The barrier of entry to becoming a freelancer is not very high: submit some proposals, find a client and you’re ready to go. But did you know that you need a permit to work as a freelancer in the UAE?
In previous years freelancing was quite difficult to pursue in the UAE. However, a freelancing permit is now available making it easier for freelancers to legally conduct business in the country. Best yet, freelancers can also apply for a residency visa along with their permit.
How to apply for a freelance permit work?
The Freelancers Permit is valid for one year. Freelancers need to submit an application in order to receive the permit. They can also apply for a three-year residency visa with the permit if they wish to pursue freelancing full-time but don’t have a sponsor.
There are currently freelance permits available for three sectors: Media, Tech, and Education. One activity can be registered for the tech and education sectors while up to three activities can be registered for the media sector. It is important to remember that the permit cannot be registered under a company name but will rather be registered under the individual’s name.
The permit is also available to individuals who are full-time employed. In order for the permit to be approved, the individual’s employers must give their consent and agree to sign a NOC letter. Freelancers cannot sponsor any employees through their application. They are, allowed to sponsor their dependents and household maids.
Once the permit has been issued, freelancers will also be able to apply for different letters such as a salary certificate or NOC for a driving license through the DCCA.
How much does a freelance permit cost?
For the permit, an annual fee of AED 7,500 needs to be paid by cheque or in cash. This fee covers the Freelancer Permit and provides access to the Business Centre in TECOM. For an additional AED 3,250 applicants can also obtain a residency visa that is valid for three years.
Freelancers who already have a residency visa don’t need to apply for a new one. They can choose to stay on their existing one or to apply for a new visa which will be issued under TECOM.
Where can you apply for a freelance permit?
There are three locations where freelancers can apply for their permit; each specializing in a specific industry:
- Media Sector – Dubai Media City
- Tech Sector – Dubai Internet City
- Education Sector – Dubai Knowledge Park
Freelancers need to go to the respective locations specific to the sector in which they want to apply for a permit. When submitting your application, applicants need to provide the necessary documentation.
What documents do you need to submit?
Being a freelancer in the UAE is much like starting a business with far fewer expenses and legalities. Keeping this in mind, you will need to submit some documents in order to apply for your Freelancer Permit. You will require the following documentation for your application:
- Application Form
- Passport /Visa Copy
- Bank Reference Letter
- Sponsor’s NOC (if applying for a permit without a visa)
- Portfolio or Sample of Work (media sector only)
- Credentials and Certificates (education sector only)
Some additional documents may be required for you to attain your permit. This will be communicated to the applicant as needed throughout the process. Once the permit has been approved, it will take approximately 10 – 15 working days to issue.
Can you do freelance work while working at a full-time job?
It is always handy to have an income on the side while working. Some extra spending money or even saving up for a rainy day may come in handy. Previously in the UAE employees were not allowed to work for more than one employer. This has been changed with new laws that have been introduced in 2018.
The freelancer permit allows full-time employees to conduct work on the side. However, they require a NOC letter from their full-time employer and part-time employer. It is important to remember that there is a limit on the number of hours that you are allowed to work per week.