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UAE Free Zones

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost
UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : What free zone means? Which is the cheapest Freezone in UAE? Which is the best free zone in UAE? How many free zones are there in Dubai? How many free zones are there in Abu Dhabi? What is the purpose of free zone? What are the benefits of a free zone? How many free trade zones does UAE have? What is a Freezone Visa?

UAE Free Zones

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Free-trade zones in the United Arab Emirates are areas that have a special tax, customs and imports regime and are governed by their own framework of regulations (with the exception of UAE criminal law). The UAE has a number of free zones across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain. Free zones may be broadly categorized as seaport free zones, airport free zones, and mainland free zones. Free-trade zone exemptions are:

  • 100% foreign ownership of the enterprise
  • 100% import and export tax exemptions
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Corporate tax exemptions for up to 50 years
  • No personal income taxes

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost

Assistance with labor recruitment, and additional support services, such as sponsorship and housing. Each Free Zone is designed around one or more business industry categories and only offers licenses to companies within those categories. An independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) governs each free zone, and is the agency responsible for issuing FTZ operating licenses and assisting companies with establishing their business in the FTZ.

Investors can either register a new company in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) or simply establish a branch or representative office of their existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad.[citation needed] An FZE is a limited liability company governed by the rules and regulations of the Free Zone in which it is established. Except for acquiring nationality in the UAE, the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) do not apply to FZEs, provided that the Free Zones have special provisions regulating such companies.

Advantages of setting up a business in UAE Free Zone. UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost

UAE Free Zones Advantages

1. Allows 100 per cent foreign national ownership of firm with no requirement of local sponsor or local service agent.
2. Waiver of corporate taxes (time-bound and renewable for further periods).
3. Exemption from personal taxes as well as import and export taxes.
4. 100 per cent repatriation of revenue and profits.
5. Documentation is less and more suited to foreign investors.
6. Long-term leasing options (up to 25 years) available at great terms to investors.
7. Recruitment and workforce processes are simplified, faster and cheaper.
8. Easy availability of legal, housing, immigration, labour and other facilities.
9. Incorporation is faster than when done outside free zones
10. 100 per cent free transfer of funds

45 Free Zones in the UAE

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost. 45 free zones in the UAE : Find the right one for your new business. Here are the advantages of setting up your business in a free zone and a list of all the UAE free zones

If you want to have 100 per cent ownership of your company, regardless of type of business, you need to opt for a license and location in one of the many free zones of UAE. They are designed to encourage foreign investment with easier start-up processes, labour and immigration procedures, 100 per cent ownership for all nationalities and other legal services. Each free zone has its own authority and its own rules, which are applicable to investors looking to set up firm in those zones.

Free Zones in Dubai

  • Dubai Airport Free Zone
  • Dubai Auto Zone
  • Dubai Cars and Automotive Zone
  • Dubai Design District
  • Dubai Flower Centre
  • Dubai Gold and Diamond Park
  • Dubai Healthcare City
  • Dubai Industrial City
  • Dubai International Academic City
  • Dubai International Financial Centre
  • Dubai Internet City
  • Dubai Knowledge Park
  • Dubai Logistics City
  • Dubai Maritime City Authority
  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre
  • Dubai Outsource Zone
  • Dubai Science Park
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubai Techno Park (New name: National Industries Complex)
  • Dubai Textile City
  • Energy and Environment Park
  • International Humanitarian City
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority
  • Jumeirah Lakes Towers Free Zone
  • Dubai Production City

Free Zones in Abu Dhabi

  • Abu Dhabi Airport Business City
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market
  • Abu Dhabi Ports Company
  • Higher corporation for specialized economic zones/ ZonesCorp
  • Industrial City of Abu Dhabi
  • Masdar City
  • TwoFour54

Free Zones in Sharjah

  • Hamriya Free Zone Authority
  • Sharjah Airport Free Zone Authority
  • USA Regional Trade Center Free Zone

Free Zones in Fujairah

  • Creative City Fujairah
  • Fujairah Free Zone Authority

Free Zones in Ras Al Khaimah

  • RAK Investment Authority Free Zone
  • RAK Maritime City
  • Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone
  • Ras Al Khaimah Media Free Zone

Ajman and Umm Al Quwain

These emirates have one free zone authority each; Ajman Free Zone Authority and Umm Al Quwain Free Zone Authority

Starting a business in a free zone

UAE Free Zones : UAE Free Zones List : Cheapest Free Zone in UAE. How to Start a Business in UAE Free Zone & UAE Free Zone License Cost. This page provides information about the key steps to set up a business in a free zone from determining the type of legal entity and choosing a trade name.

Key steps to start a business

Setting up a business in a free zone is relatively easier. Free zone authorities require minimum paperwork and duration. Here are the key steps to set up a business in a free zone.

  • Determine the type of legal entity
  • Choose a trade name
  • Apply for a business licence
  • Choose an office space
  • Get pre-approvals, register your business and get your licence

Determine the type of legal entity

Determine the type of legal entity your business would take up. In a free zone, you can set up one of the two types of companies:

  • Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC) or Free Zone Company (FZ Co.)
  • Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

The differences lie in the number of shareholders and whether the shareholder is a natural person or a legal person. All free zones might not register both types of companies. You need to check with individual free zone authorities about the type of company they can register. Refer to the list of free zones and their authorities.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) allows forming a limited liability company, which could be a newly formed entity with single or multiple shareholders or wholly owned subsidiary of local or foreign company.

Branches

Existing local and foreign companies may set up a branch of their company in free zones.

Capital requirement

There is no minimum capital requirement at twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

In KIZAD, you can form an LLC for which the minimum paid-up capital should be AED 150,000.

In Dubai Airport Free Zone, you can form an FZ Co. with a minimum share capital of AED 1000. Each share should be in the denomination of AED 1000.

In DMCC, the minimum share capital for forming a free zone company is AED 50,000 per company and AED 10,000 per shareholder. For a company to be issued a General Trading Licence, it should have a minimum of AED 1 million share capital.

In Hamriya Free Zone, you can form an FZE with a share capital of AED 150,000.

Choose a trade name

While you are deciding upon the type of legal entity your business should take, you should choose a trade name.

In most cases, you should check either with the respective free zone authority or the respective with the Department of Economic Development about the permitted trade names and whether the intended name has already been registered.

As per the website of twofour54, you cannot use ‘Abu Dhabi’ and/or ‘United Arab Emirates’ in the name of the FZ-LLC or the branch.

Refer to DMCC’s list of restricted trade names (PDF, 207 KB).

In general, for DED to approve the proposed trade name, the key requirements are that the trade name:

  • must not violate the public morals or the public order of the country
  • must be followed by the legal form of the company, for example (LLC, FZE, DMCC etc.)
  • has not been previously registered
  • is compatible with the required type of activity and legal status
  • should not contain names of any religion, or governing authority, nor names or logos of any external bodies.

Related links:

Apply for a business licence

The type of business licence you will apply for depends on the primary activity of your business.

Types of business activities you can conduct

In twofour54, you can carry out the following businesses:

  • Content production
  • Advertising
  • Animation
  • Corporate Film production
  • Corporate Print Material
  • Digital content production (e.g. CGI, 3D etc)
  • Educational content material
  • Film production
  • Gaming development
  • Graphic design
  • Illustration
  • Mobile media (e.g. content for interactive media services on mobile phones)
  • Music production and recording
  • Music videos
  • Online electronic content production (e.g. websites, e-books, travel guides etc.)
  • Performing arts and theatre
  • Photography/videography
  • Print content production (e.g. magazines, journals, periodicals, newsletters, guides, and handbooks etc.)
  • Radio content production
  • Script writing
  • Software development (e.g. applications)
  • Song writing and composing
  • TV production
  • Web design and development (e.g. portal, search engine, community site, web production, online library)

Other business activities

  • Branding Agency
  • Events/Festivals
  • Exhibitions/Conferences
  • Information Services (e.g. media related market research)
  • Marketing Communications
  • Media content management (e.g. digital archiving)
  • Post Production (e.g. Film, TV, editing services)
  • Professional Association (e.g. non-profit)
  • Public Relations
  • Rights Management
  • Training (media related)

Publishing and broadcasting

  • publish a book
  • publish a magazine
  • publish a newspaper
  • broadcast a satellite/terrestrial television channel
  • broadcast a satellite/terrestrial radio channel

In this case, you would need to apply for a dissemination licence.

In DMCC, you can choose from over 600 business activities ranging from over 20 sectors such as energy, commodities, gold and diamonds, technology, constructions, FMCG, healthcare, aviation, shipping, education, media, professional services, financial services and personal and community services. Refer to the list of businesses you can conduct in DMCC.

In DIFC, you can conduct financial and non-financial businesses. Financial businesses include banks, insurance, wealth management and capital markets. Non-financial businesses include retail shops, restaurants, five-star hotels, art galleries and academic institutions. Read more on the page about areas of business in DIFC.

Accordingly, some types of business licences are:

  • Commercial/trade
  • Consultancy/services
  • Industrial
  • Educational
  • Media
  • eCommerce
  • Offshore
  • Freelancer
  • Warehousing
  • Manufacturing.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) allows establishing ‘single family offices’. These have the standard FZ LLC structure. They can provide services to a family member, family business, family entity (corporate structure) or family trust. It can be owned by one or more individuals or a corporate entity where all shareholders are of the same family.

Choose an office space

You can either buy or lease office spaces in free zones. Office requirements depend on the number of employees and type of business activity of your company.

In DMCC, you can choose from a flexi desk of 20-30 sq. m., a flexi office of 200-265 sq. m., or offices running through multiple floors totalling up to 2,000 sq. m. each.

In Dubai Airport Free Zone, you can choose between ‘Office Packages’, ‘Smart Desk Office Packages’ and ‘Executive Office Packages’.

Hamriyah Free Zone Authority provides over 100 executive offices suits ranging in size from 15 m2 to 42 m2 with conferencing and internet facilities. Refer to its leasing and licensing guide (PDF, 200 KB).

Get pre-approvals, register your business and get your licence

Companies established in free zones are governed by the rules of the respective free zones. To get the necessary approvals, you need to apply with the documents. The list of documents varies on the type of business activity, the type of company and the requirements of the free zone authority. Below is a general guideline of steps and documents needed for approvals.

A. Initial approval

First, you need the initial approval. You are required to provide:

  • Completed application form
  • Business plan
  • Copy of existing trade licence/registration certificate (if you are an existing company, applicable for local company only)
  • Coloured passport copies of the company’s shareholder/s and the appointed Manager/Director for the new company
  • Specimen signature of the company’s shareholder/s and the appointed Manager/Director for the new company
  • 2 years’ audited financial reports for corporate entity or certificate of reference from a personal bank of the individual shareholder
  • NOC from current sponsor (for individuals)
  • Unit title deed
  • Letter of Intent
  • Registry Identification Code Form (RIC) for Manager/Director (Original and notarised)

Freelancers need to submit fewer documents. In most cases, they need to submit:

  • Application for registration
  • CV
  • Bank reference letter
  • Registry Identification Code Form (RIC) (Original and notarised)

B. Registration

After getting initial approval, you need to pay registration fees and licence fees. The fees depend on the type of licence required. Then, you need to submit:

  • Completed application for registration
  • Board Resolution appointing Manager/Director (Notarised and attested)
  • Power of Attorney given to Manager/Director (Notarised and attested)
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association (Notarised and attested)
  • Specimen signature of Manager/Director (Notarised and attested)
  • Passport-size photo of Manager/Director against white background
  • Share capital information

C. Licensing and visa process

  • Lease agreements will be prepared by the authority
  • Then trade licence will be issued
  • Visa processing will start

Note that certain activities may be subject to approval from external authorities. Refer to special cases.

Authorities regulating free zone activities

Refer to the websites of free zones and the authorities in:

The emirate of Abu Dhabi

The emirate of Dubai

Under Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority:
Others:

The emirate of Sharjah

The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah

The emirate of Ajman

The emirate of Umm Al Quwain

The emirate of Fujairah

Special cases

Apart from the respective free zone authorities, certain industries/sectors of businesses are additionally governed by other government entities. Some of them are mentioned below.

Media

The following entities govern media organisations in the UAE:

Food and beverage

The following entities govern food and beverage businesses in the UAE:

FAQs

What are the requirements regarding capital investment?

These vary on the business type and the free zone authority.

What are the types of businesses I can do in a free zone?

You can do any business in the fields of financial, educational, retail, hospitality and media to name a few. Check with the respective free zone authority for businesses permitted on their premises.

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