Company Setup in UAE – What do new entrepreneurs/investors need to know? [ A Detailed Guide]

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UAE has grown into a major trade hub and an economic hotspot of the Middle East. Investors are setting up businesses in UAE to easily facilitate global trade due to the strategic location and seamlessly coordinate with global markets.

Starting from choosing the right company structure to obtaining the trade license, there are few steps that investors must be knowing to have a hassle-free company setup in UAE.

Investors in UAE – Things to Know before setting up a company

Knowing the right steps will help entrepreneurs save significant start-up costs. Also, to successfully run the business operations, the investor must ensure the company registration is done the right way complying with the business laws and authority guidelines.

Things to Know for the Investors before setting up their business establishment in the UAE.

Company Structure

There are a few company structures for setting up a business in the UAE. The company structure varies depending on the business jurisdiction – Free Zone, Mainland & Offshore.

1. Limited Liability Company

Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most popular company structure in the Mainland of UAE. It No longer requires appointing a UAE National Sponsor for the company (51% share ownership) and the rest by the foreign owner.

Now, expatriate investors can own 100% shares in a mainland LLC Company as per the latest Commercial Companies Law.

There are only few strategic industry sectors and special business activities such as chemical products, petroleum products, banking services, etc., where local partner requirement is still a requirement.

Again, depending on the share capital deposit and approval requirements, the full ownership can be retained by the expatriate investor.

2. Sole Proprietorship

Another type is Sole Proprietorship where the investor will be the Single Owner of the establishment. A professional License has to be taken for this and is a favorable option for consultants, advocates, doctors, to start a small establishment themselves.

3. Civil Works Company

Civil Works Company in the mainland is another common company type that requires a professional license. It requires appointing a Local Service Agent for liaising with the government authorities for administrative and visa works.

4. Public Joint Stock Company

There are other types of Company Structures like Public Joint Stock Company, General Partnership, Simple Limited Partnership, Private Shareholding Joint Stock, and Branch of a Foreign Company.

5. Free Zones in UAE

Moving to the Free Zones there are mainly two Company structures that are Free Zone Establishment – Single Shareholder Company, and the Free Zone Company – Formed by more than 2 and up to 50 shareholders.

Some Free Zones in UAE has the provision of registering an FZ-LLC company structure for the investors, it is a 100% foreign-owned company eligible to enjoy all the benefits offered by the Free Zone

Documents Required for Company Setup in UAE

Most of the companies registered in the Free Zones and the mainland requires very minimal documentation. Few business activities require additional approvals and site inspections.

Often Commercial and Industrial Licenses require site/warehouse inspections and clearance from the government departments for ensuring the safety standards are in place.

Special Approvals and Business History for Corporate Bank Account Opening

Also, there are certain selected industry sectors like Finance, Transports, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, Education, etc., that require pre-approval.

Most of the business activities to be registered requires minimal documentation – investor passport and photograph.

However, during applying for the corporate bank account, the KYC norms would require to furnish previous business history, investor profile, previous company details (if any).

LLC Company in UAE – Documents Required

For LLC Company setup the following documents are required:

  • Shareholder Agreement with the UAE National Sponsor
  • Side Agreement to protect the rights of the foreign owner as well as UAE National Sponsor
  • No-Objective Certificate (if already having UAE Residence Visa)
  • Passport Copy & Photograph of Investor
  • Board Resolution stating appointing of director/manager to newly formed LLC Company

LLC Company is an establishment in the mainland and can easily expand to locations within the UAE by forming branches of LLC Company. It is an ideal company structure for general trading companies intending to tap the local UAE market.

Steps for Company Steps in UAE

Now comes the understanding of the steps in the company setup process in the UAE. Be it a Free Zone company or an LLC one, the steps are the same. For Free Zones there is no requirement for the local Service agent.

Following are the Steps involved in Company setup in UAE

  1. Choose the trade name and get the name approved. Follow the guidelines while choosing the trade name as the brand is built on the trade name
  2. Finalize the company structure and the business activity (Aurion will assist you in choosing it right)
  3. Choose the right business jurisdiction- Free Zone, mainland, or offshore
  4. Submit the required documents, get the clearances and pay the fees
  5. Choose the right office space and prepare the tenancy contract
  6. Obtain the business license and start operating the business from day 1
  7. Apply for a UAE Residence visa and proceed to open a corporate bank account.

Company setup in UAE is relatively straightforward, however, the process could get lengthy if not done the right way.

Hence, it is advisable to take the assistance of experienced Business Consultants like Aurion Business Consultants to set up your company in the most comfortable way.

To know more about Company Formation in UAE, talk to our expert Business Consultants right away!

Contact: Aurion Business Consultants


A Marketing Consultant working @Aurion Business Consultants specialized in writing about Business Setup in UAE tips, License Packages, Free Zones, LLC Company Formation, Startups, etc in the UAE.


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