Setting up your UAE Mainland Company

A mainland company in the UAE is also commonly known as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), or a DED (Department of Economic Development) company.

Businesses registered in the mainland jurisdiction enjoy:

• Unrestricted Access to Local and International Markets 

• Eligibility for Tax Resident status 

• Easy Formation process 

• Accommodating Banking facilities

• Credible Reputation

If a mainland company enjoys such outsized benefits, why don’t more foreign investors opt to setup their business in the mainland jurisdiction of the UAE?

Most mainland companies require participation of a UAE national (either in an individual capacity, or through a wholly UAE national-owned company) within the mainland company’s structure.

This can be in the form of a majority shareholder wielding 51 percent of shares, or as an authorized company agent, depending on the entity type.

When foreign investors want to setup their business in Dubai and the UAE, such a requirement is usually a non-starter for them because it is not the status-quo in most developed markets that clients come from.

For clients who may not be open to the idea of a proposed mainland company formation in the UAE, a free zone company in the UAE, with 100% foreign ownership, might be appealing.

Let us now give you a simplified overview of the process of registering your mainland business in the UAE.

1/ Selecting your business activity

2/ Understanding the licensing requirements

3/ Preparing and securing the applicable licensing documentation

4/ Obtaining the DED-issued Trade Licence

5/ Applying for residence visas

6/ Setting up meetings with bankers for the corporate account application

Things to Note when Forming your Mainland Company in the UAE

1. Business Activity 

• Does the proposed business activity fall under a Commercial, Professional, or Industrial licence? 

• Is the business activity a regulated activity? 

• Are additional qualifications required for the licensed operations?

2. UAE National Participation 

• Does the proposed license require a 51-49 percent shareholding structure, or 100 percent foreign ownership with mandatory local company agent? 

• For licenses that could opt for either a 51-49 structure or a local service agent, which option is the best solution for your needs? 

• How to safeguard the interests of all parties involved? 

3. Residence Visa

• How many residence visas are required? 

• Are dependent visas required?

4. Physical Office Facilities

• Does the licensed activity require physical office premises, or allows for an upgrade within a set timeframe? 

• Which area would be ideal for the company’s premises to be located?

• What is the minimum office facility allowed during the initial stages?  

5. Additional Requirements

• Value Added Tax (VAT) considerations? 

• Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) considerations?

• Appointment of Accountant and Auditors? 

• Government Liaison Officer (GLO) or Public Relations Officer (PRO) services? 

Contact INCORPORTAS today for any other clarifications regarding the proposed mainland business setup in Dubai and the UAE.

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