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Establishing a business entity in UAE can be an attractive option for foreign investors. To date United Arab Emirates have been successful in attracting a large number of companies and foreign direct investment. In UAE, economic activity is regulated by individual emirates as well as the Federal Government. The authorities have deliberately sought to create an environment which is well ordered without being unduly restrictive. As a result, UAE offers businessmen operating condition that are most liberal and attractive in the region.

The Three Major class of business option

1. A Free Zone Company
2. An offshore company
3. A main land company with the support of a UAE national 

Investors can either register a new firm in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE - with single shareholder) or a Free Zone Company ( FZC / FZ LLC - with more than one shareholders ) in a free zone or a Limited Liability Company in Main Land or an offshore company in one of the three jurisdiction in UAE. Similarly companies can also establish a branch or a representative office or a subsidiary company of their existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad.

Free Zone Company

Free Zones (sometimes called a free economic zone, duty free zone, tax free zone, trade free zone or free trade zone) are geographically distinguished areas subject to laws and regulations different from the laws governing resident companies of UAE. Free Zones are insulated from the different laws governing the land of UAE. Allowing 100% foreign ownership is one of such deviations from laws governing UAE lands outside the Free Zones. The companies registered outside free zones allow only maximum 49% foreign ownership and at least 51% of the ownership has to be held by a UAE National. A Free Zone entity is also free from tax on corporate gains - usually guaranteed for 15 or 50 years. Each free zone has its own specific requirements regarding minimum office/warehouse space and permitted activities.

A company set up in any of the Free Zones in UAE gives you 100% ownership and enjoys 100 % tax free. There are various Free Zones in UAE like Ras Al Khaima Investment Authority, Jabel Ali Free Zone, Hamriyah Free Zone, Dubai Multi Commodity Centre, Dubai Air Port Free Zone, Sharjah Airport Free Zone etc.. The procedure and the cost for incorporating the company depend on the Free Zones you choose and the type of your activity. A Free Zone company will be restricted to do direct business with the UAE Local Market. However, direct business with Local Market can be made through a Distributer with 5 % duty applicable. There are no restrictions for a Free Zone company to do Business outside UAE and within the Free Zone. In a Free Zone, you can start the company as a Free Zone Establishment (single owner), Free Zone Company (more than one shareholder), Branch or Subsidiary of your existing foreign company.

Offshore Company

An Offshore company enjoys 100% ownership and is one which does not conduct substantial business in its country of incorporation and formulated in a law of no tax jurisdiction for the purpose of legally minimizing any type of tax payment. An offshore company can eliminate or minimize many type of tax payments such as capital gains, VAT, Profits on business earning and property sales. Basically, there will not be a physical office space for an offshore company and you will not be eligible for any visa under the company name. The company can be incorporated within 4-5 working days (if it is an UAE offshore company). An offshore company can open and operate multi-currency bank accounts in UAE.

Main Land Company

A main land business does not have any restriction in doing Business within UAE Local Market and outside UAE. The most common type of Business in Dubai Mainland is Limited Liability Company (LLC), wherein you enjoy 100 % tax free. However a UAE national's participation with 51% of share is mandatory for an LLC. However, the complete managerial powers will be vested with the foreign national and the role of UAE National as a sponsor is very limited in the operations of the company. The UAE national is paid a lump sum fee every year and the fee depends upon the profile and status of the UAE National you choose.

A professional firm in a Main Land could avail 100% foreign ownership and may engage in professional activities including Management Consultancy, Educational Consultancy, Engineering Consultancy etc. A UAE national must be appointed as local service agent, but he has no direct involvement or shareholding in the business and is paid a lump sum fee on a yearly basis. The role of the local service agent is to assist in obtaining licenses, visas, labour cards, etc. For a main land company it is mandatory to have an office space in the commercial area approved by Municipality. A main land companied is benefited with 100 % tax free. 

Types of Legal Business Structures

A business shall be registered and licensed in UAE as a resident company in any of the following legal forms

Business Licenses in UAE

In the UAE, the business licenses are classified mainly into commercial, professional, industrial, agricultural, trade and tourism.

Fasttrack helps you to shape your future business in Dubai guiding you in drafting business plan according to the costs, the goals, future expectations and market demand.

Fasttrack assists you securing office spaces, service agents and providing you PRO services. 

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