Company incorporation in the United Arab Emirates

Given promising growth projections in the UAE and as a leader in economic growth in the Arabian Gulf, the UAE is an attractive market for foreign investors. Strong incentives in the form of free zones in the UAE appeal to even more businesses. There are a variety of business types that you can set up in the UAE and our experts can guide you through these options and recommend which one is best tailored to your business. 

We can then assist you with all aspects of setting up the company and provide you with ongoing support and assistance once your entity is established.

Streamline your entity setup

Company Incorporation

Our team of in-country experts work alongside local governments to handle the bulk of the incorporation process. This saves you valuable time and money.

Advisory Services

Our highly-skilled advisors will manage all of your monthly corporate services. This includes your bookkeeping, financial planning, and accounting.

Local HR Department

You can rely on the support of our local Human Resources department for reliable and compliant guidance for your entire entity setup. 

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Branch office

A branch office allows 100% ownership by the parent company, but it is not considered a separate legal entity. Rather, it is an extension of the foreign company and the foreign company is liable for the activities of the branch office. A branch office can engage in commercial activity in the UAE and can earn profits but it can only engage in activities that the foreign company engages in. 

To establish a branch office, you must obtain a commercial registration and license in the name of the foreign company. Additionally, you must appoint a National Service Agent who must be a UAE national individual or national-owned business. 

Paid up capital requirements are not imposed on the company. Additionally, there are no restrictions on where the company can rent or buy office space. 

Representative office

A representative office is not permitted to engage in commercial activity in the UAE or earn profits. Its actions are limited to marketing and promoting the company’s products and services in the UAE. 

To establish a representative office, you must obtain a commercial registration and license in the name of the foreign company. Additionally, you must appoint a National Service Agent who must be a UAE national individual or national-owned business.

Paid up capital requirements are not imposed on the company. Additionally, there are no restrictions on where the company can rent or buy office space.

Free trade zone company

Approximately 40 Free Zones operate in the UAE. Each Free Zone is built around one or more commercial categories and licenses are only granted to companies based on these permitted categories. Each Free Zone provides different licensed activities, such as trading, financial services, logistics, media-related activities, information technology, communications or light industry. Companies are governed by an independent Free Zone Authority, which issues the appropriate license and regulates business activities within the Free Zone.

There are a number of advantages of establishing an entity in a Free Zone in the UAE, including:

  • No foreign ownership restrictions
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • 100% import and export exemption
  • 0% corporation and personal tax
  • No currency restrictions

Options for establishing this type of business include registering the business as a Free Zone Establishment or a Free Zone Company. A Free Zone Establishment has a single shareholder while a Free Zone Company has two or more shareholders. Free Zone Establishment and Free Zone Companies are considered limited liability companies that are governed by the rules and regulations of the Free Zone where the company is established. 

Some Free Zones require that the business submit a detailed business plan. Other requirements might be necessary depending on the business activity, such as having an official agent or establishing a joint venture if you want to sell products in the UAE. 

Fujairah free zones

One Free Zone that many foreign investors are interested in is the Fujairah Free Zone, which the Fujairah Free Zone Authority manages. It offers licenses in trading and general trading, manufacturing, warehousing, industrial and consultancy. To set up a Free Zone Company, you will need to provide a curriculum vitae, company application form, proof of address, copy of your passport and a bank reference letter. Depending on the type of activity your business completes, you may have to provide a detailed business plan. You must appoint a manager for your company who is responsible for daily operations, signing contracts and managing the UAE bank account. The manager must be a UAE resident. 

You can receive the following benefits from establishing a company in this zone:

  • No customs duties on imports of commodities and finished products for export outside the UAE
  • No minimum capital requirements for Free Zone companies
  • License can be issued within one day
  • Immigration card receipt within ten days

The Fujairah Culture and Media Authority manages the Fujairah Creative City. Establishing a company in this zone provides the following benefits:

  • Company setup options as low as AED 17,500
  • No physical presence in the UAE required
  • No requirement for paid up share capital
  • No annual audit requirement
  • Possibility to obtain up to seven UAE residency visas
  • License usually issued within seven days

Limited liability company

Mainland companies often establish limited liability companies that are not restricted in their business activities like Free Zone companies are. A mainland company can trade anywhere in the UAE or Gulf Cooperation Council States, including in all Free Zones. The Department of Economic Development is responsible for issuing licenses to limited liability companies and for classifying and regulating the types of economic activity that the business can participate in. These companies are governed by the UAE Commercial Companies Law.   

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