If you want to start a business in UAE, there are a few things you should know. Here are some practical tips to get you set up.
How to get a business visa in the UAE
If you are going to start a business in the UAE, you will need to get a visa to live and work in the country. There are two types for entrepreneurs. Both five-year and 10-year visas are available without sponsorship.
To get a five-year visa, there are two options. First, you must have references for an existing project with a minimum capital of UAE Dh500,000. Second, you must be approved by an accredited business incubator in the UAE.
The 10-year visa is more difficult to obtain. Again, there are two options. In the first case, you must contribute at least UAE Dh10 million as a public investment. Alternatively, you can also set up a company with a capital of at least UAE Dh10 million or invest UAE Dh10 million in an existing company.
There are exceptions for people with special talents. For example, a 10-year visa can be granted to creative individuals with the approval of the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
Registering your business in the UAE
If you are starting a business in the UAE, you will first need to choose a business name. Start by talking to the local free zone authorities or the Department of Economic Development; they will be able to tell you if your name is acceptable. UAE laws state that trade names must not violate public morals, must not be pre-registered and must be consistent with the required activities and legal status of the business.
If you have a name, you will need to apply for a business license. There are four types available in the UAE mainland such as commercial, professional, industrial and tourism.
If you are operating in a free zone, you will need to apply directly to the relevant zone. This will depend on your business activity. For example, twofour54 in Abu Dhabi is mainly involved in creative industries such as graphic design, advertising and app development. Conversely, DMCC in Dubai focuses on energy, commodities, gold and diamonds, construction, healthcare and shipping.
Registration and licensing are done simultaneously. To register your business, you will need to submit an application to the relevant local authority or the Free Zone. In addition, you will need to provide the following documents:
- A completed application form
- Business Plan
- Copies of passports of shareholders/directors
- Sample signatures of shareholders/directors
- Letter of Intent
You will also need to provide the following to complete your licensing:
- A resolution of the board of directors appointing a manager/director of the company
- Power of attorney for the manager/director
- Memorandum and Articles of Association
- A specimen signature of the manager/director
- Photograph of the manager/director
- Equity information
You will also need to register your business online with the Federal Internal Revenue Service.
Licenses and permits
For the most part, you can obtain a business license from the Department of Economic Development or your local free zone. However, some companies may need special licenses. For example, manufacturing companies must be approved by the Ministry of Finance and Industry, and the UAE Ministry of Health issues licenses to medical and pharmaceutical companies.