Guide to company formation in the UAE

Guide pour la création de société aux Emirats Arabes Unis

Choosing where to locate your business is a crucial decision that is no longer based solely on where you pay the least tax.

There are a whole parameters to consider:


Choose your jurisdiction carefully. There are many things to consider when choosing where to set up a company. First, reputation! This is a key factor. In addition, you need to ask yourself few questions: Is there a strong regulatory system? Is there easy access to banks? Is it easy to get to? Is it on the OECD white list?

Choose the right professional to accompany you

Once you have decided which jurisdiction is the most suitable for your structure and your business, you will need legal, tax and other advices to ensure that what you are planning is feasible both within and outside the jurisdiction. We have a partner, Merritt Legal Consultant, who will answer all your questions.
The advices of these professionals come at a cost, but it is a small price to pay in the long run.

Find a trusted Corporate Service Provider

A Corporate Service Provider is the equivalent of an agent for your company. A Corporate Service Provider is a professional entity that provides support solutions to other companies, such as formation and registration of your company, company secretarial services, accounting, resident visa processing, etc.

The best solution is to do your own research and find the best provider on the market. Find a service provider that is authorised to provide the services you are looking for. Ask people you know to recommend a trusted Corporate Service Provider in the UAE. If possible, try to meet the team in person in their offices to establish initial contact.

Understand your business needs

It is important that the service provider you choose understands your company’s needs and your long-term goals. We recommend that you ask about their expertise or experience in your sector. Do they understand how a global business works? Do they have expertise in other jurisdictions if necessary? Do they have multilingual staff? The list of questions to ask is endless. Finally, the most important thing is that they understand your objectives and are able to communicate with you. This is essential for a long-term relationship.

Due Diligence

The Corporate Service Provider you select will have to conduct a procedure called KYC: Know Your Customer. In addition to your ID and proof of address, you will be asked to provide information about the origin of your assets. This information should be as detailed as possible and you may be asked to provide evidence to support it.

Agree on the scope of services

Each provider offers different services. Make sure you agree on what you want and do not want them to do for you. Sometimes additional actions may be necessary, but this should be agreed in advance by both parties.

At Merritt Middle East, we offer four main services:

  • Services to companies: setting up a company, renewing a licence, opening a bank account, etc.
  • Resident services: Residency visas, EmiratesID, etc.
  • Legal expertise: business law (commercial law, contract law, etc.), employment law and inheritance of UAE residents,
  • Outsourcing solutions: accounting, billing, recruitment, company management, etc.

How much does it cost?

Fees vary from provider to provider, and also depend on the services you need. Most providers will agree a fixed fee for the provision of certain services such as the provision of a registered office, annual directors’ fees and the opening of a bank account. It can be difficult to calculate the exact cost of administrative services, especially for a new company, and some providers may offer a fixed fee.

At Merritt Middle East DMCC, we offer an exclusive package at AED5,000 per year .

Establishing a permanent presence in the United Arab Emirates

Setting up a company with its registered office in a low-cost jurisdiction (such as Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah) is unlikely to be enough to convince anyone that it has been set up to do anything other than avoid paying tax and will make it very difficult for you to open a bank account. The recently introduced regulations on Economic Substance mean that extra attention must be paid to companies involved in certain sectors. It is therefore essential to have a real presence by conducting real business activities in the jurisdiction. This may include having local directors, having an office, employing local specialist staff, having a website or having a local bank account.

Management and control

This is often the most difficult element to understand. To benefit from a local tax regime, your business must be managed and controlled from that jurisdiction. The local director(s) must be duly empowered to make day-to-day decisions about the management of the business in accordance with the company’s objectives.

Opening and managing a bank account

It has become difficult to open bank accounts anywhere in the world, but your Corporate Service Provider is expected to have a range of options that they can offer you. You have the option of opening a bank account at a local bank, or an online account. We at Merritt Middle East, have teamed up with locals banks to facilitate the bank account opening.

Merritt Middle East is a business services provider headquartered in Dubai, with offices in Hong Kong and Florida, Orlando.
Our team, present in Dubai since 2009, will assist you in all the administrative steps of the creation of your company in the United Arab Emirates. Our team consists of lawyers, accountants and PROs. We invite you to contact us at the following address: