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Виза фрилансера в Абу-Даби

Your First Steps as Freelancer in Abu Dhabi: Guide for Beginners

In 2024, with the digital revolution and globalization in full swing, Abu Dhabi is becoming a center of attraction for talented people from all over the world, especially for freelancers looking to bring big ideas to life. It’s a place full of chances for those who want to work on their own or explore new job opportunities. With its warm weather, great quality of life, and booming business scene, Abu Dhabi is a true magnet for freelancers. However, it’s utterly important to carefully look into all the details before moving there to make sure everything goes smoothly and to prevent any unexpected issues.

Freelancer Visa to Abu Dhabi

Kickstarting your freelance adventure in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, the heart of the UAE and the emirate’s capital, is full of opportunities today. Starting out as a freelancer in this futuristic city is a lot more than just being your own boss. It is also about excitement, new experiences, and a promise of prosperity.

The first step to start freelancing in Abu Dhabi is to get a freelance visa for the UAE. This special-purpose visa allows people from other countries to work for themselves in the Emirates, provided they have a proper work portfolio and the necessary expert skills.

Unlike regular work visas, the UAE freelance visa comes with a great advantage allowing you to work with several employers at the same time. This opportunity is especially attractive for people in creative jobs, tech, and education. By the way, a study by Bayt.com found that in 2023, the fastest-growing areas for freelancers in the Middle East and North Africa were digital marketing, IT, customer service, and graphic design.

Freelance visa vs. freelance license: know the difference

If you are about to work on your own in the UAE, it’s important to know the difference between a freelance visa and a freelance license. Although related, they are still different things.

A freelance visa is a standard pink stamp in your passport that lets you stay in the country for 2 years. On the other hand, a freelance license is a permit that allows you to work anywhere in the jurisdiction. You might not need a freelance visa, especially if you already have one through your spouse or company. However, to work legally on your own in the UAE, a freelance license is a must.

These are the documents required to get a freelance license in the UAE:

  • Emirates ID, or EID for short
  • valid freelance visa.

Once you have obtained your freelance license in the UAE, you also need to get an immigration or resident card. The document is essential to make your freelance work official. Besides, it guarantees you are compliant with any local laws and regulations.

Now, let’s see what steps you’ll have to take to start your career as a freelancer in the UAE.

Step 1: Gathering required documents

To apply for a freelance visa in the UAE, here’s what you need to submit:

  • A passport that’s valid for at least 6 months since the application date.
  • A 3×4 photo of yourself.
  • Your school and training certificates, like diplomas, transcripts, etc.
  • Your CV.
  • An up-to-date portfolio.
  • Health insurance that costs at least AED 3,000 per year.
  • Copies of your current visa and Emirates ID.
  • A no-objection letter from your current employer.

For UAE residents, the last two documents on the list are mandatory. It is also important to note that depending on the particular free zone, the above document checklist may vary slightly.

Step 2: Selecting the ideal Free Zone

To become a freelancer in the UAE, you must register with the corresponding licensing offices in the UAE free zones. Each emirate has them and these free zones host different types of businesses. This way, in Dubai, you are welcome to obtain your freelancer visa from free zones like Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai South Free Zone, or Dubai Knowledge Park.

This is why it is so important to choose the right place to register. This decision requires you to consider factors like the free zone location, your registration expenses, the specialization of the chosen free zone, and the benefits it offers.

Now, let’s compare some of the top free zones for freelancers in the UAE:

Free ZoneSpecializationAdvantagesAssociated Costs
Abu Dhabi Department of Economic DevelopmentIT and Internet servicesMultiple economic activities availableDocument issuance fee: AED 10. Freelancer license application fee: AED 790 (for up to 6 activity types). Each additional activity: AED 100.
Abu Dhabi’s
Twofour54
Media, production, and entertainmentStrategic location and access to cutting-edge solutionsAED 3538.5 per year
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone
(RAKEZ)
Industry and productionThriving business community with over 21,000 companiesPackage price: AED 16,500 (all services included)
Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, and GoFreelanceMedia, education, design, and ITConvenient location, thriving business community, and opportunity to work via GoFreelance online platformFull package that includes medical insurance: AED 7,500 or more per year.
Plus Dubai freelance visa fee:
AED 4381.97 per year or AED 4750 for 2 years.
Ajman Free Zone Media, education, design, and ITThe Free Zone is located 40 minutes from Dubai Airport and boasts low registration fees.AED 6100 per year or more

Please note that with a UAE freelance visa, you are free to live in any of the emirates but your freelance license is only valid for the free economic zone where you got it. This means you are allowed to offer your freelance services in that zone only. The kind of freelance work you will do depends on your permit, so it’s important to study it carefully. Say, with a Dubai freelance visa, you may reside anywhere in the UAE but your freelance license from Dubai only lets you work with companies in Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai South Free Zone, and Dubai Knowledge Park. To be more exact, you may work only within the free zone that issued your freelance license.

Step 3: Submitting your application

After picking the right free zone and getting your papers ready, you can go ahead and apply for your freelance visa and license. In Abu Dhabi, freelancer applications are submitted through the Department of Economic Development or Twofour54 Abu Dhabi Free Zone, and their rules differ. For instance, DED might ask for a no-objection letter from your current employer, while Twofour54 typically requests two references with your contact info in them, which isn’t necessarily the most convenient thing to ask for. Remember, a license from Twofour54 only lets you work in that zone and with certain partners.

You’ll submit your documents online on the licensing authority’s official website. The time it takes to get your license may vary. Say, DED typically issues freelancer licenses within about 5 days, while with Twofour54, you’ll wait for 3 to 5 days. The Dubai South Free Zone may complete the process in just one day but it will cost you at least AED 7,000.

The International Wealth team recommends you keep these differences in mind if you plan to earn your living as a freelancer in the UAE.

Transition to freelancing: how to start working on your own in the UAE

If you have a freelance license and want to work in Abu Dhabi, you need to follow some important rules. Here’s one key rule: the UAE golden visa or its partner/investor visa grants you access to all existing visas. With no such statuses, you must cancel all your current visas and apply for a new one.

Let’s say you have a work visa in Abu Dhabi but want to start freelancing. Visa regulations currently in force dictate that you must first cancel your existing work visa and then apply for a new freelancer visa. This new visa will be issued based on your freelance license, signifying your shift from traditional employment to self-employment. NB: It’s extremely important to get this change sanctioned by the UAE government.

Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Cancel your current work visa.
  2. Apply for a freelancer license in one of Abu Dhabi’s free economic zones.
  3. Wait for your license to be approved.
  4. Apply for a new freelancer visa.

This procedure allows you to work on your own legally and enjoy all the benefits Abu Dhabi offers to freelancers.

Freelancers should also always check when their medical insurance and freelance license will expire. As a rule, these are valid for one year. It’s against the existing regulations to work or offer services after your documents have expired, and you could face serious fines.

Why opt for a UAE freelance visa?

The United Arab Emirates has quickly become a draw for freelancers, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, thanks to its progressive economic rules and openness to talent from all over the world. A study by Bayt.com clearly illustrates this trend, pointing out that employers really like how flexible and affordable freelancers are. To be more specific, 44% of employers said they appreciate that freelancers can work fast and meet deadlines, and 18% mentioned significant savings that result from hiring freelancers.

The UAE freelance visa comes with valuable benefits for applicants:

  • Tax-free income: Freelancers enjoy an opportunity to keep the most of their earnings because there’s no income tax.
  • Global clients: With the UAE freelance visa, freelancers are free to work with partners and customers from anywhere, which helps them grow their business and chances.
  • Excellent facilities: The UAE boasts top-notch hospitals and schools, so you will enjoy a carefree life.
  • Beneficial location: Sitting right in the middle of the East and West, the Emirates is a convenient destination to travel to and do business internationally.
  • Choose any project: In the Emirates, freelancers can work with as many clients or on as many projects as they like, which gives them a multitude of different work experiences.
  • Bring your family: After you get your freelance visa, you may also apply for visas for your family or dependants to live with you in the UAE, as long as you have a place to live in the jurisdiction under a corresponding rent agreement as well as documents verifying your family status.

The Emirates is a perfect place for those who want to be freelancers and look for chances to grow. With an official freelance license in the UAE, the jurisdiction may soon become your gold mine. Here, you will enjoy numerous opportunities as an officially licensed freelancer. Just take a look at what you can do with such a license in the UAE:

  • Offer services: You are free to work for both natural persons and businesses.
  • Handle payments: Sending out bills and getting paid directly into your own bank account is no longer an issue.
  • Work with the government: Are you about to do projects with government departments in the UAE? Go ahead!

Income prospects for freelancers in the UAE: what to expect

Just like everywhere else, a freelancer’s pay in Abu Dhabi depends on their skills, the industry they are in, and how complex the projects are. Say, graphic designers make about AED 40 to AED 150 per hour (that’s USD 11 to USD 41). Business consultants may potentially earn between AED 30,000 to AED 40,000 per month (USD 8,160 to USD 10,900).

According to Karuna Agarwal, who is in charge of the Future Tense HR recruitment company, experts in jobs like HR staffing, accounting, data entry, marketing, and communication (including copywriters and graphic designers, as well as UI/UX designers) and those working on real estate projects usually make AED 15,000 to AED 20,000 for each project (i.e., USD 4,100 to USD 5,440).

Freelancer tax essentials in Abu Dhabi

Until recently, the UAE was a popular tax haven. However, things changed when they introduced a 9% tax on company profits in the summer of 2023. It should be mentioned though that freelancers still enjoy certain tax benefits in the jurisdiction.

Here’s what freelancers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and other emirates in the UAE need to know about their taxes:

  • VAT Registration: If you make more than AED 375,000 per year, you have to sign up for VAT and pay it at the rate of 5% per quarter. If you make AED 187,500 or more, it is up to you whether to register as a VAT payer in the UAE.
  • Corporate Tax: If your yearly income exceeds AED 1,000,000, you need to register to pay a 9% corporate tax on your profits.

With the above measures in place, freelancers can manage their money more efficiently. What is more, these initiatives keep the UAE attractive for international businesses.

Registering as a freelancer in Abu Dhabi opens up a world of new chances to work and do business the way you want. You get to live and work in one of the most forward-thinking cities, taking advantage of everything it has to offer. Start your adventure now and open the door to a future full of possibilities and success! Remember though that with the right partner, every road is shorter and less challenging. So, get in touch with International Wealth to get a freelancer license in Abu Dhabi and make your first steps on this exciting path to freelancer freedom, higher income, and a prosperous future!

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