Opening a company in the Arab Emirates – what companies can be registered in 2020?
Many businessmen decide to open a company in the в UAE. This article provides a review of types of companies you may register, as well as their main peculiarities.
The UAE actually offer the following variants for opening business in the country:
- Company that may be 100% owned by non-residents.
- Local company where 51% of shares must belong to citizens of the UAE.
- Besides, foreign companies that wish to open business in the UAE without registering a local company may establish in the UAE
- a branch or;
- a representative office.
Before choosing the type of company to establish in the UAE, you need first to choose the emirate for registration of business, define the type of activity and products, and then choose the organizational-legal form suitable for your business intentions.
Registration of a company in the UAE with 100% foreign ownership
Under the “Law of the UAE on commercial companies” that regulates opening business in all seven emirates of the UAE, a full foreign ownership (i.e. case where a shareholder-UAE citizen is not required) is only possible for the following types of companies.
Registration of a company in the UAE in a free trade zone
Foreign businessmen can establish a company in the UAE in a free trade zone in the form of limited liability company. In such a case, participation of UAE citizen as a shareholder is not necessary.
Free trade zone or free economic zone (FTZ), or a free zone is a limited district in the emirates that is a separate jurisdiction from the UAE. Within FTZ, companies can be registered. Each free zone of the UAE defines its own rules governing the operation of companies.
The UAE have already established more than forty different FTZ.
Minimum requirements to shareholders and directors, as well as minimum requirements to the shareholding capital, vary between emirates and free zones.
What will be a company registered in the free zone UAE best for?
Companies in free zones are perfect for regional distribution or creation of a holding center for international trading company, which main portion of business is carried outside the UAE.
Registration of a professional service company in the UAE
Foreign investors may establish a company with limited liability in the UAE for provision of professional services in the emirates without a requirement of having a partner-citizen of the UAE.
Although a partner-citizen of the UAE is not required, such a company will have to assign:
- Citizen of the UAE as a local service agent; and
- Local auditor;
before starting the commercial activity.
What are the major benefits of registration of a professional service company in the UAE?
Professional service company is best for clients who want to provide professional services, e.g. for lawyer and bookkeeper companies, IT advisers, advisers on management, and marketing advisers.
Opening branch in the UAE
A foreign company that wants to operate in the UAE without registration of a local company may open a branch to bill clients from the UAE, to sign local purchase-and-sale agreements, and to obtain income from local clients.
A branch established by a foreign company does not form a separate company; it is a part of a foreign company. Therefore, it is considered that a foreign company directly makes business in the UAE and does not bear unlimited responsibility for operation of its branch.
Just as a professional service company, a branch must assign:
- National service agent; and
- Auditor certified at a local level;
before starting its activity in the UAE.
What are the main benefits of opening a branch in the UAE?
This type of opening business in the UAE is only recommended for clients who want to establish their headquarters in the emirates.
Opening a representative office in the UAE
“The Law of the UAE on commercial companies” also permits foreign companies establishing representative office in the emirates. The range of activity of representative offices is limited by:
- Activity on promotion of a parent company; and
- Marketing studies.
That way, a representative office may not perform commercial activity in the UAE. Nevertheless, in such a case a local service agent and auditor is not necessary.
What are the main benefits if opening a representative office in the UAE?
Opening a representative office in the UAE is recommended for those who want to promote their business and study the emirates’ market without performing any activity bringing profit in the country.
Registration of an offshore company in the UAE
An offshore company in the UAE is registered in one of offshore business centers. Such kind of a company may not perform business in the UAE, including in the territory of free zones. A company may perform business operations only outside the.
The law on companies does not impose requirements to the minimum shareholding capital for such companies.
What will you obtain from registration of an offshore company in the UAE?
Registration of an offshore company in the UAE is recommended for foreign businessmen who want to operate on foreign markets without any tax obligations.
Registration of a company in the UAE with participation of a shareholder-citizen of the emirates
“The Law of the UAE on commercial companies” allows foreign investors and businessmen creating trade companies in the Arab Emirates outside free zones. The most popular types of such companies are companies with limited liability and shareholding company.
Registration of a limited liability company in the UAE
To register a limited liability company you will need at least 2 shareholders, one of whom must be a UAE citizen owning 51% of shares.
There is no standard requirement to the minimum shareholding capital; nevertheless, different emirates define certain requirements to the minimum shareholding capital from 1 to 50,000 dollars.
What are the main advantages of registration of a limited liability company in the UAE?
A limited liability company is one of the most popular forms of companies for foreign investors who want to make business within the UAE outside free zones.
Opening a shareholding company in the UAE
Under the law, two types of shareholding companies can be registered in the UAE:
- Closed shareholding company; and
- Public shareholding
A Closed shareholding company requires:
- Payment of a shareholding capital not less than 5 million dirham (1.36 million dollars). A capital shall be fully paid.
- 51% of company shares must be owned by citizens of the UAE living in the country.
What is the main advantage of registration of a closed shareholding company in the UAE?
A closed shareholding company may only perform big commercial and industrial activity in the UAE, and may not provide professional services.
A Public shareholding company requires:
- Minimum shareholding capital shall be not less than 30 million dirham (8.17 million dollars). Not less than 25% of a capital shall be paid at establishment of a company.
- A company shall have at least 5 participants-founders who are citizens of the UAE. They must own 30% to 70% of a shareholding capital.
What is the main advantage of registration of a public shareholding company in the UAE?
A public shareholding company is recommended for investors who want their company to participate in a listing on local stock exchanges.
Registration of a limited liability partnership in the UAE
A limited liability partnership can be registered by at least one general partner, who will be liable under obligations of a partnership within the full scope with all his assets, and one partner-participant, who is liable only within his personal investments and shares.
A general partner in a limited liability partnership shall be citizen of the UAE living in the country.
What is the main advantage of registration of a limited liability partnership in the UAE?
A limited liability partnership is recommended for professionals in such spheres as law, bookkeeping account, audit, and other.
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