How to start a business in Dubai?

Are you looking for investment opportunities in Dubai? The Middle East’s “Wall Street” is attracting entrepreneurs from all over the world for six main reasons – strategic location, global connectivity, tax-friendly policies, safety, technology and innovation, and high quality of life. Also, with Dubai Expo 2020 underway, there is no better time to start a business in Dubai.

Top advantages of investing in Dubai

  • Benign tax

The UAE does not levy corporate tax. Your business profit is all yours. However, a minimal value added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale of goods and services.

  • 100% ownership

Unlike before, expat entrepreneurs can have full company ownership of their onshore / mainland company in the UAE.

  • Investor visa

Starting your business venture in Dubai will secure you a three-year, renewable investor visa. This will enable you to reside in the UAE with your loved ones and also sponsor your employees.

  • Professional expertise

From providing consultation on economic opportunities available and the legal formalities of UAE company formation, to assisting you with the entire process of documentation, obtaining governmental approvals, bank account opening, and yearly renewals, you will have expert assistance at every stage. Dubai is home to seasoned legal corporate advisors and well-connected public relations officers who help aspiring businessowners start a business in Dubai.

Steps for Dubai company formation

Investors from the UK neither require tons of paperwork, nor have to worry about endless formalities for their company incorporation in Dubai. Here are the five mandatory aspects of business registration in Dubai:

Choose business activity

The first step of your investment should be narrowing down on what business activity / activities you would be conducting. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the governmental authority which oversees all economic activities. The body lists about 2,300 economic activities permitted in Dubai.

Finalise legal structure

Based on the nature of your chosen business activity, you will have to decide whether you can form a sole establishment or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Your company’s legal structure will be the key to what type of trade license you have to apply for.

Reserve trade name

All entities carrying out business operations in the UAE must have a legal trading name. Therefore, it is best to provide at least three appropriate options for approval. Ensure you follow the rules regarding naming your business. Avoid using any religious connotations, the names of any country or government entities. Moreover, your company name should not be obscene or offensive. If possible, choose a name which is indicative of your business.

Get an office space (if required)

Choosing an ideal location for your company is crucial for your business. There are three main divisions, including mainland, free zones and offshore, with multiple jurisdictions and legal framework catering to specific businesses. Therefore, one needs to do the groundwork of understanding which are is best suited for their target audience and operations. Although it is not mandatory for companies to have a physical office space, they must have a local mailing address. Therefore, from commercial and industrial spaces to full-fledged offices and flexi-desk, Dubai offers ample options to entrepreneurs depending on their needs and budget.

Obtain business license

There are four main types of trade license issued by the DED under which the business activities are categorised:

  • Professional License
  • Commercial License
  • Industrial License
  • Tourism License

Documents required for Dubai business registration

The basic documents required to start a company in Dubai include the following:

  • Filled in application form
  • Passport copy of owners and business partners (if any)
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Copy of initial approval from relevant government authority
  • Trade name registration certificate

Based on your business activity and the chosen legal structure and jurisdiction, you may have to furnish supportive documents to obtain additional approvals from governmental authorities.

Costs involved in starting a company in Dubai

First, you do not have to break the bank to start a company in Dubai. With business-friendly government initiatives to corporate services, your investment will be worthwhile. Listed below are some of the documentation and processes involved in Dubai company formation which are chargeable:

  • Trade license
  • Trade name and initials approvals
  • LSA notary
  • Additional approvals
  • Stamp of the company
  • Tasheel processing
  • Immigration card
  • Investor visa
  • Change of status
  • Emirates ID
  • Visa stamping
  • Commercial / office space
  • Employment visa quota
  • VAT registration

While the basic formalities may cost you anything between £4,975 to £6,550, the costs for additional approvals, office space, trade license vary based on your choices.

Get started with Shuraa’s expertise

Whenever you are ready to take a step towards starting a company in Dubai, get in touch with corporate advisors who will walk you through the entire process. You can call Shuraa Business Setup’s London branch  on +44 7538 205604 or 02081065084 and get a free consultation.


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