Mainland Business Setup

Looking to establish a Dubai mainland company? With 3,000+ business activities, experience flexible trading in the UAE and beyond!

Setup Your Company In Dubai Mainland

A Dubai Mainland license enables entrepreneurs to conduct business activities within and beyond the UAE. Issued by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), it is available in professional and commercial categories. The DED-issued trade license offers premium advantages. Registering a company in Dubai does not require a physical office space, making Profound’s co-working DED package an ideal solution for a seamless start.

Unrestricted Business Operations

Enjoying the freedom to conduct business without any location constraints is a significant advantage of obtaining a Dubai Mainland License. Companies operating in the UAE mainland have the privilege of engaging in trade and commerce nationwide, including within free zones, as well as extending their operations beyond the borders of the country.

Collaboration with Government Entities

Businesses holding Mainland Licenses have the privilege of engaging in partnerships with government bodies. This allows them to participate in government contracts and contribute to various high-value projects. The UAE government often requires the expertise of specialized contractors for multi-million-dollar initiatives, providing Mainland License holders with the opportunity to bid on such projects. These ventures, although inherently high-risk, can yield substantial returns on investment for your company.

Stronger Market Presence

Acquiring a DED Mainland License presents you with the opportunity to establish your physical company at any desired location throughout the UAE. This grants you a robust market presence, offering the freedom and flexibility to expand your company's branches across various regions of the UAE. Such expansion strengthens your market position and allows for increased accessibility to a wider customer base.

Unrestricted Visa Quotas

UAE mainland companies enjoy the advantage of not facing any limitations on expanding their visa quotas under a business license. While additional physical space may be required after reaching a certain threshold, scaling the business becomes significantly easier. This flexibility allows for seamless growth and the ability to accommodate a larger workforce as needed, ensuring that the company can efficiently meet its operational requirements.

UAE Mainland

Business Structures

Sole Proprietorship

In the UAE, foreign professionals can establish a sole proprietorship with 100% ownership. A Local Service Agent is required for non-UAE nationals to handle licensing and government matters. Professional services can be conducted anywhere in the country.

Limited Liability Company

A convenient option for expats and foreigners. 2-50 shareholders. 100% ownership allowed in select activities. Limited liability protection. Ideal for new ventures.

Branch Office of Local & Foreign Companies

Local and foreign companies can establish a branch, engaging in multiple activities listed on the parent company's license. Expands business presence, taps into Dubai's market, and benefits from favorable regulations.

Civil Company

A Civil Company in the UAE allows partners of any nationality to collaborate in service-related activities. If non-nationals are involved, a Local Service Agent is required. Partners share liability for debts. This business structure offers an opportunity for pooling expertise and resources in professional ventures.

Single Person LLC

A Single Person LLC is a business structure owned by an individual or corporate entity. The owner's liability is limited to their investment in the company, providing protection against personal liability for debts or obligations of the LLC. It differs from a Sole Proprietorship in terms of liability coverage.
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Switching from free zone to mainland

Switching from a free zone business structure to a mainland company in Dubai offers crucial benefits for business expansion. While free zones provide conveniences and pre-packaged business inclusions, they have limitations. To ensure long-term prosperity, transitioning to a mainland company is recommended. With the assistance of a UAE national sponsor or company formation specialist, the switch can be a shrewd and manageable move for foreign entrepreneurs.

Checklist for
Mainland Business Setup

Steps to Establishing a Business in Dubai Mainland License

Choose Your Business Activity

When setting up a company in the UAE mainland, the first step is to select your desired business activity. The Department of Economic Development (DED) offers a wide range of permitted activities, including trading, agriculture, hospitality, and manufacturing. Unlike free zone businesses limited by location, mainland businesses have the freedom to engage in any of the 2000+ activities listed by the DED.

Find Your Business Location

After selecting your business activity, the next step is to find the ideal location for your business in the UAE. Mainland businesses have the freedom to choose their operating location without any restrictions. Factors such as budgeting and the nature of your business activity will influence your decision. If your business relies on imports and exports, setting up near busy ports like Jebel Ali, Mina Zayed, or Mina Khalid can offer strategic advantages. Another benefit of mainland business setup in Dubai is the ease of opening branch offices, allowing for the expansion and establishment of a strong local presence over time.

Determine The Legal Structure

When establishing a business on the UAE mainland, it's important to determine the appropriate legal structure. The most common structure is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), which is an independent legal entity owned by two or more shareholders. If your business intends to engage in commercial or industrial activities, including manufacturing, an LLC is required, and a local sponsor is needed. On the other hand, setting up a professional service company allows for 100% foreign ownership and does not require a local sponsor.

Local Sponsor or Local Service Agent

For mainland business setup in Dubai, a local sponsor or local service agent is required. A local sponsor, holding 51% ownership, is needed for commercial or industrial licenses. Profound provides a Corporate Nominee option for 100% control. Professional companies require a local service agent who acts as a representative without owning any shares.

Name Your Company

Choosing a company trade name is a crucial decision in the UAE. It should align with your brand and values, while following certain guidelines. Offensive language, religious references, and mentions of other organizations are not allowed. Only full personal names are permitted in trade names. When using different languages, names should be phonetically written, not translated. For detailed guidelines, refer to the "Choosing a Company Name in the UAE" guide.

Mainland Trade License Application

To apply for a mainland trade license in Dubai, you need to submit the necessary documents to the Department of Economic Development (DED). Required documents include the license application, memorandum of sponsor arrangements, details of ownership percentages among partners, and shareholder visas, among others. These documents are essential for the trade license application process.

Get an Office Space

After obtaining a trading license, secure office space in the UAE mainland. Choose from serviced offices with inclusive amenities or "shell and core" spaces requiring fit-out. A middle ground offers pre-fitted spaces where you provide equipment and handle bills separately.

Visa Application

When applying for visas in the UAE mainland, the number of visas should correspond to the amount of office space required, typically 100 sq. ft. per visa. However, this rule may not apply in certain circumstances, such as when remote work is involved. Mainland business owners can also sponsor dependents, including family members and domestic staff, for visas. Additionally, foreign entrepreneurs establishing businesses on the mainland are eligible for investment visas, allowing them and their families to live and work in the UAE for up to three years.

Partner With a Business Setup Consultant

Partnering with a company setup consultant can alleviate the complexities of establishing a mainland company. These consultants possess in-depth knowledge of the legal and formation process, providing guidance and support to overseas entrepreneurs. By working closely with a business consultant, you can gain a clear understanding of the requirements and confidently embark on your journey to start a successful business in Dubai mainland.

Free Zone Business Setup
50+ Free Zones
Easy Incorporation
Independant Laws
Sophisticated Infrastructure
& More

The Mainland Company formation process includes initial consultations, name reservation, document preparation, choosing the legal structure, drafting the Memorandum of Association and Local Service Agreement, obtaining the necessary approvals and licenses, and finally, registering the company.

Yes, Profound offers ongoing support to Mainland Companies even after formation. We provide a range of post-incorporation services, including visa processing, accounting, bookkeeping, tax compliance, HR support, and more to help your business thrive in the UAE.

The timeline for Mainland Company formation can vary depending on the business type, approvals required, and other factors. Our team strives to expedite the process, but it typically takes a few weeks to complete.

Licensing requirements vary depending on the business activity. Obtaining the correct licenses is essential to ensure compliance with local regulations. Profound will guide you through the licensing process to obtain the necessary permits for your business.

While certain business activities may allow 100% foreign ownership in specific sectors, many Mainland Companies require a local partner with at least 51% ownership. However, there are ways to structure shareholding agreements to protect the interests of foreign investors.

Mainland Companies can be established as Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Sole Proprietorships, Civil Companies, or Professional Companies, depending on the nature of the business and the requirements of the shareholders.

Yes, Profound offers end-to-end Mainland Company formation services. Our team will handle all the necessary procedures, documentation, and government interactions, making the process seamless and efficient for you.

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