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Dubai has one of the best markets around the whole world, making entrepreneurs able to set up businesses to rack up profits. One of the most common jurisdictions in which investors set up businesses is in Freezone located all around the UAE.

Free zones are defined geographical areas located within each emirate of the UAE. Furthermore, free zones are areas designated for business by the UAE government to encourage prospective investments from all across the world.

Thanks to that, those that aspire to start a business setup in the United Arab Emirates can set up their business within these free zones. Moreover, thanks to the constant and continuous support offered by the country´s government and the Free Zone Authorities, setting up a company in a free zone has become one of the most lucrative opportunities for national and non-national investors and entrepreneurs.

How to setup a company in UAE Freezone

Before starting a business you will need to know the necessary steps to set up a business in a Freezone. The local authorities and the country´s government have taken action to make establishing a company in a Freezone in the United Arab Emirates a quick, efficient, and straightforward process. Thanks to their regulations and laws, you can set up your business fast, and start receiving excellent benefits from promising free zones.

1-Select the company structure

Firstly, in order to begin your journey of setting up a business in a free zone is to determine the ownership structure of the company. This is especially important since free zones allow expatriates to have 100% ownership. Investors can establish their business in the form of an FZE (Free Zone Establishment) and an FZC (Free Zone Company).

The primary difference between an FZE and an FZC is that an FZE has only one shareholder while an FZC has at least 2 or more shareholders.

2-Choose a business activity

Secondly, after selecting your company’s structure is to decide what activities your business will do. Depending on the activities, this will change where you can register your company. Moreover, the type of license given to you depends on which activities you wish to carry out. For example, some activities can be professional services, commercial services, trading services, etc.

However, you need to take into account that the UAE has some rather particular requirements about the activities permitted under a license.

3-Find a free zone

Thirdly, once you decide what activities your business will do, you will need to find and choose the most ideal free zone to set up your company in. There are several factors to consider when making this decision such as ICT, production, design, outsourcing, media, maritime, etc.

4-Select a trade name

Fourthly, afterward, you will need to register a trading name for your company. This will give your business a brand presence. However, before you choose one, it´s best to check with the DED (Department of Economic Development) to inquire about the validity of your company´s name.  Some naming conventions for trade names are as follows:

  • It must be followed with the legal form of the entity (LLC, FZE, FZC, etc.)
  • The name must not violate public morals and the public order of the country.
  • It should not use the names of governing authorities, Emirates, the UAE, or any religions.

5-Apply for your license

Fifthly, after everything has been decided, the next step is to apply for your company. The products and services planned to conduct business are directly related to the trading license you will have to apply for. Evidently, this is the most important step since the license serves as proof of your business’s legal rights.

6-Select an office space

Sixthly, once you receive your license, you will need to buy or rent office space for your company. The office specifications depend on the type of business you will be engaged with. Free zones often offer flexibility in terms of the requirements of the office space.

7-Open your corporate bank account

Lastly, to finish your journey to set up a business in the UAE you need to open a corporate bank account in order to trade. To open a corporate bank account, you will need to have your documentation in order as well as your business license

Documents Required

Evidently, to set up a company in a Free zone in the UAE, you will need to submit various documents that vary based on business activity, the type of company, and the requirements of the free zone authority.

 1 For initial approval


  Firstly, for initial approval, you will need to provide:

       Completed application form

        Business plan

       Copy of existing trade license/registration certificate (if you are an   existing company, applicable for a local company only)

  • Colored passport copies of the company’s shareholder/s and the appointed Manager/Director for the new company
  • Specimen signature of the company’s shareholder/s and the appointed Manager/Director for the new company
  • 2 years’ audited financial reports for a corporate entity or certificate of reference from a personal bank of the individual shareholder
  • NOC from current sponsor (for individuals)
  • Unit title deed
  • Letter of Intent
  • Registry Identification Code Form (RIC) for Manager/Director (Original and notarized)

However, if you are a freelancer, you will need to submit fewer documents, in most cases, you will need to submit:

  • Application for registration
  • CV
  • Bank reference letter
  • Registry Identification Code Form (RIC) (Original and notarized)

2 For registration

Additionally, after getting initial approval, you will need to pay registration and license fees. Afterward, you will need to submit:

  • Completed application for registration
  • Board Resolution appointing Manager/Director (Notarized and attested)
  • Power of Attorney given to Manager/Director (Notarized and attested)
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association (Notarized and attested)
  • Specimen signature of Manager/Director (Notarized and attested)
  • Passport-size photo of Manager/Director against a white background
  • Share capital information

Business licenses you can apply for

  • General trading license: It allows your business to engage in trade activities such as import, export, store, consolidation, and distribution of items and products allowed by the authorities.
  • Service license: As implied by its name, this license allows your company to provide services to your clients. This includes consultancy or any other that’s specified in the license issued.
  • Trading license: If you want your company to be involved in trading, you will need this license. A trading license allows three activities in a single license.

Benefits of establishing a company in a free zone in the UAE

  • 100% foreign ownership and repatriation of capital and profits
  • 100% corporate and personal income tax exemptions
  • Exemption from all import and export duties (but you cannot import into mainland UAE)

Business entities for a company in a Freezone in the UAE

  • Limited Liability Company (New company) – you can form a new entity with a single shareholder or up to a maximum of 50 shareholders.
  • Limited Liability Company (Subsidiary) – Another business entity related to an LLC is to establish an LLC that is a subsidiary that’s wholly owned by a local or foreign company.
  • Branch of a Local or Foreign Company – Another legal structure available in the DMCC Free Zone is a Branch of a UAE-based or foreign company. You don’t need to share capital to incorporate this kind of entity.