Can I Start a Business in Dubai Without a Residence Visa?

March 22, 2023

One of the most common questions that arise when considering setting up a business in Dubai is whether you need a residence visa to open a company. In this article, we’re answering the question, can I start a business in Dubai without a Residence Visa?

The good news is that you can open a company in Dubai without a residence visa, but you will need one to operate the company and carry out business activities.

Dubai has also made it relatively easy for foreign investors to start businesses in the city, with full foreign ownership, streamlined registration processes and a favourable, fast-paced economic landscape.

Full Foreign Ownership

The UAE offers full foreign ownership in the mainland to foreign investors for most activities. However, a handful of activities like those with a strategic impact still need a 51% corporate nominee or Emirati partner. Find out about the different types of companies in the UAE.

The Company Formation Process in Dubai

Here are the steps for company formation in Dubai without an existing residence visa:

Choose the type of company you want to register

Dubai offers several types of companies that you can register for. These include a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Free Zone Company, and Branch Office, or an Abu Dhabi Global Market entity such as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) or Foundation. Each type of company has its own set of requirements based on the type of activity you are looking to obtain, so it’s important to research each one carefully to determine which one is right for your business.

Unique ID for Mainland versus Freezone set ups

For a mainland or onshore business, the founder or partner will need to have entered the UAE at least once to generate a unique ID (UID). This unique ID is then used for the trade licence registration. However, this step can be forfeited when registering a freezone company.

Engage the services of a local corporate services provider

To register a company in Dubai with ease, it is recommended to engage the services of a local business setup firm such as CBD Corporate Services to assist with the registration process, documentation, and legal requirements. We can help you to navigate the UAE market and avoid pitfalls.

Provide the necessary documentation

To register a company in Dubai, you will need to provide the necessary documentation. This can include a valid passport copy, proof of address, and a business plan. You may also need to meet other requirements, meet minimum share capital requirements, and obtain specific licenses or permits.

Register your company with the relevant authorities

Once you have provided the necessary documentation and met all the requirements, you can register your company with the relevant authorities in Dubai. The registration process can take a day or several weeks. The timeline depends on the type of company you are registering and the complexity of the registration process.

Apply for a visa

To operate your company and carry out business activities in Dubai, you will need a valid UAE business visa. You can apply for a UAE visa once your company is registered. This will allow you to live and work in Dubai legally. Read about the Dubai Golden Visa.

So, can I Start a Business in Dubai Without a Residence Visa?

While you are able to start a business in Dubai without a visa, you will need to obtain one to run the company and conduct business activities. Find out how to:

How CBD Can Assist

As a trusted corporate services provider in the UAE and the wider GCC region, we can provide market entry and expansion assistance to foreigners looking to set up in Dubai. Check out our range of UAE PRO services. For more information, email or call/whatsapp +971 56 218 4695.

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