Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) contributes significantly to the growing UAE economy by offering promising industrial growth opportunities. It is one of the largest and most prominent Free Zone jurisdictions in the Middle-Eastern region.
Jebel Ali Free Zone has been a strong magnet for some of the most reputable and enterprise-scale organizations worldwide for over a decade. With every passing day, businesses and individuals continue to opt for Dubai and UAE to boost their business activities and expand their market exposure by leveraging UAE’s business-friendly ecosystem.
This blog post will discuss how to set up a business in JAFZA Free Zone and what you can expect from this leading business hub in the UAE. Let’s discuss this in detail.
What is JAFZA Free Zone?
JAFZA is regulated by Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority and began operating in 1985. It is undoubtedly a leading business avenue in the entire UAE and MENA region. The prime objective of setting up a Jebel Ali Free Zone is the UAE’s government vision for the long-term retention of businesses, attracting foreign direct investment, ensuring business-friendly infrastructure, and enabling local or foreign businesses to capitalize on high potential Asian, African, and European markets.
JAFZA Free Zone holds the credit of being the world’s very first Free Zone business avenue to become ISO certified in 1996. Right now, it’s still growing in prominence and scale among all Free Zones of the region, giving businesses hassle-free access to the high-potential market constituting more than 1/3rd of the global population.
JAFZA is the sole UAE Free Zone between the world’s 3rd busiest airport Al Maktoum International Airport, and the world’s 7th largest seaport Jebel Ali. This ideal geostrategic location of JAFZA gives it quick access to the world’s most active market, including South Asia, Africa, Middle-east, and Europe. All European countries are just 7-8 hours of flight distance away from Dubai, further expanding the international exposure of JAFZA.
JAFZA has become the first choice among foreign investors and entrepreneurs who want to set up their businesses in Dubai. Therefore, making it one of the most significant contributors to the UAE’s economy.
What Are the Benefits of Starting a Business in the Jebel Ali Free Zone?
Being a Free Zone jurisdiction, JebelAli Free Zone is known for offering some exceptional privileges that are otherwise nowhere to be found in the entire UAE. Some of the promising value-added facilities and perks that you expect from your Free Zone company formation in JAFZA include:
- 0% personal and corporate tax
- 0% customs duties on importing or exporting raw materials or deliverables.
- 100% business ownership for foreign investors
- Availability of spacious warehouses and office spaces.
- Access to state-of-the-art and business-friendly infrastructure
- Seamless visa process
- Availability of local and international talent and skilled labor
- Freedom to trade in prominent currencies like USD, Pound, Euro, etc
- The straightforward business registration process
- Modern and secure banking system to facilitate corporate setup
Best Businesses to Start in JAFZA Free Zone
Below are the most profitable business setup ideas for your JAFZA Free Zone company formation journey.
- Shipping & Logistics
- Food & Agriculture
- eCommerce business
- Automotive & Spareparts
- Financial services
- Electronics and Electrical Appliances
- Auditing & Accounting Consultation
- AEC businesses
- Marketing Agency
Alternatives UAE Free Zones for Starting a Business in UAE
- DAFZA Free Zone
- DMCC Free Zone
- DTEC Free Zone
- Dubai South Free Zone
- IFZA Free Zone
- JAFZA Free Zone
- RAKEZ Free Zone
- DPC Free Zone
- DSP Free Zone
- DAZ Free Zone
- DKP Free Zone
- DIC Free Zone
- DSOA Free Zone
- Masdar Free Zone
How to Start a Business in JAFZA Free Zone?
The following steps are mandatory to set up a Jebel Ali Free Zone business. Let’s discuss each of these vital steps in detail.
Step 01 – Choose Your Business Activity(s)
First, you must choose from the list of business activities allowed in JAFZA Free Zone. The legal form of your business, approvals from various departments, and Free Zone license all depend on the nature and scale of business activities you opt for.
The process that leads to company formation in JAFZA Free Zone and the documents required for issuing a trade license may vary depending on your business activities. Choosing suitable business activities that suit your business model and vision is mandatory for smooth business operations. Get on board with a professional business formation expert who can help you choose suitable business activities, provide alternate options in case of restrictions on your preferred activities, and get necessary approvals for your JAFZA business setup.
Step 02 – Register Your Tradename
Once you finalize your business activities, the next step is to check for the availability of your desired tradename or business name for your Free Zone company in Jebel Ali Free Zone. There are some necessary reservations that you must consider applying for tradename reservation like:
- Your tradename must follow the religious, ethical, and moral values of Dubai and the UAE
- It doesn’t showcase any linkage with religious and political groups or sectors
- Your tradename must be unique and not occupied by any other company in the UAE
- It doesn’t contain any words or phrases reserved for public bodies.
Choose 3-4 tradenames just in case the first choice is already reserved or restricted. You can check for tradename availability on the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) online portal. Once available, the next step is to create your account on the DED portal and reserve your tradename by paying a tradename reservation fee of AED 600.
Step 03 – Apply For Your Free Zone Trade License
As mentioned before, the types of business activities decide the category of your trade license in the Jebel Ali Free Zone. The documents required for each license category are almost identical, but additional approvals may be required for some specific business activities. It is recommended to get help from professional business formation services to get help in completing the documentation before applying for your trade license.
You can choose from the following types of business licenses in the Jebel Ali Free Zone based that suits your selected business activities and industry:
- Trading Licence
- Service Licence
- Industrial Licence
- Logistics Licence
- eCommerce Licence
The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority is the regulatory body that approves and issues a trade license for permitted business activities in JAFZA. The licenses are issued for the following types of companies permitted by JAFZA:
- A Free Zone Establishment (FZE)
- A Free Zone Company (FZCo)
- Public Listed Company
- Branch Of A Company
- Offshore Company
Step 04 – Open a Free Zone Company Bank Account
Opening a Free Zone company bank account is mandatory for smooth and secure business transactions in the UAE. The banking system in the UAE is famous for its secure and quick banking services. The straightforward process of opening a Free Zone account requires minimum documentation.
One of the essential requirements to open a Free Zone bank account in the UAE is the physical presence of the business owners and shareholders (if any) while applying for account opening.
Read more about how to open a Free Zone company bank account to understand the entire account opening process, available options, and the required documents.
Step 05 – Final Approval
Once JebelAli Free Zone Authority issues your business or trade license, you can start your business activities in JAFZA Free Zone without further delay. Complete all the prerequisites and wait for your trade license issuance as a gateway to start your new business venture in the Emirates. Once done, it’s your turn to leverage the perks of this region’s leading Free Zone.
In the next section, you can discover all the mandatory approvals and documents required for business setup in Jebel Ali Free Zone to become eligible to start your business activities under JAFZA Free Zone.
Requirements for Company Formation in JAFZA Free Zone
To create a business setup in Jebel Ali Free Zone, you must fulfill the mandatory requirement of the following documents and approvals from relevant public entities.
- Initiate a business registration application with the JAFZA (JebelAli Free Zone Authority)
- Provide your business’s memorandum of association
- Getting Business License
- Submitting an application for an establishment card to the Ministry of Labor (issued by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The documents required with the application include the following:
- Original Emirates ID
- Passport of UAE sponsor/shareholder (in case of shared partnership in Mainland – Shared partnership is not Obligatory after 2020)
- Old Immigration card
- A valid Trade License
- Copy of Passport with valid visa page of all partners for Free Zone Company
- Your employees must be registered with the Ministry of Labor, with the documents required as under:
- UAE’s Residence Visa/Work Visa
- Copy of Passport with valid visa page
- Employment Agreement
- Labour card
- Emirates ID
You can read our comprehensive blog post on how to get a UAE residence visa.
Business Setup Cost in JAFZA Free Zone
The breakdown of Business setup costs in the Jebel Ali Free Zone is as under:
- Trading License Cost – For a maximum of 7 business activities under the same tradename, the business license cost is around AED 5,500.
- Service License Cost – For business providing professional services can opt for a service license that costs AED 8,000
- Industrial License Cost – For a maximum of 7 business activities under the same tradename, the cost is AED 5,500
The business registration fees for Free Zone Company and Free Zone Establishments are AED 15,000 and AED 10,000, respectively.
The overall cost of setting up a business in the Jebel Ali Free Zone varies significantly depending on the size of your office space and the number of employee visas you apply for.
Business Activities Allowed in JAFZA Free Zone
You are allowed to choose from the following business activities to start your business in JAFZA Free Zone:
- Consultancy services
- Manufacturing business
- Transport company
- Consultancy firm
- Solid Waste Management
- General Trading
- Freight Forwarding
- Logistics facility
- Tobacco trading
How Airzone Can Help You in Setting up a Business in JAFZA Free Zone?
Setting up a Free Zone business in Jebel Ali Free Zone is tedious. You are more prone to errors and mistakes if you try to do it independently without professional guidance. The reasons are the involvement of various documents, recursive steps, and approvals from the relevant local and federal bodies.
Airzone can assist you in sharing your burden by allowing you to find the right business formation services provider having rich experience in setting up various businesses in the Free Zone and mainland jurisdictions in different UAE states. It is recommended to get on board with our experienced and professional business formation experts, that can take care of all the above-mentioned business registration steps, including:
- Selecting the suitable business activities
- Tradename registration
- Trade license issuance
- Free Zone bank account opening process
- Emirates ID and Establishment Card issuance
- Residence or work visa issuance for your employees
We assisted businesses of all scales in finding authentic and budget-friendly business formation service providers to set up their business setups in UAE. Our trusted partners are committed to turning your company formation journey into a hassle-free experience presence, whether a Free Zone or a Mainland business setup in Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, etc. Connect with Airzone now and make your transition to the world’s fastest-growing economy more smooth and more seamless.
FAQs About Company Setup in JAFZA Free Zone
Do I Need to Have a Local Sponsor to Start My Business in Jebel Ali Free Zone?
As the name suggests, Jebel Ali Free Zone is a Free Zone in Dubai that allows 100 percent foreign ownership. Foreign investors and entrepreneurs can set up overseas companies in Jebel Ali Free Zone without local sponsors or shareholders.
How Many Days Would It Take To Get My License for My Business in Jebel Ali Free Zone?
It took around 2 to 4 weeks to register your business in JAFZA Free Zone and get your trade license issued. It depends on the type of business activity(s) and the type of Free Zone company you will set up in JAFZA.
Can I Transfer My Company From Jebel Ali Free Zone to Another in the UAE?
No, you cannot transfer your Free Zone business from Jebel Ali Free Zone to another Free Zone or Mainland jurisdiction in Dubai or UAE. But you can set up a branch in any Free Zone or Mainland business hub to expand the business. Or you must abandon your trade license and apply for a new one to set up your company in another Free Zone.
The UAE is leading the world in all aspects. Whether it’s integrating AI in all areas of business and lifestyle or promising opportunities for construction, lifestyle, arts, tourism, and business of all kinds, UAE is the new land of opportunities.
The growing prominence of the UAE due to its essential geolocation and business-friendly corporate laws has made it inevitable for individuals or businesses to omit this remarkable destination from the investment and growth perspective.
Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is an all-rounder business hub supporting diverse business activities. The Free Zone continues to expand in scale and prominence as more foreign investors and entrepreneurs prefer Jebel Ali Free Zone as their dream business location.
Don’t forget to check out the list of Free Zones in the UAE and compare the available options to make an informed decision about choosing the right business avenue for your next venture.