Finance General Law

How to Register a Company in the UAE: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an enticing prospect for entrepreneurs worldwide. The UAE’s strategic location, business-friendly environment, and robust infrastructure make it an ideal destination for business setup. If you’re considering how to register a company in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, brought to you by National Assurance & Advisory Services FZ LLC, we will provide you with a step-by-step roadmap to navigate the process smoothly. We’ll cover everything from understanding the types of businesses you can set up to Dubai company registration fees and the cheapest company registration options in the UAE. Let’s get started.

Why Choose the UAE for Business Setup?

Before we dive into the registration process, let’s explore why the UAE is a compelling choice for entrepreneurs and businesses:

Strategic Location: The UAE’s strategic location bridges the gap between Europe, Asia, and Africa, making it a global hub for trade and commerce.

Business-Friendly Environment: The UAE boasts a pro-business environment with minimal bureaucracy, world-class infrastructure, and investor-friendly policies.

Tax Benefits: Many UAE free zones offer tax exemptions, including zero corporate and personal income tax for certain businesses, making it a tax-efficient location.

Economic Stability: The UAE’s economy is stable and diversified, offering a wide range of opportunities across various sectors.

Access to Skilled Talent: Dubai, in particular, attracts a diverse and highly skilled workforce from around the world.

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to registering your company in the UAE.

Step 1: Decide on Your Business Activity

The first step in registering a company in the UAE is to determine your business activity. The UAE classifies businesses into several categories, including trading, manufacturing, and services. Ensure your chosen activity aligns with the type of license you intend to apply for.

Step 2: Choose the Right Company Structure

The UAE offers several company structures, each with its own set of rules and regulations. The most common options are:

Limited Liability Company (LLC): Suitable for local businesses and those with a UAE national partner, an LLC allows you to retain 49% ownership as a foreigner.

Free Zone Company: Ideal for 100% foreign ownership, free zone companies operate within specific zones designed to promote various industries, such as technology, media, and finance.

Branch of a Foreign Company: Foreign companies can set up branch offices in the UAE, provided they appoint a local service agent.

Representative Office: This option allows foreign companies to establish a presence for marketing and research purposes but does not permit commercial activities.

Step 3: Choose the Right Location

Selecting the right location depends on your business activity and budget. Free zones offer specific advantages, such as tax exemptions and simplified registration, while operating on the mainland may grant access to a broader market.

Step 4: Choose Your Company Name

Your company’s name is crucial and must comply with UAE naming conventions. It’s advisable to check the name’s availability with the relevant authorities before proceeding.

Step 5: Prepare the Necessary Documents

Gather the required documents, which typically include:

Passport copies of shareholders and directors.

Proof of residence for shareholders and directors.

A no-objection certificate if you are employed in the UAE.

A memorandum of association (MOA).

A lease agreement for your office space.

Application forms provided by the relevant authorities.

Step 6: Submit Your Application

Submit your application to the relevant authority based on your chosen business location and structure. The process varies depending on whether you are setting up in a free zone or on the mainland.

Step 7: Pay the Necessary Fees

Dubai company registration fees vary based on your chosen location and business structure. Free zones typically have their fee structures, while on the mainland, you’ll need to pay fees to the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Step 8: Obtain Your License

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your business license, allowing you to commence operations legally.

Step 9: Open a Corporate Bank Account

To conduct business transactions, you’ll need to open a corporate bank account in the UAE. Choose a bank that aligns with your business needs and offers a range of services.

Step 10: Visa and Labor Approvals

If you plan to employ staff, you’ll need to apply for their employment visas and labor approvals through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

The Cheapest Company Registration Options in the UAE

Entrepreneurs often seek cost-effective options for business setup. The UAE offers several affordable choices, depending on your business needs:

  1. Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams): Known for its cost-effective packages, Shams is ideal for media and creative businesses.
  • Ajman Free Zone: Ajman offers competitive rates and is well-suited for trading, e-commerce, and light manufacturing companies.
  • Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ): RAKEZ provides a range of cost-effective packages for startups and small businesses.
  • Fujairah Creative City Free Zone: This free zone caters to creative and media-related businesses and offers affordable licensing options.

Starting a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner

Dubai welcomes foreign entrepreneurs and investors, making it relatively easy for foreigners to start a business. However, some key points to keep in mind include:

Local Sponsorship: If you choose an LLC structure, you’ll need a local Emirati sponsor who will own 51% of the business. While you have operational control, it’s crucial to have a clear partnership agreement in place.

Free Zones: Opting for a free zone company allows you to retain 100% ownership as a foreigner. Free zones offer various benefits, including tax exemptions and streamlined registration processes.

Legal Support: Engaging a legal advisor or business setup consultant, like National Assurance & Advisory Services FZ LLC, can help you navigate the legal and regulatory requirements effectively.


Registering a company in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, is an exciting endeavor that can open doors to a world of opportunities. However, the process can be complex and requires careful planning and execution. National Assurance & Advisory Services FZ LLC is your trusted partner in this journey, offering expert guidance, deep local knowledge, and a commitment to making your business setup in the UAE a smooth and successful experience.

As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey in the UAE, remember that thorough research, compliance with local laws, and seeking professional assistance are key to your business’s success and growth in this dynamic and thriving market.

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