How do I know if I need to set up my business with an onshore license or a free zone license?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Will my business be selling products or services in the mainland UAE?” A free zone business means that your business will only be able to sell products or services directly within that Freezone or selling them globally. Therefore, if you set up your business in the DMCC for example, you would not be able to sell your products or services to a business in Deira Dubai. You would be able to sell within the DMCC and outside of the UAE, say Africa.

You need to have a DED license to sell with no borders. An exception to this rule is if you have a free zone business, and then also set up a DED branch office.

I am bringing staff from overseas to work with me for a few days. What visa will I need?
The tourist visa will suffice for people who are supporting your business for just a handful of days. The type of visa that is available is dependent on where they are from.

I need to hire staff. What do I need to be aware of?
The number of staff that you are able to hire is dependent on the size of the office that you are registered with. You will also need to provide work visas illustration that they are sponsored by you.

How much do visas cost?
Visa costs can vary, but they are generally in the region of XXX per person.

Do all of my staff have to be sponsored by me?
If you are hiring a female that is already covered under her husband’s visa, no. She is able to work on her husband’s visa providing he provides a NOC letter, a copy of his passport and visa. You will also need a copy of her visa, and can then instead, apply for a work permit.

Do I have to provide visas for all my employees' families?
This is entirely up to you and your company policy. Most companies will only arrange visas for their employees, leaving their employee to provide the visas for their own families.

I have a single mum that I want to employ. Will she be able to sponsor her children?
This is dependent on many factors. She needs to meet a minimum salary level, provide a NOC letter from the other parent (or death certificate if the other parent has passed away). If divorced, she will also have to show her divorce certificate. These requirements may change, so it is best to contact us first to ascertain if this list has been updated.

How to legalize an existing activity?
If it is a professional activity you are doing; be it photography, yoga instructor, music teacher at home and any other ones that provide services not sell products, then we recommend to have a look at freelancer license. These are provided by numerous free zones in Dubai or another emirate. Prices start from 7,500AED with gofreelance.com from TECOM to 35.000 AED in Dubai Knowledge Village. Each Free zone will cater to its own unique business activities.

Can you get an E-Commerce license in a free zone?
If you have plans for an online shop and do not have any physical buy-sell process face to face with your potential buyer, then an e-commerce/e-services licenses could work for you. They are available within multiple free zone companies. You would need a company formation with smart-desk facilities package, no real office rent just business center services and business address with PO BOX in order to open a business bank account.

Why choose a Free Zone?
Because it’s cheaper, easier, transparent and most free zones are specialized in such activities, great packages and facilities available. Plus you own 100% of your business.

Is it legal to be registered in a free zone and activate in the Mainland?
Yes, it is legal to provide services on the Mainland even if you are a free zone company. Please note the actual product that can be purchased from the Mainland should only be done through a local agent. When you provide IT services, web shop, you don’t take payments physically on mainland but through online transfer, etc – this is accepted.

How much is needed to open or register a business?
If we look at Free Zone areas, you would need from 15.000AED and up to 40.000AED for company formation, depending on license type. This does not include office rent facilities.

The Mainland has a rather complicated scheme and government authorities like to change prices from day to day, therefore, you would look at a start form 40.000AED, not including the mandatory office rent space and address and if present, local sponsor fees.

If it is a small number of products I create myself, do I need to legalize my activity?
No matter how small or big the business is, when activating with no official permit or license you expose yourself to the risk of penalties or police cases against your actions. In some emirates, if the products are handcrafted 100% by an UAE resident with raw materials sourced locally, there are more cost-effective licensing options with 100% foreign ownership and no local partner required. Contact us to find out which license is suitable for your activity.

Can I keep 100% company ownership?
If your business is in a Free zone, then yes, you can retain 100% ownership. That said, times are changing, and in May 2018, the UAE cabinet approved 100% ownership of foreign businesses. Whilst this bill has been passed, the working of the bill is still to be seen. This is expected o become law in Q4 2018.

How do I know if I need to set up my business with an onshore license or a free zone license?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “Will my business be selling products or services in the mainland UAE?” A free zone business means that your business will only be able to sell products or services directly within that Freezone or selling them globally. Therefore, if you set up your business in the DMCC for example, you would not be able to sell your products or services to a business in Deira Dubai. You would be able to sell within the DMCC and outside of the UAE, say Africa.

You need to have a DED license to sell with no borders. An exception to this rule is if you have a free zone business, and then also set up a DED branch office.

I am bringing staff from overseas to work with me for a few days. What visa will I need?
The tourist visa will suffice for people who are supporting your business for just a handful of days. The type of visa that is available is dependent on where they are from.

I need to hire staff. What do I need to be aware of?
The number of staff that you are able to hire is dependent on the size of the office that you are registered with. You will also need to provide work visas illustration that they are sponsored by you.

How much do visas cost?
Visa costs can vary, but they are generally in the region of XXX per person.

Do all of my staff have to be sponsored by me?
If you are hiring a female that is already covered under her husband’s visa, no. She is able to work on her husband’s visa providing he provides a NOC letter, a copy of his passport and visa. You will also need a copy of her visa, and can then instead, apply for a work permit.

Do I have to provide visas for all my employees' families?
This is entirely up to you and your company policy. Most companies will only arrange visas for their employees, leaving their employee to provide the visas for their own families.

I have a single mum that I want to employ. Will she be able to sponsor her children?
This is dependent on many factors. She needs to meet a minimum salary level, provide a NOC letter from the other parent (or death certificate if the other parent has passed away). If divorced, she will also have to show her divorce certificate. These requirements may change, so it is best to contact us first to ascertain if this list has been updated.

How to legalize an existing activity?
If it is a professional activity you are doing; be it photography, yoga instructor, music teacher at home and any other ones that provide services not sell products, then we recommend to have a look at freelancer license. These are provided by numerous free zones in Dubai or another emirate. Prices start from 7,500AED with gofreelance.com from TECOM to 35.000 AED in Dubai Knowledge Village. Each Free zone will cater to its own unique business activities.

Can you get an E-Commerce license in a free zone?
If you have plans for an online shop and do not have any physical buy-sell process face to face with your potential buyer, then an e-commerce/e-services licenses could work for you. They are available within multiple free zone companies. You would need a company formation with smart-desk facilities package, no real office rent just business center services and business address with PO BOX in order to open a business bank account.

Why choose a Free Zone?
Because it’s cheaper, easier, transparent and most free zones are specialized in such activities, great packages and facilities available. Plus you own 100% of your business.

Is it legal to be registered in a free zone and activate in the Mainland?
Yes, it is legal to provide services on the Mainland even if you are a free zone company. Please note the actual product that can be purchased from the Mainland should only be done through a local agent. When you provide IT services, web shop, you don’t take payments physically on mainland but through online transfer, etc – this is accepted.

How much is needed to open or register a business?
If we look at Free Zone areas, you would need from 15.000AED and up to 40.000AED for company formation, depending on license type. This does not include office rent facilities.

The Mainland has a rather complicated scheme and government authorities like to change prices from day to day, therefore, you would look at a start form 40.000AED, not including the mandatory office rent space and address and if present, local sponsor fees.

If it is a small number of products I create myself, do I need to legalize my activity?
No matter how small or big the business is, when activating with no official permit or license you expose yourself to the risk of penalties or police cases against your actions. In some emirates, if the products are handcrafted 100% by an UAE resident with raw materials sourced locally, there are more cost-effective licensing options with 100% foreign ownership and no local partner required. Contact us to find out which license is suitable for your activity.