GenZone Logo

Must Know This Before Opening a Company in Dubai!

Table of Contents

Setting up a business in Dubai offers an array of opportunities, thanks to its strategic location, business-friendly environment, and robust infrastructure. However, navigating the process can be complex, with numerous elements to consider and steps to follow. This article provides a comprehensive guide to help you understand what you need to know before establishing your company in Dubai.

Choosing the Right Type of Business Structure
Mainland Company vs. Free Zone Company

Mainland Company:

A Mainland company allows you to operate within the entire UAE market without any restrictions. If your business involves physical trade, such as a retail store, restaurant, or property management, and you intend to engage with clients directly in the UAE, a Mainland license is required. Examples include:

  • Holiday home companies
  • Cleaning services
  • Retail stores (clothing, shoes, etc.)
  • Restaurants and cafes

Free Zone Company:

A Free Zone company is ideal for businesses that operate primarily online or conduct international trade. Free Zone businesses benefit from full foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified business setup processes. This structure is suitable for:

  • E-commerce businesses
  • Marketing and consulting firms
  • IT services
  • Any business that does not require a physical presence in the UAE

Office Requirements

  • Mainland Company: Requires a physical office space in the UAE.
  • Free Zone Company: Does not require a physical office; a virtual office address suffices.
Planning Your Timelines

Proper planning is essential for a smooth setup process. The duration of your stay in Dubai will depend on whether you choose a Mainland or Free Zone company and the efficiency of your service provider.

General Timeline

  • Business Setup in Free Zone: 3-5 business days for incorporation documents.
  • Entry Permit: 3-5 business days.
  • Medical and Biometrics Appointment: VIP appointment can be done in one visit.
  • Residency Visa Issuance: Within 2 business days post medical and biometrics.
  • Emirates ID Delivery: 2-3 days after residency visa issuance.
  • Bank Account Opening: Can be completed in one visit, with online banking access granted in about 3 business days.

Total Time: Typically, the entire process can be completed within 20-30 days.

Cost Considerations

The costs involved in setting up a business in Dubai can vary based on the complexity of your business and the type of license you need.

Factors Affecting Costs:

  • Type of business activity
  • Business structure (Mainland vs. Free Zone)
  • Additional approvals and permits required
  • Office space rental (if applicable)

Cost Transparency:

Work with a consulting firm that provides a detailed breakdown of costs, including:

  • Company license fees
  • Service provider fees
  • Bank account opening charges
  • Visa processing fees
Annual Renewals and Maintenance in Dubai

Maintaining a business in Dubai requires careful attention to annual renewals and compliance with regulatory obligations. This ongoing process is essential to keep your business legally operational and to ensure that you can continue to take advantage of the many benefits of operating in Dubai. Here’s a detailed look at what you need to consider for annual renewals and maintenance.

Renewal Costs

Renewal costs are a significant part of maintaining a business in Dubai. Understanding these costs and planning for them can help avoid any unexpected disruptions.

Business License Renewal

Your business license is the most critical document for your company’s legal operations. Business licenses in Dubai must be renewed annually unless you have opted for a multi-year license, which can offer some flexibility and cost savings. The renewal process typically involves:

  • Application Submission: You need to submit a renewal application to the relevant authority, such as the Department of Economic Development (DED) for Mainland companies or the respective Free Zone authority.
  • Document Verification: Ensure that all required documents are up to date and submitted. This might include lease agreements, Memorandum of Association (MOA), and any other regulatory documents.
  • Payment of Fees: Renewal fees vary depending on the type of license and the business activity. It is crucial to budget for these fees annually.
  • Compliance Checks: Authorities might conduct inspections or checks to ensure your business complies with local regulations.


Residency Visa Renewal

  • Residency visas for business owners, employees, and dependents also need to be renewed to maintain legal residency status in the UAE. The process includes:
  • Medical Examination: A medical fitness test is required for visa renewal, which typically includes a general health check and screening for infectious diseases.
  • Emirates ID Renewal: Along with the visa, the Emirates ID must be renewed. This requires submitting biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs.
  • Fee Payment: Visa renewal fees depend on the type of visa and duration. It is essential to keep track of these fees and ensure timely payment to avoid fines or penalties.


Bank Account Maintenance

Maintaining an active bank account is vital for business operations. Banks in Dubai often require proof of active business status and valid residency visas for account holders. Regularly updating your bank with these documents is crucial to avoid any disruptions.

Corporate Tax Registration and Filing

Recent regulatory changes in Dubai have introduced corporate tax registration and filing requirements. This has added a new layer of compliance for businesses, making it essential to understand and fulfill these obligations.

Corporate Tax Registration

Every business operating in Dubai must register for corporate tax with the Federal Tax Authority (FTA). The registration process involves:


  • Submission of Application: Complete the tax registration application form with all necessary details about your business.
  • Document Submission: Provide required documents such as business license, MOA, financial statements, and other relevant documents.
  • Approval and Registration Number: Upon successful submission and verification, the FTA will issue a tax registration number.


Annual Tax Filing

Businesses must file annual corporate tax returns, detailing their income, expenses, and tax liabilities. The filing process includes:


  • Preparation of Financial Statements: Ensure your financial records are accurate and up to date. This includes balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other financial documents.
  • Calculation of Tax Liability: Calculate the corporate tax based on your net income and applicable tax rates.
  • Submission of Tax Return: File the tax return online through the FTA portal within the stipulated deadlines.
  • Payment of Taxes: Pay any due taxes within the specified timeframe to avoid penalties.
Residency Visas for Employees and Dependents

Employment Visas

For business partners or employees, an employment visa is issued under your company. This visa allows them to work legally in the UAE.

Dependent Visas

If you are relocating with family members, such as a spouse or children, they will require dependent visas.

Requirements for Dependent Visas:


  • Spouse: Attested marriage certificate.
  • Children: Attested birth certificates.
  • Other Relatives: Attested documents proving the relationship.


Attestation Process:


Documents need to be attested in the home country and by UAE authorities. Ensure all documents are in order before starting the visa application process to avoid delays.


Setting up a business in Dubai can be a rewarding venture with the right planning and support. By understanding the different business structures, planning your timelines, budgeting for costs, and staying compliant with local regulations, you can successfully establish your company in one of the world’s most dynamic business hubs.

Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your online business or a company seeking to enter the UAE market, working with an experienced consulting firm like Genzone can help you navigate the complexities of the setup process and achieve your business goals.

If you are ready to take the next step, book a call with Genzone today. Our team of experts is here to assist you with every aspect of setting up your business in Dubai, from obtaining licenses and visas to opening bank accounts and ensuring compliance with corporate tax regulations. Let us help you turn your business aspirations into reality in the thriving city of Dubai.

Looking to Setup a
Business in Dubai?

Get In Touch With An Expert.