How to choose THE RIGHT Free Zone for your business in the UAE?

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For years, Dubai and the UAE have tempted ambitious entrepreneurs from all over the world. This attractive destination tucked in the heart of the world, offers access to dynamic and emerging markets.

Despite all that, setting up a business in the UAE has never been a piece of cake. A multitude of options and structures are available and you might be completely lost when faced with a complex offer.

But the main reason why entrepreneurs come to set up their business in UAE is the possibility to open a business in a Free Zone and get 100% foreign ownership.

You might ask, what is a Free Zone? Also called a free trade zone, Free Zones are geographically demarcated business zones in which companies may operate to benefit from a preferential tax, customs, and import regime. But the biggest benefit of operating in a Free Zone is the ability to have 100% foreign ownership of the company. This means you do not need a local sponsor or partner to open your business in the country!

In the UAE, there are more than 40+ different Free Zones with more or less the same characteristics. However, each Free Zone has its own requirements regarding activities, office/warehouse spaces, and capital requirements. And each offers the possibility to develop and flourish your business in accordance with their specific types of business activities.

Here a guide on how to find THE RIGHT Free Zone for your business

STEP 1: Define your activity

  • Each Free Zone has a range of activities that an entrepreneur can undertake. Some allow multiple activities under the same license, while others do not, but generally, the more activities you choose, the more the license will cost. Usually, the best scenario is to find a Free Zone which allows all the activities you need under the same license. For example, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Free Zone, allows you to have up to six business activities under the same license. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most popular business license types in the UAE: Service license (consulting); E-commerce license, Media license, and General Trading license. 

STEP 2: Define the facilities you need

  • A shared office in a co-working space often called a flexi-desk, is typically included in the price of the license, although they are not available in some zones. These are the minimum requirement to get your business license in the UAE. But if you are planning on meeting clients and/or hiring employees, you will need to opt for a private office.
    Note that any license issued by a Free Zone is only allowed to have a facility, shared or private, within that same Free Zone.

STEP 3: Define which emirate you prefer

  • You can settle your business in any of the seven emirates because each emirate has one or more Free Zones. The northern emirates tend to have cheaper Free Zones fees compared to Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

STEP 4: Define the number of Visas

  • As a business entrepreneur, you will need a Residence Visa to stay and operate legally in the UAE. The number of visas available under a license (a visa quota) depends on the type and size of office space used. The quota as well as the cost of a visa will differ from one Free Zone to another. For example, in Dubai, you usually only get two or three visas with a shared desk, while if your business is located in one of the northern emirates you might be eligible for more visas.

STEP 5: Define the amount of capital

  • One of the requirements when registering a company in UAE is to deposit a share capital amount. It can be deposited in your company account or into the Free Zone authority account.
    The share capital amount depends on the Free Zone; you need to ask about your Free Zone requirement.

STEP 6: Draft your budget

  • Start by finding the applicable fees for registration, license, establishment card, office rental, residence visa (for shareholders and employees), all for the first and following operating years.
    You can find this information by yourself or get the help of a business consultant to facilitate the whole process.
    Here at, we have a team of multilingual experts dedicated to help you establish your business in the right Free Zone and handle the processing of a license, residence visa, or company bank account opening.


To get all the information you need, please contact our team at or (+971) 58 514 2021.

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