Can an expat start a business in Dubai?

expat starting a business in Dubai,, UAE

Dubai is an entrepreneur’s dream. Business in Dubai is thriving, attracting foreign investors from around the world. The easy business setup and registration processes, the variety of business opportunities, and booming local business activity make it so attractive to investors and businesspeople.

If you’re wondering how an expat can start a business in Dubai, in this article, we’ll cover:

  • The benefits of starting a business in Dubai for expats
  • Requirements to start a business in Dubai for expats
  • How much money do you need to start a business in Dubai?
  • Do you need to live in Dubai to start a business?
  • Can an expat open a business in UAE?
  • Working with Trade License Zone

The benefits of starting a business in Dubai for expats

Expats can take advantage of the many benefits of starting a business in Dubai. Making it easier to set up a business activity in the UAE is the Dubai economy: the currency is one of the most stable in the world. Overseas entrepreneurs and foreign investors are free from income tax and VAT levied on personal and corporate incomes and residential properties.

Dubai boasts a low crime rate thanks to a strict and robust law enforcement system, and government authorities have built a world-class infrastructure of roads, sea ports and airports, amenities, entertainment, and more. Dubai is the gateway to the Middle East and links North Africa and Europe, with Dubai Airport offering direct flights to over 90 countries..

What’s more, the UAE recently updated its Residence Visa regulations. Expats over the age of 55 who have lived in Dubai for over ten years are now eligible for a UAE Residence Visa.

Requirements to start a business in Dubai for expats

Every foreign investor and entrepreneur needs a trade license to start a business. In this section, we will show you the six steps on how to start a business in Dubai.

Step #1: Work with Trade License Zone

The first step in starting a business in Dubai as an expat is to partner with Trade License Zone. Our professional team will manage all aspects of your business registration, trade license application, and setup process to guide you on all the documentation required for the various government authorities’ procedures and obtain external approvals on your behalf so you can begin trading as soon as possible.

Step #2: Choose your business activities

You must outline your business activities to complete your license application and legally trade in Dubai. Your business license enables you to carry out several business activities – but only those listed on your business license.

You can select the appropriate business activities you wish to pursue in Dubai from an extensive list of more than 2,000 on Dubai’s Department of Economic Development website. Failure to list all your business activities on your business license application may result in penalties. It is best to partner with a company formation expert such as Trade License Zone to ensure that your license application and business activities are aligned.

Step #3: Choose your business jurisdiction

The types of business activity you have chosen for your business will have a bearing on the kind of setup and license type most suitable for your business. For example, if your business activity falls into the category of industrial or manufacturing, you will require an industrial license. If you are in the commercial sector – i.e. the buying and selling of goods – you will need a commercial license.

There are two main business jurisdiction types in the UAE: Free Zone companies and Mainland companies. Each has specific benefits, regulations and requirements.

Free Zone companies are the most popular and cost-effective of the two types. While it offers foreign nationals 100% ownership of the companies, a Free Zone company must take additional steps (such as opening a branch or a distributor) to trade within the UAE legally.

A Mainland company setup allows you to trade within the UAE market without extra steps, but it means that a local sponsor must hold 51% of the company’s shares.

Selecting the correct business setup for your company might seem complicated. When you contact the highly experienced consultants at Trade License Zone, we will help you to choose the best company setup for your business needs and help you get established quickly and efficiently.

Step #4: Choose your company name

Trade License Zone will help you choose and register your company’s business name with the UAE’s Registry Office. You can use your name in the company’s trade name, but you must use it in full instead of just your surname or initials. The business name must adhere to the UAE’s naming policies, including that a business name cannot include offensive or profane language or references to Allah or Islam.

Step #5: Apply for your trade license

Once you have completed the documents for your business registration and business setup, you can submit those to the relevant government entities for your trade license application. For this critical step, Trade License Zone can streamline the process to avoid any errors or mistakes.

Step #6: Documents required

The standard documentation required for business setup in Dubai is:

  • Completed trade license application form
  • Articles of Incorporation (if necessary)
  • Passport copies of all directors/shareholders
  • Colour passport photos of all directors/shareholders
  • Initial approval receipt from government agencies
  • Copy of lease contract
  • Description of proposed business activities

How much money do you need to start a business in Dubai?

To start a business in Dubai, you would need AED 20,000 to AED 30,000. The trade license cost depends on many factors, such as government entities’ fees and initial approval costs, office space and lease contract, business setup costs, and other such activities. For a free and accurate quote, please contact our consultants.

Do you need to live in Dubai to start a business?

No, once you open your business in Dubai, you can operate from any country in the world; however, you will have to periodically visit the country to keep your resident visa active.

Can an expat open a business in UAE?

Yes, an expat can start a business in the UAE. The Dubai population comprises over 90% foreign nationals, with many owning their own businesses. Dubai’s government entities actively encourage overseas entrepreneurs to relocate to the UAE.

There are legal affairs to navigate to start a business in Dubai as an expat, such as government regulations for the type of business activity you wish to start, the business jurisdiction of your company, and more. Trade License Zone are highly experienced in this area.

Working with Trade License Zone

Business setup in the UAE is straightforward when you partner with a team of experts, such as Trade License Zone. Starting a business in Dubai as an expat is possible, and the process has been greatly streamlined by the UAE government. However, applying for a trade license, business setup, and more can still be tricky. When you partner with Trade License Zone, we will save you from unnecessary delays or rejections and streamline the entire process.

The specialists at Trade License Zone can get started once you provide us with some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your company and business activities.

Then, please sit back and let our team take care of the rest. We’ll manage your trading license and visa applications, communicate with all relevant local departments and authorities and report when you’re ready to trade. It really is that simple.

Contact us to get a personalized quotation based on your business activity