Incorporating Your Business in Dubai

Incorporating Your Business in Dubai



1. Do I need a company to do business in Dubai?

Yes, in order to carry out business in the Dubai, an investor is required to establish a formal legal presence (directly or indirectly – through a commercial agent) in Dubai. There are many options open to foreign companies and individuals who seek to establish a business presence in Dubai. These are some of the common types of arrangements/entities:

  • A limited liability company
  • A branch of a foreign company
  • A free zone company
  • A civil company
  • A commercial agency

Carrying out a business in Dubai without the necessary licenses and permits is considered illegal and can call for huge penalties and fines.

2. Do I need an office space for my business?

Yes, an office space is a mandatory requirement for all kinds of companies incorporated in Dubai. To minimize costs, you may opt to rent a small office space or avail the flexi desk or work station options provided by the various free zones in Dubai.

3. Should I set up in a Free Zone or outside the free zone?

This will entirely depend on the type of business you intend to carry out in Dubai. It is very important to choose the right licensing location for your business. While deciding the business location companies should give primary importance to their long term objectives and factors like the type of business, the type and place of customers, possible government tenders, import and export etc. before making a decision.

4. How much fees will I have to pay to set up my business?

The fees you will need to pay will depend on factors like the type of business you intend to set up and the licensing zone you choose. You will have to initially budget for the following: 

  • license fees
  • registration fees
  • translation and attestation costs
  • office rent
  • share capital
  • fee payable to local partner or agent etc.

5. Do I have to renew my license?

Yes, in the Dubai and UAE, all companies should renew their licenses annually. Failure to renew the license will result in the company incurring fines and penalties and other sanctions which can deny the company access to various government services.


  • Dubai is one of the easiest places to set up and do business. With immense support from the Dubai Government, innumerable licensing options, streamlined licensing requirements and a tax free environment, Dubai has developed to be one of the top favourite destinations for key commercial players
  • The Department of Economic Development (“DED”) in Dubai has a robust licensing system which assists individuals and companies in registering their companies in Dubai. They have services like “hassle free license renewals by SMS and a dedicated Business Registration & Licensing (BRL) sector. To put it into perspective, the DED issued around 26,707 licenses in 2016.
  • Dubai has several free zones or free trade zones which provide excellent facilities for international companies to carry out trading, manufacturing and other services. Once you have decided to set up in one of Dubai’s Free Zones, you should then consider the various features of each of these free zones to ensure that you choose the one which will meet the objectives of your company. Apart from the fees and the time frame required to set up, elements like location of the free zone (closer to the airport or sea port), core business to which the free zone is dedicated, reputation of the free zone, facilities provided etc. have to be considered.
  • For setting up a business in Dubai, it is very important to select the “right legal form” and the “right business activity” at the inception stage itself. Doing business with the wrong business activity can lead to heavy fines and penalties
  • It is true that there is a huge amount of data available freely on the internet for those who want to set up their business. Most of the licensing authorities have their own websites which provide all the information on the processes and requirements to form a company in Dubai, however to ensure that you choose the right legal form and business activity, it is highly recommended to seek professional legal assistance to set up your business correctly.

Being one of the top law firms in Dubai, James Berry & Associates have qualified and experienced lawyers in Dubai who can assist you with the interpretation of the Dubai Creative Clusters Private Companies Regulations

To know more contact Deepa.

This is a general guide on the subject matter and should not be construed as specific legal advice.

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