The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a global business hub due to its favorable business environment, strategic location, and robust economy. The country offers investors an array of business opportunities, one of which is setting up a free zone business. Free zones are designated areas where foreign investors can set up their companies with 100% ownership, tax exemptions, and other benefits. If you’re considering setting up a free zone business in the UAE, here are the legal requirements you need to know.
Choose a Free Zone
The first step in setting up a free zone business in the UAE is to choose the right free zone for your business. The UAE has more than 45 free zones, each designed to cater to specific industries such as technology, media, logistics, and healthcare. You need to research and choose the free zone that best fits your business needs.
Determine Your Business Activity
Once you’ve chosen a free zone, you need to determine the business activity that you want to carry out. The UAE government has a list of over 2,000 business activities that are allowed in the country. You need to select the activity that best describes your business, and ensure that it is permitted in the free zone that you’ve chosen.
Select a Legal Form
After selecting your business activity, you need to decide on the legal form of your company. The most common forms of companies in the UAE are limited liability companies (LLCs), branches, and representative offices. However, in free zones, you can also set up a free zone establishment (FZE) or a free zone company (FZC).
Submit Required Documents
Once you’ve selected your legal form, you need to submit the required documents to the free zone authority. The documents you need to submit include a business plan, passport copies of shareholders and directors, a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the sponsor if you’re sponsored by a UAE resident, and other documents depending on your business activity and legal form.
Obtain a License
After submitting the required documents, you need to obtain a license from the free zone authority. The license permits you to carry out your business activity in the free zone. The license types include commercial, industrial, and service licenses, depending on your business activity.
Open a Bank Account
Once you’ve obtained your license, you need to open a bank account in the UAE. You need to provide the bank with your license, passport, and other documents to open the account. Having a UAE bank account is crucial for your business operations, including paying employees, receiving payments from customers, and conducting transactions with suppliers.
Lease an Office
You also need to lease an office space in the free zone to carry out your business activity. Free zones provide companies with various office spaces, ranging from executive offices to warehouses. You need to choose the space that suits your business needs and budget.
Renew Your License
Your free zone license is valid for a specific period, usually one or three years, depending on the free zone authority. You need to renew your license before it expires to continue operating your business in the free zone.
Setting up a free zone business in the UAE requires compliance with legal requirements, documentation, and licenses. However, the process is streamlined and can be completed within a few weeks. The UAE government encourages foreign investors to set up businesses in the country and has created a favorable environment for businesses to thrive. If you’re considering setting up a free zone business in the UAE, ensure that you’ve fulfilled all legal requirements and have the necessary documentation to avoid any legal issues in the future.