To set up a company in one of the Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates, has the advantage that the company remains 100% in your possession. A local sponsor is not necessary in this case.
All advantages at one glimpse:
The small disadvantage with a Freezone is that you are officially not allowed to do solely business within the UAE, except with other Free Zone companies. In other words, if you generate business mainly within the UAE, you should opt for a mainland LLC license or appoint a local agent within the UAE.
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Established in 2003 by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum, Dubai Silicon Oasis is one of the oldest and most established free zones in the UAE. Located in Dubai Digital Park, DSO covers an area of over 150,000 square meters. There are various office buildings, retail stores, restaurants and even residential properties. The incorporation process at Dubai Silicon Oasis is very professional and it is definitely one of the most popular Freezones with a great value for money.
Annual license fee from AED 17,900
The most sought after is probably the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC). It is the largest UAE Free Zone at the moment. It features the most prestigious location in Dubai, the Jumeirah Lakes Towers district. The cost is a bit up scale and many clients prefer a license in a cheaper Freezones in other Emirates.
DMCC is a strategic hub for companies that deal with commodities such as gold, tea, pearls, precious stones, and more. There are currently more than 14000 companies at DMCC.
Annual License Cost starting at AED 68,000
SHAMS Freezone is one of the oldest and cheapest freezones in the Emirates and they frequently have unbeatable offers, especially in the area of Media (e.g. digital marketing, e-commerce, influencer activities) but be aware that the renewal costs dont always reflect the inital low cost. Setting up a company is quite fast in this Freezone but the visa process is much more complicated and lengthy than with Dubai Freezones. The Freezone has an office in Dubai though, so you don't have to drive to Sharjah.
Annual license fee starting at AED9,500
Due to its unique license recognized by all international banks, this Freezone is very popular with financial institutions. However, the start-up process is very time-consuming and in order to obtain a license, one must be able to present a solid basic company structure and finances. In addition to the license, you have to rent an office in one of the business centers, so the license price increases depending on the size of the office.
Annual license fee starting from AED 100,000
The Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) is a very prestigious and advanced Free Zone located right beside the Dubai International Airport. DAFZA provides tax exemptions, investor incentives, and no currency restrictions, making it one of the UAE´s most attractive Free Zones. It comes with a higher price tag but offers a very prestigious surrounding and office space and is particularly suitable for companies who are interested in a top location and infrastructure.
Annual license fee starting from AED 130,000
The Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone (RAKEZ) is one of the oldest and, until 2 years ago, was one of the most popular freezones in the UAE. Unfortunately, the Freezone has grown too quickly and customers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the customer service. The renewal fees are also significantly higher in percentage than other freezones. RAKEZ has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. The RAK Free Zone is currently home to over 12,000 companies. Ras Al Khaimah has its own seaport and airport, which is convenient as it offers quick logistics.
Annual license fee starting from AED 14,500
The Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone Authority initially appears a bit cheaper than other Free Zones and is therefore popular with company owners who do not need a big name and are looking for a cheap initial setup but we do not recommend this Freezone.
The Jebel Ali Freezone Authority exists since 1985 and is a free economic zone in the Jebel Ali area at the western end of Dubai, near Abu Dhabi. Founded after a ruler's decree, Jafza began operations in 1985 with standard-sized office units and warehouses to provide finished facilities to customers. It has an adjacent port and is especially popular with trading companies.
Annual license fee starting from AED 60,000
The Dubai Internet City (DIC) is a community of startups, entrepreneurs, presenters and Fortune 500 companies. The Freezone is the largest ICT hub in the Middle Eastern region with liberal regulations that facilitate business success.
The Freezone DIC supports entrepreneurs, strengthens SMEs and thus attracts international ICT executives to Dubai. This Freezone community accesses a rich ecosystem of nimble service providers, knowledge workers, and expertise from all around the world.
Annual license fee starting from AED 65,000
The International Freezone Authority (IFZA) was founded August 2018, making it one of the youngest Freezones in the Emirates. At the end of 2020 IFZA moved from Fujairah to Dubai. IFZA is one of the cheapest freezones in Dubai together with the Dubai Silicon Oasis. It is actually under the patronage of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, DSOA. IFZA offers digital signatures for easy company formation. Your physical presence is only required for the residence visa and bank account opening. Since the Freezone is in Dubai, it is easier to get a corporate bank account.
Annual license fee starting from AED17,900