5 basic steps to setting up a company in the UAE

25 July 2019 Category :

Setting up a business in the UAE is remarkably straightforward. Moreover, it’s becoming increasingly attractive.

With oil prices stabilising and Expo 2020 in Dubai just a year away, the economy is firing again and the country’s non-oil sectors are enjoying a 16-month high. These, together with the famous tax and lifestyle benefits, are good reasons for looking to the UAE for your new business venture.

So how do you go about launching a new business in the UAE?

There is plenty of expert help available, but the process effectively breaks down into the following five steps.

1. Choose your business activity

There are numerous business sectors thriving in the UAE and the commitment to diversify beyond the oil economy means that any new business that contributes to that strategy will be looked upon favourably.

The way the UAE business landscape is arranged, however, could affect your choice of business activity.

Many of the free zones specialise in certain sectors, such media or healthcare for example, whereas there are more activities available if setting up as a mainland business.

The activity – and hence the licence required – will also affect the cost of setting up your business. But you can register multiple activities under one licence.

Know your options on business activities

Understanding the differences between the various free zones and/or operating as a mainland company can help you sift through options early on. Consider locations with regard to international transport links and the other types of business in the area. It’s usually beneficial to locate your company close to others in the same sector.

2. Register your business name

Choosing a company name can be fun, but before you get carried away, keep in mind that the UAE has some strict naming conventions. Make sure you know what they are and choose a name that conforms.

You can save a lot of time and effort by checking your proposed name with a business setup expert, who will be able to tell you if it complies before you go to register it.

The naming rules you should know

Any names that include offensive language are forbidden, as are any company names that refer to Allah or indeed any other religious, sectarian or political groups. If you choose to name your business after a person, that person must be a partner or owner of the company and their full name must be used – no initials or abbreviations.

3. Complete your incorporation paperwork

When you come to register your company in the UAE, you have to complete an application to register your chosen company name and activity, along with copies of shareholders’ passports.

Mainland companies will be required to meet certain capital requirements, which must be stated in a Memorandum of Association. Some free zones will require further documentation, such as a business plan or, if you already have a local sponsor, a Non-Objection Certificate (NOC) confirming that you are allowed to set up another business in the UAE.

Checking and submitting your paperwork

You need to contact the Department of Economic Development of your chosen emirate to register your business activity and trade name and then submit the required documentation. You can find links to the respective offices on the UAE government website, under Information and Services.

While the paperwork can be daunting, it can be dealt with quickly and easily with the help of a business setup adviser.

Once your application has been processed, you will be issued with your company licence. If you use a setup adviser, they will notify you when their documents are ready to be collected.

4. Open your business bank account

You will need a bank account before you can begin trading in the UAE. There is a wide selection of banks to choose from, including Emirates NBD, Noor Bank, Emirates Islamic, Mashreq, RAKBANK and Ajman Bank. The one that’s right for you will depend on your specific requirements.

How to open a UAE business bank account

It generally takes between two to four weeks to open a bank account in the UAE. The bank will want to know your primary business areas, your anticipated volume of currency and total deposits, revenue levels and your main customers and suppliers.

Once your paperwork has been returned from the government you will have all thedocumentation you need to approach the bank of your choice. Your business setup partner can advise you on the most suitable banks for your company and help to arrange the necessary meetings.

5. Arrange your visas

The final step in your business setup is the arrangement of visas for you, your employees and their dependants.

There is no limit to the number of visas a mainland company can apply for, whereas free zone companies will meet some restrictions, which vary from one free zone to another.

How to secure visas for yourself and others

If you are looking to obtain visas for a spouse, child or domestic staff, such as a maid or driver, it is advisable to seek expert advice to ensure that this will be possible in your chosen location. A business setup specialist will make sure that all your applicants meet the entry criteria as well.

The application process comprises four simple stages: entry permit, status adjustment, medical fitness test and finally Emirates ID registration and visa stamping.

Ready to do business

Once you have completed these five steps, you will be ready to start trading. Compared to other parts of the world, setting up a company in the UAE is very straightforward – ranked 25th in the world in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings.

And with a reputable business setup expert in your corner, you can be ready to make the most of the burgeoning UAE economy.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to info@vz.ae, or click here.

About the author: George Hojeige is CEO at Virtuzone

About the author: George Hojeige is CEO at Virtuzone

George Hojeige is CEO at Virtuzone. As CEO, George ensures the company maintains its position as one of the fastest growing business setup operators in the region. Born in Beirut, his family emigrated to Canada in 1986 where he grew up in the English-speaking suburbs of Montreal. A natural communicator and networker, George held sales positions in the telecoms industry and medical field in North America before moving to Dubai to run the family business in construction. Since then, he has taken on high-profile sales roles – including as Group Commercial Director at ITP Media Group, working on prestigious titles such as Arabian Business and Esquire Magazine. George graduated from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering.