How to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner

Are you ready to know how to start a business in the UAE. The United Arab Emirates are some of the fastest economically growing group of countries in the World. Starting a business in the UAE has many merits. The UAE is a federation of seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. These emirates are all situated Southeast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Why Start A Business In The UAE?
how to start a business in the UAE
  1. The UAE is very close to countries like India so it is very easy to travel to and from when doing business.

2. The UAE is a very business open community that wants investors to invest in their economy.

3. Their infrastructure is very similar to that of countries that are in Europe and the Americas.

4. They have a lot of merits for those who choose to invest in their economy .These merits include ; Citizenship status, tax exemptions and import and export opportunities for your business.

5. They have a booming tourism economy

How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Company In Dubai?

Are you wondering how much the Dubai company registration cost? Expats arrive in Dubai, following their dreams and to have better lives. People need to venture out into their successful business world. There are so many factors to consider before deciding to open a company. The initial setup cost is an important factor that takes you ahead. To know more about the company setup cost in dubai, contact the Socprollect Consultants.

Initial set up cost for company formation in Dubai:

Every sort of company, before Setting Up a Business in Dubai, should analyze the initial costs. Dubai’s tax-free nature is an attractive feature for entrepreneurs around the world. Even though there are many hidden fees involved to kick-start your business. Initial approval/ instant license, Trade name approval, Office rent, Drafting the contract and Court Agreement Attestation, Memorandum of Association Attestation, Administrative services fee and public waste municipality fee, Ministry of Economy fee, Trade license, etc. are the one-time costs included while setting up a business in Dubai. Apart from this, a few yearly expenses to afford is Commercial Licence fee, Chamber of Commerce fee, Commercial services improvement fee and Market fees.

Free zone Business: Dubai company registration cost

Each free zone has different start-up procedures and fees. Some free zones also require the business owner to have a minimum amount of capital if they are establishing the company or enterprise. Another cost of running a free zone is sponsoring your employees and providing them with the visas and paperwork to allow them to reside in the country. Office rent, Free Zone licence, registration, Free zone visa, Bank Guarantee, Registered agent fee, etc. are the common costs included while setting up free zone business.

Trading companies:

Companies that highlight trades should also consider the future costs of importing goods to the country. UAE Customs has guidelines on the types and cost of imported goods. Customs fees will be less expensive if the company will only be trading within the GCC.

Limited liability Company:

In the case of LLC, Foreign equity in the company cannot exceed 49% of the share. So that you need a local partner with a majority share in the company. Usually, the minimum capital is Dhs 300,000.

Investing In The UAE

There are many profitable business ideas to explore within the UAE. Tourism ,technology, engineering, banking and oil mining seem to be the main earners in many of these emirates. countries like Dubai have alot of popular attractions and cultural magnets. Businesses registered in the free zones of the UAE enjoy exemption from corporate taxes for a certain period of time but this time can be extended.

Who can start a business in the UAE?
  • Those with no prior run ins with the UAE Law or prior criminal convictions
  • Those with Passports/KYZ documents
  • Those who have the money to start their business
Dubai Free Zone Entry Requirements
how to start a business in the UAE

If you are looking to start your business in Dubai then this guide is for you. 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.

Dubai Free Zone Visa cost
how to start a business in the UAE

Now that the Free Zone company incorporation process is underway, the visa requirements might be weighing your mind. As an expatriate entrepreneur, your concern is justified. Your company would require bringing directors and staffs into the country to handle business operations. The situation calls for attaining a Free Zone visa UAE.

The nature of free zone visa varies from one free zone jurisdiction to the other. Dubai based free zones are known to offer quick and convenient visas for investors and employees alike. The Dubai free zone visa cost also varies, since it’s decided by each free zone authority. Normally, the free zone visa cost is inclusive of all government charges but additional are the cost incurred over medical fitness test and fingerprints. Dubai South free zone charges comparatively less cost for the visas. The cost of visa in Dubai south is AED 2500 but at the same time you will get visa for just AED 1800 at Sharjah Airport Free zone. However, additional costs and conditions apply.

All free zones are sending the visa application for the security verification from the CID department to check the eligibility of the candidates and verify the criminal record.

Types of Free Zones Visas in Dubai

You have the option to choose an appropriate Free zone visa UAE from the 5 available visa types, as per your business needs.

Investor visas: 

This type of visas provide temporary residence for three years to foreign entrepreneurs either having a business or wanting to start a business in any free zone across the UAE.

Employment visas:

Employment visas are readily available to employees with an appointment letter from a registered company in any free zone.

Temporary visas:

Temporary visa provides legal entry into the UAE for 90 days, provided if any relative/friend residing in the UAE sponsors it.

Mission visas:

If someone has to enter the UAE for a short term work assignment on a single-entry basis, Mission visas are the perfect solution.

Visit visas:

Lasting for 14 days to 90 days depending on the applicant’s nationality, the visit visas are the best bet for short visits to the UAE.

Important Features Of Dubai Free Zone Visa

  1. It has no connection with the ministry of labour
  2. One window operation
  3. Quickest process
  4. Apply for visas manually in English
  5. Most of the free zones provide 3-year visas


After being approved to start a business in The UAE you usually have to visit the emirates in order to get your free passport and fulfil whatever other requirements that may apply. You can also get passports for your employees in order for them to access your business and travel to and from the country. I wish you success in your business endeavours take care.

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