Dreaming of breaking free from the 9-to-5 grind?

You’re not alone.

With the recent global uptick in freelancing, the UAE has become a hotbed for independent professionals.

In fact, about 4% of the nation’s population have already ditched traditional employment for self-employment.

From setting your own hours to picking your workload, the perks of freelancing are clear.

Let’s dive into how you can join this growing trend in the UAE.

What is Freelancing?

A freelancer is a person who gives their services to a third party and is not associated with any firm or entity.

Freelancers usually deliver their services on a contract or project basis and are not attached to any firm or entity in the long run. In a way, they are self-employed.

How to obtain a freelance visa in the UAE

Many dedicated free zones in the UAE allow you to apply for freelancing visas.

You can work in any emirate in the UAE, as long as you have a freelancing visa from any one emirate.

The UAE’s most critical freelancing zones are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.

Therefore you will find that most people tend to apply for and get their visas in these emirates. There are more work opportunities here as well.

One of the best things about these licenses is that you can even work from outside the UAE once you have these licenses. Thus, freelancing is beneficial for expats and foreigners in the UAE. 

There are a couple of documents you need before you can apply for your freelancing visa.

Most of the documents are the same irrespective of the emirate you are applying in. In some cases, these documents might include your passport copy, recent passport size picture, resume or portfolio, and a letter of intent.

These documents will usually be enough for you to apply for a freelancing visa. 

You can also apply for a freelance visa online using the website GoFreelance.

You must open the portal, make an account and submit the list of documents we highlighted above.

After submitting your documents, it might take up to two weeks for your application to be processed and accepted; hence, all you need to do is wait.

You will be notified earlier and will go to the business office of the emirate you applied in, sign the relevant documents and pay the fees for the freelance visa as well.

The cost of the freelance permit in the UAE costs AED 7,500 for a year.

However, a freelance Visa in the UAE will set you back around AED 4,946, and if you want it done faster, the express Visa will cost you AED 6,340

Different types of freelancing visas in the UAE

There are several different types of freelance Visas you can apply for in the UAE.

The professions you should try going for in the UAE are freelancing in Event Design, Fashion Design, Real Estate, Journalist, Hairdresser, Musician, Game Programmer, Content Writer, Web designer, Developer, and other fields in the Media and Marketing as well.

For reference, in this guide, we will discuss the freelancing visas you can get in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi

Added – Abu Dhabi 

Added is one of the best freelancing visas in the UAE. It is issued by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

This freelancing visa costs around AED 350 and is valid for two years

TwoFour54 – Abu Dhabi 

Dubai is the cultural and economic hub of the UAE. Hence, the freelancing visa offered in this emirate is one of the most attractive ones for expats.

Called TwoFour54, this excellent freelancing visa gives you around two years of residency in the UAE, during which time you can work and earn money and extend the Visa when you need to.

Moreover, you can access hundreds of local and international partners and professional talent and development training programs.

This freelance visa has it all!

There is no cost of this Visa as such. However, external costs total around AED 4,670

GoFreelance – Dubai 

GoFreelance is another type of freelance Visa you can get in Dubai.

However, freelancers in this visa scheme will get more of a work permit.

Some of the free zones that will grant you these freelance visas are Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Design District, and Dubai Knowledge Park.

Some of the freelancing work you can do in this permit could work as a brand consultant, Media Planner, Web developer, etc.

This permit costs AED 7,500, and you will need to purchase a residence visa for AED 2,700 along with it as well. 

Shams – Sharjah 

Sharjah has a free zone titled Sharjah Media City, which offers this freelancing, Visa easily to ex-pats, foreigners or local emiratis.

Some of the freelancing work you can do under this Visa could fall under the Media, Education, and Technology categories. 

Taxes on Freelancing in the UAE

The UAE has always been known for being ultra-lenient regarding taxes.

With incentives like no income tax, the UAE has seen a surge in technical workers and freelancers in recent years.

However, things are changing, and the UAE is implementing some taxing structures for the consumers. Meaning, if you are a Freelancer in the UAE and are earning more than AED 375,000, you have to pay 5% VAT tax.

However, there would be no income tax or personal tax deductions.

If you are earning between AED 187,500 and AED 375,000, you have the option to register for VAT tax. If you are earning below AED 187,500, you do not need to pay the VAT Tax. 

However, if you own a freelancing business and earn up to AED 375,000, you do not have to pay any tax, not even VAT.

However, if you earn anything above that, you must pay a 9% corporate tax.

However, do not worry since these tax structures will go into effect next year. So if you want to start a freelancing business and save some money, now is the best time! 

Accounting for Freelancers

Bookkeeping is necessary for freelancers, and many firms in the UAE can help keep track of your payments and cash flow so that you can focus on your work.

Some of the mistakes freelancers make who do not hire top accounting firms include not being able to differentiate between personal and business expenses, lack of proper receipt storage, and working without a strategy. 

Bookkeeping is essential for freelancers, mainly for tax compliance, accurate record keeping, and to have clear financial objectives.

UAE law is stringent on maintaining tax records, and you could pay fines of up to AED 10,000 for slight irregularities in your tax records.

These offenses can be avoided if you engage the services of a professional accountant. 

You should follow this advice and reach out to a certified bookkeeper and give them the task of handling your financials or make sure that you at least learn from them how to keep your books clean and in order.

Of course, you can engage a professional bookkeeping firm, which can ensure that you stay out of any financial troubles, frauds, and other things and can solely focus on the growth of your business.

One such accounting firm we can recommend to you in the UAE is Charles and Darwish Associates

Things to remember when freelancing in The UAE 

Freelancing through freelancing licenses is the only right way to do freelancing in the UAE, and you should not try to do it any other way.

Punishments for offering services without the proper channels might lead to paying hefty fines.

The UAE is notorious for its crackdown on such frauds and under-the-table deals.

You should remain honest with your work and realistic with your goals.

There are many opportunities in the UAE if you know where to look. Also, make sure to read the terms and conditions of the freelancing visas that you acquire. 

When you start working on a project, make sure to give them a freelance contract, which is checked and approved by a law firm.

That contract will describe your services, what you can offer, and how you want to be paid. This will help you a lot later if you happen to have legal issues with your employer. 

Conclusion

To wrap it up, the path to freelancing in the UAE is not just open, it’s inviting.

All it requires is the right set of skills and securing a visa.

With these in hand, the benefits and rewards are plentiful.

Dive deeper into the specific details of freelance visas on the official websites of the different emirates, and start turning your talents into income.

We at Solved Group also have our dedicated Launchpad for you to quickly and cheaply get your freelancing visa and other legal, accounting and government services.

Get started with our Launchpad today!🔥

Happy freelancing!