Starting a business in the United Arab Emirates

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It is relatively easy to set up a business in the United Arab Emirates as an expat, at least when it comes to formalities . Add to this that the UAE government encourages foreign investment and entrepreneurship through a number of programs, schemes and incentives.

What will be the legal status of your company in the United Arab Emirates? Different options are available to you:

The sole proprietorship: as its name suggests, the sole proprietorship belongs to a single person. As an expat, you can set up a sole proprietorship in the UAE, however, businesses of a commercial and industrial nature can only be opened by nationals

Limited liability company: here, the financial liability of each shareholder is limited to the value of the shares he holds. If you want to open a limited liability company as an expat, you will need a local partner with at least 51% ownership of the business.

Civil society: if you are a doctor and want to open your own practice, or a lawyer wishing to create his study, etc., you must register a civil society, which again requires the presence of a local partner holding at least 51% of the shares of the company.

Company in a free zone: in such a case, your company must have between two and five shareholders. Whether companies in free zones can be wholly foreign-owned, exempt from personal and corporate taxes, etc. there are limitations and requirements! Thus, companies established in the free zone cannot, for example, be involved in commercial activities directly with the United Arab Emirates. In some free zones there are also minimum capital requirements.

Foreign branch: When a foreign company is established in the UAE, it must be wholly owned by the parent company. If, however, said company is involved in any trading activity, any type of goods it imports will need to be imported through a local trading company.

UAE Representative: LLC, Private Joint Stock (PJSC) and Public Joint Stock (PrJSC) companies require a partnership with a UAE national. This regulation is also applicable in the context of the creation of a civil company carrying out an engineering activity. The Emirati partner must sponsor the business and can also take full responsibility for the business in terms of renting, managing a bank account , etc.

Local service agent: some companies need a local service agent, for example, if it is a branch of a foreign company or a civil company (without engineering activity). The local service agent must be either a local citizen or a company whose capital is exclusively owned by Emiratis. The agent takes care of all the formalities for obtaining work and residence visas , but he is not involved in the management of the company.

Freelancing in the United Arab Emirates

To work as a freelancer in the United Arab Emirates, you must apply for a freelance license in the emirate where you plan to work.

The following documents are generally required:

A copy of your identity document

A letter of reference from your bank

Certificates and diplomas proving that you have the required qualifications related to the field in which you will work as a freelancer

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You will need to make your own visa and health insurance arrangements .

As a self-employed person in the UAE, you are not allowed to hire and sponsor visas for your family members to come to the UAE.

If you plan to start an e-commerce business in the United Arab Emirates, you must apply through the Department of Economic Development and then apply for an eTrade license from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Wait to obtain a visa that will allow you to create and operate your business in the United Arab Emirates to choose its status and continue your process.

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