Start a branch of a foreign company in Dubai, UAE: Step-by-step

start a branch office in Dubai, UAE

Most overseas entrepreneurs starting a business in the UAE choose from two common options – mainland and free zone.

Mainland setups allow business owners to open a UAE company anywhere throughout the Emirates. Free zone setups are established with designated zones. The latter option affords business owners 100% customs tax exemption, zero currency restrictions, plus capital and repatriation options. On top of the UAE’s 0% corporate and personal tax rate, of course.

However, these are not the only options available. For entrepreneurs who already own a business in another jurisdiction, opening a foreign branch is a great way to gain a presence in the UAE.

A foreign branch office is essentially an extension of an existing overseas business, and as such it is not considered a separate legal entity. The parent company remains entirely responsible and liable for the business activities of the branch.

With the help of a local business expert like Worldwide Formations, setting up a foreign branch office in the UAE can be cost-effective, fast, and straightforward. Here’s how we can help.

What are the benefits of starting a branch office in Dubai?

Branch offices are an incredibly cost-effective way to gain a business presence in the UAE. Launching in new territories is notoriously expensive, not to mention challenging. But a branch office gives your existing business a simple way to gain a foothold in the UAE.

Both startup and running costs are low, and with the right help, paperwork is minimal. As there is no need for a separate finance function between branches and their parents, there are no complex auditing and bookkeeping requirements.

Opening a branch is also a much lower capital and resource commitment compared to forming a new standalone business. Therefore, business owners can test the water of a new market before expanding as desired.

What is the cost of setting up a branch office in Dubai?

There are lots of factors at play when you start a foreign branch in Dubai. The exact process will differ depending on your country of origin, industry, company size, and much more.

Worldwide Formations can draw up a personalised quote based on your specific requirements. As a guide, opening a new branch office costs around AED 35,000 to AED 45,000 on average.

How can I open a foreign branch in Dubai

The UAE branch company formation process is time-tested and built with simplicity in mind. In most cases, it comprises just five simple steps. 

Step 1: Appoint an agent

First things first, you’ll need to appoint a local agent in the UAE. Your agent can be an individual UAE national, or a UAE company wholly owned by UAE nationals.

With Worldwide Formations as your service agent, we can handle all administrative requirements including obtaining your license and visas.

Services agents do not have any ownership rights over your business, nor do they take part in running its operations.

Step 2: Obtain approvals

Before applying for your branch license, you must obtain approval from several UAE government bodies, starting with the Ministry of Economy (MoE).

Once the MoE has approved your application, you will then need to gain further approval from the Federal Foreign Companies committee. At this stage you will be required to submit hard copies of the following documents:

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of trade name reservation
  • Parent company Memorandum and Articles of Association and Certificate of Incorporation
  • Passport copies of directors

Step 3: Apply for your branch license

Once you have gained the required approvals, you can apply for your trade license. This application should be made to the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). You will be required to submit more documents at this stage, including: 

  • A copy of your passport – and that of any other shareholders
  • Your business plan
  • A copy of your signature

Step 4: Apply for your visa

Worldwide Formations can guide you through your visa applications too. 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 business license, you can also sponsor others such as children, a spouse, or domestic staff for their visas, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.

Step 5: Open a corporate bank account

The final step is to open a corporate bank account. This is not always easy for international entrepreneurs, and again, it is a good idea to work with an expert in company formation when making your application. 

Open your foreign branch office in the UAE with Worldwide Formations

When starting a branch office in Dubai, 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 formations agent to eliminate any potential hassles that might arise.

With more than 15 years of experience in company incorporation, and trusted by over 10,000 clients around the world, Worldwide Formations can help you get your business up and running within a matter of weeks.

We are authorised to incorporate companies in all major free zone jurisdictions, and across the UAE mainland. And we can manage the entire company formation 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.

But our service doesn’t end there. We also offer a range of value-added services to facilitate all primary transitions and establishment processes. And provide trustworthy bank account opening assistance, VAT registration, re-instatement, and renewal services.

So, if you’re running a business in the UAE, or planning to start one, it always pays to talk to Worldwide Formations.

Office 611 & Lobby Level

The Fairmont Dubai,

Sheikh Zayed Road

PO 33964 Dubai, UAE

Office Hours :- 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
(Sunday to Thursday)