July 26, 2022

Freelance Visa

What is a freelance visa in Dubai?

The UAE freelance visa is one of the most popular visas in the UAE, which allows the holder to self-sponsor themselves and work in the areas permissible. In words of one syllable, it’s your ticket to freedom! Freedom to live in your favorite country, freedom to utilize your talent and skills your way to make money, freedom to work when you can, freedom to work from the comfort of your home or even car, freedom to travel wherever, whenever you want!

Residents moving to Dubai will find that there is great flexibility when it comes to working in the emirate, whether it’s establishing their own business or working as a freelancer. With the rising popularity of the ‘gig economy’, there have been initiatives introduced to make it easier and cheaper for freelancers to operate in Dubai. A whole host of people from the world over migrate to Dubai, the city where dreams turn into reality in the blink of an eye. Thanks to the approachable visa system of the country and of course, the business-friendly policies!


freelance visa

There are various sectors for which you can obtain freelancer eligibility in Dubai:

  • Education 
  • Media
  • Tech

If you are pursuing professions such as acting, screenwriting, journalism, advertising, training, education advisor, customer service or web development, you are eligible to apply for the freelance visa in Dubai. You can find a complete list of freelance activities that you are permitted to carry out with this visa on the GoFreelance website. 

Please note that the Dubai Internet City will issue your freelance permit if you are working in the Tech sector, Dubai Media City for the media sector and Dubai Knowledge Park for the education sector. 


There are several benefits of having a freelance permit and visa in Dubai. Firstly, it allows you the flexibility to work for multiple companies. If you plan to work in any of the sectors mentioned above and don’t want a 9-to-5 job, becoming a freelancer in Dubai could be your best career move. 

Additionally, the affordability of having a freelance visa in Dubai means you can offer your services at much lower prices. With the Go-Freelance package, the setup costs are much lower and no office space is required, allowing more freelancers to enter the market. 

Having a freelance visa and permit in Dubai also allows you to work as an independent contractor for companies across the UAE and allows you access to the free zone’s business centre, as well. 

With the freelance visa in Dubai, you can also sponsor family members to come and live with you in an apartment or villa for rent in Dubai. However, bear in mind that you cannot sponsor employees with your freelance permit and visa. 

It’s no more a secret that hiring freelancers in Dubai is quite inexpensive as compared to a full-time employee, and employers know that they can save up to 50% on operational costs by hiring freelancers in Dubai. Therefore, a freelancer visa is a win-win for both! So many people are switching from their 9-hours-routine jobs to freelancing for work-life balance. But this is just one of many reasons. When it comes to the merits of freelancing in Dubai, the world is your oyster! The affordability of having a freelance visa in Dubai and no requirement of office space to start a business allow more freelancers to enter the market. Not only, a freelance visa in Dubai is cost-efficient but also easy to acquire. Some of the benefits that you get to enjoy after getting a freelance permit and visa in Dubai are:

  • Flexibility to work for multiple companies
  • Freedom from mundane 9-to-5 job
  • Can be your side hustle
  • You are your own boss
  • Getting a corporate bank account organized is uncomplicated. Once you are set up in your free zone, you are able to access the most relevant bank to your industry needs
  • When you are freelancing, you don’t need to have a separate company name. Your name itself acts as the trade name or brand
  • No limit on monthly income
  • Access to the free zone’s business center
  • The freelancing community is on the radar of the Dubai Government
  • Freelancers are not subject to frequent audits like other fully-fledged companies. Neither do they have to file structured financial reports etc. at a regular frequency
  • You can sponsor your family members to come and live with you. You might want to check up on the new family visa requirements in the UAE here
  • No need to rent an office space (Hello savings!)
  • Freedom to travel to your home country or any other country anytime
  • You have enough flexibility as you can work any time, anywhere
  • Some activities such as writing give you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home
  • No regular travel expenses & hassles
  • Affordable way to get 3-year residency in the UAE
  • You are able to offer your services at much lower prices, which means more business
  • Low setup costs as there is no need of office, business insurance, employees-related formalities, bookkeeping, etc.
  • Access to a huge market as the Emirate has no dearth of businesses, employers, companies and even tourists and residents looking for best and cheap freelancers in Dubai with great skills

What are the disadvantages of working as a freelancer in Dubai?

They say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst! And for that, you must see both sides of the coin. Becoming a freelancer in Dubai could be your best career move but you should know the cons of obtaining a freelance visa as well.

  • You cannot sponsor employees with your freelance permit and visa
  • The freelance visa/permit is only for one person, and that is you. This simply means you cannot hire any employee to work for you. For that, you have to have a trade license and so much more
  • You are required to have a certain aptitude for the freelance lifestyle. This includes being comfortable working alone, self-motivation and being relentless in networking and chasing bills
  • You need to have some sort of financial backup as it is likely that you may initially have to spend a few months to a year, networking and developing a portfolio
  • You have to keep track of the visa expiry date
  • You have to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing rules and regulations in the Dubai because you are the boss of your business
  • You have to be very careful about the project deadlines if you want more business through word of mouth
  • Freelance permits are open to individuals from only four sectors in Dubai
  • A freelancer cannot have Tax Registration Number (TRN) that are mainly required by larger corporations to be engaged. However, you can still get business from small to medium-scale businesses that do not need TRN
  • No proper office environment, which can cause distractions and low work efficiency. You may use your clients’ office or co-working spaces available in the designated free zone if required, though
  • Freelance visas and work permits are dispensed by free zones, which means they are restricted to that particular FEZ

If the advantages of having a freelance visa outweigh the disadvantages of having a freelancer visa in Dubai, then a freelance visa can be your best bet in Dubai.

Which free zone is best in the UAE for a freelance visa?

It is not about the best free zone, but about the right free zone when it comes to getting a Dubai freelance visa. Dubai boasts more than 35 free zones, and each free zone entices different clients. While some are designed for creative businesses, some are specific to technology, education or even medical services. Researching before choosing one is momentous as there are myriad factors you want to consider, such as your industry and place of residence, before embarking on your freelancer journey.


freelance visa

Applying for the Go-Freelance’s permit and freelance visa in Dubai is now a simple process that requires only a few steps. To get the freelance visa in Dubai, you will initially need to apply for the freelance permit or license to be registered as a freelancer in the emirate. 


You can apply for the freelance permit in the UAE through the GoFreelance website. Select the option Go Apply and fill out the application form and submit the required documents. 


Some of the documents needed to apply for the freelance permit in Dubai include: 

  • Resume/CV
  • Recent photograph
  • Passport and visa copy (valid for at least 8 months) 
  • Bank reference letter
  • NOC from your UAE sponsor

Please note that if you are applying to the education sector, you will have to submit proof of academic qualifications, which must be certified either by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the UAE Consulate in your country of origin. Likewise, if you are applying in the media sector, you will have to submit a portfolio or sample of your work. 

If you are applying in the education or tech sector, you can only choose one activity when applying for the permit. 

Table of Difference: Freelance Visa Vs. Freelance Permit in Dubai, UAE

ParametersFreelance VisaFreelance Permit
Visa TypeA UAE residency visa allowing one to live in the countryA licence allowing the licencee to work as a freelancer. Issued to those who already have the UAE residency
Validity3 years1 year
SponsorshipNo sponsorship is requiredPrior sponsorship is a must to be eligible for a freelance permit
NOCNOC is required from the current sponsor (if there is any). For visa renewal, it is not required, though.The applicant needs to present a No Objection Certificate from the current sponsor
SectorsFreelancer eligibility in Dubai can be obtained in three vital sectors:
1. Education
2. Media
3. Tech
4. Creative Industries
A freelance permit in Dubai can be registered under these sectors:
1. Media (Dubai Media City),
2. Tech (Dubai Internet City), and
3. Education (Dubai Knowledge Park)
4. Design (Dubai Design District)
InterdependenceFreelance visa holders might need a work permit to function to work legally as a sole practitioner in the UAEFreelance permit holders don’t need a freelance visa to act as a freelancer in the UAE
Cost (new & renewal)3-years Freelance Employment Visa in Dubai: AED 4,960 (Normal) or AED 6,340 (Express)
1-year Freelance Permit: AED 7,500
1-year Establishment Card: AED 2,000
Dh7,500 (According to Dubai Development Authority aka DDA)

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