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Frequently asked questions

Here you can find answers to the most frequent asked questions. Search for a keyword or browse the questions below.

Company Incorporation

General Queries

How do I register my business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

Setting up your business in the UAE can be a little daunting to outsiders. You will need to decide on the appropriate jurisdiction, structure, legal type and business activity. After you have incorporated your company, you can apply for residence visas, set up your corporate bank account and apply for VAT registration.

For a detailed look at the additional factors involved in a proposed company formation, you can check out our guide.

Can foreigners setup a company in UAE?

Yes! With its advantageous taxation policies, a business-friendly environment, high standards of living, and excellent connectivity, the UAE is the top destination in the Middle East for investors and entrepreneurs looking to invest and grow their business.

What are the tax benefits of setting up a business in the UAE?

  • No corporate income tax (except for certain regulated sectors),
  • No personal income tax (for UAE residents)
  • No capital gains tax,
  • No dividends tax,
  • No withholding tax,
  • 5% VAT on applicable transactions. “Reverse charge” provision is available for transactions within the GCC. The VAT rate of the export of goods and services is usually at 0%.
  • Extensive network of bilateral double taxation agreements.

What legal types are available within the UAE?

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Civil Company (typically for professionals such as doctors, accountants, or architects)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Partnership
  • Private and Public joint stock company (Share Holding Company)
  • Branch of a Foreign Company/ Representative Office of a Foreign Company

In addition to the legal types, it is also important to distinguish between separate jurisdictions in the UAE. Each jurisdiction functions as an individual business registrar with its own rules and regulations for companies incorporated in that jurisdiction.

Does my proposed UAE company need to have a physical presence in the UAE?

It depends on the selected business activity and the legal type of the company in the UAE. Onshore entities like mainland companies and free zone companies are required to maintain a degree of physical presence in the UAE. Offshore structures do not need to maintain a physical presence in the UAE.

Are the details of a company’s shareholder(s) and or director(s) publicly available?

There is no unified business register in the UAE. Instead, there are more than 70 different registrars, each with its own registry and rules. Most of the registers are not publicly available, and even then, the information available is often limited to the name of the company, registered office address, license number, without any additional details.

How long will the entire UAE company incorporation process take?

It depends on how fast you can compile and share the documents. Incorporating an offshore company in the UAE can take a few days; and up to one week for a free zone company incorporation.

All applications for company incorporation are subject to authorities’ approval.


What types of company jurisdictions are available within the UAE?

The UAE offers both onshore and offshore jurisdictions.

  • Offshore jurisdiction – Exclusively to conduct business outside of the UAE. These companies cannot benefit from the bilateral double taxation agreements ratified by the UAE. Offshore companies incorporated in the UAE can be used to purchase real estate in Dubai. There is no possibility of obtaining a residence visa through an Offshore company.
  • Onshore jurisdiction – This is further subdivided into:
    • Mainland – Each of the 7 emirates has its own business registrar and regulations. For certain activities, it is mandatory to have the participation of a local partner (so-called sponsor) who functions as some form of guarantor.
    • Free Zone – Established by law, there are more than 70 free zones across the UAE, each independently governed by its own registrar and regulations. 100% foreign ownership of shares in free zone companies is allowed.

I intend to conduct business in the UAE. What is the best jurisdiction for me?

For carrying out your proposed business in the UAE, onshore companies are best suited for you, either a Mainland company, or a Free Zone company.

Who is the sponsor?

The sponsor is a local partner (UAE or GCC national) who is necessary to obtain authorization for certain business activities of the company. He acts as a 51% partner or as a registered service agent. Mainland companies conducting certain activities no longer need a local sponsor. Companies registered in free zones also do not need a local sponsor.

The sponsor generally does not participate in the ongoing management of the company but is entitled to an annual sponsor fee. Contact us to find out more.

I do not intend to conduct any business in the UAE. Which type of company is suitable for me?

You can use a Free Zone company or an Offshore company for your wholly international business activities.


Am I required to travel to the UAE to setup my proposed company?

For a Mainland company, physical presence is required. For Free Zone companies and Offshore companies, physical presence in the UAE is not mandatory.

However, your physical presence is required in the UAE for your residence visa application and bank account application.

What are the required documents to register a company in the UAE?

Standard required information and documents include proposed company names, proposed company business profile and description, and KYC (Know Your Client) information.

Authorities may request for additional documents at their discretion.

How many shareholders do I need for a UAE company?

Most legal types of companies require a minimum of 1 shareholder. The exception is a Partnership, which requires at least 2 shareholders. The maximum number of shareholders is generally capped at 50 shareholders. A shareholder can be a natural person or juridical person.

Who can be appointed as the director/ manager/ officer of a UAE company?

Any natural person that is 18 years old and above.

What is the minimum share capital of a UAE company?

It varies across the different jurisdictions as there are no standard regulations governing a company’s share capital in the UAE.

Some jurisdictions require a proven confirmation of the paid-up share capital, some jurisdictions require a self-declaration of paid-up share capital, whereas some jurisdictions do not require for any paid-up share capital at the time of incorporation.

TEST What do I need to take note of after the company is incorporated in the UAE?

  • Apply for residence visas in the UAE.
  • Open a corporate and or individual bank account.
  • Register for Value Added Tax once you have fulfilled the turnover criteria.
  • Ensure compliance with requirements such as Economic Substance Regulations, Ultimate Beneficial Owner Regulations.

Residency services

General Queries

What is a UAE residence visa?

A UAE residence visa is a document permitting its holder to lawfully reside in the UAE throughout the period of its validity. There are different types of residence visas such as the following:

  • Golden Visas – issued to important individuals, investors, scientists, innovators, doctors, or individuals that have contributed to the development of the UAE.
  • Investor/ Partner Visas – issued to owners of companies based in the UAE.
  • Employment Visas – issued to employees of UAE companies.
  • Dependent Visas – issued to family members of existing UAE residence visa holders, subject to requirements.
  • Student Visas – issued to students studying in the UAE.

How long is the UAE residence visa valid for?

The validity of the residence visa is subject to compliance with the conditions of the visa issuance during its validity period. When the visas expire, they can be renewed (extended for the same duration) provided that the conditions for the visa issuance have been fulfilled.
  • Golden Visas – for 5 or 10 years.
  • Investor/ Partner Visas – for 3 years.
  • Employment Visas – for 2 or 3 years.
  • Dependent Visas – for 1- 3 years.
  • Student Visas – for 1 or 5 years.

A UAE residence visa holder cannot leave the UAE for more than 180 consecutive calendar days (although the visa states 6 months, it is in fact 6 x 30 days), or else the visas will be cancelled.

What are the benefits of holding a UAE residence visa?

  • The residence visa holder has a smoother and easier travel access into the UAE, using the Emirates ID or passport with the self-service Smart Gates, without having to wait in line for an immigration officer,
  • Possibility to reside in the UAE throughout the validity period of the visas; and depending on the visa category, the opportunity to legally work, do business and or study in the UAE,
  • Access to a UAE mobile sim card, which is valid as long as your residence visa is valid (unlike a tourist mobile sim card that is only valid for 3 months),
  • Access to a local resident bank account and financial services (credit facilities such credit cards, mortgages),
  • Opportunity to become a UAE tax resident.

Can a foreign national business owner relocate and reside in the UAE?

Yes! Foreign national can apply for a residence visa after incorporating their company in the UAE. You may also hire employees and apply for their visas under the UAE company.

Can I sponsor my spouse, children, or parents to relocate and reside in the UAE?

Yes! Dependent visas are also available in the UAE, and they are linked to the individual who is sponsoring the dependents (“the sponsor”). The sponsor needs to hold a valid residence visa and fulfill certain conditions before being able to sponsor the dependents.

Starting and Applying for the Residence Visa Application

When can I start the residence visa application?

You may start the residence visa application only after the immigration (establishment) card is issued. After the company is incorporated, it takes 3- 5 working days for the immigration (establishment) card to be issued.

When should the applicant physically come to the UAE for the residence visa application?

The applicant can enter the UAE after the immigration (establishment) card is issued. Without the immigration (establishment) card, we cannot start the residence visa application process.

What is the process for a residence visa application?

Eligible applicants will have to undergo a mandatory a medical fitness test (consisting of a chest X-ray checking for TB and blood tests for HIV tests); and the registration of biometric features (facial and fingerprints).

Applicants below a certain age do not need to go through this process.

How long will the residence visa application process take?

The medical fitness test and biometric registration generally takes a maximum of two working days.

Once the “medically fit” report is issued, the immigration authorities will approve and complete the residence visa stamping process, which will take an additional 4 working days.

Do I need to be physically available throughout the residence visa application process?

You need to be physically present only during the medical fitness test and biometric registration process. The remainder steps for the residence visa stamping can be undertaken without your physical participation.

Can I leave the UAE halfway through the residence visa application process?

No! This is because your passport will be submitted to the immigration authorities for the residence visa stamping procedure. You cannot leave the UAE before the visa stamping process is completed (even if you hold more than one passport).

How long should I allocate my stay in the UAE to complete the residence visa application process?

We recommend allocating at least 5 full working days.

Emirates ID

What is Emirates ID?

Apart from having a UAE residence visa sticker on your passport, UAE residents are also issued an identity card, commonly known as the Emirates ID. It allows UAE-based authorities and institutions quick access to your legal information. Residents should carry their Emirates ID with them at all times.

When can I receive my Emirates ID?

Your Emirates ID is generally issued 4 to 5 working days after the residence visa is stamped. You may choose to extend your stay in the UAE to receive your Emirates ID or authorize third parties such as ourselves to collect it on your behalf.

Banking services

General Queries

When can I start the bank account application?

Your UAE bank account application will only start once you’re physically present in the UAE and have met the banks’ representatives. This is applicable for both corporate and individual bank accounts.

Can I apply for a bank account with any UAE banks?

Yes! You may apply for a bank account with any licensed UAE bank. However, each bank has different requirements for onboarding clients, and some UAE banks do not open bank accounts for companies from certain jurisdictions or companies that do not meet certain requirements.

Can I apply for a bank account with international banks?

International banks operate in the UAE with certain restrictions, and accordingly, their onboarding requirements for clients are higher and far stringent. Clients may find it relatively easier to opt for a corporate bank account with local UAE banks instead.

Do UAE banks offer multicurrency accounts?

Yes! Most UAE banks offer the major currencies, such as United Stated dollar (USD), euro (EUR), pound sterling (GBP). The United Arab Emirates dirham (AED) is always provided as a base currency.

Is internet banking standard across UAE banks?

Yes. Internet banking is standard across UAE banks. However, certain banking functions will still require physical presence of the signatory at the bank branch in the UAE.

Can I open two bank accounts with different banks?

Yes! It is always in the best interests of the business to have more than one bank account as a business planning measure.

Corporate Bank Account

Can I open a UAE corporate bank account for my UAE company?

Yes! UAE banks prefer onboarding and issuing accounts to companies based in the UAE. However, it is mandatory to fulfill the bank’s requirement for opening a bank account.

My company is not a UAE-based company. Can I open a UAE corporate bank account?

It depends on fulfilling the bank’s requirements, and the requirements are much more stricter. It is mandatory for the superlegalization of company documents and the declaration of ultimate beneficial owner(s). The bank account signatory should also be a UAE residence visa holder.

Is it mandatory for my UAE company to have a UAE bank account?

No! It is not mandatory for your UAE company, but in some specific cases, it is required to have a UAE bank account. For example, VAT registration in the UAE requires the company to provide a local IBAN.

How long will it take to open a corporate bank account in the UAE?

It depends on multiple factors. In our experience, it takes between 2 weeks to 4 months.

Individual Bank Account

Can I open an individual bank account as a UAE resident?

Yes! You may apply for an individual bank account with any licensed UAE banks.

I am not a UAE resident. Can I open an individual bank account in the UAE?

Yes! You may apply for a non-resident bank account with any licensed UAE banks. However, certain restrictions will be enforced, especially the reporting of these non-resident bank accounts.


What is the minimum average balance required to open a bank account in the UAE?

It generally starts from USD 12.000, depending largely on the client’s profile. The banks charge a fall below fee if the minimum average balance is not maintained in the account.

For individual accounts, if foreign currency accounts are not required, it is possible to open a bank account without any minimum balance requirements.

What are the required documents for opening a corporate bank account in the UAE?

For more information on the full set of required documents, please check out this detailed article on our blog.

Accounting, audit and VAT services

General Queries

What accounting services do you provide?

Through our network of licensed and qualified partners, we can assist and prepare financial reports, bookkeeping, statement of accounts, audited and unaudited statements. We can also assist for VAT registration and de-registration and VAT filings (monthly/ quarterly)

If you have specific needs, let us know and we will be happy to assist with your company’s needs.

What are my VAT reporting obligations in the UAE?

Currently, the main obligations for VAT-registered companies in the UAE is to file VAT returns (monthly/ quarterly).

What are the accounting standards in the UAE?

The United Arab Emirates does not have a domestic national standard, but instead follows the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

How should I report to the tax authorities?

You communicate to the tax authorities electronically through a dedicated Federal Tax Authority (FTA) online portal.


Are audited financial statements mandatory in the UAE?

Audited financial statements are mandatory for all Mainland companies, and for companies registered in certain Free Zone jurisdictions.

However, it is also important to distinguish between a company’s obligation to prepare an audit, and the obligation to submit the audited financial statements to relevant authorities within the prescribed deadline.

We regularly advise clients to prepare audited financial statements and recommend selecting our packaged services that include bookkeeping, VAT registration, VAT filing and audits.

Value Added Tax in the UAE

When do I have to register for VAT in the UAE?

If your company’s turnover exceeds or is expected to exceed 375.000 AED (USD 102.110,28), it is mandatory for you to register for VAT in the UAE.

If your company’s turnover exceeds or is expected to exceed 187.500 AED (51.055,13 USD), you can voluntarily register for VAT in the UAE.

Please note that the turnover also includes the supply of goods and services that are not subject to VAT (exempt); or are subject to a 0% VAT rate (zero-rated) such as the export of goods and services.

We strongly advise our clients to register for VAT as soon as the voluntary registration threshold is met to prevent heavy penalties from the tax authorities due to late registration.

If I conduct business exclusively outside of the UAE, do I need to charge VAT to my clients?

If you are VAT-registered, and supply services exclusively outside of the UAE, such transactions should be with a 0% VAT rate. However, we strongly recommend that you consult with a tax advisor before starting the business, as VAT-related matters can be complex.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have specific business queries.

Other services

General Queries

What additional services do you provide?

We can assist with the various services ranging from the superlegalization of foreign documents for use in the UAE or documents issued in the UAE for use abroad, submission of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) updates with banks, and registration of Wills in UAE courts, and the conversion of driving licenses.

We also assist with the specific individual requirements of clients’, such as assistance with the relocation of entire families to the UAE, market research and location scouting, and assistance in negotiations with local partners.

Why do I need to superlegalize documents? Is apostille not enough?

The UAE is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. As a result, foreign-issued legal documents and UAE-issued legal documents need to undergo the superlegalization process before being accepted for use in the UAE or abroad.

Why do I need to notarize documents?

It is a legal requirement for the certification of signatures by a notary for the signed documents to be legally binding. Examples of such documents include partnership agreements, certain board resolutions, or Power of Attorneys.

Why do I need my company registrar to attest my corporate documents?

The company registrar is the governing authority for each individual jurisdiction. Accordingly, the company registrar is responsible for the issuance of the documents, certificates, extracts, and declarations related to companies registered under its regulatory oversight.

What is a Tax Residency Certificate (TRC)?

Eligible applicants that wish to benefit from Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement ratified by the UAE should apply for a Tax Residency Certificate in the UAE.

Why do I need to apply for a UAE residence visa?

A UAE residence visa is mandatory for clients to legally reside in the UAE. Tourist visas generally only allow up the holder to remain in the UAE for 90 consecutive days per year. Non-residents also have limited access to services available in the UAE.

Holding a valid UAE residence visa also increases your economic substance in the UAE.

Why do I need to apply for a UAE driving license if I already hold an existing driving license from my home country?

UAE residents are legally obliged to hold a UAE-issued driving license to drive in the UAE, unlike tourists who can drive with their home country driving licenses. You can either convert an existing foreign-issued driving license (only for eligible countries) or undergo driving lessons and examinations in the UAE.

Why do I need to translate certain documents into Arabic?

Arabic is the official language in the UAE. In general, documents in Arabic-language are required for communications with local mainland authorities. Free Zone jurisdictions generally accept English-language documents. Dual English-Arabic documents are commonplace too.

A translation by certified and licensed translators is mandatory for the translations to be accepted by the applicable authorities. We can assist you with our network of licensed and qualified legal translators.

What is a UAE residential address proof?

This refers to a proof of residential address in the UAE for residents.
Residence visas and Emirates IDs are not linked to a specific address.

Generally accepted either in the form of a property title deed, a registered tenancy contract (e.g. EJARI), or electric and water utilities bill (e.g. DEWA). It is commonly requested by UAE banks.

What is a “Know Your Client” Update?

Banks and other institutions regularly conduct checks and verify the up-to-date validity of clients’ information, the nature of business transactions and business partners (clients/ suppliers) as part of “Know Your Customer” procedures.

Banks may request updated information such as legal documents (renewed company trade license, valid residence visas), UBO details, residential address proof and other applicable documents.

Can I register a Will in the UAE?

Yes, but this service is only available to non-Muslims because it renounces the application of Sharia law regarding the distribution of assets.

We advise clients who own tangible or intangible assets in the UAE to register a Will to prevent possible complications in the future.