eCommerce Accounting in UAE

A Simple Guide to eCommerce Accounting and Tax in the UAE

Table of Contents

eCommerce is growing very fast in the UAE. More people are buying and selling online. As your online business grows, you need to make sure your accounting and tax rules are correct. This will help you stay out of legal trouble!

This article explains the basics in an easy way. We’ll look at business rules, taxes to pay, and how to keep financial records. Let’s get started!

Picking Your Business Structure

The first step is choosing how to set up your eCommerce business legally. You have a few options:

  • Mainland Company: This follows all rules for UAE companies. You need a local sponsor and pay all regular taxes.
  • Free Zone Company: Based inside a special economic area with fewer rules. No local sponsor needed.
  • Freelance License: Just for you as an individual. Easiest but can only do limited business.

Each structure has different licenses, fees and taxes. A consultant can advise which is best for your plans. 

For example, in the mainland, you need a trade license to operate which requires Emirati sponsorship. There are more regulations to follow but you can sell products across the UAE.

A free zone company lets you be the full owner but sales are mostly limited to free zone areas only. The license fees are also usually lower than mainland.

Understanding eCommerce Taxes

Once your business is set up, you must pay all required taxes:

Make sure you understand what taxes apply to your products. For example, all electronics attract a 5% VAT fee. Some food items and medical products are VAT exempt. 

File returns and pay taxes on time – VAT is filed quarterly. Fines can be costly if you delay payments!

Managing Your Accounting and Finances 

Proper accounting tools are a must for reporting taxes correctly. Here are some tips:

  • Use accounting software like QuickBooks to record sales, expenses etc. Automatically generate financial statements.
  • Create professional invoices quickly using free tools like Send to clients and track payments.  
  • Get a business bank account to keep company money separate from personal finances. Easier to track transactions.

Stay organized with your records! Keep digital copies of invoices, receipts and files in cloud storage for easy access when filing taxes. Sort files properly by year and transaction type.

Logistics and Delivery Accounting

As an eCommerce seller, you need to ship products to customers. Here are some delivery costs to account for: 

  • Warehousing Fees – If storing inventory before delivery 
  • Pick and Pack Fees – When fulfilling orders from warehouse  
  • Shipping Fees – Courier company charges
  • Customs Clearance – If products imported from abroad

Track these logistics expenses closely in your books using the correct accounting codes. It will give you true profit numbers after subtracting costs.

Managing Payroll 

Will you hire employees as your business grows? Here are some step-by-step payroll tasks:

  • Hire staff legally with proper contracts and visas  
  • Pay for health insurance and Emirates ID per UAE rules
  • Use payroll software to calculate wages, leaves, overtime etc.
  • Submit monthly payroll filings and payments to government

Employees are vital for eCommerce companies. Manage payroll properly with accurate salary rules and on-time visa processing. This keeps staff happy, motivated and working productively! 


Handling accounting, tax and finances properly is key to succeeding with eCommerce in the UAE. Follow this guide to understand the basics and avoid common mistakes. Reach out to a specialist if you need help setting things up smoothly.  


What licenses do I need?

It depends on your business structure. Talk to a consultant about mandatory licenses.

How often is VAT filing done?

VAT returns must be filed every 3 months in the UAE.

Can I operate without a trade license?

No, you must have a valid business license to operate legally. Freelance licenses allow some activity.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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