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How to get a residence permit in the UAE when opening a company

Как получить ВНЖ в ОАЭ при открытии фирмы

Emirates is a popular destination for business and immigration. Comfortable conditions have been created there for entrepreneurs of any industry, freelancers and investors. In the article we will analyze in detail the topic of a residence permit in the UAE when opening a company, which location to choose for this, the positive and negative aspects of such a decision. 

Advantages and disadvantages of doing business in the UAE

Before going abroad and opening a business there, it is worth weighing all the pros and cons. For example, among the main disadvantages is a very complex, multi–stage check on international Security Check databases. There are problems with opening a corporate account for companies from free zones. It should also be borne in mind that Dubai is an offshore jurisdiction for European entrepreneurs. 

There are much more advantages, for example: 

  • no tax on dividends;
  • income and payroll tax – 0%;
  • VAT outside the Persian Gulf countries – 0%, inside the country – 5%;
  • fast and inexpensive registration of a residence permit;
  • resident card for 3 years;
  • obtaining a residence permit for other family members;
  • absence of strict requirements regarding the length of stay in the country;
  • simple and clear reporting;
  • favorable business climate (modern technologies, support from the government, absence of corruption.). 

After weighing all these factors, it will be easier to make a choice. 

Choosing the type of company


There are two ways to register a company in the Emirates. This may be a local firm or a residence of a Free Economic Zone. But about everything in order.

Local company (mainland)

In this format, it is better to start working if there are no plans to go beyond the domestic market. If earlier there was a requirement for the mandatory presence of a local partner, whose ownership share should have been at least 51%, today this requirement is no longer relevant. But you will need to find a local agent who will represent the interests of the company before the authorities. 

One of the advantages of such an organization of work is a simple procedure for opening an account. In this format, you can conduct different types of activities, and you can work both within the country and from abroad. There are also disadvantages in this format: 

  • it is mandatory to have a physical office;
  • you need to contact several institutions to register;
  • submission of audit reports; 
  • a license can only be obtained for one type of activity. 

A company in a Free economic zone

If you plan to conduct your business remotely, or export to other countries, then the FEZ format is your option. There are more than 50 Free Zones in the Emirates, many of which have narrow specifics and offer different formats of work. It is important to understand that if a resident is registered in a certain FEZ, then he must work within this territory. 

From the complex: 

  • opening an account; 
  • issuance of only two visas, when renting a coworking space (when renting additional seats, you can get more visas);
  • difficulties in re-registering a business in the EU state.  

There are also advantages, which are more: 

  • 100% ownership by a foreign investor;
  • fast, inexpensive and easy registration;
  • it is possible to arrange medical insurance for employees of the company;
  • flexible conditions for renting office spaces;
  • some do not have a strictly regulated minimum authorized capital;
  • a large set of business support services from the management of the FEZ. 

Choosing a frieze for company registration


The registration of a company in the frison is optimal for the organization of a foreign investor’s business. There are more than 50 such locations in the Emirates and each has its own internal management structure: 

  • registrar;
  • migration authorities;
  • police;
  • customs;
  • medical institutions and so on. 

Some FEZs also have their own courts, acting according to the norms of the law of another state. There is no single body or law that would regulate the work of all such territories. It is not easy to navigate in such a variety, but we will help you. We recommend paying attention to several main factors. 

Company activity

Freezons do not work with all specializations, so you need to choose the one that can meet the needs of your business. A certain zone may specialize in one area, for example, media, Internet technology, logistics, education, and so on. For example, the economic capital of fashion and design in the UAE is Dubai Design District or else it is called D3.

License types


Licensing is an important stage when starting a business in an Arab state. It indicates what type of activity the company conducts. It is important to clearly define your direction here. If the regulatory authorities calculate a discrepancy between the actual activity and the one specified in the license, you can run into large fines or account blocking. . 


An office space lease agreement will be required when registering a company and opening an account. Sometimes representatives of the bank additionally request photos of the office or even visit it in person. By default, it is assumed that the company is based on the territory of the FEZ. 

The number of visas that the company will be able to obtain will depend on the area of the office space. On average, there are 10 square meters of space per employee. Sometimes the activity of the company itself dictates the type of office that needs to be provided. If this is not provided, you can rent a coworking, but then the number of visas will be no more than three. 

In addition to jobs, companies may need a warehouse, a retail store, and free access to the airport. All this needs to be taken into account, since not everyone has such an infrastructure. 

Resident visa

Man at laptop

The owner of a foreign company or its employee can obtain a resident visa. From one FEZ to another, residency requirements change, for example, a deposit may be required, medical insurance may be issued. You need to find out all this and choose what fits optimally. 


Cost estimation is best done at the planning stage. It is necessary to take into account every little thing: 

  • registration fees;
  • licenses; 
  • rent;
  • visas and so on. 

In order to increase the number of residents, FEZs offer conditions one, more profitable than the other. Such competition gives scope for choosing the most advantageous offer for entrepreneurial activity. At first, it may seem that an ideal solution has been found, due to low registration rates and other initial bonuses. In the future, the company may face large internal costs. Therefore, it is best to analyze the costs for the future, taking into account the specifics of the business and the current offers of the zone for residents. 

Authorized capital


Not everyone puts forward requirements for the availability of authorized capital for the company. Others do not set strict requirements for its size. But this is a very common requirement for residents. therefore, think about this moment in advance, set the capital adequate for your company. 

Annual audit report

The provision of annual audit reports is not a very common requirement in the FEZ. But those of them who have written this rule into their charter require doing this through one of the approved auditors. If you miss the deadline for submission, a large fine may be issued. 

UAE Resident Visa


In an Arab state, it is impossible to obtain a residence permit in our usual understanding. Moreover, a foreigner will never be able to become a citizen of the UAE. For long-term residence and work, foreigners receive a resident visa. 

If a foreigner opens his business in the FEZ or mainland, he can apply for a visa for 3 years . You can renew this permit many times if the conditions for issuing it are met. The visa holder does not necessarily have to permanently reside in the country, but it is necessary to appear at least once every six months.A residence permit in the UAE when opening a company can also be obtained for family members. But in order to qualify for such an opportunity, the applicant must prove that he is able to financially provide for all visa candidates.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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