If you’re looking for a fast, straightforward and affordable way to start a business, look no further than the UAE.
The Emirates is home to an array of company formation experts who, thanks to years of hands-on experience, can manage the business incorporation process on your behalf.
Below is a breakdown of the steps involved in forming a business in this part of the world. A company formation expert can guide you through every step, liaising with authorities and government bodies where necessary.
How to start your mainland or free zone company in Dubai, UAE
The UAE company formation process can be loosely broken down into six steps. While each step on its own does not seem complex, all require a good understanding of UAE business incorporation process.
That is why it’s strongly advised to engage the services of a business setup agent before getting started.
1. Selecting your business activities
The first step is to decide on your business activities. While this may seem a simple undertaking, it requires some prior knowledge.
All permitted business activities are outlined by the local Department of Economic Development (DED) or municipality. There are thousands to choose from – from consultancy to trading.
You must list every activity that you intend to carry out. Failure to do so could lead to issues later.
2. Choosing your company name
Another step that seems simple at first glance is deciding on your company name. However, there is a little more to the process.
When choosing a company name in the UAE, you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions.
In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.
3. Deciding on a setup
Here we have another step that many outside the UAE may be unfamiliar with – choosing a setup type.
Here in the UAE, there are two common types of business setup: free zone and mainland.
The mainland offers advantages such as the ability to trade directly with the local market without using the services of an agent, as well as the ability to set up anywhere in the UAE.
In most cases, however, free zone company formation is the most cost-effective and advantageous approach.
The UAE is home to many free zones offering affordable license packages and fast company setup options.
Fujairah Creative City, for example, offer benefits including a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support, and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions.
4. Making your license application
With the formalities out of the way, we come to the most important step of all – applying for your trade license.
There are several license types to choose from. If your business activities fall into the category of industrial or manufacturing then you will require an industrial license. If you are in the commercial sector – i.e. the buying and selling of goods – then you will require a commercial license. Similarly, those offering professional services will require a professional license.
Whether applying to form a company in the mainland or in a free zone, you are usually only required to provide a few details and some basic documentation, including:
- Completed application form
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
- Two colour passport size photos
5. Making your visa applications
You’ll also need a visa to work in the UAE – as will your employees, should you have any.
Again, most reputable company formation agents can help you with this step.
As the holder of a UAE business license, you can also sponsor others for their visas. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.
The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your company, your chosen setup and, for dependant visas, your personal earnings.
6. Opening a corporate bank account
The final step is opening your UAE corporate bank account. Once again, a company formation specialist can handle all applications for you, liaising with relevant authorities on your behalf.
How to choose the right business setup service provider
While the UAE is home to many business setup service providers, not all are the same. Selecting a service provider is one of the biggest decisions you will make when starting your business in the UAE.
Be sure to do your research before committing to work with any provider. Some are simply brokers that will find you a license package based on price, while others are long-term partners that will support your business as it grows.
Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ) is very much in the latter category. As well as helping you form your business, we’ll support you as you apply for visas, open your corporate bank account, and beyond.
Ours is a full-service offering, from company formation through to a range of PRO services, financial and accounting support, legal and document services, and much more.
Before helping you select the right license package, we’ll take the time to understand you and your business. We’ll consider your industry, size, budget, desired location and more before tailoring a package to your specific needs.
Are you ready to start your business in the UAE?
Hopefully this guide has made clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a business in the UAE doesn’t have to be overly complex.
That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you to ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as BIZ when establishing a new company in the UAE.
We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.
As well as handling your license application, BIZ can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.