Posted on December 6, 2021
With the increasing number of Lebanese startups and SMEs working to access new markets, the UAE has become an attractive choice to set up a business. We’ve reached out to Walid Jahchan, Managing Partner at Forward Consultants, who was happy to provide us with a well-rounded view of what it takes to register a business in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates has been and increasingly becoming the most attractive investment hub in the region. With its visionary leadership and highest safety and stability levels; it offers the best opportunities for living and working in a prosperous outlook in a safe environment.
The country is a federation composed of seven Emirates, each offering several free-zone regions for investors to choose from according to their specialization and preferences.
The business laws are constantly evolving, and recent changes allowed foreigners to fully own their businesses without the need for a sponsor or an agent, for most of the activities. However, some activities still require the association of a national citizen or agent.
There are some variances in the commercial regulations between the various Emirates, and their various free zones as well. Each investor needs to get the appropriate counseling to decide where the most suitable and convenient region is for his venture.
It is important to choose wisely in which Emirate you would register your business, and several factors will guide your selection, depending on the nature of the business and the suitability and convenience of the applicable regulations. Keeping in mind, that some activities are available in specific regions only.
The UAE tax laws are very straightforward and relatively friendly. There are some indirect taxes, such as the Customs Duties at 5%, and Excise Tax which relates only to certain specific items such as tobacco products, energy drinks, and sugared beverages…
The only tax that impacts the businesses is the Value Added Tax, which rests at a low 5%. Bearing in mind that any business that is registered in VAT will not be burdened with this tax anyway.
The VAT application is very simple: every supply is taxable. Only very few defined activities are exempt.
The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) in UAE, is the authority regulating, managing, and controlling the taxes. To simplify the process for businesses, the FTA assigned many Tax Agents, who are constantly trained in tax application matters, to assist and support the businesses.
Although the VAT application in UAE is very simple, it is highly recommended to retain the services of a Tax Agent or a tax consultant to offer guidance and consultancy and avoid tax exposures.
The process is very fast, efficient, and costs effective. You need to specify the activity required, the Emirate and region preferred, and prepare the necessary documents. A new company can be established within one week only.
It is much easier for individuals to register a business as partners. Corporate partners must supply a load of documents that all need to be translated, certified in their country of origin, then certified again in UAE to be valid. Moreover, if the corporate shareholder has other corporates in its shareholding structure, then we must do the same cycle as well.
Several license categories exist in UAE, ranging from freelance, professional, trading, and industrial. With so many diversities within each category, an investor should study the options with the help of a professional, to decide his best choice.
Individual shareholders/partners must get the following:
You will get an officially registered company in a few days. Companies can be formed with one partner or more.
The Residence Visa application is simple as well. Partners can get it as business owners/partners, while for employees, it is preferred to have a certified and attested university degree, as well, for certain lead positions.
Visa types are:
Most free zones offer a shared workspace facility that can be part of the registration fees, or for an additional fee, depending on the zone. You can also choose your workspace or independent office. There are many Business Centers that offer shared workspaces as well, of different sizes and facility arrangements according to your needs.
Like all regulations all over the world, a business entity in UAE must keep accounting books and records and produce audited financials, and register in VAT when qualified, and submit returns periodically. The processes are easy and direct, and the costs are relatively simple as well.
The only risk is not taking the opportunity!
The UAE offers great opportunities and unlimited options for business owners and innovators with creative ideas, and for those with the capital available to invest:
Get your ideas together, contact a consultant, discuss the options, decide, and come along.
Walid Jahchan, CPA, Registered Tax Agent, Managing Partner
Walid has 34 years of experience in Auditing and Financial Consultation. He started his business in 1987 and established several specialized companies throughout the years in Lebanon and the UAE. He performed scores of audit missions, due diligence, feasibility studies, valuations, corporate mergers, and acquisitions and offered his expertise to a wide range of companies across multitudes of sectors worldwide: Lebanon, UAE, KSA, Canada, USA, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
Walid holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Finance. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed from the State of New Hampshire, USA. He holds several diplomas and attestations in VAT and IFRS. Walid is a Registered Tax Agent in the UAE.
He can be contacted by mobile: +971-50-230-6678 and by email: firstname.lastname@example.org