Free Zone Companies

Free Zone Companies

Free Zones in the UAE are intended as international business hubs for companies conducting business outside the UAE, since they are not licensed to operate within the rest of the country. Creating a business entity in one of UAE’s Free Zones is an attractive option for foreign investors. Ready-made offices, factories, warehouses and easy licensing procedures facilitate business activities and attract companies looking to start up businesses quickly and easily. The Free Zone areas in the UAE are geographically distinguished sections, and follow laws and regulations vastly different from the laws that govern companies within the UAE. Each Free Zone is governed by an independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) which is responsible for issuing the necessary operating licences.

There are presently over 50 Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates, all offering different opportunities and advantages to both domestic and foreign investors. If you wish to open a UAE company, then the type of business that is to be set up will dictate which Free Zone should be used. Most Free Zones are specialised to handle a certain type of business. Although the rules and laws that govern most Free Zones are similar, there will be differences in the business environment and the services they offer. The main activities/licences are:

Service licence All types of services are allowed unless otherwise restricted by the Federal or local authorities. Such licence is usually used for all activities which are not covered by the other licences.
Commercial/General trading licence Import, export, distribution, consolidation, storage or warehousing of goods and items specified in the licence.
Industrial licence Import of raw materials, manufacturing, processing, assembling, packaging and exporting the finished products.

Service licence

All types of services are allowed unless otherwise restricted by the Federal or local authorities. Such licence is usually used for all activities which are not covered by the other licences.

Commercial/General trading licence

Import, export, distribution, consolidation, storage or warehousing of goods and items specified in the licence.

Industrial licence

Import of raw materials, manufacturing, processing, assembling, packaging and exporting the finished products.

The main advantages of Free Zone Companies, that can be incorporated as a company with one or more owners, or as a branch or a representative office of a foreign company, are the following:

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • No corporate taxation

  • No personal income tax
  • Possibility to get UAE residence visas for owners, managers, employees
  • Freedom to repatriate capital and profits
  • No currency exchange control
  • No import/export duties
  • Less bureaucracy
  • No recruitment problems
  • Modern and efficient communication and infrastructure
  • Possibility to lease flexy desk/serviced offices
  • Attractive working environment
  • Most procedures and official documents are in English

Free Zone Companies can use Double Tax Treaties.