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In recent years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as one of the most favourable business destinations in the world. Thanks to its strategic location, diverse economy, and investor-friendly government policies. As a result, there has been a significant rise in people setting up a business in the UAE. However, the process of starting a business in the UAE can be complex, and raise numerous questions and concerns.

In this article, we will address some of the most common FAQs. Through detailed analysis and facts, we aim to provide a professional overview that will be helpful for potential investors.

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Key considerations

  • Individuals must physically visit the UAE in order to open a company bank account.
  • The timeline for opening a bank account varies depending on individual circumstances and can take several weeks to process.
  • Accountancy services are mandatory for any company operating in the UAE to comply with accounting standards.
  • Obtaining necessary permits and licenses, such as those related to business activity and facility construction, is also a critical consideration.

What’s the timeline?

Setting up a business in the UAE can be a complex process that involves various stages and procedures. The overall timeline for establishing a company in the UAE can take up to 7 working days. However, this timeline can be longer if additional information is requested by the authorities.

Once the company is established, individuals can then apply for an E-Visa, which allows them to travel to the UAE. The application process for an E-Visa typically takes between 3 to 4 working days. It is important to note that individuals can only apply for an E-Visa once they have received their company establishment card.

The next step in the process is to request an Emirates ID. This can be done once the individual is physically present in the UAE. If the VIP process is selected, the Emirates ID can be obtained in around 7 working days. However, if the regular process is used, it can take up to 20 working days to receive the ID.

It is crucial for businesses to plan their timeline carefully when setting up in the UAE. From the initial company establishment process to obtaining an E-Visa and Emirates ID, every step requires proper planning. With the right approach and guidance, setting up a business in the UAE can be a smooth process. Enabling entrepreneurs and investors to take advantage of the opportunities available in this dynamic market.

Do I need to live in the UAE?

Living in the UAE during the business setup phase is not a mandatory requirement, but it helps! One of which is the ability to fully immerse in the local business culture, network with potential partners and clients, and establish personal relationships with key stakeholders. Additionally, living in the UAE can provide access to important resources. Such as local business associations, professional services, and industry events. This can prove to be invaluable in terms of staying up-to-date on the latest market trends and developments.

However, there are some practical considerations to keep in mind. As previously mentioned, it is important to make regular visits in order to keep your visa and Emirates ID active. This means that you will need to factor in travel expenses and time away from home.

Furthermore, you will require a company bank account, so personally visiting the UAE is needed – online bank accounts are not valid. This is a necessary step in the business setup process. It’s also worth noting that the UAE has a favourable tax system. So overall it’s a very attractive jurisdiction for international businesses looking to expand their operations.

In conclusion, living in the UAE during the business setup is not a requirement, but it helps. It’s important to keep in mind the practical considerations such as visa and banking requirements. And so, with careful preparation, businesses can successfully establish a presence in this dynamic market.

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Should I travel to the UAE during the setup?

While there is no requirement to visit the UAE for the initial incorporation stage, it may be necessary at a later stage, such as when opening a company bank account.

It is important to note that if you do need to visit the UAE during the business setup stage, particularly before the establishment card has been issued, you may incur additional fees. This is because UAE authorities need to be notified of any unexpected visitors, for security reasons, and this requires urgent attention.

Once the establishment card has been issued, you can proceed to arrange your travel plans. However, it is also worth noting that without an E-Visa, travel to the UAE may not be possible. The establishment card is crucial in obtaining an E-Visa, which is required for entry into the UAE. Again, it is important to plan your travel and obtain the necessary paperwork well in advance to avoid any potential issues.

If you do plan to visit the UAE during the business setup stage, it is also recommended to book your flights at least 7-working days in advance. This ensures that there is ample time for the E-Visa to be issued before you travel. It is also worth mentioning that the E-Visa is valid for just under 2-months, giving you plenty of opportunity to arrange your travel plans at your leisure.

In conclusion, travelling to the UAE during the business setup stage can be a smooth and streamlined process with a trusted company formation service. It is important to plan ahead, obtain the necessary paperwork, and follow the correct procedures to ensure a hassle-free travel experience.

Can I use an online bank account?

The UAE has long been a hub for business and economic activity in the Middle East, with a booming financial sector that has attracted banks and financial institutions from across the globe. However, accessing online bank accounts such as Wise or Revolut in the UAE can difficult.

As of now, if individuals are opening an online bank account such as Wise or Revolut, they will most likely be placed on a waiting list. This is due to the sheer number of requests that are processed daily. And the current regulatory environment; that requires banks and financial institutions to follow strict compliance measures.

Moreover, UAE has recently been placed on the FATF grey list due to its weak measures towards combating money laundering and terrorism financing. As a result, online bank account providers such as Wise and Revolut are now required to change their compliance requirements to meet the regulatory standards. These changes would likely make it more difficult for people in the UAE to obtain an online bank account, as the compliance measures would need to be followed very strictly in order for the provider to operate in compliance with the local laws.

Despite these challenges, online banking remains a viable option for many people in the UAE who prefer the convenience and flexibility of managing their finances from the comfort of their own home. As such, it is essential for online banks and financial institutions to continue working with regulators to provide more streamlined and accessible services to users in the region. In conclusion, individuals in the UAE who wish to use online bank accounts such as Wise or Revolut must be prepared to navigate through a complex regulatory landscape, but with the right approach and guidance from experts, they can still enjoy the benefits of online banking.

What accountancy services are mandatory?

In the UAE, all companies are required to comply with a series of regulations concerning accountancy services. Annual audits, corporate tax registration, VAT registration, and Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) are mandatory for any company that falls within a certain threshold. These regulations ensure that businesses are operating legally and transparently in the UAE. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe penalties, including legal action.

In addition to these mandatory accountancy services, companies can also opt for other services such as tax residency certificates and monthly bookkeeping. Tax residency certificates are obtained from the government and serve to prove a company’s tax residency in the UAE, while monthly bookkeeping ensures that a company’s financial records are up to date and accurate.

Once a company receives their establishment card, as per accounting standards, accountancy payments will begin from the date of establishment. For example, if a company is incorporated on 12 July 2023, then accounts will start being prepared from June 2023 onwards. It is essential to keep in mind that accountancy services should not be viewed as an additional expense, but rather as a necessary investment to keep businesses operating legally and efficiently.

In conclusion, business owners in the UAE must ensure that their companies comply with all mandatory accountancy regulations and engage in optional services that best suit their business needs. Employing professional accountancy services also ensures that the company’s financial records are accurate, which is crucial for making informed business decisions.

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What’s next? A guide on getting started

Our team can offer a free introductory meeting which will prove useful; before setting up a UAE business. This meeting can provide you with an overall understanding of the various steps involved in setting up a business in the UAE, as well as discussing any specific requirements or concerns you may have. Additionally, our team can assist with company registration and licensing, finding local partners or sponsors, and navigating the legal complexities of doing business in the UAE.

We also recommend conducting thorough research on your target market and competition before launching your business. This will help you identify potential challenges and opportunities, allowing you to make informed decisions that will set your business up for success.

If you have any further questions, make sure to check out our other UAE articles; or reach out to our team for personalised assistance.

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