Can I Open a Company in Dubai Without a Residence Visa?

Launching a business in Dubai can be highly profitable. However, many prospective entrepreneurs grapple with one question: “Can I open a company in Dubai without a residence visa?” The short answer is: Yes, you can.

So let’s dive right in. This article will cover the following:

  • Can I open a company in Dubai without a residence visa?
  • Step-by-step guide to establishing a company in Dubai without a residence visa
  • Benefits of establishing a company in Dubai as a non-resident
  • Role of Trade License Zone in facilitating the company formation process

Can I open a company in Dubai without a residence visa?

Yes, you can open a company in Dubai without a residence visa. The Emirate of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government have made significant strides to create an inviting, liberal, and transparent business environment. This includes enabling non-residents and foreign investors to start a business in Dubai without a residence visa.

However, it’s important to note that this applies mainly to non-residents setting up Free Zone companies. Free Zones are designated areas where foreign entrepreneurs can own 100% of their company, don’t require a local sponsor, and can operate without a residence visa. Each Free Zone has its own set of rules and regulations. Some even offer the option of getting a residency visa after setting up your business.

On the other hand, if you plan to open a Mainland company (outside of Free Zones), you must partner with a local sponsor who will own 51% of the business shares, and a residence visa is generally required.

With the proper guidance from experts such as Trade License Zone, you can start your own company in Dubai as a non-resident and run it from anywhere in the world!

Step-by-step guide to establishing a company in Dubai without a residence visa

Setting up a company in Dubai as a non-resident can be straightforward – if you follow these steps:

A. Prerequisites for setting up a business

Starting a business in Dubai as a non-resident entails knowing and fulfilling specific prerequisites. These are the essential elements:

  • Choosing a business activity and legal structure for your company
  • Choosing the best jurisdiction
  • Applying for the most suitable trade license type
  • Drafting a Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Registering and incorporating your business
  • Opening a corporate bank account

B. Overview of the company registration process

Starting a business in Dubai as a non-resident requires a clear understanding of the company registration process. Here is an overview of the company registration process:

Step 1: Partner with Trade License Zone

Partnering with a company formation specialist such as Trade License Zone will successfully and speedily assist in starting your business in Dubai as a non-resident. We will help you through the entire company registration process and beyond.

Step 2: Determine the type of business activity

It is imperative to identify the business activity your company intends to undertake. Dubai boasts over 2,000 business activities spanning various sectors. Your chosen activity will dictate the type of trade license you need to obtain, its legal structure, and its jurisdiction.

Step 3: Select the legal structure

Choosing a legal structure for your company depends on several factors, such as business activities, the number of shareholders, and their nationalities. The most popular type of legal structure in Dubai for non-residents is a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Step 4: Choose a jurisdiction

Depending on your business activity and operational needs, you must select between Mainland and Free Zone jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction offers unique advantages and comes with its own set of regulations. The Free Zones, which allow 100% foreign ownership and offer tax benefits, are the most appealing choice for non-residents.

Step 5: Apply for Your Trade License

There are many types of trade licenses, but choosing the best for your business is crucial. Trade License Zone will help you with this essential step. All trade license applications can be processed through the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant Free Zone (if applicable).

Step 6: Obtain initial approval

After applying for your trade license, you must apply for initial approval from the DED or relevant Free Zone authority. This non-objection certificate allows you to proceed with business setup formalities.

Step 7: Draft the Memorandum of Association (MOA)

Next, draft your company’s Memorandum of Association (MOA), particularly if you set up an LLC. This document outlines the relationships between shareholders and must be notarised.

Step 8: Find a Suitable Location

Depending on your business needs and chosen jurisdiction, you must secure a physical location for your company. This could be an office, retail store, or a warehouse. Certain Free Zones also offer flexi-desk options, providing a cost-effective solution for startups and small businesses.

Step 9: Finalize Registration and Collect License

Once the above steps are completed, you can submit all required documents, pay the necessary fees, and finalise the registration of your company with the DED or relevant Free Zone. After the final approval is granted, you will receive your trade license. This document validates your business and allows you to start operations and open a corporate bank account.

C. Detailed information about the legal paperwork and documentation required

Setting up a company in Dubai as a non-resident requires dealing with certain legal paperwork and documentation. The process might vary slightly depending on the chosen and the type of business activity. However, the following is the typical documentation required.

1. Business Plan

Your business plan outlines your company’s vision, objectives, target market, marketing strategy, and financial projections. It might not be mandatory for all business types for a trade license application, but it is highly recommended.

2. Passport Copies

You need to provide clear, legible copies of the passports of all the shareholders, directors, and the appointed manager of the company.

3. No Objection Certificate (NOC)

If any of the shareholders or directors is a resident of the UAE and employed, they must provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer, allowing them to start a business in the UAE.

4. Company name reservation certificate

Registering your business requires a company name registration certificate from the UAE’s Registry Office. This certificate is essential for your trade license application and business formation setup process.

5. Initial approval certificate

After submitting your trade license application, you’ll receive an initial approval certificate. It signifies that the DED or Free Zone does not object to your starting a business.

6. Memorandum of Association (MOA)

If you’re setting up an LLC or a similar entity, you’ll need an MOA. This document must outline the shareholders’ responsibilities and be notarised.

7. Tenancy agreement

Once you choose your business location (if applicable), you must secure a tenancy agreement. The contract must be Ejari registered (a legal registration in Dubai).

8. License fee receipt

You will receive a license fee receipt after submitting all the necessary documents and paying the relevant fees. This is used to collect your trade license.

9. Trade license

Once your application has been processed and approved, you will receive your trade license enabling you to begin operating your business.
D. Explanation of the roles of free zones in the company formation process

Free Zones are autonomous entities, and each has its own licensing body. Depending on your business’s activities, Free Zones provide licenses, such as trading, industrial, and professional licenses. Acquiring a business license is a vital part of the company formation process, and Free Zones expedite this process, often providing quicker approvals compared to Mainland setups.

One of the benefits of Free Zones is that they allow 100% ownership of businesses for non-residents, meaning they can retain full control of their companies without needing a local sponsor.

Free Zones are essential in offering ready-to-use infrastructure, facilities, and utilities tailored to varying business needs. These include office spaces, warehouses, and retail units. Some free zones are industry-specific, housing clusters of similar businesses that can promote collaboration and networking.

Another exciting role of Free Zones is providing various fiscal incentives to attract foreign investment. These include exemption from import and export duties, zero corporate and personal tax, and full repatriation of profits and capital.

Free Zones also guide businesses in complying with the UAE’s legal and business regulations. They provide comprehensive support throughout the company formation process, including compliance with health and safety regulations, environmental standards, and labour laws.

Benefits of establishing a company in Dubai as a non-resident

The benefits of establishing a company in Dubai as a non-resident include:

  • 100% ownership: In certain business sectors and Free Zones, Dubai allows 100% foreign ownership, meaning non-resident entrepreneurs can fully own their companies without needing a local partner.
  • 0% taxation: Dubai imposes no taxes on corporate or personal income, which can result in significant cost savings for businesses.
  • Infrastructure and logistic support: Dubai’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and world-class logistics make it an attractive business destination. It is strategically located for companies targeting the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Dubai offers advanced infrastructure, from high-speed internet and reliable utilities to world-class roads and transportation systems that support efficient business operations. World-class seaports and airports in Dubai – and its strategic position as a global logistics hub – ensure efficient distribution and supply chains. This can be especially beneficial for businesses dealing with physical goods.
  • Skilled labour: Dubai’s workforce is known for its diversity and high skill level. Its diverse talent pool ensures businesses find the right people with the right skills. The city’s cosmopolitan allure also means it continually attracts high-quality talent worldwide.

Role of Trade License Zone in facilitating the company formation process

For non-residents setting up a business in Dubai, Trade License Zone is your trusted partner throughout the business formation.

Trade License Zone streamlines your company formation journey. We manage the entire process, ensuring all necessary paperwork is correctly submitted. This significantly reduces the risk of unnecessary delays or rejections, making the application process hassle-free.

Moreover, Trade License Zone offers expert advice tailored to your unique business needs and circumstances. We also manage the necessary paperwork on your behalf, from applying for your trade license to registering your company. This ensures that all documents are accurately completed and submitted within the required timelines.

Trade License Zone’s expertise extends beyond just paperwork. We help you navigate the legal requirements, local regulations, and cultural nuances of doing business in Dubai. From paperwork to regulatory compliance, we manage every step of the process, enabling you to focus on what’s truly important – growing your business.

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