Starting a business in the UAE – step by step
Every year, thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs launch a successful startup business in the UAE. Boasting one of the world’s largest and most diverse economies, this cosmopolitan and well-connected region consistently ranks highly in terms of ‘ease of doing business’. There are now 330,000 businesses registered across the mainland and its 45 free zones. And, with the introduction of the ‘Fifty Economic Plan’ – an economic framework dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurship and small to medium businesses – this is only set to grow in the next few years.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about starting a business in the UAE, including the process of building a business from scratch, legal requirements and the benefits of opening a business here. We will cover the following topics:
- Steps for starting a business in the UAE
- How much does it cost to start a small business in the UAE?
- Is it easy to start a business in the UAE?
- Which free zone is best in the UAE?
Steps for starting a business in the UAE
The steps to starting a business in the UAE can be broken down into three stages. In brief, these are:
- Submit documents and application to receive your licence in under two hours
- Receive your immigration card and e-channel application
- Receive your entry permit
The first step is the most complicated part of the process. First, you’ll need to determine the legal entity of your business, depending on the number of shareholders involved. The options are Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC), Free Zone Company (FZ Co.) or Free Zone Establishment (FZE). Then, you’ll choose a trading name. Your chosen free zone will be able to confirm whether the name has already been registered. Then, you’ll apply for your business licence with the relevant paperwork. If this is approved, you’ll receive your license from SPC Free Zone in under two hours.
The next step involves setting up your e-channel services. This handy online system removes unnecessary paperwork and speeds up the application process. Once you have registered, you will be able to apply for your entry permit.
The third step concerns your entry permit. This temporary visa is usually valid for up to 60 days. Once you have received it, you can activate your status change in-country or by exiting and re-entering the UAE, depending on your nationality. Then, you’ll need to take a medical test. Once you’ve received the results, you can apply for your Emirates ID card.
As you can see, the steps for setting up a business in the UAE are relatively straightforward. However, you will need to ensure your paperwork is in order to avoid any unnecessary holdups. SPC Free Zone can help ensure that setting up your business in the UAE is as quick and pain-free as possible.
How much does it cost to start a small business in the UAE?
It costs as little as AED 5,750 to start a small business in the UAE. With comparatively low upfront costs, starting a business in the UAE is highly profitable. However, there are other startup costs to consider too. Understanding the costs of a business startup is crucial to success.
For instance, could you start your business with a smart desk or will you require an office unit? If you are trading in goods, will you need to consider suitable warehouse and storage units? Do you require a visa as a foreign national and will you employ individuals who will require one too? Have you taken into account notarization changes, medical checks and Emirates ID costs? What about requirements regarding capital investments? Keep in mind that prices for each of these vary considerably between free zones too.
At SPC Free Zone, we know that every business is different, which is why we offer a free, bespoke quotation to our clients. For an accurate estimation of how much it will cost to set up your small business in the UAE, get in touch with our friendly team of business advisors today.
Is it easy to start a business in the UAE?
Yes, it is easy to start a business in the UAE and it offers a whole string of benefits for growing businesses too, including:
- A business-friendly ecosystem
The UAE’s pro-business government is committed to providing world-class facilities, incentives and security for foreign investors. Legislation is constantly evolving to increase opportunities and make it easier for entrepreneurs and startups to expand too.
- Favourable tax incentives
Unlike most countries, Dubai offers total exemption from income, corporate and personal tax. While VAT does apply to specific business activities, total rates are significantly lower than elsewhere in the region. Plus, businesses operating in free zones can benefit from 100% ownership with zero paid-up capital.
- Easy business setup
Setting up a business in the UAE is now easier than ever, with help from business advisors in free zones like SPC Free Zone. Setting up your business requires less paperwork and can be broken down into easy-to-follow stages too.
- First-rate digital infrastructure
The UAE boasts some of the most advanced digital infrastructure in the world, with world-leading internet connectivity.
- High standard of living
The UAE leads in healthcare, education, real estate and recreational activities. It’s also one of the safest places to live in the world, with comparatively low crime rates.
- Strategic location
The UAE serves as the gateway to both east and west, with easy access to Africa, Asia and Europe. The region’s centralised time zone makes it easier to do international business and coordinate trading activities too. The UAE also boasts one of the world’s busiest airports, a highly efficient railway network and dozens of high-speed highway interchanges.
- Pool of talent
The UAE attracts a skilled and effective workforce, and it also proactively identifies human capital needs at a competitive cost. It has a high number of expat workers at all levels of the economy, accounting for over 80% of the workforce.
Which free zone is best in the UAE?
SPC Free Zone is one of the best free zones in the UAE for a number of reasons, including:
- Convenient location
SPC Free Zone is located in the heart of Sharjah with immigration services on site.
- Quick and flexible business setup
You can get your licence issued in just two hours.
- Competitive pricing
SPC Free Zone offers affordable packages for a range of businesses, with up to 20 visas under one trade licence.
- Business-friendly incentives
You can choose from over 1,500 business activities, with 100% foreign ownership, zero paid-up capital and a dual licence option that offers both mainland and free zone on the same licence.
Interested in setting up a business in the UAE? Get in touch with SPC Free Zone to kickstart your road to success.
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