Dubai free zones in 2023

Free zones in Dubai can provide a wide range of incentives for investors from around the world. Healy Consultants Group assists with all facets of FZ business, including i) company registration ii) assistance in obtaining the trade license and iii) assistance opening a corporate bank account. Our staff will handle all formalities without our Client needing to visit Dubai.

The following information will help you decide whether starting a business in Dubai free zone is beneficial for achieving your business objectives:

  • Key considerations of Dubai free trade zone company registration

    1. The FZ company is a legally tax-exempt entity incorporated by foreign investors wishing to use Dubai as a gateway to the consumer markets in Africa and the Middle East. Exemption on corporate tax minimizes withholding tax on remittance to other countries and no customs duties are imposed on goods imported and exported from the FZ;
    2. Dubai free zone companies do not require a UAE national shareholder. While it is mandatory to rent an office at a low cost, it is not necessary to hire staff;
    3. Other benefits include i) low bureaucratic requirements for incorporation; ii) fewer restrictions relating to staff recruitment; iii) no import/export taxes; iv) high quality infrastructure facilities and v) competitively priced energy and utilities.
    4. A FZ company must confine its business activities to the zone itself and so, cannot cater to customers in Dubai and within the UAE. Violations of this provisions encompasses a fine up to US$35,000. For FZ established companies there are alternative option that allow to trade within the UAE;
    5. The paid-up share capital of a FZ company ranges from US$14 to US$300,000 depending on i) the FZ chosen and ii) the company structure. After incorporation, the share capital can be used to fund daily business activities of the company;
    6. Company licenses are renewable annually after FZ laws are complied with including submitting annual audited financial statements to the authorities;
  • Trading within the UAE

    An FZE company in Dubai can:

    1. Conduct business with and issue invoices to clients located outside the UAE or in other UAE free zones;
    2. A FZ company cannot conduct business with UAE mainland clients (those located outside free zones) by its own. Instead the FZ company must appoint a local service agent to sell and distribute goods and services in its name, within the city;
    3. Custom duty of 5% would be levied on free zones company sales within the UAE.
  • Legal considerations

    1. Dubai FZ company can be setup using the following 3 entities: i) Free Zone Establishment (FZE); ii) Free Zone Company (FZ LLC) or iii) branch. While the FZE and the FZ LLC enjoy limited liability, the branch presents unlimited liability for the parent company;
    2. All three entities allow i) 100% foreign ownership and ii) Dubai free zone visa applications for foreign employees. An FZE is equivalent to a one-person company (OPC) allowing only 1 shareholder and 1 director. A FZ LLC however, requires a minimum of 2 shareholders;
    3. Dubai Free Zone entities are obliged to i) rent office premises in the zone; ii) submit annual audited financial statements and iii) annually renew the business license;
    4. Additionally, a branch is required to maintain a security deposit with the Dubai government until it is formally deregistered;
    5. All companies registered in the UAE must i) create and maintain a register of their ultimate beneficial ownership (UBO) and ii) submit UBO data to the relevant registrar or licensing authority.
  • List of Dubai free zones

    Click on each free zone for detailed information and fees;

    DUBAI FREE ZONES (Click link)
    1.    Dubai Studio City (DSC)2.    Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA)
    3.    Dubai Media City (DMC)4.    Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC)
    5.    International Media Production Zone (IMPZ)6.    Energy & Environment Park
    7.    Dubai Knowledge Village8.    Dubai Biotechnology & Research Park
    9.   International Humanitarian City10.  Dubai Textile City
    11.  Dubai International Financial Center12.  Dubai Flower City
    13.  Dubai Outsource Zone14.  Dubai Healthcare City
    15.  Dubai International Academic City16.  Techno Park
    17.  Gold and Diamond Park18.  Dubai Silicon Oasis
    20. Dubai Internet City21. Dubai Logistics City
    22. Dubai Cars and Automotive Zone (DUCAMZ)23. Jebel Ali Free Zone
    24. Heavy Equipment & Trucks City25. Dubai Maritime City
    26. Dubai Auto Parts City27. Other Free zones located in UAE

  • Dubai free zone comparison table

    Dubai boasts 30 free trade zones catering for every industry sector. The most popular free trade zones include Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC-JLT), Dubai Airport Free Zone, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and Dubai International Financial Centre

    Dubai Multi Commodities CenterDubai airport free zoneJebel Ali free zone
    Our recommendation in order of preference123
    Total Healy Consultants fees (US$)30,12422,06326,245
    Incorporation time3 months3 months3 months
    Cheapest yearly office rent estimate (US$)6,00010,70016,500
    Yearly warehouse rent estimate (US$)24,50025,00025,000
    Paid up share capital estimate for free zone company (US$)14,000
    (per shareholder)
    272 (per shareholder)0
    Paid up share capital estimate for free zone establishment (US$)14,0002720
    Virtual office allowedYesNoNo
    All shareholders must travel required for company formationNoNoNo
    Legal considerations
    Minimum number of shareholders111
    Minimum number of directors111
    Corporate shareholders allowedYesYesYes
    Corporate directors allowedNoNoNo
    100% foreign ownership allowedYesYesYes
    Public register of shareholders and directorsNoNoNo
    Tax considerations
    Exempt of corporate tax on profitsYesYesYes
    Annual tax return to be submittedNoNoNo
    Statutory audit requiredYesYesYes
    Access to UAE double tax treatiesYesYesYes
    Other considerationsYesNoNo
    Types of licenses allowedView PDFView PDFView PDF
    Can rent office premises outside free zonesNoNoNo
    Allowed to import raw materials?YesYesYes
    Allowed to export goods?YesYesYes
    How long to get work permit approved4 weeks4 weeks4 weeks
    Free zone work permit fee per person4,9504,9504,950
    Draft InvoiceView invoice PDFView invoice PDFView invoice PDF

  • Other UAE free zones comparison table

    RAKEZ Free ZoneSharjah Airport International FZ (SAIF)
    Our recommendation in order of preference12
    Total Healy Consultants fees (US$)21,80029,890
    Incorporation time3 months3 months
    Cheapest yearly office rent estimate (US$)2,00012,500
    Yearly warehouse rent estimate (US$)25,00027,000
    Paid up share capital estimate for free zone company (US$)041,000
    Paid up share capital estimate for free zone establishment (US$)041,000
    Virtual office allowedYesNo
    All shareholders must travel required for company formationNoNo
    Legal considerations
    Minimum number of shareholders11
    Minimum number of directors11
    Corporate shareholders allowedYesYes
    Corporate directors allowedNoNo
    100% foreign ownership allowedYesYes
    Public register of shareholders and directorsNoNo
    Tax considerations
    Exempt of corporate tax on profitsYesYes
    Annual tax return to be submittedNoNo
    Statutory audit requiredYesYes
    Access to UAE double tax treatiesYesYes
    Other considerationsYesNo
    Types of licenses allowedView PDFView PDF
    Can rent office premises outside free zonesNoNo
    Allowed to import raw materials?YesYes
    Allowed to export goods?YesYes
    How long to get work permit approved4 weeks4 weeks
    Free zone work permit fee per person4,9504,950
    Draft invoiceView invoice PDFView invoice PDF

  • Dubai free zones information

    The information provided below will help you learn more about other Dubai FTZ options and how these can suit your business objectives.

    Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre

    1. Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (thereafter DMCC) was initially set up as a leading centre for trading international commodities. However, it evolved to become home for multinational and start-ups of a wide range of businesses;
    2. DMCC is located in Jumeirah Lakes Tower (JLT) and has access to excellent air, sea and road infrastructure;
    3. DMCC was endorsed by the “Global Free Zone of the Year” award from the Financial Times fDI magazine for four consecutive years;
    4. To read more about DMCC, click here;

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Import/export, trade, manufacturing and logistics

    Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)
    1. DAFZA is within the boundaries of Dubai International Airport and is a popular business location for electronics, engineering, logistics and cargo, aviation and pharmaceutical firms;
    2. DAFZA is popular because of i) the proximity of Dubai Cargo Village and the FLC Air Cargo Terminal ii) an on-site customs inspection and iii) operates 24 hours a day;
    3. Dubai’s Free Zone Logistics Centre (FLC) is a dedicated freighter terminal for both scheduled and charter operators and is located in the Dubai Airport FZ. FLC offers flexible, cost-effective handling between tenants’ warehouses, the main cargo terminal, and the cargo planes;
    4. The FLC is located on a 26,000 sqm site, which includes a docking area capable of handling up to 50 trucks. Some 200 sqm in the FLC is dedicated to specialized storage facilities including cooler, freezer, and vulnerable and valuable storage rooms;
    5. Dubai airport currently services over 150 airlines serving more than 200 destinations worldwide and is considered to be the Middle East’s premier airport.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Jebel Ali (the JAFZA)
    1. The Jebel Ali FZ is located next to Jebel Ali Port, the largest port in the Middle East and 30 minutes’ drive from the Dubai International Airport. With a six-lane highway, Jebel Ali FZ will facilitate the transportation of goods from sea to air in just 20 minutes;
    2. JAFZ has Light Industrial Units (LIU) as storage warehouses for distribution and storage, and as factories for light-production and assembly. Sizes of LIU’s range from 313 square meters to 619 square meters. Power supply ranging from 10 to 50 KVA for warehouses and 100 to 125 KVA for factories;
    3. JAFZA boasts showroom and warehouse facilities structured into eight blocks comprising 68 showroom-cum-warehouse units. Each unit contains a warehouse at the rear with a glass façade showroom frontage. The showroom features a mezzanine floor, which is used as office space. The units are designed for the product display as well as storage and distribution.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Industrial City
    1. The Dubai Industrial City hosts a number of different facilities that are intended to support investors and meet their various business requirements. This Dubai FZ is perfect for investors looking to set up a presence in the UAE to conduct one of the following types of industry: i) base metals ii) mineral products iii) transport equipment and parts iv) mineral products v) transport vi) machinery and mechanical equipment vii) chemicals viii) food and drinks and ix) logistics;
    2. Dubai Industrial City purpose-built facilities include i) labour accommodation; ii) offices; and iii) warehousing;
    3. Setting up a company in the Dubai Industrial City requires some payment in advance for lease of the facilities.

    View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Maritime City free zone
    1. Foreign investors choose Dubai Maritime City free zone to provide maritime-related products and services to their global Clients. Company incorporation in the Maritime City is ideal for investors specialising in i) ship repair and maintenance; ii) yacht manufacture and repair and iii) industrial maritime parts supplies;
    2. The Dubai Maritime City offers high quality maritime operation facilities;
    3. As the Dubai Maritime City is not classed as a FZ, a company here requires a UAE sponsor with a minimum 51% shareholding.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Gold and Diamond Park
    1. Dubai Gold and Diamond Park is ideal for investors looking to set up a presence in the UAE to import, export and sell gold, diamonds, and fine jewellery;
    2. Dubai Gold & Diamond Park is available via two different entities: i) a proprietorship and ii) a partnership, although the company enjoys the benefits of a FZ company.

    View other FZ invoices

    Financial Services

    The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC)

    DFSA - Dubai Financial Services Authority

    1. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the sole independent regulator of all financial services conducted through the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a purpose-built free zones in the city;
    2. The DFSA’s regulatory mandate covers asset management, banking and credit services, securities, collective investment funds, custody and trust services, commodities futures trading, Islamic finance, insurance, an international equities exchange, and an international commodities derivatives exchange;
    3. DIFC offers an attractive environment, including i) 100 percent foreign ownership ii) no tax on profits while enjoying a network of over 60 double taxation treaties iii) no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital/profit repatriation iv) strict supervision and enforcement of money laundering laws and v) ultra-modern office accommodation, state-of-the-art technology, sophisticated infrastructure, data protection/security, operational support, and business continuity facilities;
    4. Healy Consultants assists our Clients with i) selecting the appropriate DFSA Category for Authorization ii) creation of DFSA systems and controls iii) completion of the application forms iv) preparation of DFSA Regulatory Business Plan and v) advice on corporate governance.

    View invoice PDF

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Internet City free zone
    1. Dubai Internet City company setup is ideal for international entrepreneurs who specialize in IT services and who wish to gain access to the Dubai, UAE, and regional Middle East markets. This FZ is suitable for i) IT; ii) software development; iii) business services; iv) web-based and e-commerce services; v) consultancy and vi) sales and marketing businesses;
    2. A Dubai Internet City company is freely able to conduct business within Dubai and the UAE;
    3. There is a minimum capital requirement of US$14,000, which must be paid during incorporation, for a Dubai Internet City company.

    Incorporation costs in Year 1 amount to US$4,870. The average fee per Dubai Internet City engagement amounts to US$24,670, which includes company incorporation, opening a local corporate bank account, and all government fees. Refer to draft invoice embedded here.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Silicon Oasis
    1. A Dubai Silicon Oasis company is suitable for investors conducting business in the following areas: i) information technology; ii) telecommunications equipment; iii) electronics and computer hardware; iv) software development and solutions; v) consultancy and business development; vi) electrical appliances and equipment; vii) engineering related to technology; viii) logistics ix) IT security and x) talent development and recruitment;
    2. Any entity wishing to perform an (commercial) activity within DSOA is required to establish its legal presence in Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and obtain a valid license for such an activity. There are three licences: i) service licence; ii) industrial licence and iii) trade licence.

    View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Media City
    1. International entrepreneurs running niche media businesses often choose Dubai Media City, a jurisdiction that has evolved into a recognised regional media hub. This can suit investors looking to set up a presence in the UAE to conduct i) publishing; ii) broadcasting; iii) film production; iv) media and marketing services; v) music & entertainment; vi) advertising agencies; vi) new media and vii) media consultancy;
    2. Dubai Media City has some of the lowest registration fees of any free trade zones in Dubai. For example, the one-off registration fee (payable to Dubai Media City Authority) is DHS 3,500;
    3. A potential drawback of the Dubai Media City could be the relatively high annual licence fee.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Media Production Zone
    1. International businesspeople active in the graphic art, publishing, and packaging industries have the option to register a company in the Dubai International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) to fulfil their international business objectives;
    2. The Dubai Intl. Media and Production Zone can be a cost-effective alternative to Dubai Media City, with lower registration fees.

    View other FZ invoices

    Education, research and healthcare

    Dubai Biotech and Research City
    1. Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (Du Biotech) is the Middle East’s first Science and Business Park dedicated to global the life sciences. The Dubai Biotech Park company is ideal for investors looking to set up a presence in the UAE in the following industry segments: i) biotechnology; ii) medical; iii) industrial; iv) agricultural; v) environmental; vi) equine; vii) animal/marine; viii) pharmaceutical; ix) nutraceuticals; x) nanotechnology; xi) medical devices; xii) bioinformatics and xiii) forensic science;
    2. The Dubai Biotech and Research Park also has low one-off registration fee of DHS 3,500;
    3. It can take up to 5 weeks to complete business registration in the Dubai Biotech and Research City.

    View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Knowledge Park
    1. The Dubai Knowledge Park(DKP) free zone company is perfect for educational investors looking to set up in the UAE to conduct one of the following types of business: i) professional training courses and certifications; ii) eLearning technologies and support services; iii) research and development and iv) human resource development activities;
    2. Like other Dubai free trade zone establishments, the Knowledge Park permits 100% foreign ownership and enjoys 100% legal exemption from all import and export duties.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    Dubai Health Care City
    1. The Dubai Health Care City is targeted at the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries. This FZ is ideal for investors looking to set up a presence in the UAE to operate one of the following types of entities: i) Dubai Healthcare City free zone (DHCC FZ); ii) Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality (CPQ); iii) Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC) and iv) Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research (DHFMR);
    2. The Health Care City has a low registration fee of DHS 3,500;
    3. The Dubai Health Care City has high licence fees compared to other free zones.

    View invoice PDF View other FZ invoices

    International Humanitarian City free zone
    1. The International Humanitarian City (IHC) is a global humanitarian and aid hub that aims to facilitate aid and development efforts in the UAE. The IHC is an independent free trade zone authority formed by the Dubai government via the merger of Dubai Aid City (DAC) and Dubai Humanitarian City (DHC);
    2. The advantages of a business setup in Dubai International Humanitarian City Free Zone include i) it is a community of local and international humanitarian non-profit and commercial organisations with common areas of interests; ii) a fully integrated environment ideal for networking with potential procurers, suppliers, and business partners; iii) exceptional infrastructure and government support; iv) modern office, warehousing, and meeting facilities; v) a platform for the development and promotion of corporate social responsibility programs and vi) the normal FZ benefits such as 100% foreign ownership, repatriation of profits, etc.

    View other FZ invoices

  • 13 steps to setting up a free zone company in Dubai

    Please view this incorporation page for details;

Frequently asked questions

Contact us

For additional information on our free zone company services in Dubai, please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi