Dua Lipa was born in Westminster, London. Her father, Dukagjin Lipa, is a marketing manager who had a side gig as a lead vocalist in a Kosovar rock band named Oda and her mother, Anesa Lipa, works in tourism. Her parents are originally from Kosovo and they had left Priština in 1992. Her father Dukagjin is the son of a historian, Seit Lipa, who was the head of the Kosovo Institute of History between the years of 1990-1995. Lipa has two younger siblings, a sister named Rina and a brother named Gjin. She attended Sylvia Young Theatre School part-time before moving to Kosovo with her family in 2006 when her father had been offered a job in Kosovo; there she attended the private school Mileniumi i Tretë in Pristina. Lipa grew up listening to her father. Her first name means "love" in Albanian. Lipa explained "Now I’m proud of it. Now I am. But when I was growing up all I wanted was to be called Hannah, Sarah, Ella… anything normal. Because with Dua you had to explain: I’m from Kosovo."
At the age of 14, Lipa began posting covers of her favourite songs by artists such as Pink and Nelly Furtado on YouTube. At the age of 15, she moved back to London with aspirations of becoming a singer. Lipa lived with a friend and studied at Parliament Hill School, returning to the Sylvia Young Theatre School on Saturdays. She began working as a model for the online catalogue ASOS Marketplace when she was 16. She also worked as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant La Bodega Negra in Soho, and at a nightclub in Mayfair. In 2013, she starred in a television advertisement for The X Factor.