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Business setup in Dubai UAE Guide

Guide to Securing a Liquor License in Dubai for Business.

Learn how to obtain a liquor license in Dubai for your business with our comprehensive guide covering types, eligibility, costs, and legal considerations.


Dubai is known for its vibrant nightlife and bustling hospitality industry, making the sale and service of alcohol a lucrative business. However, obtaining a liquor license in Dubai involves navigating a complex regulatory landscape. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the process, requirements, and considerations for securing a liquor license in Dubai, ensuring that your business complies with all local laws and regulations.

Understanding Liquor and Alcohol Licenses in Dubai:

In Dubai, there are two main types of licenses related to alcohol: a liquor license and an alcohol license. These terms are often used interchangeably, but it's important to understand their specific applications:

  • Liquor License Dubai: Typically refers to the permit required for individuals and businesses to sell and distribute alcohol.
  • Alcohol License Dubai: Often used in the context of personal consumption permits, but it also applies to business operations involving alcohol.Alcohol must be concealed when transported in public. This requirement pertains to both businesses and individuals.

Types of Liquor Licenses in Dubai :

Dubai offers several types of liquor licenses, each catering to different business needs:

  1. Import License: Required for importing alcohol into Dubai. Businesses must obtain this license from the Department of Economic Development (DED).
  2. Trading License: Allows businesses to sell alcohol to third-party retailers. This license is also issued by the DED.
  3. Hospitality License: Necessary for hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs that wish to serve alcohol on their premises.
  4. Personal Consumption License: Issued to individuals for the purchase and consumption of alcohol for personal use.

Eligibility Criteria:

Before applying for a liquor license, businesses must ensure they meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The applicant must be a minimum of 21 years of age.
  • The applicant must be a non-Muslim.
  • The business must be registered in Dubai and hold a valid trade license.
  • The applicant must have a valid UAE residency permit or, in the case of tourists, a valid passport with an entry stamp.

Required Documentation:

To apply for a liquor license, businesses need to prepare the following documents:

  1. Completed Application Form: Available from authorized distributors like African + Eastern or Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI).
  2. Passport-Sized Photographs: Recent photographs of the applicant.
  3. Copy of Emirates ID or Passport: A copy of the applicant's Emirates ID or passport with an entry stamp.
  4. No Objection Certificate (NOC): Required for applicants on a spousal visa or those residing in another emirate. The NOC must be issued by the applicant's sponsor.

Application & Business Setup Process:

The process of obtaining a liquor license in Dubai involves several steps:

Step 1: Fill Out the Application Form

Obtain the application form from authorized distributors like African + Eastern or MMI. Complete the form with accurate details.

Step 2: Submit Required Documents

Submit the completed application form along with the required documents either in person at the distributor's office or online through their website.

Step 3: Processing and Approval

The processing time for liquor license applications usually ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. During this period, the authorities will review the application and verify the submitted documents. Once approved, the applicant will receive their liquor license.

Step 4: Renewal

Liquor licenses in Dubai are typically valid for one year and must be renewed annually.The process of renewal includes submitting updated documents and settling the relevant fees.

Costs Involved:

The cost of obtaining a liquor license in Dubai varies depending on the type of license and the issuing authority:

  • Personal Consumption License: The annual fee for residents is approximately AED 270 and lesser. Tourists can obtain a temporary 30-day license for free.
  • Business Licenses: Costs for import, trading, and hospitality licenses vary based on the scale of the business and specific requirements. Businesses should budget for additional costs such as warehouse storage fees and compliance costs.

Legal Considerations:

Operating with a liquor license in Dubai comes with strict legal obligations. Businesses must adhere to the following regulations to avoid penalties and legal issues:

No Public Intoxication

Public intoxication is illegal in Dubai. Businesses must ensure that patrons do not consume alcohol beyond legal limits and must take measures to prevent any incidents of public intoxication.

Concealment of Alcohol

Alcohol must be concealed when transported in public. This applies to both businesses and individuals.

No Consumption in Public Places

Alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited in public places such as beaches, parks, and streets. Consumption is only allowed in licensed premises.

No Drinking and Driving

Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. Businesses should encourage customers to use alternative transportation options if they have consumed alcohol.

Partnering with Plan My Firm:

Navigating the complex regulations surrounding liquor licenses in Dubai can be challenging. Partnering with a business advisory service like Plan My Firm can help streamline the application process. These services provide expert guidance, ensuring compliance with all legal requirements and helping businesses avoid potential pitfalls.Contact us today for free business consultation.

Is a physical office required to apply for a liquor license?

Yes, a valid trade license and a physical office or business location are required.

Are there specific zones in Dubai where liquor licenses are more easily granted?

Licenses are typically granted to businesses in designated zones such as tourist areas, business districts, and hospitality sectors.

Can a business with a liquor license host events with alcohol?

Yes, businesses with a valid liquor license can host events with alcohol, provided they adhere to all legal requirements and obtain any necessary additional permits.

Can licensed businesses sell alcohol online?

As of the current regulations, online sales of alcohol are not permitted in Dubai. Alcohol must be sold and consumed on licensed premises or purchased in person for private consumption.

What is type c liquor license dubai?

A Type C license generally refers to a trading license, permitting businesses to sell alcohol to third-party retailers such as liquor stores, hotels, and restaurants.

What is type B liquor license dubai

A Type B license in Dubai typically refers to an import license, allowing businesses to import alcohol into the emirate for distribution and sale.

Can I operate a liquor store in Dubai without a liquor license?

operating a liquor store without a valid liquor license in Dubai is illegal. The authorities strictly regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol. Businesses must obtain the necessary licenses from the Department of Economic Development (DED) and Dubai Police. Operating without a license can result in severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and closure of the business. Compliance with local regulations is essential to ensure the lawful operation of a liquor store in Dubai.

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