How to start a business in Dubai & United Arab Emirates – company formation, offshore & tax-free zones
Companies considering setting up a company in Dubai or other regions within the United Arab Emirates can benefit from a hugely advantageous business environment. This includes Tax Free Zones and exemptions from many of the restrictions imposed by the country’s Companies Law and other regulations. (See our article on Tax Advantages in the Emirates).
UAE Free Zones
There are over forty Tax Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates, all offering different opportunities and advantages to both domestic and foreign investors. If you wish to open a UAE company, then the type of business will dictate which Free Zone should be used. For example, the zone DAFZA is intended for businesses that import and export goods while the business activities permitted in the TECOM zone include design, development, IT, e-commerce and media.
Each Free Zone is governed by an independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) which is responsible for issuing the necessary operating licences for businesses operating within the various Free Zones.
Businesses operating within a Free Zone may be 100% foreign owned and benefit from a guarantee that tax will not be applied for a certain period of time.
Ras Al Khaimah - RAK Free Zone / Offshore
A RAK IC gives you the UAE presence but is still deemed to be offshore. Although we deal with every Free Zone in the Emirates, by far the most popular is the Ras Al Khaima (RAK) Free Zone. The UAE is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and Ras Al Khaima is one of the fastest growing Emirates. There are many reasons for RAK’s popularity – it’s one of the most competitive Emirate States in terms of fees, costs and professional consulting, its close proximity to Dubai is incredibly useful for trading and transport, and a RAK Free Zone Entity can benefit from a 5% customs duty when trading with Dubai.
RAK is perfectly placed within the UAE, just a 45 minute drive away from Dubai, and conveniently located close to three separate ports, including Saqr Port where more than 1400 ships dock every year. Of all the Emirates it is the closest to the Strait of Hormuz’s main lane for shipping. Geographically RAK is situated in between Europe, Africa and Asia, positioning it extremely well for international trading.
RAK is also naturally very close to the Ras Al Khaima International Airport. Here there is a large amount of storage facilities as well as very competitive pricing. It also boasts an “open sky” policy which means there are no restrictions on the amount of flights, or the time of arrival and departure.
Other Free Zones :
- Jebel Ali (JAFZA)
- Dubai Airport Free zone (DAFZA)
- The Dubai Technology & Media Free Zone (TECOM)
- Jumeilah Lake Towers FZ (JLT)
- The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
- Dubai Media City (DMC)
What are the different business structures available in the UAE?
- International Business Company (IBC/RAK Offshore Company) - Whether your business applies to international trade, ownership of intellectual property, asset protection or is a global holding company, an International Business Company can be advantageous. However, it is only beneficial on the basis that your business does not intend to conduct any onshore operations within the UAE.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) - For those considering the Company Formation Dubai option, this is the most widely used commercial structure for companies with a non-UAE national wishing to conduct commercial activities in Dubai. An LLC is a private company and shares cannot be offered to the public.
- Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) - Very similar to a UK Public Limited Company or German Aktiengesellschaft (AG). It requires a minimum share capital of AED 10,000,000 and a minimum of 10 founders, who are responsible for the incorporation of the company.
- Private Joint-Stock Company (Private Company) - Similar to a UK Private Limited Company. It requires a minimum share capital of AED 2,000,000 and minimum of three founder shareholders. Shares in a Private Company cannot be offered for public subscription but in all other respects the regulations applicable to a PJSC apply equally to a Private Company.
- Branch - While a Branch may carry out activities similar to those of its parent company, there are certain activities which are restricted to UAE nationals, such as importing goods.
What documentation do I need for company incorporation in the UAE?
You will need the following:
- A notarised copy of a passport
- A notarised copy of two utility bills less than three months old
- An original bank reference letter less than three months old (A certified English translation should be provided if the letter is not in English)
What documentation do I need to set up the bank account?
- A notarised copy of a passport
- A notarised copy of two utility bills less than three months old (or original documents)
- The last six months of bank statements (notarised copies or original documents)
- We will provide the RAK/Dubai company documents to the bank directly
What are the other features and benefits of forming a UAE company?
Here at Euro Start Entreprises, our expert advisors can help you with any number of features within the United Arab Emirates, including:
- Consultancy & Services
- Family Wealth Protection & Trusts
- Investment Companies
- Bank Account Introductions
- Property Owning Companies
- Corporate Benefits
- Fewer Reporting Requirements
- Ship & Yacht Ownership
- Reduced Taxation Liability
- Free Zone Incorporation
- Asset Protection
- Simplicity Of Operation
- Holding Companies
- International Trading
- Internet Trading
For more information about company formation in the United Arab Emirates, along with any other issues including tax advantages in the free economic zones including offshore companies, please contact us on 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or email us from our contact page and we’ll be happy to help.