UAE company registration

DOING BUSINESS IN UAE IN 2018

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.

Summary table of UAE company registration

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?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 UAE?2 months2 months3 weeksCannot2 months6 weeks2 months2 months
How soon can you hire staff in UAE?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$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$22,980US$22,980US$38,500US$11,870US$25,500US$21,980US$26,200US$36,840
Average total engagement period?3 months3 months1 month2 months3 months3 months3 months2 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%
VAT payable on sales to local customers?5%5%5%Cannot trade locally5%5%Cannot trade5%
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?3 months3 months1 month2 months3 months3 months3 months2 months
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

UAE business setup summary

  • 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.

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 17th 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 who 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.
    6. The economy of UAE is a pro-immigrant and business-friendly economy
      • There are no limits on the number of employment visas that a company can procure to hire its foreign employees. Moreover, the recruitment process of foreign workers is quite simple and hassle-free;
      • A wide range of business activities are available for which licenses can be procured easily;
      • The services sector is fairly advanced and supports the growth of international trade through global merchant accounts, and other sophisticated financial instruments.
      • Post adoption of the common tariff for GCC countries, custom duties are now 5% of the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) value of majority of the products;
      • Office spaces are readily available mostly anywhere along with benefit of flexible rent.

    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 shareholding 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.
    4. UAE does not have a high quality of human capital due to its poor primary and tertiary education levels as well as poor health service facilities for its workers
      • 87% of Emirati nationals work in either government or semi-government organisations;
      • UAE has been ranked 38th out of 140 countries in terms of competitiveness in health and primary education on the 2018 Global Competitiveness Index;
      • The nation got 37th rank in terms of its competitiveness in higher education and training on the 2018 Global Competitiveness Index.
  • Best uses for a UAE company

    Gateway to the Middle East and Africa

    • A UAE incorporation allows foreign entrepreneurs to tap into the lucrative and growing markets of the Middle Eastern and African (MEA) region. Emirates like Dubai and Sharjah boast highly developed infrastructure, making the country a perfect distribution center for trading companies;
    • Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most business-friendly cities in the MEA region. In addition to a world class infrastructure, favourable business regulations as well as an open and politically stable economy, 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 start a new tax-exempt company in UAE that allows them to collect proceeds from subsidiaries incorporated within the 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’s 2017 – 2018 Global Competitiveness Rankings, UAE has been ranked as the 4th best in infrastructure, 7th best for its macroeconomic environment and overall as the world’s 3rd best for having an efficient goods market. Hence, a UAE resident company can serve as a regional distribution headquarters for our Clients.

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Getting a residence visa
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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 2016?
    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?
    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 email us at email@healyconsultants.com. Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi