Frequently Asked Questions About Dubai Company Incorporation

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Dubai Company Incorporation:

  • What does it mean to incorporate in a Free Zone in Dubai?
  • What is meant by a Dubai Offshore LLC?
  • Are there any advantages or disadvantages of incorporating in Dubai itself?
  • Is it possible to set up a branch or representative office of a Company in Dubai?
  • What type of documentation is required to open a Company in Dubai?
  • How long will it take to complete incorporation in Dubai?
  • Is there a public register of shareholders and directors in Dubai?
  • Is a Dubai LLC required to prepare financial statements?
  • Can a Dubai Offshore Company trade within the UAE?
What does it mean to incorporate in a Free Zone in Dubai?

Dubai has a number of business development areas known as Free Zones which allow companies to set up in Dubai, while maintaining its ‘Offshore Status”. The Free Zones are tax-free and provide purpose-built facilities for offices and related activities. A Free Zone License is normally issued within 2 – 6 weeks, depending on the Free Zone, but some may stipulate that all work must be carried out within the Free Zone. Importantly, many Free Zones will only allow companies to trade outside of Dubai. Some Free Zones are set up to cater for particular types of businesses such as Knowledge Village which provides services for educational companies.

What is meant by a Dubai Offshore LLC?

An Offshore Dubai LLC is a limited liability company set up in a Dubai Free Zone (see above). A Dubai LLC can trade as normal and can be wholly foreign-owned. There is no requirement for the LLC to have a physical presence in Dubai and can operate through a Virtual Office Service provided by Healy Consultants.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages of incorporating in Dubai itself?

Incorporating in Dubai proper (as opposed to a Free Zone) does have the advantage of allowing a company to trade freely both within and outside of Dubai. However, a UAE national must hold a minimum of 51% of the company’s shares in a Resident Dubai Company. This would be strictly a nominee role and Dubai Business Help can provide this service, if required.

Is it possible to set up a branch or representative office of a Company in Dubai?

Yes. However, the rules governing such an entity can be restrictive. A branch or representative office of a foreign company in Dubai can meet with clients, conduct marketing and sales meeting and establish a real presence in Dubai. Nonetheless, a branch office cannot engage in trade or actual sales of any kind, nor can it enter into contracts or complete or perform any services offered by the Company Headquarters.

What type of documentation is required to open a Company in Dubai?

This depends on the type of entity you wish to establish. The documentation requirements from the Dubai Authorities can be quite cumbersome. Dubai Business Help will provide you with a detailed list of requirements to minimise this burden, upon engagement.

How long will it take to complete incorporation in Dubai?

This will all depend on the type of entity you wish to establish. The length of time varies greatly from one entity to another, but you should plan for at least four to six weeks. Dubai Business Help will provide you with a detailed project plan upon engagement.

Is there a public register of shareholders and directors in Dubai?

Details of the directors and shareholders of a Dubai LLC are available for public viewing.

Is a Dubai LLC required to prepare financial statements?

Yes. Annual audited financial statements need to be submitted to the Dubai Government.

Can a Dubai Offshore Company trade within the UAE?

No. In addition, it cannot rent local premises or open a corporate bank account in the UAE.

Business Formation in Dubai

Starting a business in Dubai is both exciting and bewildering. Gleaming skyscrapers add to the general buzz of a city which is booming. However, Dubai business setup is, unfortunately, still a challenge because of unclear regulations on business formation in Dubai, high government fees at almost every stage of starting a business in Dubai, and sheer demand for business formation in Dubai, which causes delays to the Dubai business setup process. The following information paints a definitive guide to Dubai business setup pros, cons and procedures:

  • When starting a business in Dubai, investors should budget to spent up to US$50,000 to successfully complete all aspects of the Dubai business setup project.
  • The lead time for starting a business in Dubai depends on the type of company you wish to set up. For example, incorporating a Dubai LLC takes approximately 14 weeks, while incorporating a Dubai offshore company normally takes at least nine weeks. For more information on the procedures involved with Dubai business setup, refer to this webpage.
  • Business formation in Dubai is the ideal way for international traders to legitimately book profits without paying local corporation tax. In addition, since Dubai is a respected trading jurisdiction Dubai business setup projects a positive image to your Clients.
  • If starting a business in Dubai to conduct trading solely outside the UAE, it is not necessary to rent an office or employ staff in Dubai.
  • If starting a business in Dubai to trade within the UAE as a branch of a foreign company, it is necessary to appoint a UAE national as a 51% shareholder, according to the Dubai business setup regulations for a limited liability company (LLC). Prior to business formation in Dubai, Dubai Business Help will introduce you to a bona fide UAE businessman who has acted as the nominee shareholder for many of our Clients.
  • Foreign investors who want complete control of their Dubai company opt for business formation in Dubai Free Zones. A Free Zone company allows for 100% foreign ownership.
  • Starting a business in Dubai Free Zones often requires high levels of paid up capital. For example, in Jebel Ali Free Zone, a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) requires a paid up capital of US$272,000.
  • According to the Arab World Competitiveness Report 2007, the UAE has the Arab world’s most competitive economy. Investors starting a business in Dubai often comment on the highly competitive nature of the local economy.
  • To support Dubai business setup, Dubai Business Help helps to open a Dubai or international corporate bank account for our Client. The bank account is with a leading international retail bank and includes world-class multi-currency Internet banking facilities.
  • To support business formation in Dubai, Dubai Business Helphelps obtain Dubai residence and employment visas for many of our Clients.
  • After starting a business in Dubai, some of our Clients ask for assistance in preparing and submitting annual accounts to the Dubai authorities.
  • Following business formation in Dubai, Dubai Business Help provides our Clients with Dubai Virtual office services if required. For example, to support Dubai business setup, Dubai Business Help offers a local business address in Dubai for invoicing, as well as telephone, fax and email support.
  • After starting a business in Dubai, some of our Clients request our help with website creation, search engine advertising, stationery and logo design. Few other corporate service providers offer this ‘one-stop-shop’ Dubai business setup service.
  • Business formation in Dubai is often followed by assistance with obtaining corporate finance, trade finance and to open merchant accounts. Dubai Business Help will shop around and locate the optimum financing product and strategy after starting a business in Dubai.
  • Following business formation in Dubai, we value the opportunity to receive feedback from our Clients as to how smooth the Dubai business setup process was. Thus, we will e-mail an Engagement Feedback Survey.