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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to set up a business?

There are many elements which affect the cost of a business setup, including:

  1. Is it is onshore or a free zone company?
  2. What are the activities of the company?
  3. What is the legal structure of the company?
How long does it take to setup a business?

The length of time it takes to setup a business depends upon the jurisdiction issuing the license and the activities of the business. In some free zones a company can be established in a couple of weeks, whilst in others it can take a couple of months.  For onshore setups in Abu Dhabi depending upon the activities, a trade license can be issued in a couple of weeks, providing all of the documents are correct at the start of the process.

It is worth noting, that onshore Foreign Branches take a little longer.  Once the trade license is issued, it is necessary to open a bank account, lodge a bank guarantee with the Ministry of Economy and complete the registration with the Ministry of Economy.  This part of the process should be completed within 30 days to avoid a penalty.

Can free zone company work anywhere in the UAE?

A free zone company is only allowed to work with other companies in the same jurisdiction that has issued its license or with overseas companies. If for example, the free zone company want to sell goods to a company onshore, it would be necessary to appoint a distributor or an agent.

A new dual license system is currently being introduced which allow free zone companies to apply for an onshore license with the Department of Economic Development.  However, this is only an option for certain activities and if the free zone company meets certain criteria.  The dual license will enable the company to work directly with government and semi-government entities as well as with onshore clients.

How long does it take to get a visa?

On average it takes two to three weeks to get a visa.

How much does a visa cost?

The cost of a visa will depend upon a number of things:

Whether the applicant is inside or outside of the country at the time of application and which Work Permit category the Employer’s company falls under (this is determined by the number of staff, the diversity and whether they are skilled or unskilled)

Does the employer have to provide health insurances for the employee’s dependents?

The employer is responsible for providing health insurance for the employee, spouse and up to three children under 18.

How do I get an Emirates ID card?

This is applied for during the visa application process. For first time applicants, it will be necessary to visit an Emirates Identity centre to provide finger prints and an eye scan.

How do we register for VAT?

VAT registration is mandatory when the company’s revenue reaches AED365,000. However, a company can apply voluntarily once their revenue reaches AED175,000.  For information on the tax law and how to register: tax.gov.ae

Do I need a UAE driving license?

If you are visiting the UAE, it is possible to hire a car on the driving license issued by your home country.  However, once you have a visa in Abu Dhabi it is necessary to obtain a driving license here if you intend to drive and are over 18.

Some international licenses can be transferred and an eye test will be required: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.   If your country isn’t listed, it will be necessary to enrol with Emirates Driving Company and take lessons

How do I lease a property to live in?

To rent an apartment or villa you will need to have a residence visa and a bank account. Rent is paid in advance. For an annual contract it is typical for the rent to be paid in two tranches, the first six months at the start of the contract and the second six months half way though.  A post dated cheque is usually given to the landlord for the second six months at the time of signing the contract.  Make sure you know your legal rights and obligations and appoint a reputable agent to help you.

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