How to open business in Dubai?

Arab person shake hand of a European business person

In the last few years, Dubai has become an international business location that offers multiple incentives to local, foreign and expatriates. Its location near Europe and in the centre of Asia offers global business connections and clientele. If you are looking to start a business, Dubai is the place to be.

Freezone, Mainland, or Offshore

Now that you have decided to open a business in Dubai, you will have to choose your business location. You have a choice of Freezone, Mainland and Offshore.

The Freezone allows you complete ownership of the business, no monetary or currency limitations, and tax exemption on import and export taxes at 100%. Dubai also allows expatriates to relocate 100% of their capital and profits to their country of origin and no personal or corporate taxes.

Choosing the Mainland provides expatriates 100% ownership, but depending on the sector, there may be extra regulations involved. A mainland location offers the choice of any location in the UAE and the ability to do business with the locals.

Offshore businesses are 100% exempt from personal and corporate tax, asset protection, and double tax agreements among other perks of doing trade in Dubai.


Choosing Your Business

Once you have decided where you are doing business, you will need to decide what kind of business to open in Dubai. There are over 2,100 business options in and around Dubai. The Department of Economic Development (DED) can provide you with the full list.


Choosing A Company Name

Dubai has restrictions on what you can use in the name of your company. These include using a person’s name only if they are part of the business and you don’t use initials. No references to political groups, religion, or separatists.


Licensing Applications

As with any company, there are business applications to be applied for. What sector your business is in will determine which license you will apply for.

No matter what sector you choose, opening a business in Dubai will require a copy of the business owner (and any partners) passport, a completed application form, and two coloured passport pictures.


Visa Applications

Anyone opening a business and working in Dubai must apply for a work visa. This applies to all employees too.

Once you have a visa, as a business owner, you are allowed to sponsor others for a visa. Dubai includes family members and household staff in this sponsorship. There are some restrictions on the number of people you can sponsor.


Business Banking Accounts

You can choose a banking institution whenever you like, but you will need a business license and visa to open the actual account.

The UAE offers local and international banks that provide full services to new businesses opening in Dubai. Expatriates opening business’ in Dubai will find it easy to find a familiar institution from their company of origin.

Helpful Tips

  • You will need a local sponsor if you are opening a business in Dubai anywhere but in a Freezone.
  • When choosing a local sponsor, be sure to have a written legal agreement.
  • Make sure all your Visa and license application forms are filled out completely and no information is missing to avoid slowing down the processes.
  • A Business Consultant is an excellent choice to help you through the process of opening a business in Dubai and setting up your company.

         Whether you choose to use a business consultant or take care of all the requirements on your own, opening a business in Dubai can be done in 7 – 10 days with due diligence and the proper filing of all paperwork.

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