures in place that govern the selling of handmade goods in the UAE.
In fact, it is illegal to operate any business without the correct documentation and licences.
The UAE’s laws state that any small business – even hobby businesses - operating within the country must have a trade licence in place.
Without it, crafters risk facing fines up to AED 50,000 or even imprisonment, for operating a business illegally.
Selling handmade items from home in Dubai
The penalties mentioned above also apply to individuals selling homemade items in Dubai from a residential property.
Hobbyists and housewives risk hefty fines and potential jail-time if the law is not adhered to.
Crafters are able to promote themselves online, but they must only sell via an online platform or market that has the kind of licence in place that includes vendors... As explained below.
Using social media to sell items in Dubai
Naturally, the crafting community is active on social media platforms like Facebook – which has made the selling of items much easier with its Store and Marketplace app. Instagram is also a popular platform used to showcase items on sale.
The law, however, also governs your activity on these platforms.
Selling homemade items at events/markets in Dubai
Small home businesses that do not have a trade licence are permitted to sell their items at an event, a market or online – provided the organisation behind it is properly licenced, like Croutique.com for instance.
By signing-up to sell items online, or at one of Dubai’s regular crafters markets, sellers may sell their handmade items in Dubai without their own trade licence – but only via these routes.
Getting a trade licence as a crafter
If you choose to conduct your business in Dubai’s mainland, you must be registered with the Department of Economic Development (DED). The DED is Dubai’s government agency responsible for issuing licences in the emirate.
There are 3 categories of licences issued in Dubai from the DED;
You will receive the one most applicable to your business and craft based on your registration and application.
Please note, businesses registered with the DED or elsewhere in the UAE must have a less than 51% shareholding than UAE nationals.
There is also over 20 economic freezones in Dubai – which allows you to have 100 ownership of your company – and each comes with their own benefits and advantages, depending on your business type and activities.
For crafters, an e-commerce licence in Dubai would be best
For any crafter or artisan wishing to sell their homemade products in Dubai, an e-commerce licence is probably the easiest – and cheapest – option available.
If you are registering your business in Dubai’s mainland, this would be supplied by the DED. If you’re registering with a free zone, this would be acquired from your relevant authority.
As part of your e-commerce licence, you would be required to register a physical office in Dubai – authorities have made it mandatory for a company to have an office to consider it a legal entity.
Licence available to UAE nationals
If you are a UAE passport holder, you are an exception to the rule. As a UAE citizen, you are able to run a business and sell homemade items from your residential home with a specific trade licence.
This trade licence is called an “Intelaq Licence”, and it is given only to UAE passport holders wishing to create a home-based business. The application fee for this licence, fixed on an annual basis, is AED 1,000.
After three years, the Intelaq Licence will be converted into a business licence.