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Can Free Zone Companies Do Business in the UAE Mainland?

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Embarking on a business venture in Dubai is an exciting prospect, but questions often arise about the limitations and opportunities for free zone companies. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of whether free zone companies can operate or provide services to the UAE Mainland. We specialize in assisting individuals worldwide in setting up companies, obtaining residency, and establishing a robust presence in Dubai and the UAE.

Free Zone Companies: Unleashing Global Accessibility
  • Swift Setup Processes: Free zone companies are renowned for their expeditious setup procedures. The streamlined processes allow entrepreneurs to establish their ventures promptly, a factor that appeals to many business enthusiasts.
  • 100% Foreign Ownership: One of the most enticing aspects of free zone companies is the complete foreign ownership they offer. This level of control over the business is a compelling reason why international entrepreneurs flock to free zones for their ventures.
  • 100% Repatriation of Profits: Free zone companies provide the unique advantage of allowing entrepreneurs to repatriate 100% of their profits. This financial flexibility is a powerful incentive for those seeking to maximize returns on their investments.
  • Exemptions from Custom Duties: Within the confines of the free zone, companies benefit from exemptions on customs duties for goods imported. This contributes to cost savings and enhances the overall business environment within the free zone.


Mainland Companies: The Gateway to Nationwide Operations
  • Flexibility to Trade Across the UAE: Unlike their free zone counterparts, mainland companies enjoy the flexibility to conduct business activities across the entire expanse of the UAE mainland. This geographical freedom is instrumental for businesses seeking a nationwide presence.
  • Customs Duties on Imported Goods: A key distinction lies in the requirement for mainland companies to pay customs duties on imported goods. While this adds a layer of financial responsibility, it also opens up avenues for businesses to cater to a diverse range of markets within the UAE.
Consulting Services: Bridging Zones for Expertise

Limitations on Mainland Operations:

Free zone companies offering consulting services encounter restrictions on direct operations within the UAE mainland. The delineation between free zones and the mainland imposes certain limitations.

Providing Services from Afar:

Despite the constraints, a free zone entity is permitted to extend its consulting services to individuals and companies located in the mainland. This strategic approach enables businesses to bridge geographical gaps without the need for a physical presence.


Cleaning Services: A Tale of Licensing Necessities

Mainland License Prerequisite:

In stark contrast to consulting services, businesses engaged in cleaning services necessitate a mainland license. The physical nature of these services requires a localized presence and compliance with mainland regulations.

Jurisdiction-Specific Licensing:

Provision of cleaning services in the mainland mandates adherence to jurisdiction-specific licensing requirements. This signifies a more localized approach to regulatory compliance, mirroring the geographical focus of the services.


Trading Company: Balancing Zones for Market Reach

Limitations on Physical Establishments:

Free zone trading companies face limitations in opening physical establishments, such as retail stores or restaurants, within the mainland. The exclusivity to the free zone ensures a distinct economic boundary.

Selling to the Mainland Market:

Despite the constraints on physical presence, free zone trading companies can strategically cater to the mainland market. Selling products to individuals and companies in the mainland is facilitated by paying custom duties during the transition from free zone to mainland.


E-commerce Company: Harnessing Distribution Dynamics

Utilizing Distributors for Physical Reach:

Free zone e-commerce companies seeking to reach individual customers in the mainland navigate through the use of shipping companies or distributors. This approach allows for the efficient distribution of products without establishing a physical foothold in the mainland.

Custom Clearance Dynamics:

The shipping process involves custom clearance handled by the distributor, ensuring compliance with regulations governing the transition of goods from the free zone to the mainland.

Steps to start a Freezone Company

Step 1: Choosing the Right Business Activities

At the heart of a successful corporate venture is the strategic selection of business activities. GenZone, with its seasoned team, can assess your corporate model and recommend suitable activities, whether they fall under professional, commercial, e-commerce, or trading licenses. This foundational step ensures that your business aligns perfectly with the opportunities in Dubai.

Step 2: Finding the Right Free Zone

Dubai boasts a plethora of free zones, each specializing in distinct business activities. The key is aligning your business operations with the specialization of the chosen free zone. By scheduling a consultation call with GenZone, we tailor our recommendations to your corporate needs, ensuring a harmonious fit and a streamlined setup process.

Step 3: Choosing Your Company Name

Within the free zone framework, companies can submit three preferred names. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution, steering clear of negative language or references to sensitive subjects. Our guidance ensures a smooth progression to the subsequent steps of the process.

Step 4: Processing Your Application

Initiating the application process involves submitting a comprehensive form, leading to the acquisition of vital documents like your trade license, memorandum of association, and share registrar. This phase typically takes four to five business days, establishing the legal groundwork for your corporation in the UAE.

Step 5: Applying for Visas

For companies with members outside the country, pre-arrival submission of the visa application is paramount. This strategic move facilitates the acquisition of the e-visa, serving as both the entry and employment visa. GenZone’s efficient process ensures a one-business-week timeframe for securing corporate e-visas.

Step 6: Completing Medical and Biometrics Testing

Upon corporate representatives’ arrival in the UAE, mandatory medical and biometrics testing is undertaken. Opting for the VIP option expedites the process, typically taking two to three business days. This step is crucial for meeting health and security screening requirements for corporate residency.

Step 7: Applying and Receiving Emirates IDs

The final phase involves applying for Emirates IDs, a process typically taking four to five business days. Once obtained, GenZone facilitates appointments for corporate and personal bank accounts, enabling the opening of the personal account in one visit and the corporate account within one business week


Navigating the landscape of free zone companies operating in the UAE Mainland involves understanding the nature of your business activities. While certain services and products can be provided to the mainland from free zones, it’s crucial to align your business strategy with the regulatory framework. 

If you’re unsure about the most suitable business license for your venture, Genzone is here to guide you. Book a meeting with us through the link in the description, and let’s unlock the full potential of your business in Dubai and the UAE.

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