Benefits of setting up a company in a UAE Free Zone

There are a number of advantages to freezone company formation in the UAE. Here are just a few:

  • Directors, shareholders and employees can get residency in the UAE
  • 100% foreign ownership is permitted – you won’t need a local sponsor
  • Exemption from taxes (corporate and personal income)
  • Repatriation of capital and profits
  • No currency restrictions
  • Networking opportunities
  • Infrastructure established to help businesses to thrive
  • Wide range of licensable business activities
  • Convenient locations (close to airports, ports, main roads etc.)
  • Support for start-ups and smaller companies
  • Liberal policies and local business laws
  • 100% free fund transfers


A guide to the Free Zones

There are more than 37 free zones operating in the UAE, each with their own special tax, customs and imports regimes. For more information on the most notable free zones please continue reading. Or for a snapshot of some our preferred freezone options, check out our Top Free Zones in UAE 2020.

The following are the most notable free zones in the UAE:

International Free zone Authority Companies

The International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) provides fast processing times, tax exemption and 100% repatriation of foreign capital. The free zone is highly cost-effective and efficient with a variety of consultancy services and trading activities available for your License. To find out more about the IFZA free zone, get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

Dubai South Free Zone Companies

Dubai South free zones offer companies a 100% tax-free operation, no corporation tax, competitive rates and more. We can help you receive the benefits of an independent free zone and residency by helping you to establish a company. For more information about the Dubai South free zone get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

DMCC Free Zone Companies

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) free zone has been awarded the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine ‘Global Free Zone of the Year’ in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 with 170 new companies making the move every month. The Free zone offers 0% personal and corporate income for 50 years, with no restrictions on remittance payments back to home territories. For more information about the DMCC free zone get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

Fujairah Free Zone Companies

This  Free Zone provides rapid processing times, total exemption from tax and 100% repatriation of foreign capital. It has a wide range of consultancy, services and trading activities available for your License. The free zone is highly cost-effective and efficient; for more information about the Fujairah Free Zone get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

RAK Free Zone Companies

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is gaining a global reputation; with companies from across Europe, North America, Middle East and Asia bringing their business to RAKEZ, this free trade zone has now registered more than 13,000 companies worldwide. For more information about the RAK free zone get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

SHAMS Free Zone Companies

The Sharjah Media City (SHAMS) free zone provides 0% corporate tax for 50 years, 0% import and export duties, full foreign ownership, free transfer of funds and complete repatriation of all capital and profits. SHAMS is the third largest free zone in the UAE and the hub for media and creative industries. For more information about the SHAMS free zone get in contact with a member of the Charterhouse team.

Jebel Ali Free Zone (Dubai) Companies

Jebel Ali is DP World’s flagship free zone, and the largest free zone in the world. It caters for businesses in the trading, logistics and industrial sectors. As the name suggests, it’s located in the Jebel Ali district in the west of Dubai, close to the Abu Dhabi border. There are currently around 7,000 businesses in residence here; 100 of which are Fortune Global 500 enterprises. To find out more about this free zone, get in touch with our team today.

Dubai Knowledge Park Companies

Dubai Knowledge Park caters for businesses in HR, personal development and training. It was established in 2003, and currently houses over 400 registered companies. Partners include Michigan State University and the University of Wollongong, Dubai. To find out more about this free zone, contact us today.

Dubai Internet City Companies

Dubai Internet City offers support for those involved with communication and the internet. It was established in 2000, and now has over 1,400 businesses operating within it. Many global enterprises are situated here, including Microsoft, Canon, Siemens and Dell. To find out more about DIC, get in touch with the Charterhouse team today.


How to register in a UAE Free Zone

Company Registration in UAE Free Zones is  relatively straightforward. Charterhouse Lombard will help guide you through every step of the process to make registering your company in one of the UAE’s free zones a simple as possible.


Here’s a quick run-through of what’s involved:

  1. Establish what sort of company you want to set up.
You’ll need to declare the nature of your business, and which free zone you want to establish yourself in. Bear in mind that a capital requirement may be in place – this depends on which free zone you choose.
  1. Select your name.

When registering your company, you’ll need to select a name. Be warned – a few words may be forbidden, and other restrictions may be in place (though these are fairly limited in the UAE).

  1. Get your business licence.

Each company License must have at least one specific activity listed – here is a wide range to choose from and Charterhouse will be happy to guide you in this regard. There are several different licences available in the UAE, and which one you choose will depend entirely on what sort of business you’ll be running. Please note that in certain cases you will require some supporting documents when applying.

  1. Find the right premises.

Most free zones have a wide range of offices and workplaces to choose from, which are available to either purchase or lease. Offices are not required in all instances.

  1. Get approved.

After you’ve submitted your registration, you’ll need to wait for the initial approval from the relevant authorities. Turnaround is usually swift, so you won’t have to wait for long.

  1. Formally register your company.

Once we’ve received approval, we can register your business and obtain your licence.


Common Free Zone Questions

What documents will you need?

This varies, depending on the nature of your business. At the very least, you’ll require a copy of your passport and UAE visa or entry stamp, one proof of address (less than 3 months old), and our company application form.


Is it better to set up in a free zone than as an offshore venture?

If you require residency in UAE, then a Free zone company is a must. Free zones offer numerous advantages. Some businesses view them as the best of both worlds, as free zone companies are essentially onshore ventures with offshore features. However, they can be more expensive to set up.


How many people can obtain residency?

This depends on allocation at the time of incorporation and the size of your premises. Rules vary from freezone to freezone. Please contact us for further guidance


Are your business activities confidential?

Free zones offer high levels of confidentiality for their businesses. No information is available on the public record.


What licences are available in the UAE?

There are a range of licences to choose from in UAE. These include:

  • The trading / commercial licence
  • The consultancy license
  • The general trading licence
  • The industrial licence
  • The service licence
  • The warehousing licence
  • The manufacturing licence


If you are considering establishing a Freezone company in the UAE, please request a call or e-mail us.