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DUBAI COMPANY REGISTRATION
Dubai Company registration is straightforward if you meet all the requirements. Dubai is a thriving business hub and one of the most popular destinations for company registration in the Middle East. With its favorable tax structure, world-class infrastructure, and numerous free trade zones.
Dubai offers a range of benefits for businesses looking to establish themselves in the region. Whether you’re a local entrepreneur or a foreign investor, the process of registering a company in Dubai can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it can be a smooth and straightforward process.
From choosing the right business structure to obtaining necessary licenses and permits, the team of experts at Relin Consultants is here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you establish your business in Dubai.
KEY REQUIREMENTS FOR DUBAI COMPANY REGISTRATION
TIMELINE OF BUSINESS REGISTRATION IN DUBAI
Company Ownership In Dubai
- Mainland Company: 100% foreign ownership is allowed for a range of commercial and industrial activities.
- Free Zone Company: 100% foreign ownership is allowed in most Free Zones, regardless of the business activity.
Share Capital In Dubai
- Mainland Company: The required share capital for Mainland Companies in Dubai varies from US$10,000 to US$250,000, depending on the business sector and activity.
- Free Zone Company: The required share capital for Free Zone Companies can range from US$1 to US$30,000 and varies based on location and industry. It is important to note that while the minimum share capital requirement was abolished in 2021, some business activities still require a minimum share capital.
Both Mainland Companies and Free Zone Companies are required to appoint at least one director. The director can be a resident of any country, however, investors wishing to open a corporate bank account must appoint a director who is a resident of Dubai or holds a Dubai resident visa.
Registered Office Address
It is mandatory for both Mainland Companies and Free Zone Companies to have a local office address, which can be a flexi desk office.
TYPES OF BUSINESS ENTITIES IN DUBAI
A sole proprietorship is held by a single person who controls all aspects of the business’s operations and owns 100% of the company’s income. This business entity is the most basic corporate structure in the UAE. The owner will be responsible for any debts or financial obligations.
- A sole proprietorship in Dubai is a type of business owned and operated by a single individual.
- The owner of a commercial or industrial sole proprietorship must be a UAE national or a national of a GCC country.
- If the owner is a non-resident, they must appoint a local service agent (LSA) who is a UAE national or a national of a GCC country to handle the licensing and government-related matters for the business.
- The information regarding the minimum startup capital required for a sole proprietorship in Dubai is not specified.
Partnership Company (Applicable to UAE Nationals Only)
A Partnership Company in Dubai is a business structure where two or more partners jointly own the company and share profits and losses according to a pre-agreed ratio. There are two types of partnerships in Dubai – Limited Partnership and General Partnership.
Basic limited partnerships must have UAE nationals as general partners, while international partners must be limited.
The ownership percentage of both general and limited partners is not restricted.
Limited partners are not allowed to be involved in the operational or managerial decisions of the general partners. If they do, they may be held liable for all business obligations. A partnership is also known as a Civil company in Dubai.
It’s important to note that civil companies are not common in Dubai. Many businesses prefer the limited liability provided by other forms of business organization, such as limited liability companies (LLCs) or free zone companies.
Limited Liability Company
The Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Dubai is a popular form of business organization where the partners’ liability is limited to the amount of their equity stake in the business.
- Any commercial or industrial activity can be carried out by an LLC except for banking, insurance, and investing.
- 100% ownership is not allowed..
- An accredited auditor in the UAE is required for LLC formation.
- LLCs can have a minimum of two and a maximum of fifty investors.
Private Shareholding Company
In the UAE, this kind of company is also known as a Private Joint Shareholding Company. It can be created by entering into a partnership with a minimum of three investors.
In addition to professional business, such legal structures are compatible with all types of commercial and industrial activity. A citizen of the GCC may possess all of the shares.
- A private shareholding corporation can only be created with the Ministry of Economy’s consent.
- One manager must be chosen by the business.
- A business may have multiple branches.
- A UAE national must own at least 51% of the shares.
Public Shareholding Company
A public shareholding company is a legal entity. In the United Arab Emirates, a public shareholding
The company is also known as a public joint stock company (PJSC).
- In accordance with DED company legislation, partners may engage in any industrial, commercial, or professional business operations.
- According to DED business standards, there can only be a maximum of 5 appointed managers for the company.
- A Public Share Holding Company must have at least five founders who are UAE Nationals, with their ownership percentage ranging from 30% to 70% of the capital shares.
- A business may have multiple branches.
Branch of a Foreign Company
The branch office is not a distinct legal entity. Branch offices help to build a firm presence in new locations and improve chances of sales and revenue as a practical way to broaden and extend business reach across national boundaries.
- A branch office is incorporated by submitting an application to the Ministry of Economics and Commerce with the assistance of a local service agent.
- A permit letter for business activity issued by the Ministry of Economic and Commerce must be approved by the relevant authority.
- The branch office will be registered with the local economic department, and the company will then be given a business licence.
A representative office is a type of foreign company that is allowed to operate in Dubai. This type of company is set up with the purpose of promoting and representing the interests of the parent company. It is not allowed to engage in commercial activities or generate income in Dubai.
A representative office must appoint a local sponsor and obtain a license from the Department of Economic Development (DED). The local sponsor acts as a liaison between the representative office and the relevant authorities in Dubai but has no ownership or control over the representative office’s activities. The representative office must have a physical office in Dubai and must comply with the regulations set by the DED.
COMPARISON OF DIFFERENT BUSINESS ENTITIES IN DUBAI
|Business Entity||Legal Structure||Liability||Shareholders||Management||Legal Entity|
|Sole Proprietorship||Individual ownership||Unlimited||1 owner||Owner handles management||Not a separate legal entity|
|Partnership||Joint ownership||Unlimited||2 or more partners||Partners manage or appoint a manager||Not a separate legal entity|
|Limited Liability Company (LLC)||Separate legal entity||Limited to capital contribution||1 to 50 shareholders||Managers appointed or shareholders||Separate legal entity|
|Private Shareholding Company||Separate legal entity||Limited to capital contribution||Minimum 3 shareholders||Appointed manager||Separate legal entity|
|Public Shareholding Company||Separate legal entity||Limited to capital contribution||Minimum 5 founding members||Appointed managers||Separate legal entity|
|Civil Company||Partnership or Individual||Limited to capital contribution||Partners own 100% shares||Partners manage or appoint a manager||Not a separate legal entity|
|Branch of a Foreign Company||Extension of foreign parent||Shared with parent company||No minimum, 100% foreign ownership||Managed by appointed representative|
TYPES OF REGISTRATION STRUCTURE IN DUBAI
The United Arab Emirates Corporate Law governs businesses registered in the UAE, but each emirate has its corporate laws that must be followed.
A company can be incorporated in any of the following three jurisdictions: Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore. The Department of Economic Development of the individual emirates is responsible for licensing on the mainland.
The appropriate Free Zone Authority in a Free Zone will be the licensing authority and the appropriate Offshore Authority in an Offshore jurisdiction.
Having an offshore company in the United Arab Emirates is undoubtedly the most well-liked and effective way to conduct business abroad.
Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and Ajman are the three offshore jurisdictions that the UAE offers; they are quite similar in terms of the facilities they offer and are only slightly different in terms of their long-term development objectives.
Real estate ownership in the Emirate of Dubai is only allowed for offshore firms incorporated in Dubai.
Ras Al Khaimah offshore firms are a lightweight and adaptable choice for foreign business owners who want to benefit from the many advantages of a RAK offshore company without having to have a physical presence in the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai Free Zones Company
Foreign investors may find it appealing to establish a corporate entity in one of the numerous free trade zones (FTZs) in the United Arab Emirates. UAE has more than 35 FTZs, more than 20 of which are in Dubai. The fundamental benefit of establishing a business in a free zone is that UAE national shareholding is not necessary.
UAE Free Zone enterprises are often only allowed to carry out the activities mentioned in their license and are only permitted to operate inside the free zone’s boundaries. A free zone company can have international clients.
Every company registered in the Free Zone is required to lease a minimum amount of office space there. If there aren’t many employees, the business may also rent a co-working space inside the free zone. If the number of employees is bigger, they will need to rent a specific office space inside the free zone. A Free Zone Company may apply for UAE residency visas through the Free Zone where it is registered on behalf of its directors, shareholders, and workers.
Mainland Company Dubai
A mainland company in the United Arab Emirates is an onshore business that is registered in one of the seven Emirates and is free to conduct business both domestically and abroad. The Department of Economic Development (DED) of the Emirate in which the company is registered regulates these businesses.
The DED is the organization responsible for issuing the business license needed for the company to start operating the business.
For more information, refer to Business Trade License in Dubai page.
LICENSES PROVIDED UNDER THE MAINLAND COMPANY ARE:
- Commercial – This license is required for all trade-related activities. Also, activities regarding transportation, contracting, and real estate need this licence.
- Industrial – It is needed for Manufacturing and different facilities related to factories.
- Professional – Those who perform their profession based on their educational background, intellectual prowess, and other factors, such as lawyers, auditors, or other consultants need this licence.
- Agricultural – This is required by owners of Farms and Fisheries
- Craftsmanship – Needed by professionals who work independently, such as blacksmiths, plumbers, carpenters, etc.
- Tourism – Required for any activities involving tourism and hospitality.
Comparison between Offshore, Freezone and Mainland Companies
|Offshore Companies||Freezone Companies||Mainland Companies|
|Incorporated in a jurisdiction other than Dubai.||Incorporated within a specific freezone in Dubai.||Incorporated within mainland Dubai.|
|100% foreign ownership allowed.||100% foreign ownership allowed.||100% foreign ownership allowed. Local ownership is mandatory for certain business activities.|
|No corporate or personal income tax.||No corporate or personal income tax.||Corporate Tax: 9% to 20% Personal Income Tax : 0%|
|100% capital and profit repatriation||100% capital and profit repatriation.||Capital repatriation allowed only after settling all the legal obligations.|
|*No TIEAs (Tax Information Exchange Agreements)||*No TIEAs (Tax Information Exchange Agreements)||TIEAs exist|
|Absolute Privacy and Confidentiality||Absolute Privacy and Confidentiality||Privacy and Confidentiality may not be as high as compared to offshore or freezone companies|
As a major global business hub, Dubai has signed TIEAs with several countries to foster greater international cooperation in tax matters. These agreements help to ensure that businesses operating in Dubai comply with tax regulations and reduce the risk of tax-related issues.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOR COMPANY FORMATION IN DUBAI
Deciding a Business Structure
The applicant must choose the best legal structure for the business. The number of shareholders, the commercial operations carried out, and the amount of cash required by the company all play a role in choosing an appropriate business structure.
Determine the business structure and reserve company name
Applicants must decide where the business wishes to set up. The company can choose between multiple freezones, mainland or offshore. The offices will be located depending on the jurisdiction.
They have the choice of either purchasing or leasing the land for their offices. The type of business activity, the number of employees, and the budget of the company for the chosen business activity all influence the choice of office space. Office spaces in Dubai’s various free zones range in size from 20-30 sq.m. to 2000 sq.m. and beyond.
The applicant must choose the company name in accordance with local legal requirements. It must not be comparable to the name of another company. The applicant should check with the relevant Free Zone Authority or the Dubai Economic Department (DED) to see if the desired company name is available. The business should operate under the name that has been given official approval.
After reserving the name, the applicant must submit an application for a business license in accordance with the types of commercial activities the company plans to conduct in Dubai. A business licence is a legal document that entitles its holder to engage in specified commercial activity. The DED is in charge of issuing licenses to local businesses.
Opening a Bank Account
The business must register a corporate bank account to transfer and receive money related to the company’s business after receiving the necessary registrations and approvals from the relevant authorities.
Register for VAT
If the business is expected to have an annual revenue of more than AED 375,000, the business owner will need to register for Value Added Tax (VAT).
Hiring Employees and Getting Approvals
The company must hire employees as per the business requirement. The business owner must obtain the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities and comply with the regulations related to the business activity.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR BUSINESS SETUP IN DUBAI
- a copy of each director’s and shareholder’s passport
- a copy of the shareholders’ and directors’ national identification cards
- Recent utility bills, credit card statements, or bank accounts with the shareholders’ and directors’ names and addresses
- Company’s Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association
- Board resolution having details of the formation of the branch or subsidiary nominating an authorized manager.
- Information about share capital
- Authenticated appointment letter from a business or service
PROS AND CONS OF COMPANY REGISTRATION DUBAI
Complete Foreign Ownership
Dubai’s Commercial Companies Law has been updated, allowing foreign investors to own 100% of their companies, contributing to more than 50% of Dubai’s economic activity.
Dubai is a tax-free zone, with no business or individual taxes. However, some businesses may be subject to a 5% GCC VAT on specific commercial operations.
Suitable Geographic Location
Dubai’s strategic location at the crossroads of major trade routes makes it an attractive destination for investors. It is a major re-export hub with world-class airports, seaports, and logistics infrastructure.
Dubai boasts top-notch infrastructure, including modern terminals, telecommunication systems, and public transportation.
Trade Restrictions in the Free Zone
Companies registered in Dubai’s free zones are not allowed to conduct business within the mainland jurisdiction without a distributor agreement.
Prohibited Business Activities
Some business activities are prohibited in the UAE, and it is important to conduct research and consult with business setup consultants to determine the feasibility of a particular business.
Setting up a company in Dubai can be a challenging process due to the various government agencies involved and the bureaucratic procedures involved.
COST OF COMPANY REGISTRATION IN DUBAI
The cost of company registration in Dubai can vary depending on several factors, including:
- Type of company: The type of company you want to register, whether it’s a limited liability company (LLC) or a free zone company, will impact the cost. Free zone companies typically have lower costs compared to LLCs.
- Location: The location of your company within Dubai can also impact the cost of registration. Registering in some of the more popular free zones, such as Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Media City, or Dubai Internet City may be more expensive compared to registering in other less popular free zones.
- Legal and administrative fees: The fees for legal and administrative services required to set up your company, such as company formation, immigration and visa processing, and trade licence registration, can also contribute to the overall cost of registration.
- Office space rental: Renting office space in Dubai can be expensive, and the cost will depend on the location and size of the space.
- Business activities: The type of business activities you plan to conduct in Dubai can impact the cost of registration. Certain business activities may require additional licensing or regulatory fees.
It’s essential to research and compares different options for company registration in Dubai to determine the most cost-effective solution for your business needs. It’s also recommended to consult with a business setup consultant to help guide you through the process and ensure you are aware of all the costs involved.
WHY CHOOSE RELIN CONSULTANTS FOR DUBAI COMPANY REGISTRATION SERVICE?
Relin Consultants has a team of experts who will help you in selecting the most appropriate free zone for your business activities. Our team is well aware of the laws and requirements for business registration in Dubai and will assist you in preparing all the necessary paperwork.
We have good contacts with the most reputable banks in Dubai. Our team will also take care of the corporate bank account opening for your newly incorporated business.
Reach out to us at Relin Consultants – Leading Global Business Set Up Partners for further assistance with our company incorporation services in Dubai.
What is the minimum number of directors required to start a business in Dubai?
The minimum number of directors required for Dubai company formation is one. However, the number of directors can vary depending on the type of company and the specific regulations of the free zone in which the company is being established.
It is also important to note that certain types of companies may have additional requirements, such as having a local sponsor or partner. It is always best to check with the relevant authorities or consult with a legal expert to ensure compliance with all necessary regulations.
Is a resident director required for company incorporation in Dubai?
A resident director is not typically required for company incorporation in Dubai, but it can vary depending on the specific free zone or jurisdiction in which the company is being incorporated.
Some free zones and jurisdictions may require that at least one director be a resident of the UAE, while others may not have any such requirement.
What is the capital requirement for Dubai business setup?
The capital requirement for setting up a business in Dubai can vary depending on the type of business and the specific free zone or jurisdiction in which the company is being incorporated.
For a Limited Liability Company (LLC) incorporated in mainland Dubai, the minimum share capital requirement is US$1 to US$30,000, depending on the business activity.
However, the capital requirements may vary for companies incorporated in a free zone. Some free zones may have no minimum capital requirement, while others may have a specific minimum capital requirement.
Additionally, certain business activities may have additional capital requirements, such as those related to oil and gas and construction.
What is the corporate tax rate for companies in Dubai?
The corporate tax rate for Mainly companies in Dubai is 0% to 9%. Dubai, like the rest of the UAE, has a zero percent corporate tax rate for offshore and freezone companies. This means that companies operating in Dubai as offshore or freezone status do not pay corporate income tax on their profits. Additionally, there is no personal income tax in Dubai.
However, it’s important to note that the tax exemptions and regulations in free zones may vary, and some free zones have their own regulations and taxes.
Additionally, there is a Value-Added Tax (VAT) of 5% on most goods and services in the UAE, which is applicable to companies that exceed certain revenue thresholds.
How can a foreigner set up a business in Dubai?
A foreigner can set up a business in Dubai by following these steps:
- Choose a business structure: Decide on the type of legal entity that best suits your business needs, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or branch office.
- Select a trade name: Choose a unique trade name for your business that is not already in use.
- Obtain licenses and permits: Apply for the necessary licenses and permits required for your specific business activities.
- Register for VAT: If your business is expected to have annual revenue of more than AED 375,000, you must register for Value Added Tax (VAT).
- Open a bank account: Open a corporate bank account in the UAE for your business.
- Rent or purchase commercial space: Rent or purchase a physical space for your business, if required.
- Hire employees: Hire employees as per your business requirement.
Dubai offers 100% foreign ownership of the company. You can set up a business in Dubai by following the steps listed above.
Which type of business entity is the most sought-after in Dubai?
The most sought-after type of business entity in Dubai is the Limited Liability Company (LLC). LLCs are the most popular form of business entity in Dubai as they offer a balance of flexibility and liability protection.
An LLC is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, which means that the shareholders are only liable for the company’s debts up to the amount of their capital contributions. LLCs in Dubai can have one or more partners, and the minimum share capital requirement is AED 300,000.
How long does starting a business in Dubai take?
The time it takes to start a business in Dubai can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of business, the specific free zone or jurisdiction in which the company is being incorporated, the business activity, and whether or not you are working with a professional service provider.
Approximately it will take 3 to 15 weeks to incorporate a business in Dubai.
Do I need a local shareholder to register a company in Dubai?
It depends on the type of business and the specific free zone or jurisdiction in which the company is being incorporated.
The requirement for a local shareholder is generally not necessary unless the company is undertaking a restricted business activity.
Can I start an LLC with 100% ownership in Dubai?
Yes, most business activities now allow 100% foreign ownership.
How can I register my company in the Dubai free zone?
You can register your company in Dubai Free Zone by Following the steps listed below:
- Determine the type of legal entity.
- Choose a trading name.
- Apply for a business license.
- Choose an office space.
- Get pre-approvals, register your business, and get your license.
How can I check my company registration in Dubai?
You can check your company registration in Dubai by visiting the official website of the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant free zone authority.
Here’s the general process:
- Go to the official website of the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant free zone authority.
- Look for the “Business Activities” or “Company Search” section on the website.
- Enter the company name or trade license number in the search field.
- Review the information provided, including the company name, trade license number, and registration date, among other details.
- If the company is not listed or the information is inaccurate, please contact the DED or the relevant free zone authority for assistance.
Which is the cheapest free zone in Dubai?
The cheapest free zone in Dubai can vary depending on the type of business and the specific requirements of the company. Some free zones may offer lower costs for certain types of businesses, while others may have lower costs for smaller businesses or start-ups.
However, generally speaking, some of the free zones in Dubai that are known for offering relatively lower costs for company formation and maintenance include:
- Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA): This free zone offers a cost-effective option for technology-based companies and offers a range of services to support technology-based businesses.
- Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA): This free zone offers cost-effective options for media and creative businesses, as well as a range of services to support the growth and development of these industries.
- Dubai Auto Zone (DAZ): This free zone offers cost-effective solutions for automotive businesses, including car dealerships, repair workshops, and auto parts retailers.
- Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC): This free zone offers a cost-effective option for businesses involved in the trading of commodities such as gold, diamonds, and precious metals.