List of Free Zones in UAE

UAE has grown into prominence among foreign investors after it introduced Free Zone jurisdictions to scale business development and industrial growth in the UAE. The UAE currently provides investors access to more than 40 multidisciplinary free zones where they can fully own businesses.

UAE shares an incredible geostrategic location with modern seaports, busy airports, and instant access to the neighboring GCC and South Asian countries. All these features make UAE a perfect location for anyone willing to create a company with the utmost liberty to control and run their business.

The UAE’s free zones offer multiple advantages, including 100% ownership, capital and profit repatriation, one-stop services, uniform rules, a wide range of permitted business activities, and much more.

Since there are so many free zones and most offer similar benefits, business setup cost remains the critical deciding factor in choosing the suitable zone for forming a company in the UAE.

In this blog post, we will take a look at a comprehensive list of Free Zones in UAE. We’ll also tell you what measures you’ll need to take to establish a business in any of your desired free zone in the UAE.

Let’s get started.

free zones in uae

What Are Free Zones in UAE?

The Free Zones districts in UAE are specific geographical jurisdictions that offer 100% foreign business ownership to the ex-pats. In UAE Free Zone, entrepreneurs and foreign investors can choose from thousands of business activities and merge multiple business activities under a single business name. 

There is a broad list of Free Zones in the UAE specifically designed to offer top-notch facilities to boost business activities in the UAE by attracting foreign investors and global talent. 

The specialized Free Zones in the UAE offer a dedicated infrastructure to support different industries and address all their dynamic requirements. For example, the Dubai Auto Zone is a free zone that offers a state-of-the-art infrastructure to support automotive businesses selling, importing, and exporting automobiles in Dubai.

Similarly, the Dubai Industrial City attracts businesses involved in industrial manufacturing by offering spacious warehouses, transportation facilities, modern seaports, etc.

The general company formation requirements in UAE Free Zone are almost the same, with some specific requirements based on the state laws, permitted or restricted business activities, type of trade license, and industry.

Benefits of Setting up a Business in a Free Zone?

The list of Free Zone in UAE comprises over 40 modern Free Zone jurisdictions in different Emirates with many undergoing developments. These free zones have significantly improved the UAE’s capability to attract foreign investors by offering a range of privileges. Some of these remarkable perks and privileges of the UAE Free Zone business setup include:

  • 100% business ownership for foreign investors
  • Access to the state-of-the-art logistics infrastructure
  • Availability of highly-skilled and professional global talent
  • Opportunity to leverage skyrocketing UAE’s economy with utmost freedom and ease of doing business
  • Liberty to apply for multiple visas to hire foreign talent under the same trade license
  • 0% Import/Export Duties
  • 0% Personal & Corporate tax
  • Hassle-free company formation process with quick business registration and trade license approval (how to get a trade license in UAE)
  • Access to furnished and non-furnished office spaces at prime locations
  • Spacious and modern warehouses
  • Quick access to the international market due to UAE’s perfect geostrategic location

List of Free Zones in UAE

List of Free Zones in UAE

Free Zone jurisdictions offer multiple trade licenses and a wide array of permitted business activities with 100% foreign ownership. You can choose from various key jurisdictions from the following list of Free Zones in UAE that allows you to start your business venture in the UAE quickly.

List of Free Zones in Dubai

Free Zones authorized by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority

Free Zones authorized by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority

Other Dubai Free Zone

List of Free Zone in Abu Dhabi

List of Free Zones in Sharjah

List of Free Zones in Ajman

business setup in UAE

How to Set up a Business in UAE?

The company formation process in UAE may vary slightly based on your trade license, business activity, regulatory authority, and state laws. Still, the general process involves the following steps:

Step 1 – Find Your Business Activity 

The business activity(s) you choose to set up your business in UAE reflects your industry and all the business and financial activities throughout your business tenure. It is recommended to select your business activity wisely by clearly understanding its terms and conditions and whether it will allow the particular business operations you want to run or not. Consulting with professional business formation services in the UAE is highly recommended to free you from trouble later. You must choose suitable business activities that align with your niche to operate without limitations.

Step 2 – Decide on a Free Zone

You can choose your preferred jurisdictions from the list of Free Zones in UAE discussed above. All these Free Zones in UAE offer an absolute or dedicated framework for thousands of business activities in the UAE. Before finalizing your Free Zone in the UAE, it is recommended to check the permitted and restricted business activities of your chosen Free Zone. Otherwise, you may face rejection in your business registration or trade license approval. All the mentioned jurisdictions in the list of Free Zones in UAE discussed above offer 100% foreign ownership as well as 0% Import/Export duties and corporate tax. To learn more about how to set up your free zones company, you can check out our detailed business setup guides for free zones in the UAE

Step 3 – Select & Register Your Trade Name

Your trade name is the unique identity of your business in the UAE that showcases your target market and nature of business. To register the trade name for your business setup in UAE, connect with Airzone. We can connect you with expert company formation service providers who can help you find the right trade name for your business, followed by hassle-free registration. With an uninformed approach to applying for your trade name registration, you are more likely to face rejection from your relevant Free Zone authority.

Step 4 – Complete Your Documentation for Business Registration

To start your business operations in the UAE, you need to apply for your trade license and register your business with different authorities and regulatory bodies in the UAE. You might need additional approvals to register your business for specific business activities. The initial steps and documents required for business setup in the UAE include:

  • Starting with a business registration application with the UAE’s Department of Economic Development
  • Submitting your business’s memo of association
  • Getting the UAE Trade License
  • Applying for an establishment card with the Ministry of Labor which is issued by the immigration authority of UAE, with documents required as under:
    • Emirates ID
    • Passport of UAE sponsor
    • Old Immigration card
    • A valid Trade license
    • Copy of Passport with valid visa page of all partners for Free Zone Company
  • Confirmed and potential employees must be registered with the Ministry of Labor, with the documents required as under:
    • UAE’s Residence visa
    • Copy of Passport with valid visa page
    • Contract of Employment
    • Labour card.
    • Emirates ID

Step 5 – Opening a Corporate Bank Account

Creating a Free Zone or Mainland company in the UAE requires a corporate bank account. The requirements to open a corporate bank account in the UAE vary depending on your state or bank, but the general criteria are almost identical. 

We have a separate guide on how to open a corporate bank account in the UAE. We recommend you check it out for a detailed process and requirements.

FAQs About Free Zones in UAE

What types of businesses can I do in a free zone?

You can set up different types of businesses in the UAE Free Zone, including

  • Manufacturing
  • eCommerce
  • Publishing
  • Retail Outlets
  • Professional Services
  • Publishing & Advertisement
  • Import/Export of Goods (with specific permissions for different Free Zones)
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Financial services, etc.

Some businesses, like gambling, selling/purchasing alcoholic beverages, and other activities that do not align with the religious and moral values of the UAE, are strictly prohibited in all Free Zone jurisdictions. Some specialized Free Zones also restrict specific business activities, like Dubai Auto Zone, which restricts the import/export of automotive spare parts.

How much minimum capital investment is required to start a business in any UAE Free Zone?

The answer to this question is subjective. Each free zone in the UAE has its specific requirements for minimum capital investment. But you can expect to invest a minimum of AED 5000 to AED 30,000 for your company formation in UAE.

Conclusion

The UAE is home to some big names in the corporate world due to its skyrocketing economy and ease of doing business. The list of Free Zones in UAE that we discussed in this article contributes to the booming UAE’s economy by attracting foreign investors and global talent to the Emirates. 

If you want to leverage the remarkable perks of the business-friendly ecosystem of the Emirates, set up your business in Dubai and UAE for incredible growth opportunities. Connect with Airzone to find the right business formation service providers that can help you at each stage of your company formation journey in the UAE.