Dubai company registration


For over a decade, Healy Consultants Group PLC has been efficiently and effectively assisting our Clients with i) business registration ii) business licensing iii) how a UAE national sponsor will help their work iv) Dubai banking solutions v) visa options and staff recruitment strategies and vi) office space solutions.

Summary table of Dubai company registration

SummaryTrading LLCProfessional services LLCFast solution LLCOffshore LLCFree zone LLCLLPRepresentative officeBranch office
SpecificallyDubai LLCDubai services LLCDubai nominee LLCJebel Ali OffshoreDMCC Free zoneDubai LLPDubai RODubai 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?2 months2 months3 weeksCannot trade locally2 months6 weeks2 months2 months
How soon can you sales invoice global customers?2 months2 months3 weeks2 weeks2 months6 weeks2 months2 months
How soon can you sign legal contracts in Dubai?2 months2 months3 weeksCannot2 months6 weeks2 months2 months
How soon can you hire staff in Dubai?2 months2 months3 weeksCannot hire locally2 months6 weeks2 months2 months
Can be wholly foreign owned?NoYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Resident director/partner/manager/agent required?YesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Minimum paid up share capital?US$1US$1US$1US$1US$1US$1US$1US$1
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$21,980US$21,980US$38,500US$18,300US$27,500US$21,230US$25,250US$49,300
Average total engagement period?3 months3 months1 month2 months3 months3 months3 months2 months

Expand table

Accounting and tax considerationsDubai LLCDubai services LLCDubai nominee LLCJebel Ali OffshoreDMCC Free zoneDubai LLPDubai RODubai Branch office
Statutory corporate tax payable?0%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%
Group HQ tax incentives?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoNo
Must appoint an auditor?YesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
Access to double taxation treaties?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
This entity enjoys Government incentives?YesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
Company RegistrationDubai LLCDubai services LLCDubai nominee LLCJebel Ali OffshoreDMCC Free zoneDubai LLPDubai RODubai 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$1US$1US$1US$1US$1US$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?YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
The entity will likely be regulated by?DEDDEDDEDJAFZADMCCDEDDEDDED
Shelf companies available?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Time to incorporate a new entity?3 months3 months1 month2 months3 months3 months3 months2 months
Can have preference shareholders?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Business ConsiderationsDubai LLCDubai services LLCDubai nominee LLCJebel Ali OffshoreDMCC Free zoneDubai LLPDubai RODubai Branch office
Sponsorship by a local citizen required?YesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Can invoice customers in your company name?YesYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Maximum number of staff allowed?NoNoNoNoNoNo5No
Can secure residence visa for business owner?YesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
Good entity for trademark registration?YesNoYesYesYesYesNoYes
Can secure an import and export license?YesNoYesNoYesYesNoYes

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?No
Must file an annual tax return?Yes
Must file annual financial statements?Yes
Dividends received are legally tax exempt?No
You need a local resident as bank signatory?Yes
Temporary physical office solutions available?Yes
Shareholders and directors documents to be attested?No
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

Dubai business setup summary

  • Our Clients see Dubai as the gateway to the massive Middle Eastern and African markets;
  • The most popular Dubai business vehicles include the LLC, the free zone company and the branch office;
  • In Dubai, only a free zone company can be wholly foreign owned. An LLC must be 51% owned by a local shareholder;
  • A Dubai LLC can trade within the UAE. However, a Dubai free zone company may only transact within the UAE through resident agents;
  • There are no corporate income taxes or withholding taxes in Dubai.

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  • Benefits and problems

    Benefits of Dubai company registration

    Dubai is the most successful and the most cosmopolitan city in the Middle East as it combines elements of both East and West. Therefore, registering a company in Dubai has several advantages which are mentioned below:

    1. A Dubai company offers our Clients several taxation benefits including:
      • A Dubai company faces no company tax, personal tax, withholding taxes, VAT, import/export taxes and capital gains tax. Thus, our Clients can legally enhance their profits through a Dubai company while minimizing their tax liabilities;
      • Our Clients may also use Dubai’s offshore business solutions to register a legally tax exempt company to extract funds in the form of dividends, management fees, and royalties from regional subsidiaries;
      • Resident businesses also benefit from the city’s 66 international double tax treaties which help reduce the withholding tax on foreign remittances;
      • Thus, Dubai is ranked as the best jurisdiction in the world by the World Bank for the “Paying Taxes” metric in the annual Doing Business survey.
    2. Our Clients may also use their Dubai company to offer financial services in the region because:
      • Dubai is the undisputed financial capital of the MEA region. The city’s financial centre (DIFC) is used by several bank and non-bank financial institutions, insurance firms and asset management firms;
      • Dubai is the 1st jurisdiction in the Middle East to issue tailored regulations for crowdfunding. As a result, Dubai registered businesses will now have access to peer-to-peer funding platforms to raise capital for business expansion;
      • Also, by setting up a Dubai business, our Clients can get easy access to the local currency as there are no exchange controls in the country.
    3. The minimum capital requirement for setting up an LLC was removed in 2009. It has drastically reduced the costs of setting up a business and attracted more foreign investment;
    4. Expanding to Dubai mainland and free zones allows businesses to work anywhere in the UAE without setting up local registered branches, which means higher market presence with lower costs. It also increases the scope of the business, especially if it is based in the mainland, as these companies can work with government bodies, unlike free zone companies.

    Problems with Dubai company registration

    1. Our Clients must be aware of the business challenges of working in Dubai including:
      • Due to openness of the Dubai economy, there is an overdependence on foreign trade. As a result, Dubai economy is likely to be negatively affected in case of a global recession;
      • All Dubai mainland companies must appoint a UAE national as the 51% shareholder. Most of our Clients choose to proceed with nominee shareholder services offered by Healy Consultants;
      • It can be expensive to register a company in Dubai due to i) nominee shareholder costs ii) multiple government fees iii) notarization and legalization costs and iv) mandatory office space rentals;
      • Most company visas and licenses are sponsored by UAE nationals, giving the latter indirect control over the Dubai business;
      • It can be difficult for foreigners to operate in Dubai as the business practices and laws still favour UAE nationals in cases of business disputes. Furthermore, the government tenders have also favoured UAE nationals and Dubai company with UAE nationals;
      • A business in Dubai will suffer as the city is uniquely susceptible to a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack would have a devastating impact i) on the property prices ii) on the economy iii) on foreign investment iv) on the personal safety enjoyed by residents and tourists and v) business confidence.
    2. Setting up in a free zone limits a business to that particular free zone and restricts it from trading with companies from the mainland and other free zones, unless your business is prepared to employ a local agent, which adds to the total business costs;
    3. The telecommunications and oil industries are closed to foreign investment as they are monopolized by the government.
  • Best uses for a Dubai company

    1. A Dubai company can be used as the gateway to the Middle East and Africa because:
      • Dubai is the historic trading hub in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). Due to its strategic location and well developed shipping sector, the city currently hosts several international trading companies and freight and shipping companies;
      • Dubai boasts highly developed logistics and transportation infrastructure, making the city a perfect choice for product distribution. Furthermore, the city allows duty free exports to 17 Middle Eastern countries which encourages foreign investors to opt for offshore company formation in Dubai;
      • The Dubai Free Zones are specialized in various industries ranging from logistics to media, power and information technology. Moreover, the world-class infrastructural facilities along with high-quality business premises makes conducting business in Dubai an attractive venture for investors;
      • Dubai is the most business-friendly city in the MEA with simple import/export policies and no trade barriers. Several international banking firms and non-bank financial institutions operate here, making the city an excellent source for trade finance facilities.
    2. A Dubai company is used by several multi-national Clients as headquarters for the MEA business because:
      • Amongst global cities, Dubai was the 7th largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in the world in 2016. This is due to the fact, the city i) is viewed by Clients as business friendly; and ii) enjoys a free market environment;
      • Most cities in the MEA region do not view foreign companies positively. By contrast, a company registered in Dubai will benefit from the most liberal business laws in the region, while giving it access to Middle East, African and Asian markets;
      • Dubai is also the most liveable city in the MEA due to i) presence of popular global brands and ii) availability of well-developed infrastructure for both residential accommodation, studies, work, entertainment and tourism. Furthermore, the city is a paradise for high net worth foreign entrepreneurs, providing highly luxurious life for entrepreneurs and their families;
      • A Dubai business also allows access to several international entrepreneurs as 80% of the city’s population is foreigners. This forms the perfect ingredients for creativity and exchange of skills across industries and cultures. The East and West blend quite happily in the city;
      • Consequently, the number of active businesses in Dubai stand at 148,842, with approximately 20,000 new licenses issued in 2017. Additionally, around 130,000 businesses were renewed in 2017.
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For additional information on our company registration services in Dubai, please email us at Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi