Start your consulting business in Dubai and the UAE?


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Consultancy is big business. The global consultancy market is worth an estimated USD 250bn. In this part of the world, the industry is just as healthy. The GCC’s management consulting market alone is worth around USD 2.8bn.

Here in the UAE, the demand for consultancy services has never been higher. There are numerous sectors in the ascendance – everything from food, hospitality, and healthcare to technology, tourism, and retail – that all require the services of professional consultants.

And the best part for those setting up in this part of the world – applying for a trade license for a consulting business is incredibly straightforward. You can apply for either a professional or commercial license to carry out consultancy activities – the steps for doing so are detailed below.

Why do business in the UAE?

As well as a straightforward company formation process, the UAE also offers a number of other advantages to the ambitious entrepreneur.

The country’s tax regime is well-known around the world. And with zero percent tax levied on both corporate and personal incomes, it’s not hard to see why. Set up in a free zone and the advantages continue.

Along with 100% customs tax exemption and zero currency restrictions, UAE free zone businesses also benefit from the freedom to repatriate 100% of capital and profits.

The UAE’s position in the centre of the Middle East also makes it the ideal location to do business with every corner of the world.

How to open a consulting business in the UAE?

There are a few steps required to start a consulting business in Dubai and the UAE. The first is to establish your business activity. While the consultancy license is suitable for businesses across many industries, you are still required to stipulate the exact nature of the work you intend to carry out.

This business activity – be it Marketing Consultancy, Business Consultancy, Accounting Consultancy etc. – must be clearly stated on your license application.

To ensure you list every activity that you intend to carry out – and avoid potential regulatory difficulties – it’s a good idea to work with a business formation company at this stage. Such experts are familiar with permitted activities and will able to suggest those that align best with your business.

The next step is to choose a company name. This takes a little more thought in the UAE than in other parts of the world. Why? Because the UAE has a strict, yet easy-to-follow, set of naming conventions. Once again, a company setup expert can help you make sure you adhere to them.

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. Mark Collins Consulting, rather than M Collins Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

Once you have outlined your business activities and chosen your name, you can apply for the trade license for your consulting business – either a commercial or professional license. The one that’s right for you will depend on the nature of your consultancy business. Again, a company formation specialist can help you with this step.

The easiest way to obtain your consultancy license is to apply to a UAE free zone. You can apply directly to the free zone or work with a company formation expert who manages the entire application process on your behalf.

There are plenty of great reasons to set up in this particular free zone. Businesses setting up in a free zone benefit from no paid-up share capital requirement, no annual audit, and an easy incorporation process. There is also no need to be present in the UAE to establish your new company.

Whether making your application yourself or through a company formation agent, 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 coloured photos
  • LOE
  • KYC
  • Application form
  • Proof of address
  • Business activity questionnaire

The application process is also fast, with all company documentation usually issued within a week. Should you wish to start small and keep costs down, it’s also possible to apply for a freelance permit. Licenses are usually issued within a matter of days.

If you are looking to get your company license in the UAE, free zone, or mainland, or even in Qatar and Saudi Arabia –  then our team can help.

Setting up your UAE consultancy business – a timeline

Should you choose to start your consulting business in a free zone such as Fujairah Creative City, you can expect your application to follow this timeline:

Day 1: Submit your application along with the signed Articles of Incorporation.

Day 2:  Your trade license is issued and a scanned copy of the original will be sent to you via email. Once received, you can start trading straight away.

Day 3: Original Trade License, Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Incorporation, Share Certificate and Lease Agreement (if applicable) are ready for collection.

Day 8: Visa pre-approval is granted.

Day 15: Company electronic immigration card is issued.

Day 16: Complete and submit visa application forms and supporting documents.

Day 20: Complete visa process by carrying out change of status.


Ready to start a consulting business in Dubai and the UAE?

While the process of applying for a UAE consulting license is not overly complex, 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 trade 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 when establishing a new company in the UAE.

We are the team of Business Incorporation Zone, your best business setup advisor across the Gulf Region. If you are looking to open your company in Dubai, across the UAE, in KSA or Qatar, get a free zone license, or start a business in the mainland, then we can help. From visa applications to all the necessary admin tasks, we handle it all – leaving you free to get on with your business.