For any business setting up in the UAE, free zones are an attractive proposition. Accounting for around one-third of the nation’s non-oil revenue, free zones offer entrepreneurs and business owners a host of benefits including 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption.
All free zones share these headline benefits, yet it is not true to say that every free zone is the same.
Each brings its own range of advantages based on location, services offered, and type of business that can be set up there.
So in this, the latest instalment of our spotlight on free zones, we’re going to look at the specific benefits of setting up in Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF-ZONE). The emirate of Sharjah accounts for over one third of the UAE’s total industrial activity and offers access to a global market of over two billion people within a four-hour flight of the city. The free zone is ideally located on the site of Sharjah International Airport to take full advantage of these great transports links.
So, if you’re still considering your options when it comes to setting up in a free zone, here is everything you need to know to help you decide whether Sharjah business setup is right for you.
What you need to know about setting up in Sharjah Airport International Freezone (SAIF Zone)
1. Get multiple visas without committing to an office: One of the many factors behind Sharjah Airport International Free Zone’s popularity is that it lets entrepreneurs apply for up to three visas without the need to lease physical office space. This is perfect for solo entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to get up and running fast but do not require use of a fixed office every single day. As well as the potential for three visas, Sharjah Free Zone’s flexi-desk package also offers entrepreneurs access to a number of office services such as desk space, conference room hire, reception cover, and use of equipment on an ad-hoc basis. For businesses looking for more visas, leasing an office space of just 24 square metres allows for the application of up to six.
2. Keep costs down: As with most business decisions, price is a factor when setting up in a free zone – and Sharjah Airport International Freezone performs well here too. The initial setup costs for the free zone’s flexi-desk package – along with its three visas – is around AED 25,000. SAIF-ZONE is also known to run regular promotions which bring that cost down closer to AED 18,000.
The initial setup costs for the free zone’s flexi-desk package – along with its three visas – is around AED 25,000.
3. Set up your business quickly and easily: Sharjah free zone company registration is not only fast but easy too. There is minimal documentation required – usually just the free zone application form, a project/business summary, and copies of the shareholder’s passports. The whole process usually takes around 48 hours.
4. Benefit from the variety of business types available: Another major pull for the businesses that set up in Sharjah Free Zone is the wide variety of business types that it accommodates. Sharjah Free Zone issues licenses for general trading, commercial, service, industrial – all to a wide variety of organisations. Naturally, due to the free zone’s location at Sharjah International Airport – along with its dedicated warehousing, storage and container parking facilities – it is particularly popular with businesses in the import/export, freight and cargo industries.
5. Choose from a variety of business setup options: As well as allowing for companies with up to five shareholders, SAIF-ZONE is open to various business setup choices. In all, the free zone accepts free zone establishments (FZEs), free zone companies (FZCs), subsidiaries, and branches of existing local or foreign businesses.
6. Benefit from highly-respected auditing process: Sharjah Free Zone’s slick and comprehensive incorporation and auditing processes make it one of the most respected free zones in this regard. If business owners want to obtain certificate of incorporation/share certificates, they are required to produce a letter of appointment from an auditor as well as proof of at least AED 150,000 of share capital. However, for entrepreneurs who are less keen on paperwork and process, SAIF-ZONE regularly runs promotions where these requirements are waived.
7. Get assistance establishing your corporate bank account: Sharjah Freezone is also on hand to lessen the paperwork burden on new business owners by helping arrange a corporate bank account. As well as offering guidance on the most suitable bank for your specific needs, Sharjah Airport International Free Zone staff can assist with completing applications and even organising meetings with financial institutions on your behalf.
Sharjah Freezone is also on hand to lessen the paperwork burden on new business owners by helping arrange a corporate bank account.
8. Sponsor your dependants with ease: If you choose to set up business in Sharjah Airport International Free Zone, it is both easy to obtain your own visa and it’s relatively straightforward to sponsor dependants and domestic staff for their visas as well. Whether you require a visa for a spouse, child, maid or driver, the process is four straightforward stages: entry permit, status adjustment, a medical fitness test, then Emirates ID registration and visa stamping. As this is such an important process, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert in setting up UAE free zone businesses – to ensure that before starting an application, both you and those whom you are hoping to sponsor meet the entry criteria.
9. Leverage the strategic location: As well as being on the site of Sharjah International Airport – with the considerable market that this opens up – Sharjah Free Zone is also well connected by road and sea. The adjacent E88 puts the busy sea ports of Khalid and Hamriyah within just half an hour’s reach – while the port of Khor Fakkan (with its links to the main east-west shipping routes) is a little over an hour and a half away.
As well as being on the site of Sharjah International Airport – with the considerable market that this opens up – Sharjah Free Zone is also well connected by road and sea.
Welcome to your new business in Sharjah
So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Sharjah Airport International Free Zone – what next? There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken, some complex, some less so. Usually the first thing to do is choose your business activity. From here you will need to decide on your company name, complete and file your registration paperwork with the relevant authorities, open a bank account, and apply for any visas that may be required.
However, the specifics of this process will largely depend on the type of licence you are applying for and the kind of business you wish to run. That’s why before starting any of these steps, the first port of call should always be to a company setup expert who will guide you through every part of the process, ultimately ensuring it requires little more than a few hours of your time.