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Frequently Asked Questions About Investment in the UAE
The procedures for business incorporation in the UAE are subject to the requirements of each emirate. We recommend visiting the official website of the Department of Economic Development in the concerned emirate; however, in general, businesses are incorporated in the UAE through one of two options:
- Business Incorporation Online.
The federal government provides the “Basher” platform for businesses, which is a comprehensive e-Service that enables investors to establish their companies in the UAE online through the unified digital platform fully integrated with the relevant local and federal government entities concerned with licensing economic activities in the UAE, within minutes and using a quick, convenient and secure process, without the need for investors to physically visit any government agency.
- Business Incorporation through Conventional Methods.
The process of incorporating a commercial business in the UAE goes through a series of steps that include the following:
- Identify the nature of the activity.
- Determine the legal structure.
- Register the trade name.
- Request for initial approval.
- Choose the location or address of the commercial activity.
- Obtain additional government approvals.
- Submit documents and pay the required fees.
For more information, visit Establishing Businesses page.
There are no taxes imposed on companies or on income in the UAE. As for fees, they vary from one emirate to another, depending on the nature of the intended activity and the type of license to be issued. To know the fees in detail, please visit the official website of the Department of Economic Development in the respective emirate.
The Commercial Companies Law does not require a partner or a manager of a limited liability company to be a resident of the UAE.
There are several federal legislations regulating the business environment in the UAE, such as the Commercial Companies Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the Intellectual Property Rights Law, and the E-commerce Law; in addition to local legislations and other regulations.
Single-shareholder companies are not subject to the provisions of Federal Decree Law No 26 of 2020 amending certain provisions of Federal Law No 2 of 2015 regarding commercial companies. The requirement for a national agent still exists when incorporating single-shareholder companies subject to the legislation of local authorities.
Companies and investors of various nationalities may have full ownership of all economic activities, in accordance with the activities identified by the competent local authorities and the list of strategic impact activities.
Companies and investors of various nationalities may assume ownership of all legal structures mentioned in the Commercial Companies Law, namely public joint stock companies, private joint stock companies, limited liability companies, limited partnership companies and partnership companies.
No, a UAE national agent is not required to be appointed by foreign companies wishing to conduct their activities within the UAE.
It is not a requirement for the Chairman and the majority of Board members to be Emirati nationals, with due consideration to the requirements set by the Council of Ministers or the competent authority, pursuant to Article (10) regarding strategic impact activities.
A foreign investor has the right to take full control of the Board membership in public joint stock companies, unless otherwise decided by a resolution of the Council of Ministers or the competent authority.
A single natural or legal person may incorporate and own a limited liability company; and shall not be liable for its obligations, except to the extent of the capital stated in the articles of incorporation, while being subject to the provisions applicable to limited liability companies.
- Obtaining initial approval.
- Completing the registration form and reserving a trade name.
- Copy of the ID.
- Copy of the passport of the responsible manager and a no-objection letter from his current sponsor.
- Approval of other government entities, depending on the activity.
- Board resolution for establishing the branch and appointing the manager.
- Copy of the articles of incorporation and commercial registration, attested by the UAE embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There is no maximum limit.
Investors, entrepreneurs, outstanding students with promising academic capabilities and talented individuals may apply for a Golden Visa, provided that they fulfil the specific requirements of the relevant visa category.
A Golden Visa with a validity of 5 or 10 years will be issued based on the visa type and category.
Renewal of the Golden Visa does not require a sponsor, however, the established prerequisites must be fulfilled when renewing the visa.
The Golden Visa aims to provide opportunities for exceptional talents and investors to settle and work in the UAE and to be a part of its success story.
- A deposit of at least AED 2,000,000 (two million dirhams) in an investment fund inside the UAE; or,
- Establishing a company in the UAE with a capital of not less than AED 2,000,000 (two million dirhams); or partnering in an existing/new company with a financial contribution of not less than AED 2,000,000 (two million dirhams); or,
- Being the owner of an establishment/company that pays the taxes imposed upon it by the federal government, at a value of not less than AED 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand dirhams) annually.
- Being a partner in an establishment/company that pays the taxes imposed upon it by the federal government, while maintaining a contribution of his share in the said company, equivalent to at least AED 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand dirhams) from the taxes paid annually.
- Retaining the investment for at least two years from the date of visa issuance.
The duration of the Golden Visa for an investor in public investments is ten years, and it is automatically renewed for the candidate and his/her family members; provided that the fees prescribed by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship are paid.
The investor must have one or more properties with a gross value of not less than AED 2,000,000 (two million dirhams), and be wholly owned by the investor and not on a loan basis – unless the value of the property exceeds AED 2,000,000 (two million dirhams).
The duration of the Golden Visa for an investor in real estate is five years, and automatically renewed for the candidate and his/her family; provided that the fees prescribed by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship are paid.
Yes, it is permissible to obtain visas for domestic helpers, as per the relevant regulatory legislations.
Yes, an investor who incorporates a company in the UAE may apply for a residency permit for one of the company’s senior employees, who have held the position of executive director or advisor – and his/her family members.
- Ownership of a previous and successful project with a minimum value of AED 500,000 (five hundred thousand dirhams) in a field approved by the competent authorities or the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
- To have obtained the approval of a business incubator approved by the competent authorities or the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, to establish the proposed activity in the UAE.
The duration of the Golden Visa permit for an entrepreneur and his/her family members is five years. It is renewable without the need for a sponsor in the UAE, provided that the required conditions are fulfilled.
Yes, it is permissible to obtain visas for domestic helpers, as per the relevant regulatory legislations.
Yes, an entrepreneur may apply for a residency permit for three executive directors and their family members for a period of five years, provided that they remain employed by the entrepreneur throughout the validity of the residency permit.
- Doctors: To be licensed to practice the medical profession by the UAE government’s health authorities.
- Scientists: Must have a recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council or be holders of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.
- Creative individuals in culture and art: Must have a recommendation from the competent government cultural authorities in the UAE.
- Inventors: Must have a recommendation from the Ministry of Economy and hold a patent that has an added value to the UAE's economy.
- Executive Directors: Must be holders of at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, must have a practical experience of not less than five years, his/her monthly wage must not be less than AED 50,000 (fifty-thousand dirhams) and must maintain a valid contract in the UAE.
- Educators in priority fields: Must be specialised in one of the rare fields or specialisations prioritised in the UAE.
- Athletes: Must obtain a recommendation from the General Authority of Sports or a sports council.
- Holders of doctorate degrees in priority fields and specialists in the fields of engineering and science.
These are the activities subject to the necessary guidelines for licensing the companies partaking in such activities, in accordance with the requirements and conditions of the regulatory authority.
Security and defense activities, activities that are military in nature, banking, exchange companies, financing companies, insurance activities, currency printing, telecommunications, Hajj and Umrah services, Holy Quran memorisation centres and services associated with fisheries.
The licensing procedures of any strategic impact activity are subject to the approval and requirements of the government authorities overseeing the regulation of each activity – within their respective designations – in terms of determining the percentage of contribution of national shareholders and/or foreign investors in the company’s capital and Board membership (if any), in addition to any other conditions or guidelines deemed necessary by the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Interior.
A foreign investor may partake in any of the strategic impact activities by being a shareholder in the company’s capital or Board membership, subject to the approval of the relevant regulatory authority and at the percentages determined by the authority, with respect to the participation of national shareholders and foreign investors, and any other requirements or criteria deemed suitable.
Any strategic impact activity is subject to the approval and requirements of the following relevant authorities:
- Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, as per designation: security and defense activities and activities that are military in nature.
- Central Bank of the UAE: activities of banks, exchange companies, and financing companies, insurance activities and currency printing.
- Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority: telecommunication activities.
- General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments: Hajj and Umrah services, Holy Quran memorisation centres.
Yes, the activities of services related to fisheries are 100% exclusive for UAE nationals only.
Applications for any strategic impact activity should be submitted to the competent authority (Department of Economic Development in the respective emirate), as per the requirements of local and federal laws and regulations.
The competent authority must submit the application to the regulatory authority within 5 business days from the date of submitting the application.
The regulatory authority must issue its decision within 14 business days from the date of receiving the application, in compliance with the conditions, either by approving or rejecting the application.
The regulatory authority’s decision to approve the licensing of any strategic impact activity must specify the following:
- The percentage of national and/or foreign shareholders in the company’s capital.
- The percentage of national and/or foreign members in the company’s Board (if any).
- Any other conditions or guidelines deemed necessary by the regulatory authority.
Yes, because the licensing application is subject to the approval and requirements of the concerned regulatory authority.
- Submit the licensing application to the competent authority (Department of Economic Development in the respective emirate), as per the requirements of local and federal laws and regulations.
- The competent authority submits the application to the regulatory authority within 5 business days from the date of submitting the application.
- The regulatory authority issues its decision within 14 business days from the date of receiving the application, in compliance with the conditions, either by approving or rejecting the application.
Yes, provided that the company licensed to engage in any strategic impact activity complies with all applicable legislations in the UAE.
It is permissible to conduct strategic impact activities through all legal structures of companies stipulated within the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law.
A UAE agent is not required to carry out any strategic impact activity, however, a certain percentage of national shareholders may be required, based on the prerequisites determined or decided by the relevant regulatory authority.