If you have decided on a business setup in Abu Dhabi; it is a good initiative! You will need to register your business, obtain licenses, sign the proper startup/setup paperwork, and ensure the regulated bodies acknowledge the documents in the UAE.
Adding to that, you need to follow the rules and regulations involved in bringing the business to reality. However, It is advisable to know all about Abu Dhabi Mainland before setting up a business.
Advantages of Business Set Up in Abu Dhabi Mainland
- There is no corporate or personal tax
- The trouble-free recruitment process with no limit on employment visa
- Low import duty
- There is no necessity of minimum capital for the formation of the Mainland Company.
- No annual audits
- No limitations on legal documents processing
- No limitations on recruitment
- Availability of office spaces with affordable and flexible rental and lease plans
- Ease of getting accessible space with flexible rent or lease for office anywhere
- There is no currency regulation for mainland business.
- Mainland companies can conduct their business with other mainland companies in Dubai or UAE. They have the plasticity to do their business in any part of the UAE. This facility sets them apart from free zones companies because they are restricted to operate their business in their respective free zone.
- 100% repatriation of capital and profits are possible.
- The registration process for mainland companies is simple and hassle-free. Also, there is no yearly audit requirement.
- Mainland companies are permitted to take on governmental work, unlike free zone companies which are prohibited from undertaking government contracts and are only allowed to carry out private commercial work.
Things to do Before Setting Up a Business in Abu Dhabi Mainland
Before setting up a business in Abu Dhabi Mainland, one must know regulations, guidelines, features, and facts so that there wouldn't be any problem in the future.
1. Sketch of Business:
A Mainland registered company is permitted to conduct its business activities anywhere in the entire UAE market; It can operate with anyone inside or outside the UAE and is not restricted to just working within its free zone.
2. Local Sponsor
Local Sponsor generally refers to the nominee shareholders and the local service agents in the Abu Dhabi Mainland companies with foreign financing. A sponsor or supporter must be a UAE national with a family membership card. If an individual wants to set up a business in Abu Dhabi mainland, then they must have a local funder. A local sponsor in Abu Dhabi should own 51% of shares in the company, while foreign investors will own the leftover 49% of shares.
2. Chamber Membership
Law No-7 of 1998 requires all the foreigners and nationals, involved in any commercial, industrial, professional activities within Abu Dhabi Emirate, must join the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and they should obtain its membership as a mandate to acquire a business license in Abu Dhabi.
3. PRO Services
Every business in Abu Dhabi requires the services of a Government Liaison Officer, otherwise known as a Public Relations Officer. PRO services refer to all activities linked to processing governmental paperwork and documents, such as company trade licensing documentation and approvals, labour cards and visa applications. PRO services in Abu Dhabi include-
- Document attestation
- Visa renewals and cancellation
- Trade license
- Regulatory approvals
- General document clearance
- UAE certified legal translation
5. Office Space
For every mainland license, there is a minimal requirement of 140 square foot office space. Only once an Ejari or Tawtheeq has been presented to the Department of Economic Development (DED) Abu Dhabi, they will release the license.
6. Visas Qualification
There is no constraint on the visa eligibility for a mainland company; An Electronic Quota is issued to every mainland company by the Ministry of Labor which displays their visas eligibility, and this can be expanded by increasing the size of your working space. Per every 80 square foot of office area, the government gives you the allocation of one visa. Adding to that if you have a salesman in your office, then you can apply for a separate allotment for them, and this will not affect your office space quota.
7. Government Body Approvals
a) Abu Dhabi mainland license does require standard approvals for the permit. For example, DED, DM, Ministry of Labor (MOL), Ministry of interiors or Immigration (MOI), and so on
b) In some cases, there are third party governing approvals that will be needed, depending on your business activities, like KHDA for all Education related activities, Dubai Health Authority(DHA)/Health Authority Abu Dhabi(HAAD) for all medical-related business activities, Food Control Department of Municipality for all food-related license, Civil defence for all security-related actions, Real Estate Regulation Authority(RERA) for all real estate regulated business activities.
Steps for Setting Up Business in Abu Dhabi Mainland
Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi mainland may seem exciting, but it is not as simple as it is in the free zones. You need experts to help in setting up a business in Abu Dhabi Mainland.
1. Select the Business Form
The initial step in this process is to select the type of business activity to do business in the Abu Dhabi Mainland. This helps in deciding which legal type is best for your business in the Mainland.
Business types are Mainly Categorised into:
- Commercial (trading)
- Professional (vocational)
- Industrial( Manufacturing )
2. Determine the Legal Form of Business
The legal structure of the market in the Mainland depends mainly on the investor nationality and type of business.
Here are a Few Business Types
- Limited liability Company (LLC)
- Joint Liability Company
- Simple Commandite Company
- Private Joint Stock Company (PrJSC)
- Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC)
Other Types of Companies:
- Civil company
- Sole establishment
- GCC Company Branch
- Local Company Branch
- Foreign Company Branch
- Foreign companies' representative offices
- Free zone company branch
3. Business Name Registration
A Company name represents the form and the nature of the business. The trade name change will not affect its rights and obligations but will cost again. You can change the company name later, but it needs to change in all records associated with a government like employees labour cards, an immigration card, etc.
Here are few rules for trade name,
- Must not violate the public morals
- Must represent the legal form of the company, for example (LLC, EST, PJSC, PrJSC)
- Must not have been previously registered
- Must be compatible with the required type of activity and the legal status of the company or business entity
- Should not contain names of any religion, names or logos of governing authority and any external bodies.
For detailed knowledge of trade name rules and regulations click here.
4. Obtaining Initial Approval
After determining above, you need to get the initial approval certificate. It is only after taking the initial approval that you can proceed for additional permissions of authorities other than the Economic Department.
5. Choosing a Location For Your Business
All businesses must have a physical address. The applicants must determine a site to conduct their transactions. You need to display a rent agreement (MoU) for the proposed site of your business, and this must be enrolled with Ejari for attestation.
6. Obtaining Approvals From Applicable Authorities
Sometimes approvals of Authorities other than the Economic Department are required. These bodies are the entities governing several activities.
Here Are Few Government Authorities,
- Ministry of Interior
- Ministry of Economy
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Justice
- Civil Defence
- TRA ( Telecom Regulatory Authority)
- RTA ( Road and Transport Authority )
7. Business License
After completing all the above steps, you need to submit all the documents to the Economics Department in the corresponding emirate to get your trade license.
License to Obtain Before Setting up a Business in Abu Dhabi Mainland
As represented in Step 5 of the company registration in Abu Dhabi Mainland, for setting up a business in Abu Dhabi Mainland one has to obtain a specific license depending on the type of business. Some of the trade licenses are as follows,
Tourism license is issued by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority. This license is granted
to companies offering tourism-related services like hotels, travel agencies, boat rentals, and so
An occupational license is for businesses which involve individuals using their talents, mental
and intellectual capabilities, and abilities to serve clients.
A commercial license is issued to the companies involved in business activities like public trading
companies, construction and real estate, hospitals and clinics, and business contractors.
Industrial license is issued to the businesses who wish to set up manufacturing operations in Abu
A professional license is issued to professionals and artisans who are involved in the operation of
a specific craft. Examples of professional license include carpentry, steelwork, and smithery.
To make the process hassle-free, We at Commitbiz will take the utmost care. If you are looking help in setting up a business in Abu Dhabi Mainland, feel free to contact us-we'd be glad to assist!