UAE company registration

DOING BUSINESS IN UAE IN 2017

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC has efficiently and effectively assisted our Clients with UAE company registration. We project manage and advise on i) registering a company ii) obtaining municipal and operating licences iii) corporate banking options iv) visa applications v) employee recruitment strategies and vi) office space rental solutions.

SummaryUAE trading LLCUAE Professional services LLCUAE Fast solution LLCUAE offshore companyUAE Free zone LLCUAE LLPUAE Representative officeUAE Branch office
SpecificallyDubai LLCDubai services LLCDubai nominee LLCRAK offshore LLCDMCC Free zoneDubai LLPDubai ROAbu Dhabi Branch office
Best use of company?TradingProfessional servicesClose a customer deal nowinternational tradingGlobal tradingProfessional servicesMarketing & researchSpecific project
Our Client needs to travel to this country?NoNoNoNoYesNoYesYes
How soon can you sales invoice UAE customers?1 month1 month2 weeksCannotCannot1 monthCannot2 months
How soon can you sales invoice global customers?1 month1 month1 month1 month1 month1 monthCannot2 month
How soon can you sign legal contracts in UAE?1 month1 month2 weeksCannotCannot1 monthCannot2 months
How soon can you hire staff in UAE?1 month1 month1 monthCannot1 month1 month1 month2 months
Can be wholly foreign owned?NoYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Resident director/partner/manager/agent required?YesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Minimum paid up share capital?US$50,000US$1US$50,000US$1US$15,000US$100
Can bid for Government contracts?YesYesYesNoNoYesNoYes
Corporate bank account location?Emirates NBDADIBNoor BankEmirates NBDNoor BankADCBADIBADCB
Can secure trade finance?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Limited liability entity?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Average total engagement costs?US$22,000US$20,000US$38,500US$11,870US$26,950US$20,000US$23,250US$34,840
Average total engagement period?3 months3 months4 months1 month2 months2 months4 months3 months

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Accounting and tax considerationsUAE trading LLCUAE Professional services LLCUAE Fast solution LLCUAE offshore companyUAE Free zone LLCUAE LLPUAE Representative officeUAE Branch office
Statutory corporate tax payable?0%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%
Group HQ tax incentives?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoNo
Must appoint an auditor?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
Access to double taxation treaties?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoNo
This entity enjoys Government incentives?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
Company RegistrationUAE trading LLCUAE Professional services LLCUAE Fast solution LLCUAE offshore companyUAE Free zone LLCUAE LLPUAE Representative officeUAE Branch office
Resident director/partner/manager/agent required?YesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Minimum number of shareholders/partners?221112parent companyparent company
Maximum shareholding for foreigners?49%100%100%100%100%99%100%100%
Minimum number of directors/managers?11121111
Minimum statutory paid up share capital?US$50,000US$1US$1US$1US$15,000US$1US$1US$1
Security deposit to be kept with Government?NoNoNoNoYesNoNoUS$13,650
Must sign an office lease agreement?YesYesYesNoYesNoYesYes
Shareholders and directors documents to be translated?YesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
The entity will likely be regulated by?DEDDEDDEDRAKIADMCCDEDDEDDED
Shelf companies available?YesYesYesYesYesNoNoNo
Time to incorporate a new entity?1 month5 weeks2 weeks1 month1 month1 month6 weeks6 weeks
Can have preference shareholders?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Business ConsiderationsUAE trading LLCUAE Professional services LLCUAE Fast solution LLCUAE offshore companyUAE Free zone LLCUAE LLPUAE Representative officeUAE Branch office
Sponsorship by a local citizen required?YesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Can invoice customers in your company name?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Maximum number of staff allowed?No limitNo limitNo limitNone allowedNo limitNo limit54
Can secure residence visa for business owner?YesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
Good entity for trademark registration?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
Can secure an import and export license?YesNoYesNoYesNoNoYes

Corporate tax rate on annual net profits?0%
Legally tax exempt if properly structured?Yes
How soon can you sign a lease agreement?1 month
GST/VAT payable on sales to local customers?0%
Withholding tax on payments to shareholders?0%
Must file an annual tax return?No
Must file annual financial statements?Yes
Dividends received are legally tax exempt?Yes
You need a local resident as bank signatory?No
Temporary physical office solutions available?Yes
Shareholders and directors documents to be attested?Yes
Foreign director needs a tax number?No
Foreign director needs a residence visa?No
Can easily convert to a PLC?No
Public register of shareholders and directors?No
Government approval required for foreign owners?No
Government grants available?No
Restrictions on nature of business activitiesNo
Company can hire local staff?Yes
Expatriate to local staff ratio?No
Company can rent local office space?Yes
Other useful information
This country has signed free trade agreements?Yes
This country is a member of WIPO/TRIPS?Yes
This country is a member of the ICSID?Yes
Average customs duties suffered?5%
Government foreign investment approval required?No
Average monthly office rental? (US$ per sq m)US$150
Minimum statutory annual salary?US$ 1380
Average monthly US$ salary for local skilled employees?US$ 400
AED deposit interest rate? (1 year average)1%
US$ deposit interest rate? (1 year average)1%
Overseas remittance currency controls?No
Banking considerations
Multi-currency bank accounts available?Yes
Corporate visa debit cards available?Yes
Quality of e-banking platform?Good
Crowd funding available in this country?Yes

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  • Corporate structures in UAE are virtually fully tax-exempt;
  • Multiple world-class free zones operate in UAE, making the country a booming industrial hub;
  • The absence of personal taxation and world-class infrastructure are also great incentives to form a business in the UAE;
  • UAE offers foreign investors a strong political stability in an unstable region of the World;
  • Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the undisputed financial centers of the Middle East.

Benefits and problems of registering a company in the UAE

Press the link headings below to read detailed, relevant, up to date information.

  • Benefits and problems

    Benefits of UAE company registration

    1. The UAE is the preferred destination for the foreign investment in the Middle East because:
      • UAE ranks 16th in the world in the Global Competitiveness Index and number one in the Arab Word with the best business environment and infrastructure;
      • The country has the 2nd largest economy in the Arab World, with its GDP having grown 231 times since 1971. This has been the result of the country’s extensive oil reserves, its growth as a transport and aviation hub and its liberal business environment;
      • The two major financial centers, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both located in the Middle East and provide offshore facilities that are major attractions for foreign capital;
      • Despite offering lucrative tax advantages, United Arab Emirates is not blacklisted as a tax haven by either the OECD or the FATF;
      • With the preparations for the Dubai Expo 2020 underway, the country’s economic growth is expected to accelerate and spur business development.
    2. Our Clients setting up in the United Arab Emirates will benefit from numerous tax advantages including:
      • If properly structured, a UAE company is an ideal way to legitimately book international profits without paying local corporate taxes;
      • Exemption from income tax for both foreign entrepreneurs resident in UAE and company employees working in the UAE;
      • A simplified financial reporting system that is not obligated to annual statutory auditing;
      • Exemption from capital gains tax, withholding tax or value added tax (VAT).
    3. Our Clients registering their businesses in the UAE Free Zones will benefit from:
      • 100% foreign ownership of the enterprise;
      • Corporate tax exemptions for up to 50 years and complete tax exemptions on import and export duties;
      • There are no exchange controls and no restrictions on repatriation of capital and profits abroad;
      • Availability of readymade ultra-modern offices, warehouses and factories;
      • Assistance with labor recruitment and additional support services, such as sponsorship and housing.
    4. The UAE is an attractive jurisdiction to establish a global offshore company because:
      • An offshore company can be 100% foreign owned and only requires one director of any nationality and must not be resident in UAE;
      • The entity is 100% exempt from taxation on international business activity and income. Additionally, no auditing is required;
      • This entity provides higher level of confidentiality as directors, shareholders and UBOs are not disclosed to the public;
      • Registering an offshore company is fast and straight forward and all corporate documents can be provided in English.
    5. Other aspects that make United Arab Emirates attractive for setting up a new business include:
      • UAE has a high demand for foreign goods and services and thereby has the highest per capita incomes in the Middle East;
      • UAE is establishing world class industrial zones through economic diversification with priority given to petrochemicals, building materials, chemical industries, metal industries, food industries, oil and gas services, and transportation sectors;
      • It is cost-effective and easy to recruit foreign employees from all over the globe due to the country’s liberal labour policies;
      • The country permits foreign ownership of properties, is home to perfectly organized infrastructure and exhibits very minimal crime rates.

    Problems with UAE company registration

    1. Our Clients setting up and operating businesses in the UAE stand to encounter challenges because:
      • Each Emirate and Free Zone within the UAE has its own corporate laws that govern company setup process that can be complex and time consuming;
      • Setting up a local limited liability company in mainland Dubai requires mandatory 51% UAE national shareholder and thereby cannot be wholly foreign owned;
      • Operating a company in the UAE can be very costly due to high business setup costs and demanding rental requirements and costs;
      • The government tenders favor UAE nationals and companies with UAE nationals. Disputes with shareholders and agents cause serious problems for foreign investors. For example, Abu Dhabi courts can impose precautionary restraint on company assets pending the adjudication of a commercial dispute.
    2. Our Clients setting up in the UAE Free Zones will experience certain limitations including:
      • Free Zone companies are only license to operate within the Free Zone boundaries and may not transact elsewhere in the UAE;
      • Trading companies registered in the Free Zone must appoint a local agent or distributor in order to trade their products within the country;
      • Free Zone companies must appoint a locally approved audit firm before commencement of activity within the Free Zone;
      • Different Free Zones impose i) minimum requirements for office and warehouse space and ii) restrict the number of employment visas per space;
      • While incorporating in the Free Zone, our Clients will be required to comply with national laws, emirate laws and individual Free Zone laws which can be highly complicated and cumbersome.
    3. Other limitations that our Clients establishing their business in the UAE stand to encounter include:
      • Majority of visas and licenses filed on behalf of the company can only be sponsored by UAE nationals;
      • The UAE offshore company can neither trade products or provide services within the country, nor rent local premises;
      • Share capital must be deposited before the business registration process is complete. Healy Consultants will arrange for the share capital to be lodged into a resident bank, which will issue a certificate confirming the same. This certificate is presented as part of the incorporation process;
      • Depending on the Emirate and type of activity, the business license registration process in UAE can often take up to 6 months to complete.
  • Best uses for a UAE company

    Gateway to the Middle East and Africa

    • A UAE business allows foreign entrepreneurs to tap into the lucrative growth of the Middle Eastern and African (MEA) markets. Emirates like Dubai and Sharjah boast highly developed infrastructure, making the country the perfect distribution center for trading companies;
    • Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most business-friendly cities in the MEA region. In addition to world class infrastructure, these cities have highly liberal trading policies with no quotas or barriers to discourage foreign investments. Furthermore, companies in these emirates enjoy a highly favorable image across the globe.

    Regional headquarters

    • Foreign investors can set up a tax-exempt UAE company that allows them to collect proceeds from subsidiaries incorporated within MEA region;
    • The UAE is the most livable country in the Middle East, at the confluence of East and West. Liberal laws along with first-class work, residential infrastructure and low taxes have made the country highly attractive for foreign businesses;
    • According to the World Economic Forum 2015 – 2016 Competitive Rankings, UAE has the world’s best roadways, 2nd best aviation infrastructure, 3rd best ports and overall world’s best transport infrastructure. Hence, a UAE resident company can serve as a regional distribution headquarters for our Clients.

Frequently asked questions

Contact us

For additional information on our company registration services in UAE, please email us at email@healyconsultants.com. Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi