Free zone company / Local company setup in the UAE

What is a free zone?

The UAE Free Zone is a special geographic area in which business is conducted without taxes and restrictions usually applied to foreign companies. In the free zone, goods can be processed, changed, and re-exported without paying customs duties and taxes.

A company in a free zone can be 100% owned by a foreign individual or company.

The UAE currently has 53 free zones located in all seven emirates. Each free zone operates in accordance with its own laws and regulations.

Is there any corporate / income tax applied to companies or individuals in the UAE free zone?

Individuals and companies operating in the UAE free zone are not subject to corporate / income taxes for 50 years from the date of foundation of the company.

Can I do business outside the free zone in which I obtained the license?

Companies registered in the UAE free zone are allowed to conduct business within the free zone, or outside the UAE.

To do business with local UAE companies or with UAE government agencies, you need to register a local UAE company.

To trade in the UAE, you can enter into an agreement with a local distributor who will distribute your products in the UAE for a fee.

What is a local company in the UAE?

A local (mainland) company is a legal entity that can operate both domestically and internationally without any restrictions. The company will be registered with one of the UAE's Department of Economic Development (DED).

Can I 100% own a local company in the UAE?

Yes, sure. You can have a 100% ownership. However, there are lists of activities that allow for 100% company ownership in the UAE. For activities that are not included in these lists, 51% participation by a local citizen or a UAE company is required.

What are the advantages of owning a local company over a free zone company?

The main thing is that you can do business directly anywhere in the UAE without intermediaries. In addition, you will be able to participate in UAE public and private tenders.

In any case, there are many features, and we will be happy to advise you on which option to start a business to choose.

Business registration in the UAE

What options for starting a business are there in the UAE?

You can register in the UAE:

- a company in one of 50+ free zones in any emirate;

- a mainland (local) company;

- an offshore company.

Which option to open a company to choose?

The choice of company registration option depends on your business plans. If you only need a company without visas, then an offshore company is the best option. If your choice is 100% ownership and you need a simple registration that allows you to conduct your business around the world, obtain resident status and gain access to the UAE market through intermediaries, then you need a free zone company. Mainland / local companies allow you to have full access to the local market, but the registration process is a little more complicated and it is compulsory to rent / buy office space. The specialists of our company will offer the best option for starting a business, taking into account all your requirements.

How quickly can you get a business license in the UAE?

The speed of obtaining a license depends on the free zone in which you plan to register a company. With the correct paperwork, we can help you to issue a license within 1 business day.

How many shareholders can be registered in one license?

You can have up to 40 shareholders with one license.

What is a Limited Liability Company?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure in which the company is a separate legal entity. The main advantage of the LLC structure is that the obligations of the company (whether arising from contract or otherwise) are the obligations of the company and not the personal obligations of the shareholders. Likewise, the assets of the company belong to the Company and are not the personal property of the shareholders.

What is a Branch Company?

A branch is an organization owned by an existing parent company. All profits, benefits, assets, and other income of the Branch shall be the profits, benefits, assets, and other income of the parent company. Equally, all costs, expenses, debts, and other liabilities of the branch are costs, expenses, debts, and other obligations of the parent company. The branch is not issued a certificate of registration here in the UAE, but a license to legally operate in the UAE.

What is a Holding company?

A holding company license allows an enterprise to own individual assets and / or interests in other companies. You will need a holding company to control another company or to control property such as real estate, patents, trademarks, stocks, and other assets.

Under what basis can I put the "Made in UAE" label on my products?

The right to use the "Made in UAE" label is granted by the UAE Ministry of Economy. To do this, your product must be at least 40% produced in the UAE.

How can I get a PO number in the UAE?

The PO number will be issued in the emirate in which your company is registered. There will be a one-time mailbox registration fee along with an annual fee depending on the package you choose. The most economical option involves physical pickup from a designated post office (the most common package used in the UAE), however there are also options available that include weekly delivery to any location of your choice.

How much does it cost to register a company in the UAE?

Company registration fees vary greatly depending on the following factors:

- company’s activity;

- the emirate in which the company will be registered.

- the number of founders of the company;

- size / type of office (warehouse, industrial premises);

- the required number of visas.

- etc.

Send us a request with information about your business and we will calculate the final cost of registration, taking into account all factors.

In more detail, the cost of starting a business is described in our blog article "How much will it cost to open a company in Dubai?"

Can I register a company in UAE without renting or purchasing an office?

Yes, you can. Some free zones offer flexi-facilities (desks or offices), which are considered to be the most effective solutions for start-ups. Flexi-desk and flexi-offices allow to apply for up to 2-5 resident visas in most of the cases.

Do I need to be physically present for the company formation procedures?

Your physical presence is not required during the company registration process.

Bank account opening in the UAE

What documents are required to open a bank account in the UAE?

1) original passport (for verification only)

2) an extract from the personal account of another bank for a period of 3-6 months

3) utility bill (to confirm the place of residence)

4) summary

5) a description of the company's activities.

Do I need to be personally present in the UAE to open a bank account?

Yes, you have to. Your personal signature is required in the documents in the presence of a bank representative. We will arrange paperwork so that you need to be in the UAE within only one working day.

Do I need to keep money in a corporate bank account at all times?

Yes, you should. Depending on the service package and the bank, the average monthly account balance usually starts at AED 150,000 for a corporate bank account. If the balance is below the required amount, you will be charged.

Is it possible to open a bank account in multiple currencies?

Yes, sure.

Are there any restrictions on banking transactions in the UAE?

There are no restrictions on legal transactions for their execution, unless the terms of service of your bank provide otherwise. Be prepared for the fact that the Relationship manager can ask you for supporting documents at any time: invoice, contract, bill of lading, and suspend a suspicious transaction until doubts are cleared.

UAE visa

How can I get a residence visa?

If you have chosen a licensing package that includes UAE visas, after registering your license, you will be issued with your company's establishment card, after which you can apply for a visa under company sponsorship.

What are the steps of visa application?

First, you need to apply for a residence permit. Basically, it is a temporary visa that gives you access to the UAE for up to 60 days. Once you have received an entry permit, you can enter the country (if not already in the UAE) to apply for a full residence visa. It is best not to leave the UAE and enter again until you have obtained your residence visa. This can cause difficulties with immigration.

If your application is successful, you will receive an entry permit by email.

Once you have received an entry permit, you must activate it.

After activating an entry permit, you will need to undergo a standard medical examination. This includes blood tests and x-rays.

After completing a medical examination, you can apply for an ID. As part of this process, you may be required to visit an immigration center to provide biometric information such as your fingerprints and eye scans.

Finally, you will need to apply for a residence visa and stamp. To complete this final step, we must send your passport to the immigration office. They will then put your visa on your passport and stamp it before sending it back. This process usually takes about a week.

What are the benefits of obtaining a UAE resident visa?
Obtaining a 3-year UAE residency visa offers many benefits. In addition to being able to live and work in the Emirates, as a resident, you can also open a personal bank account with zero income tax and access other financial services, apply for a driver's license in the UAE, gain access to public health services and institutions, arrange children in school.
Can I apply for a visa on my own without contacting the administration of the free zone where my company is registered?


No, self-filing is only possible for dependents (family members) and domestic visa applications.

All services related to work visas of your company can be used only through the free zone in which your company is registered.

How can I get a visa for my spouse and children?

When sponsoring family members, you will need to provide the Immigration office with 3 months of personal bank statements that include a minimum monthly wage of AED 4,000, as well as your local UAE IBAN.

Other requirements of the Immigration Department will be the latest copies of the utility bill, so for this purpose it is necessary to rent a residential premises in the UAE.

The validity of the dependent visa will be the same as the validity of the sponsor's visa.

Until what age can I apply for a UAE residency visa?
Founders under the age of 69 are eligible to apply for a visa within their company. However, all employees, dependents and local workers applying for a visa within the company must not be over 59 years old.
Can I increase the visa quota?

Additional visas for the company can be added to the license when the service package is updated.