The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers endless investment opportunities to local and international investors and attracts trade due to a number of free zones located throughout the Emirate which offer lucrative incentives attracting investment. Significant among these are no corporate or income tax, no personal income tax, no foreign exchange controls, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, amongst many other benefits which attract foreign investors to the region.
There are many options open to international companies seeking to setup a business in the UAE. Apart from forming a trading relationship through commercial agencies, for many companies there are distinct advantages in having a local presence. This makes it easier to research market prospects, make contacts, liaise with customers and see through the details of any transactions.
The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Dubai is one of the world's best destination to start a business.
Three are three types of Companies you can open in Dubai.
(1) Mainland Company,
(2) Free Zone Company and
(3) Offshore Company.
Again these are devided into different types. One should choose a company type based on thier nature of business.
Mainland Company is a company registered by Department of Economic Development (DED), Government of Dubai, which is a local company and can do borderless business in UAE. There are three types of licenses issued under MainLand:
The Mainland Company may be registered anywhere in the UAE in the fllowing ways:
These licenses are issued by the Department of Economic Development with the exception of licenses for hotels and other tourism related businesses which are issued by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. However, licenses for some categories of business require prior approval from certain ministries and other authorities, such as:
In general, all commercial and industrial businesses in the UAE should be registered with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The UAE Commercial Companies Law requires that each company established in the UAE have one or more UAE national partner(s) who hold at least 51% of the company’s capital. Companies that undertake certain activities are exempt from the 51% requirement, including oil companies with concession agreements, companies involved in the oil and gas industry, companies that produce electricity and gas, companies involved in treatment of water and transmission and distribution. Foreign banks are exempt from having to appoint a sponsor. Professional licenses covering professions, services, craftsmen and artisans are exempted from 51% requirement, they need to appoint a Local Service Agent on a fixed remuneration payable on yearly basis.
The Free Zone or Free Trade Zone provides free trading and an industry ecosystem within that particular jurisdiction. Free zones are usually attached to ports (such as JAFZA) and/or are industry specific. The UAE has over 50 free zones and each Free Zone is designed around one or more commercial categories and only offers licences to companies within those categories. The following are the few of the free zones in UAE.
Each free zone will have Registrar of Companies and these free zones may issue following business licenses:
The following are the benefits of Free Zone Company:
The Free Zone Company may be registered in that particular free trade zone and the operations are restricted to that jurisdiciton only except for national industrial license companies.
An Offshore Company is a legal business entity that is set up with the intention of operating outside its registered jurisdiction and/or the location of its ultimate ownership. Offshore companies can feature in most financial planning scenarios when trying to mitigate tax exposure and/or with regards to passing assets on to beneficiaries freely in the event of death. Sometimes referred as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV). At present Two Free Zones are providing Offshore company licenses. ie. JAFZA and RAKFTZ. The following are the benefits of Offshore companies in UAE.
|Particulars||Mainland Company||Free Zone Company||Offshore Company|
|Registering Authority||Department of Economic Development (DED)||Registrar of Companies, Free Trade Zone||Registrar of Companies, Free Trade Zone|
|Ownership||Expat 49% & Local Sponser 50%
For Professional Company Expat 100%
Incae National Industrial License Expat 49%
|VISA||Allowed for 2 years||Allowed for 3 years||Not allowed|
|Cost of Formation||High||Medium||Low|
|Area of Opetation||No restrictions||With in the Free Zone||Not allowed in UAE or Home Country|
|Repatriation||No restrictions||No restrictions||No restrictions|
|Office Space||Required Min 200 sft||Not required. They can have virtual space||Not required|
|Audit||Required||Not required except for Free Zone Companies and Free Zone Establishments||Allowed to be registered|
|Company Secretary Services||Not required||Required||Not required|
|Registered Agenet||Not Required||Not Required||Required|
|Local Sponsor||Required for all except professional license where Local Service Agent is required||Not Required except where National Industrial License||Not Required|
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A company registered with Department of Economic Development (DED), Government of Dubai.
No restrictions. It can do business anywhere.
Yes except Professional License a Local Sponser is not rquired, Local Service agent is required in this case.
No such minimum sharecapitl is required.
60 to 80 days.
On Fast track mode, you will get the certificate in 15 minutes.
A company registered within Free Trade Zone is called Free Zone Company.
Free Zone Company not authorised to operate outside the jurisdiction of Free Zone for Manufacturing & Trading activities. Each Free Zone has it's own rules.
Not required except National Industrial License.
Yes for Free Zone Company or Free Zone Establishment. But not for Branch office. It is again diferrent from Free Zone to Free Zone.
10 to 15 days.
Offshore Company is a legal business entity that is set up with the intention of operating outside its registered jurisdiction and/or the location of its ultimate ownership. Offshore companies can feature in most financial planning scenarios when trying to mitigate tax exposure and/or with regards to passing assets on to beneficiaries freely in the event of death.
Yes. It can not carry business with in the UAE.
No such minimum sharecapitl is required.
3 to 5 days.