How to start a business in Abu Dhabi?
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Business setup in Abu Dhabi

Companies and investors looking to establish a foothold in the UAE capital must accomplish two things before being recognised as a legitimate business: trade license acquisition and incorporation. These requirements necessitate the accomplishment of various specific application processes to give businesses legitimacy to operate in the emirate.

If you do not know how to register a company in Abu Dhabi, then you will find the processes tedious and confusing.

Emirates Zone is a professional company formation consultancy that guides and assists investors and companies that do not know how to register a company in Abu Dhabi, so they can set up their office quickly and cost-effectively.

Start business on the right foot, with the help of Emirates Zone today – your trusted experts in business setup in Abu Dhabi

Setup new business: Free Zone or Onshore?

There are five free zones located across the emirate at the moment:

  • Abu Dhabi Global Market – Finance sector
  • Abu Dhabi Airports Company – Logistics sector
  • Kizad – Industrial sector
  • Masdar City – Green Technology sector
  • TWOFOUR54 – Media and Communications sector

New businesses can choose to open their doors in these specialised zones or outside of these areas, and take advantage of various benefits. It all depends on your corporate strategy and plan for growth.

Advantages when you setup new business as a free zone

Investors that choose to start business as a free zone company can enjoy numerous benefits, including the following:

  • Absolute company ownership
  • Freedom from corporate and income tax
  • Complete repatriation of profits
  • Independent rules and regulations
  • Freedom from customs duties

Restrictions of companies in free zones:

  • Corporate operations must be conducted within the geographic limitations of their designated zones
  • Any business activities with mainland clients must be done through distributors or agents
  • Dealings, tenders, contracts with the local government must be accompanied with a mainland DED license

Company formation outside of special zones

In mainland company formation, on the other hand, businesses may be structured as any of the following corporate entities:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Foreign Branch Office
  • Representative Office

To start business as any of these entities, an investor must partner with a local entity who can stand as a Sponsor for LLC companies or a National Service Agent for Representative or Foreign Branch Offices.

Ready to take the first step of business setup? Get in touch with Emirates Zone today, and let us guide you through it.

Free zone companies

The free zones generally attract businesses from certain sectors. This is deliberate, so that they can supply goods and services to each other. This is important because legally, a free zone company must carry out their work within the geographical limits of the free zone....

Mainland companies

In many cases, the activities you want to engage in will determine the legal structure of the business; however, this is not always the case. There are three main onshore structures to be considered: Representative Office, Foreign Branch Office or Limited Liability Company (LLC).....

Open LLC Company

In this form of sponsorship, the shares are divided between the investor and sponsor. At Emirates Zone, we guarantee the safety of our clients' shares and investment.

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Branch Company

In this form of sponsorship, we help investors establish a branch company. This company is 100% owned by the client, and we can charge a fixed annual fee for our services.

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How much does it cost to set up a company in Abu Dhabi?

Freezone setup costs

Costs will vary by freezone, structure, activity, premises, and number of visas. However, these are the costs to be aware of:

  • Registration Fee (one time fee)
  • Name reservation fee (one time fee)
  • Annual License Fee
  • Annual rental for premises
  • Visa per person (lasts for 3 years)
  • Legal templates are usually used and personalised, accordingly.

Note:
If an individual is setting up an LLC, they will also be required to show share capital of AED150,000 throughout the incorporation process. Upon receipt of the Trade License, this share capital can be converted to working capital.

Mainland setup costs

Costs will vary depending on structure, activity, premises and the number of visas. However, there are the costs to be aware of:

  • Government and third party fees (Trade License, Notary fees, legal translations, typing centres, government department registrations – mix of one time and annual fees)
  • Incorporation fees (submission of documents, arrangement of approvals/inspections – one time)
  • Sponsor fees (annual)
  • Legal fees (one time)
  • Commercial premises (annual)
  • Registration of new company with Immigration and Ministry of Labour (one off, with renewal of Establishment card only, every two years)
  • Visa per person (usually lasts for 2 years)

Ongoing costs

There are a number of annual costs:

  • Annual costs to maintain a free zone entity in Abu Dhabi
  • License fee
  • Premises rental
  • Corporate PO BOX
  • Annual costs to maintain a Rep Office or Foreign Branch Office in Abu Dhabi
  • PRO Service fees to manage the Trade License renewal
  • Trade License fee
  • Chamber of Commerce registration
  • Ministry of Economy registration
  • Nadafa (Centre of Waste Management) fee
  • Annual audit by a locally-registered Auditor
  • Premises rental
  • Corporate PO BOX
  • Annual costs to maintain an LLC in Abu Dhabi
  • PRO Service fees to manage the Trade License renewal
  • Trade License fee
  • Chamber of Commerce registration
  • Nadafa (Centre of Waste Management) fee
  • Premises rental
  • Corporate PO BOX

Trade License Activities

It is important to apply for the correct activity on your Trade License as it will have various impacts:

1)The activity(ies) selected should reflect the activity(ies) of the business, 2)The activity should be reflected in the Trade Name of the company, 3)It will reflect the type of premise required

Commercial Premises in Abu Dhabi

Every company is required to have a premise that relates to the activities on their trade license, e.g. a trading company will be required to have a store or warehouse, whilst a management consultancy will be required to have an office space. The space should be large enough to carry out the business.....

Legal documents

As mentioned above, free zones generally provide legal templates. Legal documents required to set up a Representative Office or a Foreign Branch Office in Abu Dhabi. The following parent company and signatory’s documents will be required:

Certificate of Incorporation of the parent company....

Timescales

When the legal documents are in executional format, the incorporation process for an LLC can be set up in approximately two to three weeks (if no special approvals are required) and a Foreign Branch Office or a Representative Office will take a little longer – approximately three weeks to obtain....