How to open a Business in Dubai

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Benefits of moving your Business to Dubai

There’s many benefits of opening a business in Dubai, or brining your existing company to the popular city in the UAE. Some of them include:

  • The ability to get a Resident Visa with a 0% Income Tax Salary
  • Low Corporate Tax
  • Strategic position in the MENA region, connecting to Europe, Africa and Asia
  • Access to a set of markets with High Disposable Income
  • Easiness of setting up and maintaining a legal structure

Where do you start if you want to open a Business?

How do you actually do it? Well, incorporating your Business in Dubai is a straight-forward process, but there are several steps you need to go through, and think about, ahead of starting the process.

From defining the zone under which you will set up your business, to the legal structure under which you will operate, making the right decisions up front, can end up saving you an lot of time and money down the line. In this article, we go through the most important things you need to do in order to open your business in the Emirate.

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1 - Decide where to establish your Company

The are 2 main options when it comes to business incorporation in Dubai: Free Zone or Mainland. Most people end up choosing to incorporating in a Free Zone as you can retain 100% ownership of the business, while availing appealing Tax benefits (such as 0% Income Tax). When deciding whether to incorporate in a free zone or on the mainland in Dubai, it's essential to consider factors such as ownership requirements, business activities, tax implications, and location preferences.

There are many Free Zones in Dubai, some tailored to specific business activities under which you should operate. For example, DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) is the place where most Fintech companies and Banking Entities are set up due to its legal structure, whereas DSP (Dubai Science Park) is dedicated to the Science and Healthcare sectors which accommodate Pharmaceutical companies, biotech, R&D and so on.

Each Free Zone has its own cost to incorporate and maintain over the years. It’s important to carefully consider costs when making a decision of where in Dubai to open a Business. Don’t worry, this is something our team can help you with! You can request a free consultation with us before booking our services.

2 - Identify the type of Business License will you need

In Dubai, the type of business you plan to operate impacts the type of license you need to obtain. The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) categorizes business licenses into several types based on the nature of the business activity. Some common business license types in Dubai include: Commercial License, Food License, Tourism License, Industrial License, etc.

The specific requirements for obtaining each type of license can vary, including documentation, fees, and other regulatory requirements. Additionally, there might be further subcategories or specific requirements depending on the nature of your business within these broader license types. Before starting your business in Dubai, it's crucial to research and understand the regulations and licensing requirements that apply to your specific business type. Reach out to us for a consultation on how to open a business in the UAE.

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3 - Submit your application for Approval

Once you’ve chosen the Free Zone under which you want to incorporate, you will need to put together the application. This involves collecting Documents such as your passport, filling out the required information via the portal (depending on the Zone) and paying the fees associated with Acquiring the Business License.

As part of opening a new business, you will have a business license, an establishment card and a lease of an office, which can be private or in a co-working area. If you want to issue yourself and others a Visa, you will also need to get a Personal Sponsorship Agreement, which typically comes at a cost, and is done in this stage.

The overall process doesn’t take too long and can be done in 3 weeks end-to-end, depending on the Free Zone and on the volumes being processed. You can also expedite your application and get it done in less than half of the time, if you have an urgency. Note that this also comes at an extra cost.

4 - Issue the required Visas

When the business is incorporated in Dubai, you can start the process of requesting Employee Visas. The number of Visas you can get depends on the package you purchase, but it normally is between 2 and 4 initially. You can always purchase more “slots” at an extra cost, or get a larger package.

Before you onboard new employees, you should sign with them an employment contract which clearly states their dates of employment, salary and responsibilities. Depending on their role and seniority, they will most likely need to provide you with an attested educational degree, which you have to submit alongside the rest of their application. Lastly, you will need a copy of their passport and passport-type photo.

After you submit the initial application and make the payment, your new employees (which may include yourself) will get an Entry Permit, which can be used to enter the country. Upon arrival, the beneficiaries of the Visa will undergo a medical test in a designated medical center. This includes a blood test and an X-Ray. The results are submitted to the relevant authorities as part of the visa processing. The last step is to have their biometrics recorded (picture and fingerprints) and finally request an Emirates ID. The Emirates ID will be their/your local ID which can be used to open a bank account, rent an apartment, and so on.

If you’re interested in learning more about Opening up a business in Dubai, speak to us, we can help. You can book a Free Consultation below.

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