If you’ve ever worked in the UAE, you’ll be well aware of the popularity of consultancy. Consultants provide a valuable service, guiding and advising the nation’s businesses – promoting growth, stability and profitability.
But of course, consultants are not a local phenomenon. The global management consulting market is vast, topping USD 275bn in 2018 and is expected to expand to USD 285bn by the end of 2019. Here in this part of the world, the industry is just as sizeable. Recent figures put the GCC market size at USD 2.8bn with year-on-year growth of 6%.
Within the GCC, there can be little argument that the UAE is the ideal place to start a consulting business. Not only is it home to a wide array of businesses creating demand for consultancy services, it also boasts a 0% tax rate, a stable economy, and low barriers to entry.
It’s so simple to start a consultancy business in the UAE that, with the help of a company formation expert, you could be up and running in a matter of days.
How to start a consultancy business in the UAE
There are three common routes to starting a consultancy business in the UAE – either by forming a company in the mainland, doing the same in a free zone, or setting up in either as a freelancer.
If you decide to set up in the mainland, you should make your application to the local municipality or Department of Economic Development (DED). When trading in the mainland, you are free to set up anywhere and can take on government work.
Alternatively, if you start your business in a free zone, you can make your application directly to the relevant authority. When you do business from a free zone, you will benefit from a 100% customs tax exemption, zero currency restrictions, and the ability to repatriate all capital and profits to your home country.
It is also possible to set up as a freelancer, either in the mainland or in a free zone, and conduct your business under your own name.
In all cases, a company formation expert can manage every stage of your application on your behalf.
Wherever you set up, there are no formal requirements to become a consultant. However, you are expected to be knowledgeable in your field. This knowledge could come in the form of relevant qualifications to your industry or years of experience in the sector.
Now to answer the key question – how to start a consultancy business in the UAE. With the right guidance, the process takes just four key steps:
Step 1: Choose your business activity
While the overarching activity that you will undertake is consultancy, it is imperative that you define exactly which field you intend to trade in. There are several common consultancy activities in the UAE including corporate management consulting, HR consulting, IT consulting, risk management, strategy consulting, project management consultancy, and sales consulting.
The full list of permitted activities is published by the DED. A company formation expert can help you choose the one that most closely aligns with your business.
Step 2: Choosing your company name
A step of the business incorporation process that takes on more importance here in Dubai is the choosing of your company name. That’s because as well as the need for a name that’s catchy and captures the essence of your business, you’ll also need to stick to the UAE’s clearly defined naming conventions.
In short, UAE company names must not contain any blasphemous or offensive language, any references to well-known institutions or any abbreviations of your name – though your full name is acceptable.
Your name should also have a legal entity attached to it such as FZE or LLC. It must also relate to your business activity, not resemble the name of any other company, and be available to register.
Step 3: Applying for your license
The next, and most important, step is to apply for a trade license for your consulting business.
If you’re setting up in the mainland, you can make your license application directly to the Department of Economic Development. If you’ve chosen a mainland setup, you should apply directly to the managing authority of your chosen free zone.
As this is such a pivotal step, it’s advisable to work closely with a company formation expert to avoid delays and possible rejection.
Documents required for a Dubai consulting license
When setting up as a consultant in the UAE, you are usually required to submit several documents along with your application form, including:
- A copy of your passport
- Several passport photos
- Proof of relevant experience or qualifications
- A No Objection Certificate from your current employer (if applicable)
Step 4: Applying for your visa
The final step is to apply for your visa.
This process involves four stages including a medical fitness test and biometric capturing. In all, it usually takes less than a week.
As the holder of a UAE trade license, you can also sponsor others such as your children, a spouse, or domestic staff for their visas too, providing you meet the eligibility criteria.
The cost of a consulting license
There is no easy way to put a price on starting a consulting business in the UAE without knowing the specifics of the company involved.
The average cost of a consultancy license is in the region of AED 15,000 to AED 25,000 but this will depend on numerous factors including whether you set up as a freelancer or start a company in the mainland or a free zone, whether you take on office premises and whether you wish to take on employees.
In most cases, the most cost-effective approach is to set up in a free zone with a license package that includes the cost of your visa application and the use of business facilities and co-working space.
How to start a consultancy business in the UAE
When starting a UAE consultancy business, getting the right guidance beforehand is key. That’s why it’s always advisable to undertake the steps with the assistance of a registered company formation agent to eliminate any potential hassles that might arise.
With more than 15 years of experience in company incorporation, Worldwide Formations can help you get your business up and running within a matter of weeks. We’ll manage the entire process on your behalf and correspond with all relevant authorities for you. All you need to do is wait for the green light to start doing business.
Worldwide Formations helps entrepreneurs in the UAE with all their company setup needs. For more information, call us now on 800 FREE ZONE (800 3733 9663).