In line with UAE’s federal law number two of 2015, a UAE mainland company is registered with the Department of Economic Development (DED) regarding commercial companies and its amendments, with the DED of the relevant Emirate issuing the license. The business must also have a local registered address.

With restriction-less business opportunities, a UAE mainland company allows the business owner to trade within both local and global markets.

As part of the registration process, licensing is ratified by various government authorities. Certain types of activities, including the likes of event management, marketing management, garments trading, etc, do not require approvals from government external authorities. Next Generation Corporate Services can walk you through all requirements based on the type of license you are applying for, to ensure you get the correct license for your business. 

Once licensed, the company needs to be able to sponsor the people it employs by registering with the UAE’s Ministry of Labour (MoL) and Ministry of Immigration (MoI).

What should I name my company?

The name you choose must be unique and include the company’s legal status. Additionally, the company name:

  1. Cannot offend the general public, nor be indecent
  2. Must be relevant to the business activity of the company
  3. Must not include religious references or words
What is your company objective?

Choosing the most appropriate activity for your company is crucial. Divided into clearly defined groups, business activities can have multiple sub-activities, which can be added to the same license, but only from within the same activity group. As a company may only perform activities stated within its license, getting this right is vital. Next Generation Corporate Services uses our years of experience and local knowledge to offer advice on the best licensing option for your business specifically.

Where should my company’s registered office be located?

It’s a legal requirement that the company’s registered office address is in the license-issuing Emirate. The company can however legally open branches anywhere in the country or overseas, without restriction.

What responsibilities does the company’s management have?

It is the responsibility of the company’s shareholders to appoint a Managing Director (MD), responsible for the daily operations of the business.  The MD is required to operate the company within the boundaries of the UAE’s legal system, especially the employee/employer relationship, governed by the Ministry of Human Resource & Emiratisation (MoHRE).

The MD, or Manager as they are often referred to, has a number of legal obligations, including, but not limited to:

  • The hiring of employees and consultants, setting their duties and respective salaries
  • Overall responsibility for the company’s bank account including the submission of annual audited accounts
  • Being the official company representative
  • Purchasing or leasing property in the name of the company
Do I need to keep company accounts and audited accounts?

All companies operating within the UAE are legally required to keep company accounts, showing transactions of the business including the balance sheet and profit and loss statement, appointing an auditor to audit the company accounts each year.

Types of Mainland Licenses based on the activity
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Commercial Licenses

These licenses are issued to companies that deal with commercial products, such as the buying and selling of physical items. On 1st June 2021, the UAE updated its laws to become more attractive to foreign nationals, stating that all commercial companies in the UAE can be now 100% owned by foreign nationals without the previous need for a UAE national or entity to have a 51% shareholding.

For a full list of Commercial Licensing options, contact Next Generation Corporate Services. 

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Professional Licenses

These licenses are issued to the individuals who receive compensation for using their knowledge, skills or abilities in the service of a client. In the UAE, companies under a professional license are 100% owned by a foreign national, sponsored by a local service agent. The agent is not involved in the management of the company, nor does it hold any shares.

For a full list of Professional Licensing options, contact Next Generation Corporate Services. 

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Industrial Licenses

These licenses are specifically relevant for companies wishing to assemble, manufacture or product products in the local market. Companies under an industrial license must have a warehouse before the license is issued and satisfy a number of requirements from external government entities, which Next Generation Corporate Services can help applicants meet.

For a full list of Industrial Licensing options, contact Next Generation Corporate Services. 

Types of Mainland Licenses based on the ownership
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Sole Establishments

These companies have an individual owner, e.g. 100% owned by an Emirati, regardless of the business activity.

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Civil Company

These companies have a minimum of two and a maximum of 50 shareholders. A local service agent is only required if all partners are foreign nationals.

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Limited Liability Company

These companies conduct commercial activities, with a minimum of two shareholders and a maximum of 50.

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Branch of a Foreign Company:

This refers to any company operating in the UAE that is fully owned by a foreign company. The branch must be sponsored by a local service agent and be registered with the Ministry of Economy (MoE).

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Branch of a Local (Mainland) Company

A mainland company branch can open anywhere in the UAE, with no requirement to register with the Ministry of Economy. The parent company fully owns any shares in the branch.

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Branch of a Local (Free Zone) Company

Considered to be a foreign company within the UAE, any free zone company wishing to establish a branch in the mainland must apply to the relevant authorities and register with the Ministry of Economy.

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Representative office

When creating a representative office to promote a foreign parent company, it must be registered with the Ministry of Economy and appoint a local service agent. These offices are purely for promotion of the products/services of the parent company and are not allowed to directly conduct business in the UAE.

For a full list of Mainland Licensing options, contact Next Generation Corporate Services.

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