How to register a company in UAE in 2022

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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) supplying UAE service agents and/or local partners; vi) employee recruitment strategies; and vii) office space rental solutions.

01

Popular business entities in UAE

Summary Trading LLC Pro. services LLC Fast solution LLC Offshore company Free zone LLC Branch office
Specifically Dubai trading LLC Dubai services LLC Dubai nominee LLC RAK offshore LLC DMCC Free zone Abu Dhabi Branch
Best use of company? Trading Professional services Close a customer International trading Global trading Specific project
Our Client needs to travel to this country? No No No No Yes Yes
How soon can you sales invoice UAE customers? 2 months 2 months 3 weeks Cannot trade locally 2 months 2 months
How soon can you sales invoice global customers? 2 months 2 months 3 weeks 2 weeks 2 months 2 months
How soon can you sign legal contracts in UAE? 2 months 2 months 3 weeks Cannot 2 months 2 months
How soon can you hire staff in UAE? 2 months 2 months 3 weeks Cannot hire locally 2 months 2 months
Can be wholly foreign owned? No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resident director/partner/manager/agent required? Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Minimum paid up share capital? US$1 US$1 US$1 US$1 US$1 0
Can bid for Government contracts? Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Corporate bank account location? Emirates NBD ADIB Noor Bank Emirates NBD Noor Bank ADCB
Can secure trade finance? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Limited liability entity? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Average total engagement costs? US$28,187 US$22,980 US$38,500 US$11,870 US$28,786 US$37,400
Average total engagement period? 3 months 3 months 1 month 2 months 3 months 2 months

Choose your UAE business entity

  • 02

    Advantages and disadvantages of doing business in UAE

    Advantages

    1. UAE is a low-tax jurisdiction
      Except oil and gas companies and foreign banks, businesses are not subject to corporate taxes. All UAE residents are also exempt from personal income taxes. Capital gains tax is 0% and the VAT rate is as low as 5%.
    2. 100% foreign ownership for free zone companies
      Unlike limited liability trading companies that require 51% shareholding by UAE nationals, a company incorporated in any of the UAE free zones can be wholly owned by foreigners.
    3. UAE is the leading trading hub in the Middle East
      Due to its strategically favourable location, establishing a company in the UAE enables businesses to easily access the GCC countries as well as the African, European and Asian markets.

    See more benefits

    Disadvantages

    1. A local sponsor is mandatory
      Partnership with trusted UAE nationals are beneficial as they can sponsor the application of business licenses and visas. In the case of LLC trading company formation, UAE nationals must hold at least 51% of company shares.
    2. Making business decisions can be overwhelming
      With so many free zones operating in the UAE, choosing the right free zone for your company base is crucial, but is setting up a free zone company your best option? Will it be wiser to register an offshore company, or perhaps a resident LLC, to reach your business goals?
    3. Complicated compliance requirements
      Each Emirate has its own regulations. A company registered in the UAE has to comply with the national laws and the Emirate’s laws. If it is a free zone company, it must comply with the free zone laws as well.
    4. In 2020, the UAE introduced new regulations requiring all UAE companies to maintain and submit registers of their i) Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) or Real Beneficiaries ii) shareholders and iii) directors. Fortunately, information contained within company registers is kept confidential by the authorities.

    See more challenges

  • 03

    Typical UAE engagement steps and timeline

    Typical UAE engagement steps

    The procedure for company formation in the UAE varies for each Emirate. Below are the common steps to register a company in the UAE:

    • Find a trusted local sponsor;
    • Translate all corporate documents in Arabic and get them attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
    • Obtain a preliminary approval from Department of Economic Development (DED) or Free Zone authority of the Emirate;
    • Secure business premise and open corporate bank account;
    • Apply for trade license, industrial license or professional license;

    View all steps

    Typical UAE engagement timeline

    Start
    Engagement Planning

    2 weeks

    Company incorporation

    2 months

    Corporate bank account approval

    1.5 months

    Corporate internet banking approval

    1 month

    Engagement completion

    1 week

    5 months

    Compare timelines with other type of businesses in UAE

  • 04

    Additional support services

    Opening a corporate bank account in UAE

    Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends these 7 banks to our clients i) Emirates NBD; ii) First Abu Dhabi Bank; iii) Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; iv) HSBC Middle East UAE; v) BNP Paribas Dubai.

    Learn more

    UAE accounting & tax considerations

    corporate tax in 2019

    0%

    income tax for residents

    capital gains tax

    0%

    withholding taxes

    VAT

    signed DTAs

    Learn more

    UAE visas

    Long term residence visa

    UAE issues 5-year and 10-year residence visas to eligible investors, entrepreneurs, and special talents. The benefits of this visa are extended to the spouse and the children as well.

    Employment visa

    Company owners can apply for this visa when hiring foreign employees.

    Learn more

  • 05

    Frequently asked questions

    • Will there be restrictions on ownership if foreigners set up a UAE company?

      Certain UAE business entities will require our Clients to appoint Emirati shareholder(s). Therefore, if you wish to proceed with UAE business setup, it is important to choose the optimal business entity to suit your corporate needs.

    • What company types in the UAE require me to have UAE national shareholders?

      These UAE corporate structures will include i) joint ventures; ii) limited liability trading companies; iii) public shareholding companies and iv) private shareholding companies.

    • How many UAE resident shareholders will I need to set up a limited liability company in the UAE for my business?

      UAE business setup will require 51% shareholding by the UAE citizen(s).

    • Can my company be 100% foreign-owned?

      Yes, if incorporating in a UAE free trade zone.

    • I want to know how to register a company in the UAE free trade zone; what are the steps?

      For incorporation of a free zone entity in the UAE, Healy Consultants will i) obtain the necessary permissions from the relevant authorities; ii) reserve the company name; iii) prepare the incorporation documents; iv) notarize the documents at the public courts; v) apply for the business license; vi) register the company for VAT (if required); and vii) obtain work visas for our Clients and their employees.

    • What will be the benefits if I start a free zone entity in UAE?

      UAE free zone companies offer several benefits including i) no requirement of a resident shareholder i.e. a FZ company can be 100% foreign-owned; ii) no obligation to hire staff; iii) no customs duties on goods entering/leaving the zone and iv) high quality infrastructure.

    • How many directors will I be required to appoint in order to register in a UAE free trade zone?

      Only 1 director is required for UAE free zone company formation.

    • How many shareholders are required to incorporate in a UAE free trade zone?

      Only 1 shareholder is required for starting a free zone entity in UAE.

    • Am I required to visit UAE to incorporate a company there?

      No, Healy Consultants can legally incorporate your UAE company without you needing to travel.

    • I want to form a company in Dubai. How can I find an agent in Dubai?

      Healy Consultants will assist our Clients in finding the right agents based on their business activities and requirements in Dubai.

    • What is the minimum number of directors required?

      Under statutory regulations, all jurisdictions in the UAE require a minimum of one director.

    • Is a resident director required?

      No.

    • What is the minimum number of shareholders required?

      All companies require a minimum of one shareholder.

    • Are shareholder/director details available for public viewing?

      No.

    • Which type of company can trade in the UAE?

      Only an LLC is allowed to trade in the UAE.

    • Do I need to rent a premise for my company?

      All companies except Dubai offshore company needs to rent premises in the UAE.

    • How can I register a tax-free UAE offshore business?

      In order to incorporate a UAE offshore business setup, our Clients will be required to i) reserve the business name; ii) prepare the incorporation documents; iii) register a UAE offshore business address; vi) notarize the documents; and vii) secure a business license.

    • How many shareholders are required for an offshore company in UAE?

      Only 1 shareholder is required for starting an offshore company in UAE.

    • Will I be required to get a full audit if I set up a small business in UAE?

      Yes, most of the entities will require an audited financial statements.

    • What are the tax implications of a UAE company setup?

      Most of the UAE registered companies are exempted for taxes in UAE. Depending on the volume and nature of the business, some companies are liable for VAT and/or customs duties.

    • Why is tax planning important for my UAE company?

      UAE tax legislation allows a company to be completely exempt of all taxes, if structured properly. Therefore, it is important that our Clients engage in proper tax planning. Healy Consultants offers professional corporate tax planning service to all our Clients wishing to incorporate in the UAE.

    • Is a UAE company required to submit an annual tax return and/or financial statement?

      All companies in the UAE are obliged to submit annual audited accounts to the government.

    • How much tax does a UAE company pay?

      There is no corporation tax in the UAE.

    • I am interested in UAE business banking solutions. Which banks would you recommend?

      Although several local UAE business bank account options will be available, Healy Consultants recommends that all our Clients opt for international banks including i) Emirates NBD; ii) First Abu Dhabi Bank; iv) Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; v) HSBC Middle East UAE; vi) BNP Paribas Dubai. These banks are renowned for providing good customer service, which will be essential when starting a new business in UAE.

    • I want to know how to open an offshore bank account in UAE; what do I need to do?

      For opening an offshore bank account in the UAE, our Clients will not be required to register a local company. However, the KYC procedures will be more stringent than when opening a bank account for a resident company. Attestation documents will also be required. Please refer to our section above to read our bank account opening guide for UAE companies.

    • I want to use Islamic Banking services in UAE. Can Healy Consultants help my firm?

      Yes, Healy Consultants can assist our Clients with their Islamic banking needs.

    • How long will a UAE residence visa be issued for business purposes?

      UAE business residence permit are typically issued for 2 to 3 years.

Getting a residence visa
To help you and your family relocate to this country, please answer the following questions, then press the Send button at the bottom of the page.

Within 1 business day, our international migration expert Mr. Simon will ring you to discuss your migration plans.





  • To get a residence visa

    What skills do you have?
    What family relatives are already there?
    Do you have friends already there?
    In what city do you plan to live?*
    Do you need a job or will you start a new business?
    What US$ savings are you bringing with you?
    What family members will be accompanying you?
    Do you plan to purchase or rent local housing? If so, what is your US$ budget for this project?
    Do you need Healy Consultants to find a school for your children?

    Do you need Healy Consultants to assist finding employment for your spouse or children?
  • Tell us about you?

    Where are you currently living?*

    What is your nationality?*

    Do you have a second passport?*

    How old are you?
    How many years are you married?
    What is the nationality of your spouse?

    Do you have children? If so, how old are they?
    What is your current employment situation?*
    What is your previous work experience?
    Are you currently the owner of a business?
    Are you currently the manager or the director of a business?
    What was your US$ annual income in 2018?
    Do you also plan to start a local business? If so, what is your US$ budget for this new business set up?
    If so, do you already have customers and suppliers in the country of registration of the business?
    If so, how many local staff do you plan to hire i) one month and ii) one year after business registration?
  • Your preferences

    For now, do you prefer Healy Consultants PLC staff to phone you, or just email reply some visa solutions?
    If a phone call, on what number can our senior Consultant call you?*
    If an email, what email address can our Consultant email you at?*
    An alternative email address our staff can email you at?*
    What is your preferred date and time for a phone call?
    In what language do you prefer Healy Consultants Group PLC to communicate with you?

Contact us

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