Getting a general trading license in Sharjah allows businesses to import, export, distribute, and store items in the emirate. Sharjah has a thriving business environment, so obtaining this license opens up numerous opportunities. However, the application process can be complex for newcomers. Here is a comprehensive guide on securing a general trading license in Sharjah.

Overview of General Trading Licenses

A general trading license in Sharjah permits retail or wholesale trading activities. It allows registrants to operate out of commercial spaces within Sharjah's jurisdiction. Some key facts regarding these licenses:

  • Covers importing, exporting, buying, selling, and storing goods for trading purposes

  • Required for most trading activities located within Sharjah

  • Issued by the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD)

  • Valid for one year and must be renewed annually

General trading licenses have some exclusions as well. For example, they don't cover certain industries like media, healthcare, education, or real estate. Applicants looking to conduct trading operations in those sectors would need to apply for specialty licenses instead.

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a General Trading License

Follow this step-by-step process to secure a general trading license:

Choose an eligible location

First, identify a commercial space eligible for a trading license in Sharjah's jurisdiction. Applicants cannot establish a trading business from home. The premises should comply with the emirate's commercial leasing and zoning regulations too.

Select appropriate activities

The next step is choosing suitable trading activities. Applicants must specify what products or goods they aim to trade. Some trading verticals have added regulatory procedures as well. For instance, foodstuff trading requires approvals from the municipality.

Obtain initial approvals

Based on the proposed activities, applicants may need to secure initial approvals from other Sharjah government entities. For example, industrial suppliers may require permissions from the Industrial Areas Authority or Environment Department.

Choose the license type

There are three kinds of general trading licenses in Sharjah:

  • LLC: For limited liability companies with 2 or more shareholders

  • Sole establishment: For individually owned commercial establishments

  • Branch of a foreign company: For companies based abroad wanting to expand into Sharjah

Choose an appropriate license type based on the ownership model. LLCs and sole establishments need Emirati participation of up to 51% or through a local service agent respectively.

Select location to obtain E-Aaredh system registration

The commercial space intended for the trading activities should have existing E-Aaredh registration. If not, applicants must register on Sharjah Municipality's E-Aaredh platform first. This system helps authorities maintain real estate records and verify property data.

Gather prerequisite documents

Compiling all the required paperwork can take time for new applicants. Here are the key documents needed:

  • Passport copies with valid UAE residence visas for all partners/shareholders

  • Commercial lease agreement with E-Aaredh code

  • NOC letter from the property's owner

  • Initial approval from government entities (if applicable)

  • Previous establishment card and license (for renewals)

Complete license application

With the documents in hand, applicants can proceed to SEDD to file for the general trading license. Relevant personnel will feed the information into the system.

Obtain final approval and release original license

It takes 5-7 days to receive final approvals from SEDD. Applicants must then collect the original license documents from SEDD by submitting the approval receipt.

Finish post-licensing procedures

Even after getting the license, some standard procedures remain. For instance, business owners must register for tax and open bank accounts in the entity's name. They may also need to apply for additional permits from Sharjah Chamber of Commerce depending on the activities.

Key Costs and Fees

Here are the noteworthy costs associated with securing a general trading license in Sharjah:

  • License fees: AED 10,000 for LLCs or AED 5,000 for sole establishments

  • Rent: Minimum of AED 14,000 annually for LLC premises

  • Lease registration fee: 1% of annual rent

  • E-Aaredh fee: AED 300 (new premises only)

  • Trade name reservation: AED 500

  • Computer card: AED 200

Do factor in other potential expenses like professional legal/consulting fees, electricity and water deposits, translating documents into Arabic, etc. as well.

Renewal, Cancellation, and Amendments


General trading licenses in Sharjah are valid for only one year. Business owners must renew them annually through SEDD within 2 months of the expiry date. Failing to do so will result in fines or suspension of activities.

Canceling a license

To cancel the license, registrants should settle any pending government fees/fines and block the relevant bank accounts. Then they must submit the cancellation request either 60 days before expiry or within two months after expiry along with the mandatory documents.


SEDD must be notified for introducing any material changes to the business like adding or removing partners, changing activities, moving to a new location, modifying the business entity, or updating personal details through amendment forms.

How General Trading Consulting Firms Can Help

The entire trading license application process can prove challenging for first-timers unfamiliar with Sharjah's regulatory ecosystem. Seeking expert guidance is highly recommended.

Reputed general trading consulting firms offer end-to-end services for securing these licenses with maximum efficiency. Their assistance can prove invaluable by:

  • Advising clients on ideal business activities and license types for their needs

  • Liaising with the appropriate authorities for approvals before submission

  • Compiling high quality application documentation

  • Ensuring timely follow-ups with departments to accelerate the process

  • Sharing licensure tips, real estate leads, market insights, and other valuable inputs

This hands-on support eliminates obstacles and paves an easier pathway for commencing trading operations in Sharjah.

Key Takeaways

  • General trading licenses offer broad coverage for importing, exporting and other trading activities in Sharjah

  • Choosing suitable premises, trade verticals, legal structure are vital first steps

  • Extensive paperwork has to be compiled and submitted to SEDD

  • Approvals generally take 5-7 days; original license needs collection later

  • Must be renewed annually within two months of expiry

  • Consulting firms provide end-to-end assistance for trading licenses


Sharjah's general trading license enables great potential for worldwide import-export operations along with domestic wholesaling and retailing avenues. By selecting feasible activities, eligible premises, and optimal legal structures - businesses can commence trading in this burgeoning emirate. Proper compliance management is also necessary during renewals or changes. Overall, Sharjah provides an exceptional ecosystem. Partnering with experienced consultancy firms helps new entrants secure licenses faster despite complex regulatory requirements. Leverage such professional support to capitalize on Sharjah’s immense trading opportunities.


Q1: I already have a Dubai general trading license. Can I operate from there?

No, the Dubai license would not automatically permit commercial operations in Sharjah as they are different jurisdictions. You would need to apply separately for a Sharjah general trading license to conduct business within the emirate.

Q2: Are general trading licenses open for all nationalities?

Yes, both individuals and companies from all nationalities can apply. However foreign applicants must appoint local service agents or business partners from the UAE for complete ownership.

Q3: Can I get a trading license if my office is based out of a free zone instead?

No, having commercial space on the mainland is a mandatory requirement for general trading licenses since free zone regulations differ. But certain free zones may have their own trading licenses.

Q4: What systems will I need for document submission?

All applications have transitioned online via SEDD's digital portal. You will need active email addresses and mobile numbers for all proposed license shareholders to register.

Q5: Can we amend the license to include additional partners later on?

Yes, general trading licenses in Sharjah do facilitate the addition or removal of partners through amendment requests submitted online on SEDD's platform.

Q6: How long is the validity of the initial approval?

Initial approvals are typically valid for 60 days. If the original license is not collected within that duration, applicants may have to reapply with updated documents.

Q7: Do IT systems for stock management also need SEDD approvals?

No, general trading license holders can choose and install any secure IT systems for inventory management without requiring specific SEDD clearances.

Q8: Can I open multiple branches with a single trading license?

Unfortunately no, applicants would need to apply for separate licenses for each commercial facility even if operating under one parent company.

Q9: Where can I obtain detailed English information?

Sharjah SEDD's official website has exhaustive English guides, cost tables, document checklists, and process maps for general trading licenses available publicly.

Q10: Can general trading licenses also cover services like management consulting?

No, trading licenses are meant for tangible wholesale/retail goods. Pure service-based companies would require professional or commercial licenses instead.

Q11: Are there restrictions on nationality for local service agents?

UAE nationals, GCC citizens or corporates lawfully based in UAE are permitted to provide local service agency services or sponsorship.

Q12: Can people with investor visas apply directly?

No, resident visa holders with investor/partner status must also appoint eligible local service agents with the right profile to co-apply.

Q13: Are there any restrictions on the goods traded?

Some goods may need extra clearances. For example, food items require municipality approvals, telecom products need TRA permissions, etc. Check with SEDD beforehand.

Q14: Can a freelancer apply for such a license?

No, because freelancing or working from home is not covered. Applicants require commercial premises to house the trading activities under the license.

Q15: How can I expedite my application approvals?

Appointing reliable PRO services helps follow-up more frequently with SEDD officials to resolve queries faster for quick processing.

Q16: Can a business operate before collecting the card?

No, commercial activities can only commence after license holders physically obtain the printed license card from SEDD after all approvals.

Q17: Do we require an existing office to apply?

Yes, applicants must first secure commercial property eligible for trading activities as per municipality zoning before applying to SEDD.

Q18: Can a business relocate to another emirate later on?

Yes, through proper amendments procedures, Sharjah general trading license holders can request to change premises to new jurisdictions like Dubai.

Q19: Where are original licenses to be collected from?

License holders can collect the final approved original hard copies of the licenses and computer cards after printing from SEDD's offices directly.

Q20: Can we surrender a license if the activities prove unviable

Yes, the cancellation process allows voluntary surrender of a general trading license in Sharjah if the owner no longer intends to conduct business.