Being the Federal Capital of the UAE and the largest city of the UAE country, the landscape of business setup in Abu Dhabi steadily attracts foreign investors. Abu Dhabi is a progressive city offering ease of doing business and higher standards of living for investors and entrepreneurs. Abu Dhabi has more than five free zones providing a flexible business environment with consistent government policies for foreign investors. The environment of business setup in Abu Dhabi free zones is ideal for foreign entrepreneurs as the emirate offers the easiest route to connect with profitable trading hubs in the Middle East.
Free zones in Abu Dhabi are renowned for their strategic location, world-class infrastructure, excellent connectivity through land, air and sea, and straightforward incorporation procedure. Determining which free zone is ideal for company formation is a tough task for entrepreneurs who are new to the landscape of business setup in Abu Dhabi. However, business setup consultants in UAE can offer their guidance to tackle such challenges. Given below is a comprehensive guide to company formation in Abu Dhabi free zones:
Top Business Sectors in Abu Dhabi Free Zones
The environment of business setup in Abu Dhabi free zones is suitable for businesses of all sizes including SMEs, startups, individual entrepreneurs, freelancers and Multinational Companies (MNC). Free zones in Abu Dhabi offer a wide range of activities to cater to a wide variety of business requirements. Abu Dhabi free zones are built to serve the purposes of specific industries with each free zone representing a specific sector. The most prominent sectors include Media & entertainment, manufacturing, medium & heavy industries, light manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, e-gaming etc.
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List of Free Zones in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi free zones are known for providing flexible and cost-effective company formation solutions for foreign investors and entrepreneurs. Each free zone is managed and regulated by respective free zone authorities that have implemented investor-friendly policies and regulations. The following is a list of the top free zones in Abu Dhabi:
Types of Legal Entities in Abu Dhabi Free Zones
Once a free zone and relevant business activities are selected, entrepreneurs must determine an appropriate legal structure for their proposed company. A legal structure is determined based on the number and nature of shareholders in the company. Availingof business setup services in Abu Dhabi is a viable way to accurately select a legal form for the company. The following types of legal entities can be incorporated in Abu Dhabi free zones:
Free Zone Limited Liability Company
A Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC) is an independent legal entity that can be formed with at least two shareholders. The shareholders can be individuals, corporate entities or a mix of the two. Foreign investors need to check with each free zone authority to know the maximum number of shareholders and other mandatory requirements. Entrepreneurs can consult with business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi to understand the requirements to form FZ LLCs.
A branch company is an entity whose legal identity is not separate from its parent company. Companies registered within the UAE and outside the UAE are allowed to incorporate branch offices in Abu Dhabi free zones. Branch offices are required to conduct all or some of the activities of the parent company. Companies availing of business setup services in Abu Dhabi can form branch offices without any hassle.
Individuals who wish to work independently can obtain a freelance permit from Abu Dhabi free zones. Unlike the regular licenses, a freelancer permit allows individuals to carry out business activities under their birth name instead of a company name. Twofour54 is a top free zone in Abu Dhabi that issues freelance permits for aspiring individuals. Company setup consultants in Abu Dhabi can advise individuals on how to obtain a free zone freelance visa.
Benefits of Business Setup in Abu Dhabi Free Zones
Free zone company formation in Abu Dhabi comes with a wide range of benefits for foreign investors. Investors get a premium address bus setting up a free zone company in Abu Dhabi as it is the capital city and largest emirate in the UAE. Furthermore, the emirate is one of the top oil producers in the world. The presence of Key financial institutions such as the Central Bank of the UAE and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange are some of the added advantages for investors. Apart from that, entrepreneurs are entitled to the following benefits:
100% foreign ownership
Zero corporate and personal income tax
Complete reparation of capital & profits
Favourable investment climate
Wide range of licenses
Benefits from Etihad Rail network
Process of Business Setup in Abu Dhabi Free Zones
Free zone company formation in Abu Dhabi is a straightforward process that involves minimal approvals and no bureaucratic red tape. For faster company registration in Abu Dhabi free zones, foreign entrepreneurs must follow the mandatory steps and properly draft the documents. The process can be expedited with the help of business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi. Execute the following steps to quickly register a company in Abu Dhabi free zones:
- Select a business activity
- Determine a legal structure
- Propose a company name
- Submit the application form
- Select a facility for lease
- Submit documents
- Receive trade license & key to the facility
- Apply for visas
- Open a corporate bank account
Compliance Requirements in Abu Dhabi Free Zones
Companies operating in the UAE (mainland, offshore and free zones) are bound by certain critical regulations introduced in recent times. Free zones in Abu Dhabi also fall within the scope of such regulations introduced to combat financial crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion, base resin and profit shifting etc. The key regulations in this respect are Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO), Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) and Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT).
Companies licensed by Abu Dhabi free zones must assess their compliance status with each of the regulations. Even companies undergoing liquidation in Abu Dhabi free zones are required to comply with ESR, UBO and AML-CFT laws. Non-compliance will attract hefty penalties and grave consequences including suspension of trade license and exchange of information with the foreign competent authority. Businesses having access to business setup services in Abu Dhabi can easily ensure compliance and dodge the hefty fines.
Bespoke Business Setup Services in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Some of the most progressive free zones in the UAE are located strategically in Abu Dhabi. Apart from providing a premium address, the process of business setup in Abu Dhabi free zones enables foreign investors to easily connect with major trading hubs in the Middle East and across the world. The regulations governing free zone company formation in Abu Dhabi are straightforward but having expert assistance is recommended for new entrepreneurs. Availing of bespoke business setup services in Abu Dhabi can help investors to navigate immigration laws and labour laws.
Business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi such as Jitendra Business Consultants (JBC) provide expert assistance in free zone company formation across the seven emirates. Our 20+ years of experience and market knowledge will come in handy for entrepreneurs to tackle any challenge. Investors can rely on our highly qualified business setup advisers to execute processes such as document drafting, free zone selection, determining legal structure, visa processing, bank account opening etc. JBC also helps investors to comply with critical regulations such as ESR, AML-CFT & UBO.