Sole Establishment UAE: Costs & Requirements


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When setting up in the UAE, entrepreneurs are faced with a choice of setup types. First there is the decision on whether to set up a free zone entity or a mainland business.

Free zone companies benefit from zero currency restrictions, 100% customs tax exemption and capital and profit repatriation. However, they require a local agent in order to trade directly with the local market. Mainland companies, on the other hand, can trade directly within the UAE but are not afforded the other benefits listed above.

On top of this, you’ll also need to decide on a specific business entity. There are several to choose from, including branch offices, LLCs and sole establishments. In this article, I’ll explain the features and benefits of the latter to help you decide if it’s the right option for your operation.

What is a sole establishment in the UAE?

A sole establishment is a business owned and operated by no more than one individual. That individual is entirely and personally liable for the commitments and activity of the business. In other words, if necessary, creditors can stake a claim to personal assets to compensate for debts accrued by the company.

Only GCC nationals can conduct commercial activities through a sole establishment, however, non-GCC nationals can use this legal entity to conduct professional services activities. These include consulting, marketing, IT, engineering and creative operations.

What is the difference between a sole establishment and LLC?

There are several notable differences between an LLC and a sole establishment. Most notably, sole establishments can only be owned by one individual whereas LCCs can be formed by many individuals and corporate entities.

Owners of LLCs are also not personally liable for the debts of the businesses. In an LCC, shareholders are only liable up to the value of their investment into the company.

Steps to setup a sole establishment in Dubai, UAE

When establishing any type of business in the UAE, the first step is to partner with an expert in the region such as Set Hub. After a short consultation, we’ll guide you through the following process, managing all applications on your behalf.

1. Set out your business activities

First things first, we’ll help you clearly define your business activities, as these will need to be stipulated on your license.

Any chosen activity must align with the official Department of Economic Development (DED) list.

2. Choosing your company name

Next, we will assist you as you choose your company name. There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage – many that would not apply 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.

3. Applying for your trade license

With this admin taken care of, you can apply for your sole establishment license. We will guide you through this entire process, liaising with all relevant authorities and ensuring your application is in check before filing.

At this stage, you will need to submit some information about your business as well as several documents, as listed below.

4. Applying for your visas

Finally, you’ll also need a residency visa to work in the UAE. Again, with the right guidance, the visa application process can be incredibly straightforward.

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.

5. Opening a corporate bank account

You will also need to open a corporate bank account to operate as a sole establishment within the UAE.

Once again, the expert team at Set Hub can help you with this step. We can put you in touch with financial institutions and advise on the ones most suited to your business requirements.

How much does it cost to start a sole establishment in Dubai, UAE?

Set Hub offers a wide range of affordable business setup options all across the country. Right now, you can start a business with us for just AED 5,750. Alternatively, you can choose to pay the fees with our banking partner over a 0% flexible instalment plan with no down payment.
For a detailed and personalised quote, get in touch with our team today.

Documents required to start a sole establishment in Dubai, UAE

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of passport for the sole owner
  • A copy of UAE residency visa
  • Proof of registered address
  • A No Objection Certificate from the sponsor (if applicable)

Starting your business with Set Hub

That’s all there is to it. As you can see, if you’re armed with the right knowledge, forming a sole establishment 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 UAE 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 help with business setup in Dubai 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.