UAE has been a significant trade destination and has various options of business formation packages for the business owners to start a company seamlessly. The Free Zones in UAE form an essential role in shaping up the business growth in the UAE region. Free trade zone is designed to promote international business in the UAE by providing 100% foreign enterprise ownership. Free zones in UAE are organized to offer a bunch of attractive incentives to the business owners such as no requirement for a UAE national as a local partner/shareholder, tax exemptions on duties and taxes and much more.
If you are a foreign investor/business owner and wondering about the rules and regulations of a Free Zone and which free zone is the best for your business to register, then here is the information below that will help you make a better decision while registering a Free Zone Company in UAE.
Here are the steps you should take to choose the best Free Zone in UAE for your business:
- Business activity
Every Free Zone in UAE has specific guidelines for every business activities that are performed within Free Zones. There are also different rules in each Free Zone when it comes to how many business activities are allowed using the same business license. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a free zone in Dubai, you can choose from over 600 business activities ranging from over 20 sectors such as energy, commodities, gold and diamonds, technology, constructions, FMCG etc. In Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), you can conduct financial and non-financial businesses.
- License requirements
License of the business is directly connected with the nature of business activities. Based on the primary activities of your business, you need to apply for a suitable license. Commercial license, service license, production license, general trading license etc. are some of the common license types.
Depending on the number of business activities, you may have to apply for more than one license and each license comes at a cost. It is important to note that the number of activities your business will be allowed to perform under the single license differs from zone to zone. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Free Zone allows you to perform six business activities under the same type of license and others may require you to have a separate license for each activity.
- Number of Visas
As a business owner, you will need UAE residence visas to stay and operate legally in the UAE. The number of residence visas a business can avail depends on the type and size of office facility and space used. The quota as well as cost of a visa will differ from one Free Zone to another.
- Legal entity Type
A business in UAE Free Zone can be set up as ‘Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC)’ also known as Free Zone Company (FZ Co.) or Free Zone Establishment (FZE). Legal entity type you choose will have limitations on the number of shareholders that a company can have. This also depends upon whether a shareholder is a legal person or not.
Each Free zone authority has its own guidelines on the type of legal entity that they can register. For example, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) allows forming a limited liability company, which could be a newly formed entity with single or multiple shareholders or a wholly-owned subsidiary of a local or foreign company.
- Learn about the best available Free Zones in UAE
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)
- Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
- Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ)
- Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
- Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams)
- International Free Zone Authority (IFZA)
- Fujairah Creative City Free Zone (FCCFZ)
1. Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)
Situated in the heart of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is a powerhouse business and industrial hub that offers customizable solutions to free zone and non-free zone businesses in a multinational community flourishing in over 50 sectors.
Established by the government of Ras Al Khaimah, they are an authority that supports startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and industrialists with their business set-up requirements by providing them with a range of licenses and customizable facilities as well as first-class support services such as visa facilitation.
That’s said; if you want to engage in manufacturing activities, then RAKEZ has got a solution for you. It doesn’t mean this zone does not offer other types of business activities, but manufacturing is the top-cake in this zone. The reasons for being a hot-cake in the manufacturing sector are because it provides plots for industrial lands and customizable warehouses for development. Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of business setup in RAKEZ is its strategic location. Its authorities are situated close to a seaport and in proximity to Ras Al Khaimah airport.
2. Jebel Ali Free Zone Authorities (JAFZA)
Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is the flagship free zone of Dubai ports(DP) World, and is an integral part of the DP World UAE Region’s integrated business hub. The free zone has evolved into a trade catalyst and a smart business community that offers unprecedented growth opportunities and market access. Moreover, it is named the best free zone in Dubai port world (DP). This is because it plays a monumental role in the Dubai Port world UAE region’s integrated business hub.
Jebel zone is responsible for providing different types of licenses such as industrial license, trading license, service license, and e-commerce among others. Because of its popularity, JAFZA is the most suitable free zone for multinational corporations, commonly known as (MNCs). JAFZA is situated close to the seventh-largest container port called Jebel Ali Sea Port. So, its strategic location makes it the best free zone for export and import duties
3. Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ)
Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ) is the world’s very first publishing and printing Free Zone offering those in the book industry the opportunity to capitalize on tax-free privileges while benefiting from being a wholly independently owned and operated company. Additionally, the Free Zone’s strategic location at the epicenter of the globe adds to the advantages of having the MENA, African, Asian and the European regions at hand.
Moreover, one of the finest advantages of SPCFZ is that it permits investors to perform up to 5 business activities under one license without being charged. So, if your business activities are under printing and manufacturing, SPCFZ got you covered
4. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
DMCC is the world’s No.1 Free Zone and center of global commodities trading. It is also among one of the best free zones for a business setup that permits investors to acquire a dual license. The main benefit of having a dual license is that you can expand your business to onshore or mainland. However, to get the dual license, you’ll need to get a mainland license and a DMCC license altogether
5. Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams)
Sharjah Media City (Shams) a digitally born free zone authority was launched after an Emiri Decree was issued in 2017, by His Highness Dr. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
Shams provide entrepreneurs with a branch to set up an LLC company formation. In addition, this zone permits investors to register their company or businesses without having the attested documents for business approval.
6. International Free Zone Authority (IFZA)
Investors are desired to set up their business in IFZA. Reason being, IFZA is one of the most stable economic zones for company formation in Dubai. Its strategic position is recognizable for any business set up in the UAE. It also provides several business licenses for investors to operate their businesses seamlessly in this free zone. Some of the licenses issued in this zone include e-commerce business license, consulting, service, commercial, and trading license among others.
7. Fujairah Creative City Free Zone (FCCFZ)
Setting up a business with Creative City is considered as one of the best suited options that meets business requirements such as 100% ownership, 3 years residency visa allocations, cost-effectiveness, wide range of business activities, flexi-desk or office space options, No auditing and capital requirements, and much more.
As you have probably realized so far, there’s no right or wrong answer for choosing the free zone for your business . Each jurisdiction has its own pros and cons. It’s just a matter of understanding their strengths and also limits and choosing what’s best for your business needs. To make your process of choosing the best Free Zone easier, get in touch with our expert advisors having 15+ years of experience in working with several business owners from different business types and activities. The Clever Corp is a top rated and trusted Business setup company in Dubai, and can help you with business setup services in the UAE Free zones. Get a free expert consultation today.