Updated: Mar 2, 2021
I have recently been through the process and thought it might be helpful to share how I obtained the new Abu Dhabi Freelance Licence in particular for the handmade products activity . I believe there are 45 different categories altogether, which I'm sure mostly involve the same process to obtain but I can only speak about my own experience with 'Handcrafted Products and Environmental Works'. By no means am I claiming to be an expert, I just thought it might come in handy for anyone looking at doing the same.
Firstly I will just introduce myself, my name is Kate and I have lived in the UAE for 11 years. I started hand making things as gifts when my kids were little and as time has gone on I started with a few small markets and fairs and then went to online marketplace Little Majlis which was later taken over by The Saffron Souk. For a small one woman business, getting a license was never really feasible for me until recently when the Abu Dhabi Freelance License was launched at a very affordable price.
What is the Abu Dhabi Freelance Licence for Handcrafted Products and Environmental Activities and who is it for?
Activity Description: includes facilities specialized in handicrafts such as painting, sculpturing, depiction, and traditional crafts, as well as painting on glass or wood, pottery, metals, and others for the purpose of producing paintings or artifacts used in decorating halls and walls in houses and public halls. This includes providing the promotion for artistic and heritage works of various artistic designs such as cards, postage stamps, logos, prizes, advertising and more.
In a nutshell this license is for makers and creators of handmade items who work alone and do not employ others, small start ups. Please read on to find out how I did this and for more detailed information to help you decide if this is the license for you (see Bizzmosis).
How did I do it?
I was able to gather a lot of information from facebook group WEADS (Women Entrepreneurs Abu Dhabi) and from Bizzmosis (click the link for their very useful and informative article regarding the Freelance Licence) and thought I'd do a breakdown of what I learned along the way with some of my own information such as recommendations for certificate attestation and translation.
First of all before you start this process, you need to link up to the UAE Pass service, you basically need it for everything these days anyway. You need to download the app here, create an account and verify by phone and create a PIN number, you will then need to take your Emirates ID to a nearby UAE Pass kiosk (located in most CoOp buildings, full list of locations can be found here). I found one conveniently located just outside the checkout area in Lulu, Mushrif Mall. Once you are hooked up to this, applying for anything in the UAE will become a lot easier (it might seem obvious to everyone else, so please excuse me if I've been living under a rock).
You will also need to have your education certificates attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in UAE and the relevant authority from the country you obtained the certificate from (in my case UK - Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs). I had already been through this process and used a company called Argentum to take all the necessary steps for me (I did this a few years ago and at the time found them to be a very competitive rate and professional service). I'm sure there are plenty of other companies who do this, you just need to look for document attestation services. For me, this was an easy option because they take care of everything and it didn't involve going anywhere.
Once you have your education certificates attested you will need them translated. Again, I managed to find this service online without leaving the house and can highly recommend Elite Legal Translation Services who were very helpful via WhatsApp and I was able to pay and upload my documents online and they were returned very swiftly to me same day. I also asked them to translate my business name letter for letter so it reads the same in both English and Arabic, which they Kindly did in the same transaction. I'm pretty sure there is a street full of legal translation service shops somewhere in the heart of Abu Dhabi you could look up and walk into with ease, however in this day and age I was delighted to find this service online.
Please note that your business name will need to include the activity in which you are applying for, for example my business name is Fabric Kate and my license is registered under the name 'Fabric Kate Handcrafted Works' (Although this was changed for me as I initially thought I had to include the full activity 'Handcrafted Products and Environmental Works').
Also note that my degree certificate is in no way shape or form related to handicrafts or anything similar, so don't be put off by this as when you get to the section where you need to upload your documents you will be asked for certificates proving relevant experience. I couldn't see any way to skip this step and uploaded my education certificates and that was fine.
If you have followed all of the above steps, you are ready to apply for your license and you can do so here.
On the bottom half of the screen you will find a 'Commercial Licence' tab and then you will need to choose 'Freelance Licence' from the left hand menu. This will take you to the page where you need to fill out your info including the Arabic version of your business name. Pretty straight forward. Next page is for uploading all relevant documents. (Emirates ID copy and education certificates). Once submitted you should get an email to confirm receipt of your application. You will be able to see your application for Trade Name and license under the 'Non Issued License' tab at the top of the home page. This is the bit where I got a bit lost as I waited for a few days (perhaps I just missed it, but it wasn't clear to me at the time) and eventually spoke to someone over the phone, who advised me to go to the alerts on the home page and there was a notification to pay 15 Aed for the trade name, once I had done that, I had to pay the remaining amount for the license itself. Et voila, within minutes the license was issued (appearing in 'Issued Licences' tab) and I was able to download and print it.
That's it, I think? Wish you all the best of luck if you are applying for the license and with your new business.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions and if you found this helpful in anyway or think I missed anything out too:)