How to start a business in Dubai?
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Business setup in Dubai

As the fastest growing economic hub in the UAE, the city of Dubai is the perfect place for setting up a business. With its growing market and highly competitive economic structure, the city is fertile ground upon which you can setup new business. But before you can start business, you must first go through the entire process of company formation and trade license acquisition.

If you do not know how to register a company locally, there is one name you can count on for expert assistance – Emirates Zone.

Your trusted company formation experts to start business in the region

The first step to setup new business is determining your corporate structure: what type of company are you looking to establish? From there, you should consider where you want to be situated. There are two general locations where investors can start setting up a business: free zone and mainland. There are a lot of free zones located all across the city of Dubai, including but not limited to the following:

  • Healthcare City
  • Media City
  • International Financial Centre
  • Knowledge Village
  • Multi Commodities Centre
  • Silicon Oasis
  • International Media Production Zone
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone
  • Internet City
  • Airport Free Zone

These economic zones offer a variety of incentives to start business along with rules and regulations that are largely independent of government regulations. In these specialised trade areas, company formation grants investors with the following:

  • 100 per cent ownership of the company
  • Exemption from income and corporate tax
  • Exemption from customs duties
  • 100 per cent repatriation of profits
  • Independent rules and regulations

Business setup in Dubai outside free zones

For investors looking to do business setup outside of these free zones, there are three corporate structures to choose from:

  • Representative Office – requires a local partner who will serve as a National Service Agent
  • Limited Liability Company - requires a local partner who will serve as a Sponsor
  • Foreign Branch Office - requires a local partner who will serve as a National Service Agent

If you want to know how to register a company as one of the above, contact Emirates Zone today. We can help you get off to a fast start.

Free zone companies

Mainland companies

Open LLC Company

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Branch Company

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

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 Dubai
  • License fee
  • Premises rental
  • Corporate PO BOX
  • Annual costs to maintain a Rep Office or Foreign Branch Office in Dubai
  • 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 Dubai
  • 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 Dubai

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 Dubai. 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....