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How to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner or non-resident?

Dubai actively encourages foreign investors. In recent years, the UAE has made it easier than ever for investors from every corner of the world to do business in the UAE.

Foreign investors can take advantage of the UAE's 0% tax rate on corporate and personal income, and they are allowed to retain 100% business ownership in almost every business sector.

Other significant changes include the availability of a long-term visa, which allows foreigners to stay in the UAE for a longer period and also retire here at the end of their career.

With the right guidance, starting a business in the UAE is so easy, even for non-residents. Here are a few questions that arise while thinking of setting up a business in Dubai,UAE.

Can a non-resident start a business in Dubai?

The answer to your question is yes, even though there might be certain conditions depending upon the type of business you wish to start in your country of origin.

In some cases you may need to work with a local sponsor who will hold a 51% stake in your business, but this does not involve them in decision-making and they are paid a pre-agreed fee for their service.

You can take advantage of the 0% tax on corporate income as a non-resident. Whether you can benefit from this depends on your country of tax residence. A business consultant can guide you on this.

Types of business licences available in Dubai

There are two types of business licence available for foreigners who wish to set up their business in Dubai.

The first type is a Mainland licence. This allows you to set up a business anywhere in mainland Dubai.

The other option available is a Free Zone licence. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to set up your business as a non-resident in Dubai, UAE.

Depending on the free zone jurisdiction, you could be exempt from 100% customs duty and 0% corporate tax. Steps involved in starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner or non-resident.

Work with a business consultant

A business consultant might be a single person or a firm that takes care of the process of setting up your business in Dubai. If you are a non-resident, it is advised to work with a local expert who can help you with the required documents before submitting your application.

Choose your business activities.

The type of business activities you intend to carry out will have a bearing on the best licence for your business, For example, if your business falls into the industrial or manufacturing sector, you will require an industrial licence. If you are in the business of importing and exporting goods, then you will require a commercial licence.

Mainland or Free Zone

A business set-up consultant will advise you on the best location and jurisdiction for your business based on your needs and the type of activities you would carry out as a business.

Choose a Company Name

The process of naming a company in Dubai is a little different from the rest of the world. You must abide by the rules set up by the government.

Try to avoid offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid the names of well-known organisations and abbreviations. You can name your company after your name. Your business setup consultant will check if the name chosen is available before registering it.

Apply for a licence.

Now for the most important step: applying for the trade licence. If you wish to set up a business in mainland Dubai, you should make your application to the relevant body, such as the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). If you are setting up your business in a free zone, you can apply directly to the managing authority.

Documents required to set up business in Dubai.

establishing your business in a free zone or on the mainland, you will usually be required to provide

  • A completed application form
  • Articles of incorporation (if required)
  • Passport copies for all shareholders
  • A summary of the intended business activities

Start your business in Dubai with Al Hadif

I hope you got answers to most of your questions as a non-resident who wishes to set up business in Dubai.

The business start-up process is easy if you have the right guidance and knowledge.

To help you with the process, it's a good idea to work with a local business set-up consultant in Dubai to easily establish a new company in the UAE.

Al Hadif is a team of business setup professionals with more than a decade of experience in handling clients like you.

Be it a start-up or an established organisation, we have got you covered by handling your licence application, assisting with corporate bank account openings and advising on the right financial institutions which suit your needs.

Still having questions? Contact Al Hadif Business Setup now at +971558104646.


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