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UAE Free Zone Companies

Free zone companies are enjoying growing popularity not only as an alternative to offshore companies, but also thanks to the broad range of business opportunities they offer.

Like offshore vehicles, free zone companies are also exempt from any taxes, import and export duties. A free zone company conducting its operations within free zones or outside of the UAE, is also exempt from the VAT which has been introduced in the UAE in 2018. However, if a free zone company sells its goods or services to the local companies, these become subject to 5% VAT.

Companies registered in Dubai free zones are required to deposit a minimum registered share capital on their newly opened bank account which may be used straight after the incorporation. There are also a number of free zones outside Dubai which do not require the companies to pay in any share capital. Annual audit and accounts filing requirements also vary depending on the free zone.

Free zone companies enjoy other benefits which offshore companies do not have, such as:

  • UAE tax resident status;
  • physical presence in the UAE (office, warehouse, land, etc.);
  • right of shareholders and employees to obtain UAE resident visas;
  • opportunity to take out a loan or mortgage;
  • a broader choice of banks.

Shareholders of any free zone company are entitled to obtain resident visas and may become UAE tax residents. UAE banks treat free zone companies and their shareholders as UAE residents. That means that information about them may not be passed on to the tax authorities in their respective home countries.

UAE Free Trade Zones

What is a free trade zone?

Free zones are trading hubs that enable foreign investors to operate within a country while maintaining their international status and operating procedures. They obviate the need to involve a local sponsor in any foreign business and ensure that 100% of profits are maintained within the company. With benefits including tax-free trading, they are intended to encourage foreign businesses to make investments within the region and to increase the overall economic growth.

Benefits of free zones

  • 100% company ownership (i.e. no need for local partnership)
  • 0% taxes
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Fast and hassle-free issuance of operating licenses
  • State-of-the-art infrastructure to satisfy the most demanding entrepreneurs and to enable any business to grow and thrive
  • Locations are adjacent to bulk trading and transit areas such as airports or seaports
  • Selection of accommodation options available for purchase or lease
  • Resident status for company, its shareholders and personnel
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Ajman Media City

Ajman Media City is one of the youngest UAE free zones that made a splash in 2018 thanks to its innovative approach to company formations. As one of the pioneers in its industry, AMC issues all doc...
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Dubai Airport Free Zone

Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) become operational in 1996 as one of the first free economic zones in Dubai along with Jebel Ali. Today, this fast-growing free zone accounts for 4.7% of Dubai's GDP...
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Dubai International Financial Centre

Throughout its existence, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) which was founded in 2004 gained a reputation of a leading financial hub recognized at the international level. In addition...
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Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

Five times crowned “Global Free Zone of the Year” by the Financial Times’ fDi magazine (last time in October 2019), DMCC has everything to satisfy the highest business demands. Established in 2002 ...
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Fujairah Free Zone

Fujairah Free Zone which was established in 1987 is situated on the eastern coast of the UAE. The Emirate of Fujairah is almost on the border with Oman.
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International Free Zone Authority

The International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) is currently the youngest UAE free zone. It was founded in autumn 2018 reflecting the ever-present demand of the international investor community for en...
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Jebel Ali Free Zone

Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is the oldest UAE free zone, established in 1985 in Dubai. In over 3 decades, Jebel Ali has grown from 19 companies in the year of its incorporation to over 7,600 today....
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RAK Economic Zone

Over 14,000 free-zone and non-freezone companies are now registered in RAK Economic Zone (RAKEZ). This free zone is a merger of Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (founded 2000) and RAK Investment Auth...
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