Food trucks have become a staple of Dubai’s landscape over the past decade. While the emirate had traditionally been known for high concept fine dining, this new phenomenon brought high-quality cuisine to the streets.
Today, food trucks line many of Dubai’s streets with purpose built parks creating street food markets that offer cuisine from every corner of the world.
This rise in popularity is driven by a growing demand within the Emirates for great food at affordable prices. And it’s not just the dishes that are affordable. Getting set up with a food truck of your own is a lower cost alternative to opening a fixed premises restaurant or cafeteria.
It is also a more flexible option and allows you to build and grow your business rather than committing to expensive long-term leases.
That said, running a food truck is by no means easy. It requires a lot of hard work, potentially long hours and a flair for creating cuisine that stands out. The process of obtaining a food truck license is also incredibly thorough. As with any eatery in the UAE, food trucks are held to the highest hygiene and safety standards.
With the right guidance, however, obtaining your license doesn’t have to be a complex affair.
How to get your Dubai food truck license
The first step to starting a food truck business in Dubai is a relatively easy one: you must choose a company name.
There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage – many that would not apply anywhere else in the world.
Be aware that you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions. In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.
With this decision made, you can start obtaining the approvals required to start trading. First you must submit a detailed business plan to both the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) and to the Dubai Municipality. Your plan must be approved by both bodies.
You will also need to obtain a hygiene and safety approval known as a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification. You require one of these certificates for your central kitchen and one for the layout of your food truck.
If you are only planning to sell from your truck, rather than preparing food on site, then you must find an already certified kitchen for your use or find a caterer to outsource your food prep to.
You will also need approvals from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
With these approvals secured you can apply to the DED for your food truck trade license in Dubai. In most cases, you are required to submit:
- Completed application form
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
- Two colour passport size photos
- Proof of approvals and certifications
While this sounds like a long process, it doesn’t have to be. Make your application with the help of a company formation expert and you could be licensed in as little as 30 days.
A company formation expert can manage the entire process for you, liaising with all necessary authorities and ensuring your application is complete and accurate.
You’ll also require a visa to work in the UAE. Again, with the right guidance, the visa application process can be incredibly straightforward. Most company formation agents can help you with this step as well as with your license application.
As the holder of a UAE business license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.
Cost of a food truck license in Dubai
How much does it cost to start a food truck business in Dubai? That is a little like asking – how long is a piece of string?
The capital required to start a food truck business will depend on a number of factors: your chosen location, the style of food you wish to serve, and the layout and style of your truck.
If we were to take an average cost, you should expect to put forward somewhere in the region of AED 130,000-140,000.
This is comprised of around AED 35,000 for a decent food truck and rental costs of between AED 15,000 to AED 25,000 per month depending on where you locate.
On top of this, you’ll also have to account for the cost of your approvals and food truck license in Dubai.
This is certainly not a small outlay, but it is far less than the cost of launching a traditional restaurant.
Benefits of a food truck business
- Freedom to move
One of the major benefits of starting a food truck business is that you can take your cuisine to your customers. Do your research, find out where there is the greatest demand for your style of food and pitch up.
- Minimal capital required
If you’re looking to get into the food business, a food truck is one of the most cost-effective ways to do so. Startup costs are much lower than traditional bricks and mortar restaurants.
- Few overheads
It’s possible to run your food truck with minimal overheads. Outside of your rent, your ingredients and your wage, there is little else to account for in the early stages.
Are you ready to start your food truck business in Dubai?
Hopefully this guide has made it clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a food truck business in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.
That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you to ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ) when establishing a new company in the UAE.
We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.
As well as handling your license application, BIZ can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.