While it may be a relatively new development in the advertising world, influencer marketing has quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry.
The global market is estimated to have doubled since 2019 and was valued this year at USD 13.8bn dollars. Here in the UAE, influencers charge an average of USD 1,000 to USD 5,000 for a single post with some commanding fees of up to USD 10,000.
There’s a reason why so many businesses are spending big on influencers – because they get results. Almost half of consumers say they depend on influencer recommendations to make purchasing decisions.
As the influencer market has grown, so too has the level of regulation within it, particularly in the UAE. Today, any influencers taking payment for their services must be appropriately licensed by the National Media Council (NMC).
With the right support, applying for a license is a straightforward process. However, as the consequences of operating without the correct permits can be severe, it’s always worth making your application with the help of an expert such as Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ).
Before we get into the best way to obtain an influencer license, here are the basics you need to know.
Basics of UAE Media Law for Influencers
When posting anything on social media, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of UAE Media Law.
For one, it is illegal to photograph someone, even in the background, without their consent. You could also land in legal trouble if you make disparaging claims about a person or their company on the internet.
You should be aware of cultural sensitivities too. Any posts or content considered to be blasphemous, lewd or un-Islamic may fall foul of UAE Cyber Crimes Law.
Finally, if you are creating social posts in return for free goods and services, you may not need a license at all. You only need a license if you intend to earn an income from your content.
Three Categories of NMC Licenses Options
There are three influencer license types available in the UAE:
- Individual license: This allows an influencer to remain independent and post content under their own license.
- Partnership license: This license covers small groups of influencers that operate as a company.
- Agency license: Influencers can also sign up to official agencies. In this instance, you would operate under the agency’s aggregated license with no need for an individual permit.
How to apply for an NMC influencer license in Dubai
If you are an individual wishing to gain approval to carry out influencer activities, you do not require a full trade license. However, you must apply to the NMC for approval to trade. If your application is complete and free from errors at the time of submission, this process can take just a few hours.
If you wish to operate as a company, you will need a UAE trade license. You can apply for this either directly to the Dubai Department of Economic Development or to one of the UAE’s many free zones.
Before making your trade license application, you’ll need to choose a company name. This takes a little more thought here than in other parts of the world, because the UAE has a strict, yet easy to follow, 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.
Documents required for NMC license
When applying for your NMC influencer license, you will need to submit some or all of the following documents:
- Emirates ID photocopy
- Copy of residency visa
- Trade License photocopy (if applying as a company)
Cost of an NMC License
NMC licenses cost AED 15,000. If you are intending to start a company and operate under a trade license, you will also need to factor in the cost of this application. You will also need UAE residency visa to work as an influencer in the UAE.
Setting up in a free zone is often the most cost-effective approach. For example, at Fujairah Creative City Free Zone, you can get a media trade license for just AED 22,000 – this price includes eligibility for one visa. If you wish to add use of the free zone’s co-working facilities, the total cost rises to just AED 24,775.
Exert your influence with BIZ
With the industry on the rise and the licensing process becoming less complex, now is the time to get involved in the UAE’s social media influencer marketplace. And, as this guide has made clear, if you’re armed with the right knowledge, applying for an NMC influencer license 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 ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a business setup specialist in Dubai such as Business Incorporation Zone 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 visa applications 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.