Company set up

In order to establish your company, you must first find out what business zone or ownership kind would best suit you. Dubai Economic Department has a list of over 2100 (business) activities you can select from.

For determining upon the zone, you must be familiar that Dubai presents different types of economic zones for operating a business: Free Zone, Offshore, and Mainland, all of which deal different advantages depending on your business category and activities. Here are the two main zones that entrepreneurs use most usually in the Emirate:

Free Zone: Offering the extravagance of 100 percent foreign national ownership, Free Zones are Dubai's way of attracting and inspiring foreign investment by making it stress-free to set up a business and easing down the immigration and labor procedures. There are around 45 Free Zones in the UAE, of which around 25 are in Dubai, each of which caters to precise categories of business. Free zone rules are far less strict and the timeframes for setting up companies are much faster, as the paperwork and administration requirements are minimal and there is no need for appointment of a UAE local sponsor to obtain a license.

STEP 1 - PRE-APPROVAL STAGE

The application for initial company registration is submitted through the free zone's registrar. Some of the free zones have their own online portals through which clients can process the initial application instead of going to the registrar for submission. This phase includes completion of application forms, registering the shareholder and officers' details, company name reservation, activity, management and compliance approvals.

STEP 2 - REGISTRATION

This is where company registration, invoice issuance and submission and verification of the original legal documents takes place. At this stage, most of the free zones require the shareholder or the authorized signatory to visit the registrar to sign and verify various documents such as passports and IDs.

STEP 3 - LICENSING

Signing of the Lease Agreement and finalization of the license by the registrar take place at this stage. Once the management approval is granted, the license and corporate documents of the company shall be issued.

Mainland: If you wish to operate in Dubai mainland, you have to register with the Department of Economic Development (DED), which will then grant you a Dubai business license.

The most common route to Setup a mainland business in the UAE is the safe and trusted vehicle of the Limited Liability Company (LLC), but there are other options too:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Civil Company
  • Limited liability Company (LLC)
  • Private limited company (PLC)
  • Public joint stock company (PJSC)
  • Branches, regional headquarters and representative offices of foreign companies
  • Single family offices

Register trade name

The trade name of your new business must reflect your chosen activity, and it must get approved by the authorities before formal usage. Approval is subject to the trade name not already being in use by someone else, or it being previously registered. Further, the trade name must not offend public morals or the public order of the UAE.

You can check the availability of trade names on the websites of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in every emirate except Fujairah, where it is listed on Fujairah Municipality's Rukhsati app. Licensed trade names can also be found on the UAE Ministry of Economy Unified Commercial Registration System, and the National Economic Register.

Alternatively, you can shortlist trade names that reflect the nature of your business, and our team will check its availability and secure its registration. When approved, the trade name will be followed by the acronym of your legal structure, ex: LLC, PLC or PJSC.

Get required approvals

Complete all the paperwork and all the processes to get you the Initial Approval. This early approval is a prerequisite for almost all ensuing steps towards setting up a business on the UAE mainland.

Thereafter, based on your chosen business activity, there may be other government approvals and translations of such approvals, and various attestations and notarizations. Carefully timed and coordinated, these steps will lead towards collection of the final approval - your UAE Mainland Company's Trade License.

Confirm workspace

You may have a preference about where your new office needs to be located, but if you are unsure or are new to the UAE, our real estate consultants will offer their assistance with finding, confirming, and leasing or buying work premises.

There are multiple choices for new business set up in the UAE's mainland, each catering to specific needs and budgets:

  • Virtual office
  • Leased office
  • Fully owned office
  • Office building
  • Workshop
  • Warehouse
  • Confirm workspace
  • Comply with labor rules

If you do not wish to take up the process of procuring visas yourself, our immigration teams will handle everything on your behalf: opening an official governmental file, processing your Establishment Card, applying for the required number of employment and/or residence visas for members of staff and family. This also includes the verification, translation and attestation of various documents.

Open bank account

Opening a corporate bank account is an integral part of UAE mainland company formation. Businesses are legally required to separate personal and professional funds.

The UAE offers numerous choices, from prestigious international banks, well-established local banks and digital-only banks. Each offers distinct advantages to entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses, or large foreign corporations.

Seek professional support

Often, mainland company setup in Dubai can be overwhelming affair, to start operations immediately without a network of alliances and partnerships in place.

We provide full-fledged assistance with all aspects of company incorporation, and we then follow it up with professional support for those who require it. Our fast-growing teams propose and deliver innovative solutions that meet the demands of commerce, and the many challenges of business.

Types of licenses: Based upon the kind of business activity, you will be obligatory to first identify the category of license you want. Again, DED is accountable for the issuance of the license. Chiefly there are three kinds of licenses you can look at commercial (for Limited Liabilities Company or LLCs) License, Industrial License, and Professional License.

Need for local sponsors: For opening any type of business in UAE under a DED license, you have to need a local sponsor, or an agent, or a partner. Though this is not compulsory, having local support can help you in several ways. So, do a little research and discover how your business will benefit from this addition, in case it is not an obligation for your kind of business.

Now that you distinguish about the background and requirements to initiate with the official process of registering your company, here's how you go about to apply and get a business license in Dubai.

Getting your business registered

Select the category of business: The primary step you have to be assured about is the type or category of business you have. In case you discover it problematic to define your business and cannot find your category in the official lists of the business activities as per DED, you can investigate directly at Department of Economic Development (DED).

Find the right legal form: Antagonistic to what the name suggests, this is NOT a legal document or a form to be filled. The position and type of your business choose what the make-up of your stable will be and this depends on the Free Zone or the area of operation you select. You will have to check which business activities match which authorized forms. Use the same link as above for details.

Choose a trading name: This is an imperative part of the whole setting-up-business cycle in Dubai. You are expected to choose a trading name that matches the type of services your company plans to offer. You then have to pay trade name reservation fees within 72 hours of receiving this voucher. Minimum investment: Different businesses have different requirements; though, it is not obligatory in the majority of businesses to have an initial investment. Begin with initial approvals: At this point, you must get a kind of "no-objection" from DED and custom a number of channels for the same. You can visit one of the Service Centers or explore Happiness Lounge.

Prepare agreements and select premises: Based on the authorized form of your business, you might need to generate and sign a Memorandum of Association (MOA) or a Local Service Agent (LSA) / Corporate Agent agreement with local support (UAE national). Also, in this phase, you will have to finalize a physical address for your company. Submit documents and get a license: Before heading to the former step of the journey of registration of your business, make certain your type of business does not need any additional approvals. As soon as everything is done, you just have to submit all the necessary documents and process all the payments. You have to pay for your trade license within 30 days of receiving a payment voucher. In case of non-payment for six months, the transaction is spontaneously canceled.

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