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Frequently asked
questions

FAQ Topics

General
Where do I start?

We recommend that you create a business plan to understand your company requirements. For example: Will your company be trading goods? Who is your target market? Where will you likely be located? How many staff will you require? What is your timeline? All these questions are essential to understanding how to help you.

What type of entity would be suited to my business?

Depending on your business activity, one of the following licenses from the 3 main categories would be required: Professional, Commercial or Industrial licences. Dependant on the type of licence required, the type of entity can be determined, these include; Limited Liability Company (LLC), Foreign/Local Branch, Sole Establishment or Civil Partnership.

Which emirate should I set up in?

There a 7 emirates making up the UAE; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Kamiah, Fujairah, Ajman & Umm Al Quwain. To determine which emirate is best to set up in, you should consider the following:

  • Where are your clients based?
  • Are you dealing with private or government entities?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What are the rental costs?

Depending on your business activities and prospective clients will go a long way to decide which DED licence is required. Deciphering what your business activities &/or prospective clients will be is extremely important to decide which emirate to set up in, for example, to obtain an ADNOC/SPC approval, an Abu Dhabi Mainland trade licence is mandatory.

What is the difference between a mainland and a freezone company?

Mainland Company:

A mainland establishment is an onshore setup, licensed by the Department of Economic Development (DED). An onshore establishment is permitted to conduct business in the local market as well as outside the UAE, without any restrictions.

Free Zone Company:

A Free Zone business is incorporated within a designated jurisdiction of a certain emirate where the company is only allowed to conduct business inside the same Free Zone or outside of the UAE. For commercial trade licenses and trading of physical goods, the Free Zone company cannot conduct local business directly. The Government has issued limitations for trading in the local market through a distributor and by paying 5% duty on the local invoices. A Free Zone business cannot work legally outside of its designated jurisdiction.

Can a foreigner own 100% of a company?

There are multiple ways that a foreign party can own 100% of a business. The numerous Free Zones throughout the Emirates allow for 100% ownership of businesses of varying sizes and across multiple industry sectors. However, it is important to note that there are restrictions in terms of who you may contract with when operating from a Free Zone entity. Throughout Mainland UAE it is possible for Foreign Nationals or Companies to wholly own businesses which provide professional and consultancy services. It is not permitted to trade goods within UAE mainland, using a 100% Foreign-owned company.

Mainland
What will be the cost?

As per UAE governed law, mainland establishments are required to have a local sponsor who will own 51% of the company’s shares and the foreign partner will own the remaining 49%. The most common form of a mainland business is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) which requires a minimum of 2 whose liability is limited to the company shares. Just like Free Zone companies, the cost of setting up a mainland business depends upon various factors, including; business activity, number of employees and commercial space.

Why do I need a local partner? What are my options?

As per UAE law, if you wish to set up onshore, you will require a local partner. PRO Partner Group can act as a corporate nominee shareholder in the case of setting up as an LLC, or a corporate national service agent in the case of setting up as a branch.

How much office space will I require?

A commercial lease agreement is a strict requirement to incorporate and operate a trade license under the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). This will be required within 11 days of the application but may be provided to a representative for verification at an earlier time. Specific regulations regarding minimum size, location, and suitability apply (minimum of approximately 200 sq. ft. for Office Spaces, Business Centres, and Shops and500sq.ft. for a warehouse).

Freezone
What are the benefits for setting up in a freezone?

A freezone is a defined and isolated land or setting, with a special tax, customs and imports regime, that is different from a mainland area. The main advantage of owning a freezone company is that as an expatriate, you can own the business 100% without having to give out any of its shares

What will be the cost?

The costs will vary depending on where you choose to establish your license. Setting up your business in a Free Zone offers key advantages such as; 100% foreign ownership, zero personal and corporate tax as well as import duties, complete repatriation of profits, confidentiality of your assets plus many more.

How long will it take to set up a freezone company?

The time taken to incorporate a Company in UAE depends greatly on the complexity of the business to be incorporated. A simple Free Zone Enterprise (FZE) may be incorporated in a matter of days, whereas it can take several months for an Industrial facility to obtain all the permits required to operate safely and legally.

What commercial space do I require?

All operating companies in UAE are required to take commercial premises to obtain their licence. Within the various free zones, the minimum space may be a flexi-desk or ‘virtual office’ arrangement, and for larger entities there are minimum requirements based on the number of employees. In Mainland UAE, a minimum size of 14sqm/200sqft is often required. This can change depending on your business activity so be sure to take the right advice early on, so as to budget accordingly.

Can a free zone company conduct business anywhere within the UAE?

No, a Freezone company should only work with companies in the same jurisdiction that has issued the licence or with companies overseas.

Freelancer Permits
Can I obtain a freelancer permit if I am employed somewhere else?

In specific Free Zones, this is not an issue. However, a NOC must be provided by your current sponsor/ employer. However, in some Free Zones, it is a mandatory requirement to obtain a visa from that Authority.

If I hold a freelancer permit can I work from home or at the premises of a company I have a contract with?

Yes, you will be working as an independent supplier; therefore, if you have an agreement with a particular company, you are permitted to conduct business from their office.

Will I have to be audited?

This is not currently required; however it is highly advisable to keep accounts.

Can I register a trading name or do I conduct business under my name?

You cannot use a trading name; the permit is issued to you as an individual in your name.

Can I hire employees?

No, you cannot hire employees on a freelance permit, but you can sponsor your dependents.

Can the permit holder apply for a UAE residence visa?

Yes, you can apply for an employment visa once the freelancer permit and establishment card are issued. Certain entities require medical insurance to be able to process visas.

Are there any office space options for permit holders?

There are options of flexi-desks and workstations located in the Free Zone’s permitted for use by freelance permit holders; some locations also offer meeting facilities.

Am I eligible for a freelance permit? What are the requirements?

Only individuals with the appropriate credentials or certificates relating to the allowed activities are permitted to apply for the permit. To apply, you must have the following:

  • Resume
  • Passport Copy
  • Visa Copy (if you have one)
  • Bank Reference Letter (this can be from either your local or international bank)
  • Sponsor/Employer NOC (if you currently have a work permit and a residency visa)
  • Portfolio – PDF or online link (for media related activities)
  • Credentials and Certificates (for related educational activities)
  • Other documentation may be required dependent on the Free Zone
How long does the application process take?
  • Permit Application and Issuance: 7 to 14 business days (once all documents have been approved and required document signed)
  • Visa Application: 14 to 21 business days (after permit issuance)
Visa & Licensing
How do I get an Emirates ID card?

If you are a UAE Citizen or hold a residence visa you eligible to apply for an Emirates ID at one of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) customer centres located throughout the UAE or online through the FAIC website. For first time applications you will be required to attend the FAIC in order to submit your biometrics and have your photograph taken as part of the process. Once the application is processed and the relevant fees have been paid it takes approximately 5-7 working days for the card to be issued. The card can be collected from your local Emirates Post office where ;;you will be required to present your passport and EID application form.

What documents to I need to process my visa?
  • Passport copy - must have more than 6 months validity and at least 2 blank pages
  • Photo - head and shoulders, no eyeglasses, white background, high resolution and coloured
  • Attested education certificate - if required for job title - must be attested in the country of issuance for use in the UAE and further attested in the UAE at MOFA
  • Tourist visa copy/entry stamp if applicant is inside the UAE
  • Previous visa/EID/cancellation docs if the applicant has previously held a visa in the UAE
  • Nationals of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will also need to provide a copy of their national ID card
  • DHA/HAAD approved health insurance - required in order for the visa to be completed and stamped in the passport
How long does it take to process a residence visa?

Typically if all documentation is in place and valid, then an inside country visa application will take approximately 15 - 20 working days. If the visa application is started from outside the country and the applicant enters the UAE on the employment visa then processing once inside the country takes approximately 10 - 15 working days. * These time frames do not factor in delays from the government departments.

How do I sponsor my family?

In order for a male to sponsor his immediate family (wife and children) they will need to have a valid employment visa with a suitable designation and a minimum salary of AED4,000 per month. A female can sponsor her immediate family (husband and children) if she has a valid employment visa and the designation is either engineer, teacher, doctor, nurse or any other profession related to the medical sector. She is required to have a minimum monthly salary of AED 10,000 per month.

There are also certain documents that will be required in order to process the family visas, including attested marriage and birth certificates, a notarised tenancy contract and a salary certificate. We can assist with family visa applications and would be happy to discuss the full process and document requirements upon request.

VAT & Finance
Do I need a company bank account?

Yes, whilst it is not a mandatory requirement for new companies without staff, it is strongly advised that you look to open a local company bank account as soon as possible. It is beneficial not only for local business transactions but also once a company does have staff they will be required to be paid through the WPS banking system. Failure to do so will result in a block against the company. There are many local Banks to choose from most of which offer competitive commercial rates.

How do I register for VAT? Am I eligible?

It is mandatory to register for VAT in the UAE if the company turnover is AED 375,000 or more. A company can apply voluntarily if the turnover reaches AED 175,000. The Federal Tax Authority has an online portal for VAT registration. For more information visit https://www.tax.gov.ae/registering-for-vat.aspx

Oman
Where do I start?

We recommend that you create a business plan to understand your company requirements. For example: What are your company’s activities going to be? Who is your target market? Where will you likely be located? How many staff will you require? What is your timeline? All these questions are essential to understanding how to help you.

What is the difference between a freezone and mainland company?

Mainland Company

A mainland establishment is an onshore setup, licensed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). An onshore establishment is allowed permitted to conduct business in the local market as well as outside Oman without any restrictions.

Freezone Company

A Free Zone business is incorporated within a designated jurisdiction of a certain Freezone where the company is only allowed to conduct business inside the same Freezone or outside of Oman. Oman free zone companies are allowed to trade within Oman mainland without a local agent, however customs duty of 5% applies in these cases.

What type of entity would be suited to my business?

Dependent on the activities and shareholding composition, foreign companies can be incorporated in the following most common legal forms:

  • Sole Proprietorship (owned by one person, available to Omanis, GCC and US nationals)
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC (owned by two or more individuals or corporates)
  • Branch of a Foreign Company (100% owned by a foreign company, Government project required)
  • Representative Office (100% owned by a foreign company, no commercial business allowed)
Will I require a physical office or can the company be registered against a virtual office?

A new company cannot be registered against the virtual office. Once the new company is registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Commercial Registration is issued, a physical space has to be rented and lease agreement obtained in order to apply for company’s Municipality (Trade) License. The same rule applies to the Freezones with the requirement to rent space within the Freezone where the new company will be incorporated. The size of your office will broadly dictate the number of staff you can have and some activities will need specific office types and locations.


How long does it take to set up a company in Oman?

Generally, it takes from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the jurisdiction, legal structure, shareholding and any additional third-party approvals if required.

Can a foreigner own 100% of a company in Oman?

GCC companies that are 100% owned by GCC nationals, or GCC nationals themselves, may establish a company without a local partner for approved activities. Pursuant to a free trade agreement (FTA) concluded between the US and Oman, US persons may form an entity in Oman without a local partner, provided that all the shareholders are US persons.

Is dual residency permitted in Oman for other GCC country visa holders?

Yes, but it is only permitted for the business owners.

Do I need a company bank account?

Yes, whilst it is not a mandatory requirement for new companies without staff, it is strongly advised that you look to open a local company bank account as soon as possible. It is beneficial not only for local business transactions but also once a company does have staff they will be required to be paid through the WPS banking system. Failure to do so will result in a block against the company. There are many local Banks to choose from most of which offer competitive commercial rates.

What taxes are payable in Oman?

Income tax – 15% (3% for certain small tax payers) and Withholding tax – 10% (maybe reduced or eliminated by any applicable double tax agreement). Tax exemptions are available only for industrial (manufacturing) activities.

What is Omanisation?

Omanisation is a policy enacted by the Government of Oman aimed at replacing expatriate workers with trained Omani Personnel. Specific quotas are set by the country within certain industries determining the percentage of Omani to foreign workers required. This is something to be taken into consideration when hiring staff under the new entity.

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