You want to set up a business in a free zone in Dubai – but how? First, you need to decide what type of business you want to run. Are you going to be a freelancer? Or set up a free zone company and hire someone else? Starting a freelancer can be a cheaper option; However, not all free zones in Dubai issue freelance permits, so your options are somewhat limited. Meanwhile, options for free zone companies offer many options with industry-specific and broad zones. If you think opening a business in a free zone is the best option for you, here’s how.
Select Business Activity or Activities
The first step in setting up your business setup in the Dubai Free Zone is to determine the business activity you want to do as it will affect where you can register your business. The type of license you apply for also depends on the activities you plan to undertake – such as professional, commercial, trading, and other services.
While it may seem daunting to outline every activity you might want to do, keep in mind that you don’t need to limit yourself too much here – too many free zones in Dubai allow multiple business activities under one license. However, Dubai has some very specific requirements regarding which activities are permitted under which licenses. Therefore, it is best to work with a specialist to start the business at this stage to ensure it runs smoothly.
Find a Free Zone
Once you have decided on your business activity, the next step is to determine which free zone is right for you. There are several factors to consider when making this decision – starting with whether you want to prepare for an industry-specific free zone. Healthcare, ICT, manufacturing, design, outsourcing, media, maritime affairs, science, and finance are just a few of the industries served by industry-specific free zones.
Alternatively, there is a much wider free zone option. For example, free zones such as Dubai South and DMCC are open to various activities. You also need to consider the location of the free zone you have chosen. If you rely on international trade or travel, consider not only considerations such as access to major highways but also proximity to ports and airports.
Select a Company Name
Finding a name for your business is difficult no matter where in the world you decide to make a name. There are many factors to consider, from emotional to practical. For example, does your name evoke an emotional response? And if so, what does it say? Reliable? High grade? Apart from that, there are other naming conventions in the UAE to consider.
The first step in choosing your UAE business name is to make sure that your business name is available for registration – a business setup Dubai specialist can easily verify this for you. There are also certain standards the name must adhere to, including avoiding expressions of blasphemy or references to religious or political organizations. When you finally decide to name your company after someone, there is another consideration: that person must be a partner and shareholder in your company and only the full personal name is allowed, no initials or abbreviations.
Make Your License Application
Once you’ve decided what you’re doing, where to do it, and what name to trade, it’s time to set up your official free trading company in Dubai by submitting your application. The exact documents required to set up a business in Dubai Free Zone will depend on the type of license you are applying for and which free zone you have selected. Typically, you may be asked some or all of the following questions:
- Business plan
- Color copy of shareholder’s passport and visa if applicable
- Articles and memorandum of association
- Application form
- Board resolution
When setting up freelance work, you may need to provide proof of an invoice or work order.
Applying for Visas
You can also start your visa application at this stage. You can apply for your visa as well as your existing staff and domestic worker visas. Whether you are applying for your visa or sponsoring someone else’s visa, the process is the same: admission, condition improvement, medical proficiency test, then registering an Emirates ID and visa stamp. Here too, a business start-up specialist can guide you through this phase.
Open a Corporate Bank Account
Of course, you need a bank account to trade. Opening a corporate bank account in the United Arab Emirates is not always easy and there are several considerations to take into account – at least each bank’s approval criteria. First of all, you need to make sure that you have the correct documentation. In addition to a trading license, you may need:
- A copy of your share certiﬁcates
- A copy of the company’s memorandum and articles of association
- Copies of passports for all partners in the company
- A corporate account opening form
- A board of directors’ resolution sanctioning the opening of the account, and the signatories to the account
- A copy of your company’s certiﬁcate of incorporation
You then need to choose a financial institution. Corporate specialists can assist and advise you in selecting the best bank for your specific needs.