If you’re thinking about setting up an offshore company in the UAE, it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of questions about the process, and the benefits of doing so.

With that in mind, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about establishing an offshore business here.

FAQs about UAE offshore companies

What documents will I need to set up my offshore business?

All shareholders and directors are required to submit the following:

  • A copy of their passport, which needs to be certified by an accepted professional (e.g. a lawyer or accountant)
  • Their CV, which outlines their working history to date
  • One document, proving their address, such as a utility bill less than 3 months old

How long does the registration process take?

Registering an offshore company in UAE doesn’t take too long. If everything goes smoothly, it typically takes about one to four weeks (depending if you register in JAFZA or RAK).

Where can I register my offshore company?

There are two main jurisdictions for offshore businesses in UAE. These are RAK (Ras al Khaimah) and JAFZA (Jebel Ali free zone). Both locations offer different advantages, and the best one for you depends on the nature of your business, plus other factors.

Do I need share capital?

UAE law doesn’t state a specific amount of share capital. However, it seems that 1,000 shares, each with a value of Dhs 10, is a typical amount.

What activities are acceptable for an offshore company in UAE?

Companies can conduct most trading, consulting and holding activities

Am I eligible for UAE residency?

Not if you’re setting up an offshore company. Residency visas are only available to those launching an onshore business, or a company in a free zone.

Do I need to visit the UAE to register my company?

This depends where you set up your business. If you choose RAK, you don’t need to be present in the country to register. However, JAFZA requires all shareholders and directors to sign the relevant documents in the presence of local authorities, so if you set up there, you will need to visit.

Am I allowed to lease premises with an offshore business?

No, you’re not. Only onshore or free zone companies are permitted to do so.

Do I need to have a registered office address?

Yes. In fact, it’s mandatory to have one. You must also have a licenced registered agent. Charterhouse Lombard is registered agent and can assist with the entire process. 

Is there anything an offshore company in UAE isn’t allowed to do?

There are a few activities that you’re not permitted to do, including:

  • Engaging in business in the UAE
  • Operating as an insurance agent, broker or company
  • Engaging in prohibited businesses

What’s better, offshore, onshore or free zone?

There are advantages to all three business set-ups. To discuss your needs further, get in touch with the Charterhouse Lombard team today.