Offshore company formation in Dubai

Offshore company formation in Dubai

Offshore companies are entities that are registered in Dubai, but operate outside of the country. There are three options in the UAE and for offshore company formation in Dubai. These three jurisdictions; Ras Al Khaimah (RAK); Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA); and Ajman, offer companies the ability to establish in the region, but have operations that are solely outside of the registered region.

About an offshore company in Dubai

An Offshore Company is defined as a legal business entity that operates outside its registered jurisdiction and place of ownership. Unlike an onshore company, which exists and operates within the borders of the country it is registered.

It is a tax efficient, cost-effective means for companies to carry out business globally.

There are three jurisdictions in which an offshore company can be established in the UAE: In Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), Jebel Ali Free zone (JAFZA) and Ajman.

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All three offer 100% foreign ownership, exemption from income tax and corporate tax and no requirement for investment of share capital.

JAFZA is the most expensive of the three in terms of setup costs and subsequent annual fees. However, it is the only one of the three which allows for real estate ownership in Dubai.

RAK and Ajman are more cost-effective options and unlike JAFZA, have no restrictions on permitted activities.

RAK ICC is located 45 minutes’ drive from central Dubai and is a European Union Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) whitelisted offshore jurisdiction with ability to meet Economic Substance Regulations (ESR). RAK ICC jurisdiction has zero tax on Corporate Income, Capital Gains, Dividends, and Interest Income. It provides access to Common Law legislation through access to the common law courts in Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).

The registration process in RAK ICC is fast, and relatively cost-effective. RAC ICC also allows re-domiciliation, migration & continuation from various other offshore jurisdictions. There is no minimum capital requirement to set up in RAK ICC.

There are 5 types of company structures that can be incorporated by RAK ICC. They are:

  • A Company Limited by Shares
  • A Company Limited by Guarantee
  • A Restricted Purposes Company
  • A Segregated Portfolio Company
  • An Unlimited Company

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Establishing an offshore company in the UAE can be advantageous for many reasons. some of the key benefits include:

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • Privacy - no requirement to provide the names of company directors or shareholders on a public register
  • RAKICC company registration will generally be complete approximately one week after submission of all required documentation
  • There is no minimum share capital requirement

International growth. An offshore company can act as a base to exploit international market opportunities.

Better access to global funding

Offering a means to separate or protect assets from other operating entities

Why set up a company in Ras Al Khaimah International Corporate Centre (RAKICC)?

Ras Al Khaimah is one of the seven emirates that form the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The capital, Abu Dhabi is easily accessible by road in approximately 2 hours, with Dubai just an hour away.

RAK ICC offers a very business-friendly environment, with operating costs significantly lower than the UAE average, allowing businesses to maximise their ROI.

The main benefits that RAKICC offers to investors are:

With a mainland UAE company, a foreign investor is only permitted to hold a 49% share in their business with the remaining 51% allocated to an Emirati sponsor/partner.

A company in RAKICC has no such restrictions. The foreign investor has full ownership of the business. This provides investors with the reassurance that they will retain full control over their business operations and negates the possibility of any future ownership disputes.

To incorporate a mainland company, there is a requirement for a minimum level of capital, which must be considered sufficient by the UAE government to achieve the purposes of its incorporation. This varies depending on the type of entity, but for reference purposes, a minimum share capital of AED100,00 would generally be accepted by a notary public for an LLC in Dubai. In RAKICC, however, there is no minimum share capital requirement and no requirement to file financial accounts.

This removes a lot of the stress associated with opening local bank accounts and attestation of corporate documents.

RAK has an independent legal system that is distinct from the federal system and from the authority of the Federal Supreme Court. It is based on the Common Law system and allows access to the common law courts of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).

These are English language judiciaries with authority to resolve commercial disputes as well as local or international corporate cases.

This simplifies the resolution of any disputes and gives clients peace of mind that their company complies with all local and international laws.

Cost efficiency
Firstly, setup costs in RAK are generally much lower than in the rest of the UAE and there is no need to add the expense of renting office space since all companies in RAKICC have a registered office.

Secondly, the UAE has one of the largest tax treaty networks in the world. This means that businesses setting up in the UAE can avoid the issue of double taxation on the same income and can often get relief from various other tax compliance obligations in other countries.


The steps to set up a freezone business in RAKICC are similar to that of any other free zone. The simplified breakdown below highlights the three key steps:

  1. Contact PRO Partner Group to assist as the registered agent to assist you in obtaining an office address
  2. Prepare the required documentation as per your requirements
  3. Submit your application and obtain your certificate of incorporation
Dubai Offshore Company - FAQs
What is the difference between Free Zone and offshore company in Dubai?

An offshore company is a non-residence company. Offshore company does not allow any visa, residence, or office space in Dubai whereas free zone does.

Am I eligible for UAE residency?

If you are setting up an offshore company, you will not be eligible for residency in the UAE. Residency visas are only available to those launching an onshore business (Mainland or Freezone)

Do I need to have a registered office address?

It is required for your company to have a registered UAE office address and must also have a licenced registered agent. PRO Partner Group can assist with this.

Is there anything an offshore company in UAE is unable to do?

An offshore company is unable to engage in business in the UAE or engage in prohibited business.

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