Sharjah Free Zones – A Comprehensive Guide

October 19, 2023
Sharjah Free Zones

A Sharjah Free Zone is a specialized economic zone located in the Emirate of Sharjah and is designed to foster economic diversification and industrial development, attract foreign investment, and promote economic growth by offering various incentives and benefits to businesses and investors.

The first Sharjah free zone was established in 1995. Since then, several other free zones have been developed in Sharjah, each catering to specific industries and business activities. These zones have played a significant role in attracting foreign investment and boosting economic development in the emirate.

Mainland vs Free Zone: what’s the difference?

Deciding between a mainland and a free zone setup is a crucial decision for businesses looking to establish a presence in the UAE. Each option comes with its own advantages and limitations.

Advantages of mainland companies:

  • No restrictions on conducting business anywhere in the UAE.
  • 100% repatriation of profits and capital on most business activities.
  • Unrestricted access to local and global markets.
  • More business activities compared to free zone companies.

Advantages of a free zone company

  • 100% foreign ownership without the need for a local sponsor.
  • Easy and fast company formation
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Easier recruitment policies
  • Advanced infrastructure and work facilities.

What is the difference between a Free Zone and an LLC in Dubai, UAE?

Understanding the differences between a Free Zone and an LLC is important for entrepreneurs and investors looking to establish a presence in the UAE. Here are the key distinctions between Free Zones and LLCs:

Ownership and Shareholding:

Free Zone: Free Zones allow for 100% foreign ownership of a company. This means that you can fully own and operate your business without the need for a local partner or sponsor.

LLC: As per the new company law of 2021, there is no more requirement for a local sponsor to hold 51 % share of the LLC Company on most of the business activities, now investors can own a 100% share of a mainland trading company in UAE.

Business activities:

Free Zone: Free Zones are designed to encourage specific industries and activities. Each Free Zone has its own set of permitted activities and regulations. They are often ideal for businesses focused on import and export, logistics, technology, and media.

LLC: LLCs offer a broader range of business activities and can engage in various sectors. They are suitable for businesses with local market interests and those seeking a more diversified scope of operations.


Free Zone: Companies established in a Free Zone must have their physical presence within that specific Free Zone. They cannot conduct business directly outside the Free Zone without a local distributor or agent.

LLC: LLCs have more flexibility in terms of location and can operate anywhere in the UAE, including mainland.

Legal Structure and Governance:

Free Zone: Companies in Free Zones operate under Free Zone regulations and are governed by the respective Free Zone authorities. These authorities have their own rules and regulations.

LLC: LLCs are governed by UAE federal laws and regulations, and they are subject to the jurisdiction of local government authorities.

Types of Licenses Available in Sharjah Free Zone

Licensing is a fundamental aspect of operating a business in Sharjah. Here is a general overview of the types of licenses offered by SPC Free Zone and other Sharjah free zones:

Trading License: This license is suitable for businesses involved in buying and selling physical goods, including import and export activities. It covers a wide range of trading activities such as wholesale, retail, and general trading.

Industrial License: Businesses engaged in manufacturing, processing, assembling, or other industrial activities can apply for this license. It allows companies to produce goods within the free zone for export or local distribution.

Service License: Service-oriented businesses, such as consulting firms, IT companies, and business services providers, can obtain a service license.

Commercial License: This license is designed for companies offering services related to commercial activities, including logistics, distribution, and storage.

General Trading License: A general trading license allows companies to engage in a wide range of trading activities, including import, export, and re-export of various products. This license is ideal for businesses looking for versatility in trading operations.

Consultancy License: This license is for companies offering consultancy services in fields like management, finance, legal, and more.

Media License: Sharjah includes specialized free zones for media and creative industries. The media license is for businesses involved in publishing, advertising, film production, and related activities.

Tech/IT License: Tech-focused businesses, including software development, IT services, and electronics manufacturing, can obtain a technology or IT license.

Freelancer License: Some free zones offer freelancer licenses, allowing individuals to work as freelancers in various fields, such as media, design, and consultancy.

Educational License: Sharjah free zones also provide educational licenses for businesses involved in educational and training services.

Healthcare License: Healthcare-related businesses, including clinics, medical centers, and pharmaceutical companies, can apply for a healthcare license.

Food and Beverage License: This license is for businesses in the food and beverage industry, including restaurants, cafes, and food processing units.

Real Estate License: Companies involved in real estate development, brokerage, and related services can obtain a real estate license.

Event Management License: Event management companies can apply for a license that allows them to organize events, conferences, exhibitions, and similar activities.

Banking and Financial Services License: Some Sharjah free zones offer licenses for banking and financial institutions, including offshore banking.

 Steps of Obtaining a Sharjah Free Zone License

Obtaining a Sharjah Free Zone License for your business involves several steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to Sharjah free zone company setup in Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPC Free Zone):

Step 1: Initial Research and Planning

Before you begin the process, conduct thorough research and planning for your business. Understand the market, competition, and legal requirements specific to your industry.

Step 2: Choose Your Business Structure

Determine the legal structure of your business. Options in the Sharjah Free Zones typically include Free Zone Company (FZC), Free Zone Establishment (FZE), or Branch of an existing company.

Step 3: Select Business Activities

Identify the specific activities your business will engage in.

Step 4: Name Reservation

Choose a unique name for your business and submit the name reservation application to the free zone authority. Once approved, you’ll receive a name reservation certificate.

Step 5: License Application

Complete the license application form and gather all necessary documentation, that include:

  • Application form
  • Passport copies of shareholders and managers
  • Other relevant documents

Step 6: Lease Office Space

Find suitable office space within the free zone. Sign a lease agreement and obtain a tenancy contract or choose to work out a coworking space.

Step 7: Open a Bank Account

Open a corporate bank account in the UAE with a local bank. Provide the necessary documents, including your business license.

Remember that specific requirements and procedures may change over time. It’s advisable to seek advice from a local business consultant familiar with Sharjah Free Zone regulations. It’s essential to adhere to legal and regulatory requirements to avoid fines or penalties, as well as to get all required documents prepared accurately and notarized to avoid delays.

Documents Required for Sharjah Free Zone Company Formation

Here is a general list of essential documents typically required for company formation in SPC Free Zone and other Sharjah Free Zone:

  • Passport copy of Shareholders in the Parent company.
  • Emirates ID copy of Shareholders in the Parent company (if applicable).
  • Certificate of Formation.
  • Board/Shareholder’s Resolution Attested license (if applicable).
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association.
  • Ultimate Beneficial Owner Declaration.
  • KYC (Know Your Customer) video.

Benefits of Setting Up a Company in Sharjah Free Zone 

Setting up a company in the Sharjah Free Zone offers several unique benefits and advantages for potential investors. Here are some of the key advantages of setting up a company in Sharjah Free Zone:

  • 100% Foreign Ownership: This means that investors can have full control and ownership of their businesses without the need for a local sponsor or partner.
  • Full Repatriation of Profits: Investors can repatriate 100% of their profits and capital without any restrictions, providing complete financial flexibility.
  • Strategic Location: Sharjah’s geographical location offers excellent access to global markets. It serves as a hub for trade and commerce in the region.
  • Flexible Licensing Options: Sharjah Free Zones provide a range of business license types, catering to various business activities.
  • Simplified Company Setup: The company formation process in Sharjah Free Zones is streamlined and efficient, allowing businesses to start operations quickly.
  • Access to Skilled Workforce: Companies in Sharjah Free Zones can easily tap into the talent pool in Sharjah to meet their staffing needs.
  • Multiple Free Zones: Sharjah offers several free zones, each specializing in specific industries.
  • Networking and Business Support: Sharjah Free Zone authorities often provide networking opportunities, support services, and access to business resources to help companies thrive and grow.
  • State-of-the-Art Infrastructure
  • No Currency Restrictions

Sharjah Free Zone License cost 

Sharjah free zone license cost, Sharjah company registration, and the associated annual renewal fees can vary depending on several factors, including the type of business activity, the size of the office space, and the specific free zone within Sharjah you choose.

Sharjah free zone company setup cost at SPC Free Zone starts from AED 6,875.

Business Activities Allowed in Sharjah Free Zones

Sharjah free zones offer a wide range of business activities. The specific business activities permitted for business setup in Sharjah can vary depending on the individual free zone’s focus and regulations. Here is a general overview of the types of business activities that are typically allowed within Sharjah free zones, specifically within SPC Free Zone:

  • Trading Activities
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Activities
  • Media and Publishing
  • Logistics and Warehousing
  • Information Technology (IT) and Software Development
  • Consulting and Professional Services
  • Healthcare and Medical Services
  • Education and Training
  • Financial Services
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • E-commerce and Online Retail
  • General Trading

It’s important to note that while business setup in Sharjah free zone offers various advantages, there may be specific restrictions and conditions that businesses must adhere to.

The specific requirements, restrictions, and conditions can vary between different free zones in Sharjah. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with the relevant free zone authority or seek the guidance of a business setup consultant who can provide detailed information based on your specific business needs and objectives.

How is the economy of Sharjah for Business?

Operating in Sharjah offers numerous advantages and adds significant value to businesses looking to establish a presence in the UAE. Here’s an overview of the value of operating in a Sharjah free zone and the broader economic context of the UAE:

  • Strategic Location: Sharjah’s strategic position bridges Europe, Asia, and Africa, making it a global trade hub.
  • Business-Friendly Environment: The UAE boasts a stable and investor-friendly regulatory environment with a strong legal framework that protects business interests.
  • Full Repatriation of Profits: Businesses in Sharjah free zones can repatriate 100% of their profits and capital without any restrictions.
  • World-Class Infrastructure.
  • Diverse Business Activities: Sharjah free zones accommodate a wide range of business activities, catering to various industry sectors.
  • Skilled Workforce: The UAE attracts a diverse and highly skilled workforce from around the world, ensuring that businesses can access talent with a global perspective.
  •  Economic Stability: The UAE’s economy is known for its stability, resilience, and diversification, which have helped it weather global economic challenges successfully.
  • Foreign Investment-Friendly: The UAE has consistently attracted foreign investment, reflecting its openness to international business and capital.
  •  Vibrant Business Ecosystem: Sharjah hosts numerous international events, conferences, and exhibitions, providing ample networking and business growth opportunities.
  • Quality of Life: The UAE, especially the emirate of Sharjah, offers a high quality of life, with modern amenities, healthcare, education, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Why choose Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone?

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPC Free Zone) is the ultimate destination for entrepreneurs and investors seeking to establish their businesses in the UAE.

SPC free zone business setup services provide a comprehensive solution for entrepreneurs, eliminating the hassle and complexities often associated with business setup in the UAE. With over 1,500 business activities available, SPC Free Zone caters to a wide range of industries, allowing entrepreneurs to explore diverse opportunities. Whether you’re in the publishing industry or have a different business venture in mind, SPC free zone offers the necessary licenses and modern facilities to accommodate your unique requirements.

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