Dubai Media City

Company Formation

What are the Free Zone Options in the UAE?

A foreign investor can set-up a company in the UAE either in one of the many Free Zones or in the UAE mainland. Free Zone Authorities are the government bodies that register and issue business licences to non-resident companies in the UAE free zone. Free Zones allow corporate structures to have a physical presence in the UAE, allows 100% foreign ownership and offers prebuilt facilities and modernised one stop-shop registration and administrative services.

UAE is one of the most progressive countries in the world, with happy and contented residents, as well as sustainable growth in many fields, including the economy, trade, investment, communications, information technology, tourism and infrastructure – no doubt why countless foreign investors aim to establish their companies here in no time.

Freezones are well known for its flexibility when it comes to setting up companies, especially when choosing the activities. A wide selection of activities are available in the fre zones but are subject to approval. Some free zones have recently confirmed to update their activity lists with more functional activities to help investors in choosing the right activity for their business.

Free Zone
Business Activities

  • Professional


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Companies include: Lawyers, Marketing Agencies, Consulting

  • Education


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Investors that are opening an education-related institution or consultancy company.

  • Industrial


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Companies that are in to manufacturing, importing, packaging and exporting products.

  • Tourism


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Companies that are operating tourism-related activities or establishments.

  • Trading


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Companies that activities are linked to any import or export interrelated businesses.

  • E-Commerce


    For individuals/companies that provide professional services. Companies trading in goods and services via electronic means.

  • Individual / Freelance

    Individual / Freelance

    For individuals that provide professional services. One owner with one activity in a specific specialty or expertise.

Freezone Company Set Up Procedures

Unlike mainland’s heavy constitution and operating requirements i.e. appointment of a UAE local sponsor – Free Zones’ rules and timeframe for setting-up companies is way lighter and faster as the paperwork and administration requirements are minimal and there is no need for appointment of a UAE local sponsor to obtain the licence.

Step 1 – Pre-approval Stage

Application for initial company registration through the Free Zone’s Registrar. Some of the Free Zones have their online portals wherein clients may apply for initial application instead of going to the registrar for submission. This phase includes completion of application forms, registering the shareholder and officers’ details, company name reservation, activity, management and compliance approvals.

Step 2 – Registration

This is where company registration, invoice issuance, submission and verification of the original legal documents take place. At this stage, most of the Free Zones require the shareholder or the authorized signatory to visit the registrar for lodge of their specimen signatures and verification of documents i.e. passport, IDs, etc.

Step 3 – Licensing

Signing of the Lease Agreement and registrar finalization of the license take place at this stage. Once the management approval is granted, the licence and corporate documents of the company shall be issued.

Expert Advice

Book a call with one of our company formation specialists.