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Business Setup in Dubai Free Zones: How To Guide

Jul 8, 2021 | UAE Company Setup

Business is booming all across the United Arab Emirates. The UAE free zones boast plenty of professional benefits to anyone hunting for success in the country. So, here’s everything you need to get started with a Free zone Business Setup In Dubai.

Entrepreneurs flock to different regions in the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. For many years, the UAE government has endorsed small business activities and start ups across the country. The attraction of the Dubai free zone authorities makes the city a popular spot to set up and start trading.

The reason why free trade zones are so popular is no real secret. Tax benefits which include zero corporation and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption. Plus, incredible networking opportunities and a flexible lifestyle are all part of the deal.

Have you decided you want to start a business in Dubai and wondering if a free zone is right for you?

It’s time to find out what you need to make it happen and how to start a business in a Dubai Free Zone.

Businesswoman setting up in a Dubai free zone

1. Choose a business activity (or activities)

The first step in getting your Dubai free zone business started is deciding on the business activities you wish to carry out, as this will impact where you can register your company.

Will you set up as a freelancer? Or set up a free zone company and employ others?

Setting up as a freelancer can be a cheaper option; however, not all of Dubai’s free zones issue freelance permits, so you are slightly restricted in your choices. Meanwhile, for the free zone company option, there’s plenty of choice with both sector-specific and all-encompassing zones on offer.

The type of licence you apply for will also depend on the activities you wish to carry out – such as professional services, e commerce, commercial, trading, etc.

What to do next?

While outlining every activity you wish to undertake may seem daunting, keep in mind that there is no need to limit yourself too much here – many Dubai free zones allow for multiple business activities under one licence.

Dubai has some particular requirements about what activities are permitted under what licence. So, the best advice is to work with a company formation specialist at this stage to ensure a smooth process.

2. Find a free zone

Once you’ve decided on the type of business you wish to start, the next step is determining which free zone is right for you. There are dozens of amazing UAE free zones to choose from. It can be a process to scour the list and decide where you want your business to operate.

What to do next?

There are several factors you must consider when making this decision – starting with whether you wish to set up in a sector-specific free zone. Some of the industry-specific occupations that are successful in Dubai free zones include:

  • Healthcare
  • ICT
  • Production
  • Design
  • Outsourcing
  • Media
  • Maritime
  • Science
  • Finance

Alternatively, there are also many broader free zone options available. For example, free zones such as Dubai South and DMCC are open to a wide range of activities.

Free Zone Authorities

Dubai Knowledge Park is known as the world’s only free zone dedicated to HR management, learning excellence, consultancy and testing centres. Fujairah Creative City is situated 90 minutes east of Dubai and provides resources for plenty of creative industries. These include trading, event management, publishing and broadcasting.

Sharjah Media City Free Zone, widely known as Shams is famous for being a cutting-edge destination for media companies. This free zone’s office spaces are designed to support entrepreneurs, especially in IT and media among other business undertakings.

Then there’s Umm Al Quwain Free Zone. This is one of the most unique free trade zones, in that it allows companies to apply for their licence and establish their businesses without the need for a Visa.

 You also need to consider the location of your chosen free zone. As well as taking into account considerations such as access to main highways, if you rely on international trade or travel you should also be mindful of proximity to both ports and airports.

how to start a business in dubai free zone

3. Choose a company name for your free zone business

Deciding on a name for your business is difficult no matter where in the world you choose to set up.

There are plenty of factors to consider, from the emotional to the practical. Does your name evoke an emotional response, for example? And if so, what does it say? Reliable? High class? In addition, here in the United Arab Emirates, there are other naming conventions to consider.

What to do next?

First, ensure your business name is available for registration. A company setup specialist can easily check this for you and even help choose a UAE company name. There are also certain standards that the name must adhere to, including avoiding any blasphemous language or references to religious or political organisations.

Finally, if you decide to name your business after a person, there are some more considerations. That person must be a partner and shareholder in your business, and only full personal names are permitted rather than initials or abbreviations.

4. Make your license application

Now that you’ve decided what you’re planning to do, where you wish to do it and under which name you’ll trade, it’s time to make your Dubai free zone company formation official by submitting your application.

What to do next?

The specific documents required for your Dubai free zone company formation will depend on the type of trade license you are applying for and which free zone you have selected. Generally, some or all of the following are required:

  • Colour copy of shareholder(s) passport and visa if applicable
  • Application form
  • Business plan
  • Board resolution
  • Memorandum and articles of association

When setting up as a freelancer working in a free zone company, you may also be required to provide proof of invoices or work orders.

Apply for Visas

5. Applying for visas

You can also start your visa application at this stage. You can apply for your own UAE residence visa as well as those of your employees and any domestic staff you may have.

What to do next?

Whether applying for your own visa or sponsoring someone else’s, the process is the same: entry permit, status adjustment, medical fitness test, then Emirates ID registration and visa stamping.

Once again, a company formation specialist can guide you through this stage.

6. Opening your corporate bank account

You will, of course, need a bank account in order to trade. Make sure you have an account that’s specific to your free zone Dubai business operations, which is separate from a personal account. Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE is not always easy and there are several considerations to keep in mind – not least each bank’s eligibility criteria.

What to do next?

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct documentation in place. As well as your business licence, you’re likely to need:

  • A corporate account opening form
  • A board of directors’ resolution sanctioning the opening of the account, and the signatories to the account
  • A copy of your company’s certificate of incorporation
  • A copy of your share certificates
  • A copy of the company’s memorandum and articles of association
  • Copies of passports for all partners in the company

Next, you’ll need to choose a financial institution. A company formation specialist can help here, and advise you on the best bank to suit your specific needs.

Dubai Downtown Skyline free zones

Dubai free zone company formation made easy

And that’s it. It really is that simple. Just six steps to get your business setup in Dubai free zone. Of course, just like any business decision, there are potential pitfalls along the way.

However, provided you approach the process with your eyes open and seek the right guidance, in most cases, you’ll have your business set up in a matter of weeks.

Why start your free zone business through Virtuzone?

For help with company formation or more information on free zone company registration, we’re here to help. 

Whatever your reasons for starting a free zone business in Dubai, we can take care of all the heavy lifting for you and get you all set up in only 24 hours!

From choosing a business activity and company name, business setup costs, registering with the relevant authorities, easily opening corporate bank accounts and processing visa applications – we can handle every step.

In some cases, it may even be possible to register your business without the need for visiting the UAE.

If you think opening your company in a free zone is the best option for you, contact Virtuzone today.

Visit this link to book a free consultation with our specialists: https://go.vz.ae

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