Open a new company in Dubai: Step-by-step guide


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When looking for a country in which to start a business, the UAE – and particularly Dubai – is often near the top of the list.

The emirate is famed for its minimal bureaucracy, its key global position and, of course, its incredibly attractive tax rate – still at 0% on both personal and corporate incomes.

Many are also attracted by just how easy it is to start a new business in Dubai, regardless of how familiar you are with the UAE and its corporate practices.

If you’re looking to open a business in Dubai, the first step is to talk to company setup agent who can guide you through your license and visa applications. In the meantime, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you get familiar with the process.


Should you choose mainland or free zone?

The first important decision to make before you get underway with the application and incorporation process is deciding on the mainland or a free zone.

The mainland offers advantages such as the ability to trade directly with the local market without using the services of an agent as well as the ability to set up anywhere in the UAE.

In most cases, however, free zone company formation is the most cost-effective and advantageous approach.

Dubai is home to many free zones offering affordable license packages and fast company setup options. Outside of Dubai, you will find many more. Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City, for example, offer benefits including a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions.

In either case, it’s a good idea to start your business with the help of a company setup expert to ensure a fast and smooth process.


If you are looking to get your company license in Dubai, Dubai free zone visa, or the cheapest free zone license or visa in the UAE, then our team can help. We also offer monthly installment plans for UAE company registration.

How to open a company in Dubai

Starting a company in Dubai can be a very straightforward process providing you seek out and follow the right advice.
When managed correctly, it is possible to open a business in Dubai in just four simple steps.

  1. Selecting your business activities

The first thing to do when starting a company in Dubai is to decide on your business activities. The important thing here is that your chosen activities are in line with those on the official Department of Economic Development (DED) list. Chances are, they will be – the list covers every industry imaginable, from potato trading to consultancy.


  1. Choosing your company name

Then comes another hugely important step: choosing a company name. There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage – many that would not apply to anywhere else in the world.

Be aware that 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.


  1. Making your license application

With the formalities out of the way, we come to the most important step of all – applying for your trade license.

There are several license types to choose from. If your business activities fall into the category of industrial or manufacturing, then you will require an industrial license. If you are in the commercial sector – i.e. the buying and selling of goods – then you will require a commercial license. Similarly, those offering professional services will require a professional license.

Whether applying to form a company in the mainland or in a free zone, you are usually only required to provide a few details and some basic documentation, including:

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


  1. Making your visa applications
    You’ll also need a visa to work in the UAE – as will your employees should you have any.

Again, with the right guidance, the visa application process can be incredibly straightforward. Most company formation agents can help you with this step as well as with your license application.

As the holder of a UAE business 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.

The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your company, your chosen setup and, for dependant visas, your personal earnings.


What is the cost of starting a new business in Dubai?

The total cost of starting a new business in Dubai will depend on a range of factors including whether you start a mainland or free zone company and the size of your organisation.

As a starting guide, it is possible to obtain a free zone license, inclusive of the use of co-working facilities and the cost of a visa application for around AED 25,000.

Should you opt for the mainland, require additional visas or the use of a large premises then you can expect this number to increase.


Are you ready to start a new business in Dubai?

Hopefully this guide has made it clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a business 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 to 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 Set Hub, the official Dubai representative office of Fujairah Creative City Free Zone. If you are looking to register a new company in Dubai, get a Dubai trade license, free zone license, or start a small business in Dubai, then we can help. From visa applications (including UAE investor visas) to all the necessary admin tasks, we handle it all – leaving you free to get on with your business.