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Free Zones you may be interested in
Here are a few recommendations based on your interest
- Free zone based in Dubai
- Up to 3 shareholders
- Professional, commercial, and industrial license
- Free zone based in Sharjah
- Up to 50 shareholders
- Service, trading, light-industrial, and freelancer license
- Free zone based in Fujairah
- Up to 5 shareholders
- Commercial, freelancer, and other types of licenses
- Free zone based in Ras Al Khaimah
- Up to 50 shareholders
- E-commerce, professional, media, and other types of licenses
Step 1 – We reserve your trade name
We will reserve your trade name and obtain the initial approval required for the issuance of your mainland trade license.
Step 2 – We prepare your company documents
We will prepare your company documents including the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and Articles of Association (AoA). All shareholders are required to sign these documents.
Step 3 – You receive your mainland trade license
You will receive the trade license to start your business.
About Department of Economic Development Dubai
What is the Department of Economic Development?
The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for issuing Dubai mainland trade licenses to businesses. The Law no. 13 of 2011 expressly stipulates that the DED is responsible for the regulation of economic activities for all businesses outside the free zones. The DED was established with the aim of ensuring economic growth and effective implementation of relevant policies in the Emirate of Dubai. The DED works towards achieving the government’s vision of expansion and development of various economic sectors.
We work closely with the DED in furtherance of the economic goal set by the government. We provide hassle-free corporate services by simplifying the process of business setup in Dubai mainland.
What is a mainland company?
A mainland company is licensed by the DED of the relevant Emirate and is free to conduct business anywhere in the UAE. Also referred to as an ‘onshore’ company, a mainland company in Dubai is one of the most sought-after enterprises.
What are the benefits of a mainland company in Dubai?
A mainland company in Dubai has the following benefits:
- Flexibility of conducting business activities in local as well as foreign market.
- No limit on the number of visas issued for the company.
- Office premises can be based anywhere in mainland Dubai.
- Accessibility and brand visibility.
- Access to government tenders as government departments typically do not conduct business with free zone companies.
What are the main licensing options under Department of Economic Development?
A commercial license is issued in the form of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) for carrying out any commercial activity in Dubai. It is the most widely used commercial entity for mainland business setup in Dubai.
A professional license for a Dubai mainland company is typically issued for services, skills, and expertise of the individual(s) conducting the business. The company form can either be a sole establishment or an LLC. A foreign national can establish the sole establishment under his/her own name, with the exception of some activities. As the sole establishment is essentially a single shareholder entity, it is not required to have a local sponsor as a shareholder. Instead, the sole establishment is required to have a UAE national as a local service agent.
A branch office license is a legal extension of a local or a foreign company. It does not have any separate legal personality and can only be permitted to carry out the business activity of the parent company. A special approval is required from the UAE Ministry of Economy for setting up a branch office. A UAE national is required to be appointed as a local service agent for a branch office.
A representative office is primarily set up to only promote the business and expand the accessibility of the parent company. The appointment of a UAE national as a local service agent is a mandatory requirement for a representative office.
UAE allows 100 % Foreign Ownership of Mainland Companies
Ownership of mainland/onshore companies in UAE was a vital concern for foreign investors primarily on account of having to partner with UAE nationals. This partnership is quite tilted, as an Emirati partner had to own at least 51% of the company shares, whereas foreign investors could only own a maximum of 49% of the company shares. The minority stake did not allow the foreign investors to independently run the affairs of their company. Even in some company forms (sole establishment and civil company), the foreign investor was required to appoint a local service agent (a UAE national), who would charge compensation for his appointment without owning any company shares. These aspects made every foreign investor think twice before setting up a business in Dubai mainland.
To attract foreign investment and to boost the confidence of foreign investors, the United Arab Emirates amended the UAE Commercial Companies Law to permit 100% foreign ownership of onshore companies incorporated in the country. This law was implemented with effect from 1st June 2021.
100% foreign ownership is permitted for companies that are carrying on certain business activities mentioned in the UAE’s ‘positive list’. This list consists of more than 1,100 activities across multiple sectors.
Pursuant to this decision, the Dubai Economy released guidelines explaining the procedures for full ownership of Dubai mainland companies. Below are the key takeaways of the Dubai Economy guidelines:
- The Dubai Economy invites 100% foreign ownership for multiple commercial and industrial activities. The commercial activities include general trading, contracting, jewellery, gold, pearls, luxury watches, etc. The industrial activities comprise of metal and construction, flooring, building materials, food, water production, paint sectors, etc. Education and hospitality are also included in Dubai’s positive list.
- If any existing mainland company in Dubai wishes to reduce the shareholding of an Emirati partner or if the Emirati partner wants to resign from the partnership, then they can do so by amending the company documents by following the available legal routes.
- The amendment of the Commercial Companies Law does not change the processes of licensing, incorporation, and renewal of Dubai mainland companies. The services can be availed via the already existing channels of Dubai Economy.
- The amendment also does not bring in any change in the already existing legal structures of Dubai mainland companies i.e. sole establishment, civil company, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
- The Dubai Economy guidelines do not permit transforming the legal form of the company from a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to a sole establishment under a foreigner’s name. However, the guidelines do allow transferring the license of the Limited Liability Company (LLC) to a one-person company with limited liability.
- A branch of a foreign company does not require an Emirati agent. Existing agents can also be removed.
- This amendment does not apply to commercial agencies as they are not regulated by the Commercial Companies Law. They are owned by UAE nationals only.
This change in law has attracted massive foreign investment in the whole of UAE and Dubai in particular. Multiple mainland companies are being set up in Dubai, especially due to its attractive tax-free benefits. In the first week itself, as many as fifty-nine (59) Dubai onshore companies were incorporated.
InZone specialises in mainland company formation in Dubai. If you wish to be a first mover and enjoy the benefits that a fully owned Dubai mainland company has to offer, then do contact us today.
Here are some of the key features of a Dubai mainland company.
|DED||Mainland companies in Dubai are registered with the Department of Economic Development in Dubai.|
|Types of licenses offered||Commercial License, Professional License, Trade License, and Industrial License.|
|Number of visas||The company may have unlimited visas issued depending on office size.|
|Location||The office may be based anywhere in mainland Dubai.|
|Law||Commercial Companies Law, Law no. 2 of 2015.|
|Ownership||100% foreign ownership for activities under the ‘positive list’. Local sponsor is required to own 51% of shares in LLC for all other activities. (This does not apply to sole establishments.)|
|Paid-up capital||No paid-up capital requirement.|