Guide to Setting Up a Business in the UAE Mainland

June 5, 2024
UAE Mainland Business

Setting up a business in the UAE mainland can be a rewarding venture due to the country’s strategic location, excellent infrastructure, and favorable business environment. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through the process, along with a detailed overview of the different legal types of business structures you can choose from.

Step 1: Determine the Business Activity

Decide on the type of business activity you want to engage in. This will determine the legal form of your business and the required licenses. The Department of Economic Development (DED) has a comprehensive list of permitted business activities. Select an activity that aligns with your business plan and market demand.

Step 2: Choose a Legal Structure

The UAE offers several legal structures for businesses, each with different requirements and implications, especially concerning ownership and liability. These structures include Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Civil Company, Branch Office, and Representative Office.

Step 3: Find a Local Sponsor

For most mainland business types, you will need a local sponsor or service agent. The local sponsor, who must be an Emirati individual or company, typically owns 51% of the business shares. However, recent reforms have allowed 100% foreign ownership in certain business activities, depending on the industry and specific business type.

Step 4: Reserve a Trade Name

Your business name should be unique and comply with the UAE’s naming conventions. You can reserve a trade name through the DED’s online portal or by visiting their office. The trade name should reflect the nature of your business and must not contain any offensive or religious terms.

Step 5: Obtain Initial Approval

Initial approval from the DED is required to proceed with the business setup process. This approval indicates that the UAE government has no objection to you starting a business. It is a preliminary clearance before the final license is issued.

Step 6: Draft a Memorandum of Association (MOA)

The MOA outlines the shareholding structure and operational guidelines of your business. If you are setting up an LLC, this document must be notarized. The MOA is a crucial document that defines the roles, responsibilities, and share distribution among the partners or shareholders.

Step 7: Choose a Business Location

Secure a physical office space that meets the DED’s requirements. You must also get a tenancy contract (Ejari) to validate your business location. The office space should be appropriate for your business activities and comply with the zoning regulations set by the DED.

Step 8: Submit License Application

Submit your license application to the DED along with the required documents, which include:

  • Trade name reservation certificate
  • Initial approval certificate
  • Notarized MOA
  • Tenancy contract

Ensure all documents are accurate and complete to avoid delays.

Step 9: Get Approvals from Relevant Authorities

Depending on your business activity, you might need additional approvals from other governmental bodies like the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, etc. For example, businesses in the healthcare sector will require approval from the Ministry of Health.

Step 10: Pay Fees and Obtain Your License

Once all approvals are obtained, pay the necessary fees to the DED. Upon payment, your business license will be issued, allowing you to legally start operations. The fees vary based on the business activity and the type of license.

Step 11: Register with the Chamber of Commerce

Register your business with the local Chamber of Commerce to gain access to various business support services and networking opportunities. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce can provide valuable resources and connections for business growth.

Step 12: Open a Corporate Bank Account

Finally, open a corporate bank account with a UAE bank to manage your business finances effectively. Choose a bank that offers the best services and support for your business needs.

Why Choose ECH Digital for UAE Mainland Company Formation?

Setting up a business in the UAE mainland involves navigating through numerous legal and administrative procedures. ECH Digital can make this process seamless and efficient. Here’s why you should choose ECH Digital for your business formation needs:

  • Expertise and Experience: ECH Digital has extensive experience in setting up businesses in the UAE. Our team of experts understands the local market and regulatory landscape, ensuring your business setup is compliant and efficient.
  • Comprehensive Services: We provide end-to-end business setup services, including trade name reservation, obtaining initial approvals, drafting MOA, and securing additional regulatory approvals. Our comprehensive approach ensures that every aspect of your business setup is covered.
  • Local Sponsorship: ECH Digital can help you find reliable local sponsors or service agents, ensuring that your business complies with UAE ownership regulations while maintaining operational control.
  • Tailored Solutions: We offer customized solutions based on your business needs and goals. Whether you are setting up a sole proprietorship, LLC, civil company, branch office, or representative office, we tailor our services to meet your specific requirements.
  • Efficient Process: With our streamlined processes and established relationships with governmental bodies, we can expedite your business setup, reducing the time and effort required from your side.
  • Post-Setup Support: ECH Digital provides ongoing support even after your business is set up. From corporate banking assistance to compliance and regulatory updates, we ensure your business operates smoothly.

Choosing the right legal structure for your business in the UAE mainland depends on various factors, including the nature of your business, ownership preferences, liability considerations, and regulatory requirements

Let’s Connect

    Looking for service? Contact ECH

    Looking for service? Contact ECH