Dubai is the second largest emirate and is considered the most important port and trading center of the UAE. A tremendous amount of work has been done to ensure that the city’s economy is highly developed and diversified. There are more than 40 free economic zones functioning on the territory of Dubai. Companies in Dubai can enjoy the significant benefits of no currency controls, trade barriers or quotas, making it an ideal place to establish a company in the Arab Emirates. A mainland company can operate both inside and outside the country without any restrictions. The company will be registered with one of the UAE’s Departments of Economic Development (DED).
Benefits of Dubai Mainland Company
- 100% foreign ownership;
- Paid up share capital not required;
- Can operate anywhere in Dubai and internationally;
- Wide range of activities for all the industries, some activities are strictly reserved for the mainland companies (real estate brokerage);
- A broad spectrum of company legal structures;
- Can rent/purchase office space in all areas without restrictions;
- Can open multi-currency account with any of the local banks;
- Number of visas is only limited by the size of a rented/purchased premises;
- Can participate in government tenders/projects and bid for contracts in the respective emirate;
- Excellent infrastructure and business environment;
- Low corporate tax rate comparing to other countries;
- No withholding tax on earnings.
Dubai Mainland Business Setup Requirements
- The shareholder is required to be in the UAE for the company registration and immigration card issuance;
- The company can only be registered against the real office (min size 20 sqm);
- Mainland companies require annual financial audit to renew the license;
- Commercial and professional activities cannot be mixed on one license;
- Foreign trading companies cannot open their branches in the UAE;
- Some activities are subject to the additional approvals of the respective regulatory authority either before the license is issued or after.
Legal Structures for Dubai Mainland Company
The common legal forms of a mainland company formation in Dubai include:
- Sole Proprietorship;
- Civil Company;
- Limited Liability Company (LLC);
- Free Zone Company (FZC);
- Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC);
- Private Joint Stock Company;
- Branch office of a foreign company.
Types of Dubai Mainland Licenses
There are four main types of mainland business licenses in the UAE: commercial, industrial, tourism and professional. Plus, a freelance license.
- Commercial license – issued to businesses engaged in trading activities;
- Industrial license – granted to businesses involved in manufacturing or processing;
- Professional license – designed for service-based businesses, such as accounting, legal, or consulting firms;
- Tourism license – covers all activities connected to hospitality and tourism;
- Freelance license – granted to individuals who would like to work on a freelance basis.
Procedure of Mainland Company Registration in Dubai
Registration authority: Dubai Department of Economic Development
Required documents and incorporation steps for the setup of a mainland company in Dubai:
- The client to provide:
– Company name (3 options);
– Company legal structure (LLC, Civil Company, Sole Establishment);
– Corporate structure (shareholders, directors, manager);
– Activities – some activities require the approval of the relevant regulatory authority – for example, health related activities will require the approval of the DHA (Dubai Health Authority), education activities have to be approved by the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority);
– Office/Warehouse rental agreement.
- Required documents (individual shareholder):
– Passport copy (valid for 6 months min);
– Copy of the passport page with the entry stamp;
– UAE Residence Visa and Emirates ID copies (if applicable);
– Scan of a 3.5 x 4.5 white background passport type photo;
– Personal details: telephone number, email address, residential address, country of residence, parent’s names, marital status, religion.
For the corporate shareholder a set of the company’s registration documents to be provided (notarized and attested).
- The documents and information are submitted through the local service centers.
- The following documents will be issued by the authority upon successful registration:
– Business License (renewed annually);
– Share Register;
– Chamber of Commerce Registration;
– Memorandum of Association.
- Once the license is issued the company has to be registered with the Immigration Authority and the Ministry of Labour and apply for the immigration and labour cards, respectively.
- Visas can be applied for the investor, partners and employees and their family members or house help.
- Personal and corporate bank account opening applications.
Switching from a Free Zone Company to a Dubai Mainland Company
If the client is currently working within a free zone business structure and is considering transitioning to a mainland company, we are here to help. There are currently more than 30,000 companies trading out of the UAE’s three largest free zones. International businessmen can establish a company in the free zone. However, this model has its limitations for business owners. Although free zone companies are an ideal starting point for a business in the UAE, transitioning to a mainland company is necessary for a business to thrive.
Contact us, if you have any questions regarding the mainland company registration in Dubai, e.g.
- How much does it cost to get a mainland company in Dubai?
- Can a company be set up in Dubai mainland without a sponsor?