Dubai Company
Incorporation Service

Setting up a business in Dubai

Dubai has emerged as a global business hub, attracting entrepreneurs and investors worldwide. Dubai is a great place for a business start-up because it has favorable tax laws, a prime location, and a conducive atmosphere for doing business. But do note that not every type of business is allowed in Dubai. If you intend to launch a company, you must find out where your status falls. So, what businesses are permitted in Dubai? How does Dubai company incorporation work? This article will reveal the answers to these questions and more.

An overview of Dubai company incorporation

Dubai’s vibrant and diverse economy allows for numerous business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Dubai is home to booming sectors such as finance, real estate, tourism, logistics, and technology. Dubai’s free zones, in particular, have a focus on specific industries, providing specialized infrastructure, incentives, and access to a network of businesses. Alongside that, Dubai’s strategic location helps connect businesses to a vast consumer market in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Establishing a company in Dubai will enhance a business’s global exposure, as the city hosts a number of international exhibitions, conferences, and events, attracting industry leaders and investors worldwide.

Dubai’s legal and regulatory framework delivers a transparent and business-friendly environment for company incorporation. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the main authority in charge of registering companies on the Dubai mainland, while each free zone also has its own regulatory authority. Entrepreneurs looking to venture into Dubai’s market need to comply with relevant laws and regulations, submit the necessary documents, and fulfill specific requirements related to share capital, office space, and licensing. Engaging the services of a professional business consultant or law firm could drastically facilitate the incorporation process by ensuring compliance with all legal obligations and navigating the complexities of the local regulatory landscape.

Eligible business structures for company registration in Dubai

Dubai’s business-friendly environment tends to attract entrepreneurs from around the world. When registering a business in Dubai, it is crucial to choose the right business structure that aligns with your objectives and requirements. Each business structure, such as a mainland company, a free zone company, or an offshore company, offers unique advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these structures will help entrepreneurs make informed decisions while setting a solid foundation for their business endeavors in the dynamic Dubai market. These business structures include:

Mainland company

A mainland company, also referred to as an onshore company, allows businesses to operate within the local market in Dubai and throughout the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some key features and advantages of a mainland company include:


  • No restriction on business activities: Mainland companies are allowed to engage in legal business activities.
  • Access to the local market: Mainland companies can choose to conduct business with the local population along with government entities without restrictions.
  • Flexibility in office locations: Mainland companies are free to choose office locations in Dubai.
  • No limitation on hiring employees: Mainland companies may choose to employ an unlimited number of employees.


  • Requirement of a local partner or sponsor: Mainland companies are required to have a local UAE citizen or a UAE national-owned company as a sponsor, who has to hold 51% of the company’s shares.
  • Higher setup and operational costs: Mainland companies carry higher setup costs due to licensing fees, office space requirements, and other associated expenses related to setting up.
  • Complex legal and regulatory requirements: Mainland companies must comply with the UAE’s labor and commercial laws, along with regulations set by the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Free zone company

Dubai offers a wide range of free zones, each of which specializes in specific industries and provides unique benefits to businesses. Some key features and advantages of a mainland company include:


  • 100% foreign ownership: Free zone companies are allowed full ownership by foreign investors, eliminating the need for a local partner.
  • Tax benefits: Free zones allow tax exemptions on corporate and personal income tax for a specific timeframe.
  • Easy company setup process: Free zones offer more streamlined procedures for company registration, licensing, and other administrative functions when setting up.
  • Repatriation of capital and profits: Free zone companies permit the repatriation of 100% of capital and profits back to the home country.
  • Customized office spaces and facilities: Free zones tend to provide modern infrastructure, ready-to-use office spaces, and access to business support services.


  • Restricted business activities: Each free zone has its own set of permitted activities, which limits the scope of business operations.
  • Limitation on trading within the UAE market: Free zone companies can often conduct business activities only within the free zone or with entities outside the UAE. Operating in the local market would require additional licenses and partnerships.
  • Higher renewal and operational costs: Free zone companies are charged annual license renewal fees and higher operating costs in comparison to mainland companies.
  • Limited office locations: Free zone companies are required to operate within the boundaries of the respective free zone, which limits the choice of office location.

Offshore company

Dubai also offers offshore company registration through the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA). Some key features and advantages of a mainland company include:


  • 100% foreign ownership and control: Offshore companies are allowed to complete foreign ownership and control of the business.
  • Tax benefits: Offshore companies are free from corporate and personal income tax.
  • Asset protection and privacy: An offshore company provides confidentiality and asset protection for individuals and businesses.
  • Ease of company setup and maintenance: The setup process for offshore companies is rather quick and straightforward.
  • Flexibility with currency: Offshore companies may transact business in multiple currencies.
  • JAFZA is the only offshore company in the UAE allowed to own local Dubai real estate.


  • Limited business activities: Offshore businesses are not allowed to operate within the UAE market.
  • Restricted local presence: Offshore companies are not permitted to have physical office spaces or operate within the UAE market.
  • Limited banking options: Offshore companies may encounter challenges when opening local bank accounts, as most banks prefer dealing with onshore companies.
  • Not suitable for local market operations: Offshore companies are meant for international business, asset protection, and wealth management.

Taking into account factors such as ownership requirements, business activities, taxation, market access, and cost considerations is essential to making an informed decision. Seeking professional advice from business consultants or legal experts can help entrepreneurs select the most suitable business structure, catering to their needs. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each system will ensure a successful and compliant business registration process in Dubai.

Requirements for company incorporation in Dubai

Dubai incorporation requirements are clear and simple while being aimed at facilitating business growth and success. In order to establish a company in Dubai, it is crucial to understand the incorporation requirements and procedures. Keeping up with these requirements ensures a smooth and compliant process, which sets the foundation for a thriving business in the vibrant city of Dubai. Some of these requirements consist of the following:

Determine the business activity and legal structure

The first step in Dubai incorporation is to determine the nature of the business activity and the legal structure, as it is important to select the most appropriate legal form, which can be a mainland company, a free zone company, or even an offshore company. Each legal structure will have its own fixed requirements and benefits. Mainland companies allow businesses to operate in the local market, while on the other hand, free zone companies provide incentives such as 100% foreign ownership and tax exemptions. Offshore companies are meant for international business and asset protection. Entrepreneurs should begin by carefully evaluating their business objectives and consulting legal professionals in order to select the most suitable legal structure.

Obtain the necessary licenses and approvals

To operate legally in Dubai, businesses are required to obtain the necessary approvals and licenses. Starting off by getting a trade license, which then allows companies to conduct specific activities in Dubai. The requirements for acquiring a trade license may vary depending on the business activity and legal structure. Additional approvals or permits may also be required for specific industries or activities, namely, healthcare, food services, or construction. It is key to research, understand the particular requirements related to the desired business activity, and comply with the regulations set down by the relevant authorities.

Share Capital and Memorandum of Association

The share capital requirement tends to vary based on the legal structure chosen. Mainland companies would typically have a minimum share capital requirement, while on the other hand, free zone companies may not require any minimum capital. Along with the share capital, entrepreneurs are required to draft a Memorandum of Association (MOA) that outlines the company’s activities, capital, and ownership structure. The aforementioned MOA should be prepared under the guidelines furnished by the DED or the respective free zone authority.

Leasing an office space

More often than not, Dubai incorporation requires a physical presence, which includes leasing office space. For mainland companies, the office space is required to comply with the requirements set by the DED. Free zone companies will require office space within the designated free zone area. Do note that the size and location of the office space will come down to the specific requirements of the business and the legal structure chosen. Hence, it is advisable to work with a reputable real estate agent or business consultant in order to locate a suitable office space that meets the legal requirements.

Register the company name

The following step would be registering the company name with the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the respective free zone authority. The names proposed should comply with the naming guidelines and must not infringe on any existing trademarks or copyrights. The selected name should reflect the nature of the business and align with the regulations the relevant authority has put down.

The documents that are required for Dubai company incorporation

Establishing a company in Dubai will require proper documentation in order to comply with the legal and regulatory framework. Learning about these documents will help entrepreneurs navigate the process without any setbacks while ensuring compliance with the necessary procedures.
The documents required are the following:

  • Passport copies and visa documents
  • Memorandum of Association
  • Shareholders and boards resolution
  • Lease agreement or Ejari Certificate
  • Trade license application and NOC
  • Application form
  • Bank reference letter

How We Can Assist You

Company incorporation can be a complex and time-consuming endeavor. Staying informed about the constantly evolving business landscape and adhering to the intricate regulations governing incorporation can be challenging. This is where Premia TNC comes into the picture.

Premia TNC is a seasoned business consulting firm equipped with the expertise and resources to support a wide array of companies. Over the years, we have forged partnerships with numerous clients, guiding them through the intricacies of incorporation and facilitating their seamless entry into Dubai’s dynamic business landscape. Our team of experts is well-versed in the intricacies of the company incorporation process. Once we have your documents, we expedite the process, navigating through the potential hurdles associated with Dubai company incorporation.

But our services extend beyond incorporation; we also offer comprehensive solutions encompassing company accounting, taxation, secretarial services, and more.


Establishing a business in Dubai offers key advantages like a thriving economy, strategic trade location, potential tax benefits, excellent infrastructure, a welcoming business environment, and access to growing Middle East and North African markets.

Dubai offers three main business entity types: mainland, free zone, and offshore. Mainland operates locally, free zones offer foreign ownership and tax benefits, and offshore is for international business and asset protection.

Dubai company incorporation requirements can differ based on the selected business structure. Typically, they encompass valid passport copies of shareholders and directors, a memorandum of association (MOA), lease agreements or Ejari certificates, trade license applications, and supporting documents. These requisites may vary for mainland, free zone, and offshore companies.

Mainland firms typically mandate a local partner with a 51% shareholding, but specific free zones permit 100% foreign ownership. Offshore companies, designed for international ventures, also allow 100% foreign ownership but are not geared for UAE local operations.

Dubai company incorporation time varies based on factors like business type, document readiness, and registration efficiency. Typically, it takes 1 to 4 weeks, but it may be longer.

Premia TNC has the optimal solutions for all your business needs.

Get in touch today for a FREE consultation.
No hidden costs, no obligations.

Feel free to drop us an email too!
[email protected]

Premia TNC has the optimal solutions for all your business needs.

Get in touch today for a FREE consultation.
No hidden costs, no obligations.

Feel free to drop us an email too!
[email protected]