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Starting a Business in a UAE Free Zone


Be it for budding entrepreneurs or established businesses, UAE is one of the best places to start a business. 

According to the UAE’s National Economic Register (NER), UAE’s free trade zones had around 60,000+ companies registered in the first half of 2021. 

Also, UAE offers equal opportunities to every investor and has made investment-friendly laws to help business owners who want to enter the market.

For newcomers, establishing a new business venture in a global business hub like UAE can sound intimidating. That's why we have prepared a step-by-step, free guide on how to start a business in a UAE-free zone in 2022. 

Let’s take a look at it - 

What is a Free zone company in UAE?  

A free zone company is a company formed within a special jurisdiction that comes under a particular Emirate. As of now, over 40 Free Zones operating in the UAE as a whole. Free zone jurisdictions have their own regulations and have a government regulatory body called the Free Zone Authority.

Explaining free trade zones in UAE 

In simple terms, free trade zones or free zones in UAE are places where you can open a business completely without all kinds of liable tax-related expenses.

If you have a business or a company in UAE’s free trade zones, you are completely exempted from all types of taxation, such as Income Tax, VAT, Customs, and Corporate Tax while having 100% ownership of the business or company. 

Starting a company in UAE: Free Trade Zone vs. Mainland UAE

You might think that UAE’s free trade zones are quite oversaturated by now, after all the free zones are in UAE since the 1980s.

But the Government of UAE offers a lot of opportunities to the people willing to set up a company in UAE’s free zones and these opportunities are always going up. 

As of 2022, there are more than 40 multidisciplinary free zones in UAE.

Over the years, these free trade zones are getting more thumbs-ups from foreign traders than the city’s mainland area. 


Steps to set up a company in UAE’s free trade zones

In the Free zones of UAE, 100% foreign ownership has been allowed, making them a big hit among investors.

Also, free zones in UAE have been established at places of transit like seaports, and airports to help investors maximize trading opportunities. Free zones in UAE have been set up across multiple locations, where each free zone is dedicated to a particular business niche.

Here’s how you can open a business in UAE’s free trade zones - 

1. Determine the type of legal authority for your business

To know the legal authorities that regulate the free trade zones, read this detailed blog from The United Arab Emirates' Government portal on how to start a business in UAE’s free zones. 

2. Choose a trade name

Check with the respective free zone authority or the Department of Economic Development about the permitted trade names and whether your chosen name already exists.

3. Apply for a business license

There’s a list of business activities that can earn a license from the UAE government, check the updated list before applying for the license to the respective authority. 

4. Choose an office space

Depending on the situation, you can either buy or lease office spaces in free zones. 

5. Get pre-approvals, register your business and get your license

Collect all the required documents and apply for initial approvals, company registration, licensing, and to initiate the visa process. 
The whole process is very simple and can take merely a time of 2-4 weeks depending on which freezone you choose.

Documents Required for free zone company formation in UAE

  • Application license form.
  • Business card.
  • Business plan outlay.
  • MOA(Memorandum of Association) and AOA(Articles of Association)
  • Passport copies.
  • Banking reference and license of the partners existing business if required.

Investors need to follow the above-described procedure to start a business in UAE-free zones. 
The whole process will not take more than 4 weeks to complete. Given the opportunities the government is providing for free zone traders, the process shouldn't be difficult at all. 

Advantages of Free Zone Business in UAE

  • Complete foreign ownership as no local partner is required.
  • The whole of the profits earned can be repatriated.
  • Tax-free business zones with an investor not bound to pay any kind of taxes.
  • There are no controls over foreign currency exchanges and no limit being imposed on funds transfer.
  • No duties being charged on any kind of goods.
  • The energy needs can be very inexpensive in all Freezones.
  • Easy procedure while applying for a business license.
  • Office spaces are available in abundance both for sale as well as rent.
  • Easy to obtain visas for skilled workers as they have been made very affordable.
  • One can operate the offices 24*7 as no timing restrictions have been put in place.
  • A procedure that one needs to follow while step to Setup a business in Free zone UAE. 

On a summarised note, you just need to remember a few important keywords to open a successful business in a free zone in UAE - finding the legal free zone authority, getting a trading name, applying for the license, picking an office space, pre-approval, registration, apply for the visa. 

Why Choose Bisdesk?

Bisdesk has been helping clients with freezone company formation in UAE for the past several years.  With their years of experience working with individuals and companies of all sizes, our team of experts will assist you throughout the entire business setup process.The majority of freezone businesses can be formed without the investor's physical presence. BisDesk specializes in offering one-stop services that include choosing the ideal freezone, selecting the ideal office space, gathering all necessary paperwork, filling out and submitting the necessary paperwork, and following up until the license is issued. These services are then followed by assistance with obtaining a visa and opening a bank account.
Contact Bisdesk today for setting up an Freezone business in UAE!