If you are looking to start your business in Dubai, the first port of call is to thoroughly research the emirate’s free zones.
Once you start, you will quickly realise they offer a range of incredible business benefits to the companies that work within them.
Along with all the headline benefits of doing business in the UAE – such as 0% tax on both personal and corporate income and a highly strategic global location – you can also take advantage of a range of other features.
Free zone companies benefit from 100% import duty exemption, the option to repatriate all capital and profits, zero currency restrictions and a range of business support services.
That’s before you consider the affordable and straightforward incorporation process – providing that you are fully informed about local business practices at the time you form your company. So, if you’re ready to get started, please follow this step-by-step guide to Dubai free zone company setup.
Understanding free zones
Free zones are special economic areas that permit the storage, handling, manufacture and trade of goods and services with total exemption from duty and taxes.
They are often to be found linked to or in the proximity of seaports and airports making them popular among import/export businesses and those that conduct international trade.
However, this is not always the case. There are numerous free zones across the length and breadth of Dubai, including Dubai South, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Science Park, and Dubai World Trade Centre.
Dubai free zone company formation
With the help of an expert, Dubai free zone company setup consists of just five simple steps.
Choosing your activities
The first step to take before applying for your Dubai free zone license is to clearly outline the business activities you wish to perform.
The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) offers thousands to choose from, encompassing all manner of sectors and sub-sectors.
However, while there may be plenty of activities to choose from, it’s important that you clearly state every single one that you intend to carry out up front when making your application.
Rather than taking the time to sift through the thousands of activities to find the ones most suited to your organisation, it’s advisable to work with a company setup firm who can help with this step.
Choosing your company name
At this stage you will also need to choose a company name before moving on to the next step of making your application. When doing so, it is important that you comply with the UAE’s naming criteria.
You cannot include any offensive or blasphemous language, nor any references that may be deemed offensive in your company name and if you wish to include your name in your company name, you must use it in full rather than just your surname or initials. You must also check that your chosen name is available to be registered.
Applying for your license
Now comes the most important step in free zone company registration – applying for your license.
Again, when undertaking free zone company registration, it is a good idea to consult with a company formation expert. This can help you avoid costly delays further down the line.
You should apply for your free zone license directly to the managing authority of your chosen free zone.
When making your application, you will usually be asked to provide a business plan along with a completed application form and a copy of your passport.
Applying for your visa
When setting up in a free zone, you can make your visa application at the same time as applying for your company license.
You can make your application yourself or work with a company formation expert who can manage the application as part of the business incorporation process.
It is also possible to sponsor others for their UAE visas too, such as your children, partner or parents.
Opening your corporate bank account
Finally, before you can trade in Dubai, you will need to open a corporate bank account.
Again, it is advisable to work with an expert here to ensure you don’t waste time applying to a bank that is not suited to your needs. Dubai is home to a wide range of banking institutions, both local banks and international brands. However, bank account opening can be a complex process for overseas business owners, so it is best to make your application with the help of an expert that is well-versed in the process and its requirements.
Free zone company formation cost
It is not always easy to tally the total cost of Dubai free zone company formation as the final figure is made up of several components.
Along with the cost of the free zone license itself, you’ll also need to consider the cost of premises if required as well as visa costs.
It is possible to pay all of these costs at once, however. Most Dubai free zones offer packages that include a trade license, the use of workspace and one or more visas for you and your employees.
A company formation expert can help you in your search, understanding your needs and your budget before finding a package that fits the bill.
Starting a free zone company in Dubai
The process of setting up in a Dubai free zone has been designed with simplicity in mind. That said, it does take some in-depth knowledge of the UAE and its many customs and regulations.
That’s why it’s always advisable to acquire the services of a business setup company who can not only advise on the process but also seek out the most suitable license and setup type for your business, based on your needs and your budget.
When you use business setup services, you also gain peace of mind that your license and visa applications are free from errors and omissions – both of which can lead to delays and rejection. When you work with a company formation specialist, all you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to start trading. It really is that simple.