Business entities in DMCC Free Trade Zone in 2023
To legally conduct business in the UAE, the majority of our multi-national Clients register a DMCC subsidiary LLC. Some foreign companies choose a branch office.
The DMCC limited liability company (LLC)
- The DMCC LLC is preferred by international investors and entrepreneurs. This company can be established by individual shareholders, or as a subsidiary of a foreign company;
- This entity requires i) at least one shareholder and one director, who can be the same individual and need not be resident in UAE and ii) a minimum paid-up share capital of AED50,000 (US$13,615);
- Each LLC must also i) secure office space and a lease agreement within the Free Zone and ii) appoint a DMCC-approved audit firm.
The DMCC branch office
- Foreign companies looking to do business in DMCC Free Zone, but who do not wish to set up a subsidiary LLC, can establish a branch office;
- A branch office has no minimum paid-up capital requirement, but must obtain a licence specific to its activity;
- The branch office activity and scope of operations is defined by the parent company. A branch cannot therefore engage in an activity not provided by the parent.
Doing business onshore Dubai through a DMCC company
- Since April 2020 DMCC Free Zone companies are allowed to conduct business in Dubai without needing a local agent;
- Eligible DMCC entities looking to operate in Dubai must i) obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from DMCC Free Zone Authority and ii) obtain a Commercial Permit from Dubai Economic Development (DED) to operate locally;
- An eligible DMCC company with a mainland branch or subsidiary, or a DED company with the same shareholder as a DMCC entity, are allowed to operate from DMCC Free Zone premises without restriction.
Table of comparison between DMCC Free Trade Zone resident entities
Summary of different DMCC FZ entities DMCC LLC DMCC Subsidiary LLC DMCC Branch Operations and logistics Doing business in DMCC/mainland permitted? Yes Yes Yes Allowed to sign contracts with local Clients? Yes Yes Yes Allowed to invoice local Clients? Yes Yes Yes Can rent Free Zone office premises? Yes Yes Yes Allowed to import raw materials? Yes Yes Yes Allowed to export goods? Yes Yes Yes Accounting and tax Corporate tax rate? 0% 0% 0% Corporate bank account? Emirates NBD Emirates Islamic Bank FAB Statutory audit required? Yes Yes Yes Annual financial statements submitted? Yes Yes Yes Access to DTAAs? Yes Yes Yes Company law Issued capital required? US$13,615 US$13,615 None Resident director required? No No No Resident bank signatory required No No No Local shareholder required? No No No Minimum number of directors? 1 1 1 Minimum number of shareholders? 1 1 Parent company Individual shareholders allowed? Yes Yes No Corporate director(s) allowed No No No Corporate shareholders allowed? Yes Yes Yes Public register of shareholders and directors Yes Yes Yes Immigration Can the entity hire expatriate staff? Yes Yes Yes How long to get work permit approved? 5 weeks 5 weeks 5 weeks Fees and timelines How long to set the entity up? 2 months 2 months 2 months How long to open corporate bank account? 5 weeks 5 weeks 5 weeks Estimate of engagement costs US$28,786 US$28,786 US$30,500 Draft invoice View invoice PDF View invoice PDF View invoice PDF