Start a Business in the UAE as a Foreigner: 2024 Guide

Start a Business in the UAE as a Foreigner: 2024 Guide

May 24, 2022

Business in the UAE as a Foreigner

Starting a business has two initial stages – the business plan and the location. If you come up with the ‘what’, we can certainly help you with the ‘where’.

Establishing your business plan is the first step. The second step is to contact UAQFTZ to get the idea off the ground. This article gives you an up-to-date summary of the licence application process, presenting details in the following areas:

  • Steps to start a business in the UAE as a foreigner
  • How much does it cost to start a business in the UAE?
  • Benefits of starting a business in the UAE
  • Types of business licences in the UAE
  • Why choose UAQFTZ?


Steps to start a business in the UAE as a foreigner

To start a business in the UAE as a foreigner, you need to be aware of the rules regarding business names and the regulations for licence applications. However, the fact that the process is very simple will ensure that your business launch is plain sailing. Contact UAQFTZ for a personalised quote and full details of the process.

The application can be broken down into three basic steps – name and send, sign and submit, and pay and receive. Here are those points in a little more detail.

Step 1: Send three proposed business names for approval, stating your intended activity and licence type, and submit all the documents required for the application.

Step 2: Sign the incorporation documents and submit the originals to the FTZA.

Step 3: Send the required payment and then simply wait for the trade licence to be issued.

How much does it cost to start a business in the UAE?

The cost of starting a business in the UAE will take you by surprise, but in a good way. UAQFTZ offers packages at such low rates that you will be able to use more of your initial capital to invest in other aspects of your business, such as marketing and staffing.

Licence packages start at AED 8,000 for a no-visa-required package, with the possibility of taking out an AED 786 monthly instalment plan. Contact UAQFTZ for a personalised quote based on your specific requirements. The process is swift, and your company could be incorporated within 24 hours.

Benefits of starting a business in the UAE

The UAE welcomes foreign entrepreneurs, and the free trade zones provide the perfect launchpad for your business, no matter which part of the world you come from. Company setup costs are as low as they could possibly be, and these low costs reduce risk and allow you to spend more time and money on your brand and products.

Saving money at the outset will also enable you to invest in marketing, hiring, and perhaps a few special offers to make the launch memorable for your new customers. At the same time, the UAE’s lack of red tape makes everything very straightforward and ensures that you enjoy 100% ownership of your company.


Types of business licences in the UAE

These are the different licence types you can apply for as a foreigner in the UAE.

  1. Commercial Licence. This is the one you need if you are buying and selling goods, whether inside or outside the UAE. The specific licence will depend on your area of business.
  2. Professional Licence. This is for professionals with specific vocational skills. Examples of relevant areas include IT service providers, tax and insurance professionals and many other types of consultancies. Where there is more than one such professional involved, the firm will be registered as a Civil Works Company.
  3. Industrial Licence. This is the licence you will need if your business involves manufacturing or processing materials or products. Only companies with a physical office in the UAE can hold an Industrial Licence.
  4. Freelance Permit. This is every bit as general as it sounds, and it is the appropriate licence for specialists in the technology, media, arts and entertainment sectors working on a consultancy basis.
  5. Tourism Licence. If your business services involve the travel and tourism sector, this is the correct licence. It covers professionals working as hotel or guesthouse owners, travel and holiday agents, restauranteurs, water holiday operators, etc.
  6. Agricultural Licence. This one does what it says on the label – it’s for business owners involved in trading crops, pesticides, fertilisers, and any other agricultural activities. It also covers areas such as consultancy and the installation of greenhouses and irrigation systems.
  7. Craftsmanship Licence. This one is appropriate for trained professionals such as plumbers, carpenters, electricians and blacksmiths. A company that employs such individuals will need to apply for the licence, too.

Why choose UAQFTZ?

The Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone offers a great combination of favourable tax laws, low costs and excellent infrastructure. The zone is also in the perfect location for business, close to Dubai and international airports and with special concessions at the UAQ sea port.

The benefits of establishing your business in UAQ Free Trade Zone include the following:

  • No capital proof, bank letter or audit report required when applying.
  • No need to be physically present during business setup or licence application.
  • Establishment cards are issued free of charge.
  • You can use your existing visa, with no requirement for a specific UAQ one.
  • All visa holders can sponsor their families.
  • No NOC is required when you set up your company.
  • There are no restrictions on foreigners, whether owners or employees.


UAQFTZ – the bigger business picture

The benefits of setting up in UAQFTZ are considerable. There are no corporate or personal taxes and zero import and export taxes within the free zone and outside GCC countries. You also enjoy repatriation of all capital and profits, zero currency restrictions and no foreign exchange controls.

The UAQ Free Trade Zone infrastructure is excellent, too, with a fantastic road network, fully-serviced high-tech offices and warehouses and flexi-desk options. Whatever your business plans and ambitions, and whichever country you are from, your plans will be accommodated and boosted in UAQFTZ.

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