Business Consulting

Mainland Company Incorporation

A: Professional trade license
The UAE government requires businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain a professional business trade licence from the Department of Economic Development (DED) before they can be authorised to provide their professional services to clients from the Dubai mainland.

Professional licensing serves to verify that an individual or enterprise possesses the necessary qualifications to deliver services within a particular profession. Typically, the granting of such licenses mandates that the applicant demonstrates specific skills or completes requisite training

All professionals, specialists, craftsmen and artisans need to acquire a professional trade licence to set up a mainland company in Dubai.

Dubai offers various company structures for mainland company formation, which require a professional license. These include a Limited Liability Company that involves a local sponsor holding 51% of the company, as well as a Civil Company and a Sole Establishment where the foreign investor(s) can have complete ownership of their company. Nevertheless, when establishing a Civil Company or a Sole Establishment, the legal requirements stipulate the appointment of a local service agent (LSA), who must be a UAE national, to oversee the requisite formalities.

B: Commercial trade license

Mainland companies dealing with buying and selling of goods and commodities, or any kind of trade activities, require a commercial trade licence to operate in the UAE. This business licence can be used to form a limited liability company (LLC) or set up a sole establishment, and it can be used for both specialised trading and general trading activities in the UAE.

In the UAE, there exist multiple categories of commercial trade licenses. If you are engaged in company formation procedures, it is crucial to obtain the appropriate commercial trade license that grants permission for the specific trading activities relevant to your enterprise

Dubai’s commercial trade license is a requirement for a range of businesses, including broadcast and communication companies, rental transportation services, retail businesses, construction companies, healthcare establishments, real estate firms, and other general trading entities.

C: Industrial trade license

To engage in industrial or manufacturing-based activities in the UAE, companies must obtain an industrial trade license. This permit authorizes businesses to carry out operations associated with the transformation of natural materials or integration of natural resources into their final products..

This business licenceis issued by the DED but additional approvals might be required from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and other authorities, depending on the industrial activity involved.

D: Requirements to obtain a UAE trade license

When applying for a mainland licence in Dubai you must do so through the Dubai Economic Department.

Before opening any business with the Dubai Economic Department, one must meet the following legal requirements to obtain a trade licence in the UAE:
• Determine the business category – whether it is professional, commercial, or industrial;
• Determine the type of business activity;
• Determine the legal structure of the business entity; and
• Determine the trade name of your business.
• The local department of economic development registers your trade name
• The Ministry of Economy registers your trademark (if applicable).

The completion and signing of a Memorandum of Association (MoA) or a Local Service Agent Agreement (LSA) may also be mandatory, depending on a company’s legal structure. The MoA is a prerequisite for the following business types:

• Limited partnership
• Public joint stock company (PJSC)
• Limited liability company (LLC)
• Private joint stock company (PrJSC)

Free Zone Business Setup

UAE Free Trade Zones (FTZ) are determined geographical areas where UAE mainland taxes, employment and import-export restrictions on business don’t apply, as well as bureaucratic requirements, are lowered what makes them the desired destination for foreign investors.

Starting a business entity in one of the UAE’s Free Trade Zones can be a very attractive option for foreign investors, but choosing the right Free Zone for your business requires deep knowledge of the market.

There are over 45 Free Zones situated in the UAE, and thus, we can suggest the most suitable Free Zone based on business conditions, visa and office necessities, as well as investment budget. Our team of Business Setup Experts at My Business Consulting DMCC takes into account all the factors to recommend the optimal location for registering your enterprise in the UAE, ensuring its financial development. Reach out to us today to obtain comprehensive and insightful advice on setting up your company in UAE Free Zones.

Each Free Zone has distinct regulations regarding the number of activities that can be included in a single license. However, the general rule across all Free Zones is that commercial activities cannot be mixed with service activities in a single license. Hence, all trading-related activities must be incorporated into a Trading/Commercial License, while providing services or consultations should be part of a Service License. For those planning to engage in production or manufacturing, an Industrial License is necessary.

Every Free Zone in the UAE has its own set of approved activities that can be conducted within its jurisdiction. The types of facilities available and visa quotas may also differ from one Free Zone to another. Therefore, it is strongly advised to seek expert guidance during this phase to select the most suitable Free Zone for your business.

The available corporate structures include a New Company with individual shareholder(s), a Subsidiary Company (with corporate shareholder(s)), a Joint Venture Company (a combination of individual and corporate shareholders), and a Branch of a Local or Foreign Company. Certain business activities are restricted to Branch Companies, and it is advisable to confirm this with your chosen Free Zone..

To begin the process of forming a new company, provide three preferred company name options and prepare the necessary documents as required by the chosen Free Zone. For new company formation, the standard set of documents typically includes passport, visa, EID (if applicable), proof of residential address, and professional CV, as well as a NOC for UAE Residents for specific Free Zones. The list of documents needed for registering Branch companies may differ from this standard set.

Initial approval usually includes approval for the company name, for the chosen business activity(ies), and the proposed company structure.

After obtaining initial approval, it is necessary to schedule a face-to-face meeting (or video call) with a representative from the Free Zone. However, in some cases, this meeting can be avoided by providing a Power of Attorney to your representative and notarized documents. During this meeting, the shareholders or Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) will have their passports verified, and they will need to sign documents such as the Articles of Association (AOA), Board Resolution, and Specimen Signature Form.

To proceed to the final stage of licensing, you will need to search for a commercial property within the chosen Free Zone for your company. Once you have identified a suitable property, you must sign a Tenancy Contract for a minimum period of one year and obtain the Ejari Certificate. These documents will need to be submitted to the Free Zone, which will issue your license with the address specified in your Tenancy Contract. Depending on the type of facility you have selected, such as a flexi-desk, business center office, physical office, warehouse, or retail space, additional documents may be required, such as an AOFC Certificate from Concordia or Third-Party Liability Insurance.

Once the registration documents are signed, all approvals are obtained, and all payments are made. The license will be issued along with other corporate documents.

By this point, the preliminary steps have already been completed, which include obtaining initial approval, executing legal paperwork for company formation, obtaining any necessary third-party approvals, and signing the Lease/Tenancy Contract. In light of this, at the final stage, your license will be granted along with the standard package of corporate documents (which may vary slightly across different Free Zones): License, Certificate of Incorporation, Share Certificate(s), Articles of Association (AOA), and Lease/Tenancy Contract.


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