Company incorporation in Dubai free zones: Step-by-Step


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Dubai regularly ranks among the top destinations in the world for entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in the world of business. Over 80% of its population are foreign nationals while an estimated 35,000 new businesses set up here every year. And with good reason.

The emirate boasts an incredible strategic location between East and West, with excellent links to the world’s largest and fastest emerging markets. The UAE also continues to levy 0% tax on both corporate and personal income, while VAT remains low at 5%.

When you set up in a UAE free zone, the advantages continue. Free zone businesses benefit from zero currency restrictions, capital and profit repatriation and 100% customs tax exemption. That’s on top of an encouraging business environment and numerous tailored support services.

These benefits combine to make setting up in a free zone the most cost-effective and advantageous way to start a business in this part of the world. So, if you’re looking to get started out here, this is why you should consider doing so in a free zone.

What is a Free Zone Company in Dubai?

Free zone companies are those which are incorporated within specific economic zones. These zones sit outside the standard jurisdiction of the UAE. Businesses registered in the standard UAE jurisdiction are known as mainland companies.

Free zone companies require a service agent to trade with the local UAE market and can be 100% owned by foreign investors in all cases. Mainland companies are free to trade without an agent but require approval for 100% ownership.

As free zones are self-regulating, free zone companies do not require any additional approvals in order to trade. Free companies are also not required to take on physical office space, with many opting for virtual, flexi-desk and coworking packages.

Company incorporation in Dubai free zones: Step-by-Step

When you work with the experts at Set Hub, setting up in a Dubai free zone requires just four simple steps. After taking the time to understand your business requirements, we will manage every step of the following process on your behalf.

1. Choosing your company name

The first step is to choose a name for your business. When choosing a company name out here in the UAE, you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions.

In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e., Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

2. Making your license application

Next, you’ll need to apply for your trade license. This application is made directly to the managing authority of your chosen free zone. We can handle this process for you, liaising with free zone officials and ensuring your paperwork is present and correct.

At this stage, you are usually required to submit the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
  • Two colour passport size photos


3. Making your visa applications
You will also need a residency visa to work in the UAE. The visa application process consists of several steps including biometric scanning, a blood test, medical and a chest x-ray.

As the holder of UAE trade license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.

4. Opening a corporate bank account

Finally, you will need a corporate bank account to trade in the UAE. It is not always easy for non-GCC citizens to secure banking services, so it’s once again a good idea to partner with a local expert at this stage.

Set Hub can handle all this application for you, advising on suitable financial institutions and liaising with relevant authorities on your behalf.

How much does it cost to set up a company in a Dubai free zone?

The total Dubai free zone company setup cost will depend on numerous factors. Everything from the size and nature of your business to your chosen zone can impact the price you’ll pay. As a guide, you should expect prices to start at around AED 30,000 for a license and visa package.

You may find more cost-effective packages by looking outside of Dubai, to emirates such as Fujairah.

Fujairah Creative City, for example, offers many affordable license packages with no paid-up share capital requirement, no annual audit and an easy incorporation process. A license package here, inclusive of one visa application and use of the free zone’s co-working facility costs just AED 24,775.

For a full and personalised quotation, get in touch with the expert team at Set Hub.

Why work with Set Hub?

If you’re armed with the right knowledge, business setup in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.

That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.

To help you ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as Set Hub when establishing a new company in the UAE.

We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.

As well as handling your license application, Set Hub can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.

We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visa applications that are required to trade in the UAE.

In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.