A growing number of UK businesses are moving their operations to Dubai to take advantage of the many benefits and incentives that can help your business grow. If you are new to the territory, its normal for there to be a lot of uncertainty about what the process involves, so we’ve put together a complete checklist for moving a UK business to Dubai to help you get everything organised.

Company structure

If you are moving a UK business to Dubai, there are two company structures you can use:

  • Free zone company
    Working in a free zone offers several economic benefits, such as zero tax and a host of other government incentives design to encourage the growth of your business.
  • Mainland company with a corporate sponsor
    A mainland LLC in Dubai must have at least one local sponsor who holds a minimum of 51% of company shares, so while you can trade locally, your personal profitability is impacted.


To set up a company in Dubai you’ll have to provide a series of documentation as part of the incorporation process, this includes a:

  • Company setup application
  • Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) shareholder, director, and General Manager passports
  • Legalised and attested UK company document copies (where applicable)
  • Detailed business plan


To live and work in Dubai you will need to obtain a UAE residency visa. This can only be done once the company has been setup in Dubai and will require you to submit the appropriate documentation. Once the company owner’s visa has been secured, you can then apply for visas for family members and employees who intend to work for the company.

Bank accounts

Setting up a company in Dubai will enable you to apply to open a corporate bank account. However, this can only be done once you have secured a residency visa. All shareholders/general managers and authorised signatories will have to meet the banking representative in person to sign the relevant forms. You may be required to maintain a minimum balance in the account each month, and small banking fees may be applied if this agreement is not upheld.

To open a corporate bank account, you will usually need to provide the following:

  • UK company documentation such as Articles of Association, Companies House details and a certificate of incorporation
  • UAE business documentation such as the trade license, certificate of incorporation, Chamber of Commerce registration, Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Shareholder and Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) details including copies of their passports, visas, utility bills and bank account statements

Can UK businesses trade locally in Dubai?

If you are moving a UK business to Dubai and set up within a free zone, you can operate within the jurisdiction of the free zone or trade internationally. Different rules are applicable depending on the nature of the business and where the company is registered. If you want to trade within the local marketplace, you need to setup a branch or company in the mainland.

Still considering moving your UK based business to Dubai? Contact Charterhouse Lombard today to discuss your options with one of our team members.