The United Arab Emirates has designed special zones, also known as Free zones, in particular areas to promote international business in the country. The major advantages provided by these free zones are 100% foreign ownership, special tax-free status, and low trade barriers.
Moreover, these zones are strategically located near national borders, international airports, and major seaports in order to maximize trading advantages. Hence, foreign investors or entrepreneurs who are willing to commence a start-up in the UAE can consider free zones as their location base and get a free zone license in UAE to avail all the lucrative facilities offered by the authorities.
Since all the free zones vary in setup procedures, costs, and legal requirements, let’s take a look at all these aspects for a better understanding.
Factors to choose the best Free zone in UAE
UAE Free zones are the best place to set up a business. However, due to differing operational guidelines, not all are suitable for all types of industries. Hence, while making a choice, you need to look deep and research which zone best supports the nature and needs of your business.
So, below given the factors that you can consider while choosing a free zone for business setup in Dubai –
1. Business activity
Each free zone has a specific list of activities that can be carried out within the zone. For example, Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) allows selection from over 600 business activities including sectors like energy, gold and diamonds, technology, constructions, FMCG, etc. Likewise, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) incorporates both financial and non-financial businesses.
Hence, you need to carefully study the nature of the activities each free zone supports and accordingly choose the one that suits best your desired activity.
This factor is directly related to your selection of business activities. Based on the primary activity of your company, you need to choose a suitable license. Some of the common types of licenses available in the Free zones are commercial licenses, service licenses, production licenses, general trading licenses, etc.
Hence, depending on the number of business activities, you can either apply for more than one license or cover several activities under one license, whichever is applicable. Nevertheless, this provision also differs from zone to zone. The experts of UAE Expansion can help you with detailed information about the active free zones in the UAE, the supported activities in each free zone, available licenses, and the Dubai Free Zone license cost.
3. Capital requirement
Business registration in UAE requires you to deposit a share capital. Similarly, when it comes to business formation in Free zones, the minimum capital requirement for each zone differs. Therefore, you must be aware of the capital requirements for the zones that you have shortlisted for your business formation.
4. Office facilities
You have the provision of either buying or renting office spaces in free zones. It depends completely on the number of employees and the type of activity you intend to carry out in your company.
Several free zones offer different office packages designed according to various business requirements. UAE Expansion specialists can guide you about these packages and also help you pick one that will go well with your company preferences.
5. Residence visas
UAE residence visas are issued to expatriates who wish to work and settle in the UAE. The number of visa applications a company can make depends on the type of office facility they choose and each office facility comes with a limited number of visas one can apply for. The visa quota again differs from zone to zone.
6. Legal structure
Free zones incorporate three structures – Free Zone Company (FZ Co.), Free Zone Establishment (FZE), and Branch office. The type of structure you choose determines the number of shareholders your company can have. This also further depends upon whether the shareholder is an individual or a company. Every free zone follows its own guidelines on the type of legal entity it can register.
Now that you know the key factors to choose the best free zone for your business, connect with UAE Expansion so that they can assist you in making the right decision. In addition, they will help you obtain your free zone license in UAE, and comply with all the legal requirements required for business setup.
Types of entities allowed in Freezones
There are mainly three types of legal entities allowed for Freezone company formation –
- Free Zone Establishment
- Free Zone Company
Types of licenses available in Freezones
Free zone company formation is incomplete without a license. Following are the type of licenses investors can acquire according to their business activities –
- Trading license
- Professional license
- Industrial license
Benefits of a Free zone license in UAE
There are several benefits of setting up a Free zone business and obtaining a Free zone license in UAE –
- Foreign company ownership is allowed
- Import and export tax exemptions
- Exemption from taxes – corporate tax and personal income tax
- Repatriations of capital and profits
- Free transfer of funds
- No foreign exchange controls
- Low freight charges
- The abundant supply of energy
- Inexpensive workforce
- Easy foreign recruitment procedures
- Efficient communication and networking system
- Single-window administration
- Liberal government rules
- Streamlined immigration process
- Operation flexibility
- Freehold offices available on rent/ sale
- Ready-made corporate facilities such as factories, warehouses, etc.
- Easy start-up procedure
- Unique purpose-built infrastructure
Procedure to obtain a Free Zone Trade license Dubai
Company formation in UAE Free zones is not subject to the commercial laws of the UAE government. Since they are independent jurisdictions, they have their own rules and policies laid by the free zone authorities. Moreover, they provide a liberal working environment, easy procedures, and excellent business opportunities for investors from all around the world. Hence, the investors willing to establish their company in any of the free zones need to follow the below steps –
- Selection of legal entity and business activity
- Trade name registration
- Business license application
- Finding an office space
- Pre-approvals, business registration, and license acquisition
- Business card
- Business plan
- MOA and AOA
- Passport copies
- The license of the existing company, if any
All the above documents must be translated to English, and duly attested and notarized by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or the Arab Embassy. But you don’t have to worry as UAE Expansion will take full responsibility to get this task done for you. They will not only gather the required documents but also get the essential approvals from the relevant agencies and authorities.
Key points to remember:-
- Always choose the right free zone as per your company’s requirements. Some free zones support specific types of business activities, while some support them on a wider scale.
- Every free zone has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to business setup. Thus, the documentation process may also vary depending on the business activity and the free zone.
- The share capital requirement for each free zone is also different. Few of them may ask for a minimum capital while others may not require any at all.
- The import-export and trading between free zones can be performed freely without any tax or duty.
- Some free zones allow remote registration of businesses. The physical presence of the applicant is only required during the visa process.
- Free zone companies are restricted to work with Government agencies directly.
- The corporate taxes do not apply to free zone companies.
- Free zone entities are not subject to Value Added Tax while conducting business outside the country.
- Free zone businesses are not allowed to trade in the local market. Nevertheless, they can sell their products within the Free zone and outside the UAE. To sell their products in the UAE market, they should hire a UAE official agent or a local distributor.
List of free-trade zones
- Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority)
- Dubai Airport Free Zone (Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority)
- Dubai Silicon Oasis – (Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority)
- IFZA ( International Free Zone Authority )
- Dubai HealthCare City – (Dubai Healthcare City Authority)
- International Humanitarian City.
- Dubai Maritime City – (Dubai Maritime City Authority)
Major Free Zones in UAE
- Abu Dhabi Free Zones
- Dubai Free zones
- Sharjah Free zones
- Ajman Free zones
- Ras Al Khaimah Free zones
- Umm Al Quwain Free zones
- Fujairah Free zones
To conclude, UAE Free Zone company formation is rewarding, with tax exemptions, fewer overheads, business-friendly policies, and hassle-free administration. So, if you too are in search of a convenient business setup in the UAE Free zones, partner with UAE Expansion. Our professionals can ease your company formation process in the UAE and unveil your business dreams into action.
Here are the key steps to free zone company formation in Dubai.
- Determine the type of legal entity.
- Choose a trading name.
- Apply for a business license.
- Choose an office space.
- Get pre-approvals, register your business, and get your license.