How to start a foodstuff business in Dubai?


With Dubai emerging as one of the top global food destinations in recent years, therefore, starting foodstuff trading in Dubai is indeed a profitable venture which is only bound to grow in the coming years. More so, the business holds incredible potential as Dubai manages over 20% of the food imports of the UAE and re-exporting to over 160 countries. 

So, if you are planning to start the foodstuff business in Dubai then you indeed have taken the correct decision. Nevertheless, there is a detailed process of company formation and mandatory documentation that you would be requiring to cater to begin your foodstuff trading business which is discussed below.

  1. Decide on Mainland or Free Trade Zone 

Dubai offers two choices for food stuff business set up, namely, mainland and free trade zone. So, first of all, you need to decide as to where do you want to establish your food stuff and then you can go ahead and apply for the licence.

To be noted that the food stuff trading license in Dubai Mainland permits to do business locally as well as globally. On the other hand, the food stuff trading license, for carrying out operations in Free Zone, would authorize the food stuff trading with the B2B companies in the free zone or outside the country. Here, you are allowed to trade between suppliers and wholesalers.

  1. Choose your food stuff trading option

The food industry is so vast in Dubai, that you have an array of alternatives to decide from. Following is the list of sub-activities that you can carry out under the food stuff business in Dubai

  • Grains, Cereals & Legumes Trading

  • Snack Food Trading

  • Spices Trading Business

  • Ice Trading

  • Juice Trading

  • Mineral Water Trading

  • Soft Drinks & Carbonated Water Trading

  • Sugar Trading Business

  • Egg Trading

  • Ghee & Vegetable Oil Trading

  • Flour Trading

  • Potatoes Trading

  • Fruits and Vegetable Trading


  1. Registration of food stuff business in Dubai

It is compulsory to register your food stuff business company with Dubai Municipality (DM) before beginning your business. Basically, the DM is the Government agency whose Food Control and Safety Department is accountable for rules, regulations, polices and issuance of licence.

Further, if your company will be involved in the import of foodstuff, then following requirements are needed:

  • Register your company and all the food items in the DM Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS)

  • Obtain food label authorization for all items that you plan to import

  • Acquire a FIT analysis result from the Dubai Central Food Laboratory 

Following documents are needed for the registration process from DM:

  • Trade license of company

  • E-mail of the company

  • Telephone and fax number of the company

  • P.O. Box number of the company

  • Details of company’s location in Dubai

  • Name and phone number of Company’s representatives

  1. Food stuff business license

Food stuff trading companies in Dubai depending upon the nature of their food stuff business activity require either require a professional or industrial or commercial license. All food establishments in Dubai must have a suitable trade licence from the concerned government authorities before the commencing of their business operation.

  • Food stuff business license in Dubai Mainland

If you choose to setup a foodstuff trading business in Dubai mainland, then you need a local partner to setup a Limited Liability Company (LLC Company), who will at least have 51% of the share in the company. For this kind of company the governing authority is the Dubai Economic Department (DED).

Following are the steps for business setup of a foodstuff trading business in Dubai Mainland:

  • Select your trade name and get it registered

  • Obtain the initial approval from the Department of Economic Development (DED)

  • Draft and sign the Articles and Memorandum of Association (MOA) 

  • Sign the above mentioned agreements with your partner or local sponsor in the presence of a Notary Public Court

  • Rent an office (minimum 200 sq. ft.) or warehouse and obtain the tenancy contract and have it attested by Dubai Land Department (Ejari)

  • Submit all the essential documents to the DED and collect the payment voucher

  • Submit the tenancy contract to Dubai Municipality Food Control Section

  • Make the final payment to the DED after the submission of the documents 

  • Apply for your company establishment and labour card which will allow you to open bank accounts and hire staff under your license.

  • Bank account opening 

Further, following are the typical documentation which will be required in order to obtain the foodstuff trading license be it in Dubai mainland:

  • Passport copy of the shareholders

  • Visa of the shareholders

  • Emirate ID of shareholder having resident visa

  • NOC from sponsor in case the shareholder has a resident visa

  • Any additional documents required by the authority

  • Free Zone foodstuff Trading License

 If you wish to setup your business in free zone, then you will be able to hold on to 100% ownership of the business and would not require any local sponsor. Further, you can obtain license from concerned free zone

Though, the precise process for business set up may perhaps differ between different free zones, however the general process for setting up such a company in a free zone is as follows:

  • Decide the type of legal entity that is suitable for you which includes of:

  • Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC)

  • Free Zone Company (FZ Co.)

  • Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

  • Select a suitable trade name and get it registered

  • Apply for a business license

  • Decide on an office space

  • Get essential pre-approvals

  • Register your business with DM

Begin your food stuff trading business!

If you are looking to set up a food business in Dubai, then wait no more and call Shuraa! We are here to take care of all the process required for food stuff business right from registration to documentation procedure with the necessary authorities. Rest assured, we will guide you in every step till your business is set up and going. 

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