A Guide to Mainland Business Setup in Dubai – Avyanco UK

Are you an entrepreneur from the UK with a business idea? Dubai’s calling your name, mate!  This city is known for its thriving economy, tax free income, prime location, and business-friendly environment. Dubai can be the best launchpad for your global success story. If you are particularly interested in mainland company formation in Dubai, we at Avyanco UK are here to guide you. Let’s start by better understanding this jurisdiction!

Why Dubai Mainland? Because It Is A Launchpad for Businesses!

For foreign entrepreneurs seeking to setup a business in Dubai, mainland companies offer a compelling option. Unlike their free zone counterparts, mainland companies are registered directly with the Dubai government (D.E.T) , granting them key advantages.

It Comes With Wider Reach and Diverse Opportunities:

  • Operate Across Dubai: Unlike free zones with geographical limitations, mainland companies can operate throughout the emirate.
  • Broader Activity Spectrum: Engage in a vast array of activities, including government tenders, servicing government entities, retail ventures, contracting, interior design, holiday rentals, and tourism businesses.

It Offers Enhanced Market Access and Growth Potential:

  • Local Market Advantage: Gain greater access to the established Dubai market compared to free zones.
  • Government Project Participation: Participate in government tenders and projects, fostering significant growth opportunities.

You Need To Consider Compliances:

  • UAE Regulations Apply: Mainland companies are subject to UAE laws, including foreign ownership restrictions and licensing requirements.
  • Expert Guidance Recommended: Collaborate with local legal advisors and government authorities to ensure smooth business setup and maintain regulatory compliance.

By choosing a Dubai mainland company, foreign investors can enjoy a world of possibilities within the dynamic Dubai market. However, careful navigation of local regulations is crucial for success. So, choose mainland Dubai for your business as a UK national. Enjoy unrestricted market access, full ownership, and greater business opportunities. Benefit from a favorable regulatory environment and proximity to key commercial areas. Start thriving in Dubai today!

Understanding Mainland Company Formation

Unlocking Market Potential:

  • Flourishing Market: Dubai’s projected economic growth of 3.1% in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 positions you perfectly to capitalize on a dynamic market.
  • Unmatched Reach: Mainland company formation in Dubai allows you to enjoy the freedom to trade anywhere within the UAE and the GCC region.

Flexibility and Credibility:

  • Adapt and Diversify: Mainland business setup is not restricted by predetermined activities. You can perform various related activities and expand your horizons.
  • Enhanced Credibility: A mainland company formation in Dubai inspires trust and confidence among local businesses and authorities. This can be a significant advantage when competing for government contracts or seeking partnerships with local players.

Embrace the Global Stage:

  • Effortless Global Transactions: No currency restrictions empower you to conduct seamless transactions in various currencies, simplifying international trade operations.
  • 100% Foreign Ownership: Many sectors now permit complete foreign ownership, eliminating a previous hurdle of partnering with UAE nationals.
  • Strategic Hub: Dubai’s location grants you access to a market of over 2 billion people within a four-hour flight radius, making it an ideal hub for international trade and logistics.

Building Your Dream Team:

  • Skilled Workforce: Dubai boasts a diverse and highly skilled talent pool. You will have access to a rich resource to build a strong and qualified team – which will also be cost-effective.
  • Streamlined Recruitment: Take advantage of Dubai’s established recruitment agencies specializing in connecting businesses with the perfect talent. Their expertise can save you time and resources during the hiring process.

A Streamlined Business Environment:

  • Simplified Procedures: The UAE consistently ranks high on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, currently sitting at 16th globally. This translates to a streamlined and efficient company setup process.

Taxation in Dubai as A UK Entrepreneur:

  • Corporate Tax:  The UAE recently introduced a federal corporate tax in June 2023.  The standard rate is 9%, but there are exemptions to consider:
    • Good News! Businesses with net annual profits below AED 375,000 (around £78,617) are subject to a 0% tax rate. This could apply to many UK startups venturing into the Dubai market.
    • For businesses with less than AED 3 Million turnover, 0% corporate tax is implied as small business relief (SBR) under the corporate tax regime.
    • Companies falling under the criteria of the global minimum corporate tax rate agreement are charged a 15% rate.
  • Value Added Tax (VAT): A 5% VAT is applied to most goods and services at each stage of the supply chain. This is similar to the VAT system in the UK.  However, there are exceptions:
    • VAT Efficiency: Minimize your VAT burden! Leverage zero VAT on exports and potential exemptions or 0% rates for healthcare, education, and more. Govarea, your VAT efficiency experts, guide you through the complexities and optimize your business for maximum savings.
  • Personal Income Tax Relief: As a UK resident establishing a business in Dubai, you’ll be happy to know there is no personal income tax in the UAE. This means you won’t directly pay taxes on your salary or business profits.
  • Payroll Taxes: Since there is no personal income tax, employers do not have payroll tax withholding obligations. This simplifies the payroll process compared to the UK system.

Legal Structures in Dubai Mainland

Before you jet off and hit the ground running, you need to make a crucial decision: How will you structure your new business venture?

Here’s a quick rundown of the options you have in a mainland business setup:

  1. Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest kind of setup. You are the boss, but you also shoulder all the responsibility. It is a good choice for consultants or freelancers.
  2. Civil Company:  Team up with a mate or two and share the load (and the profits!). This is a popular choice for professionals like lawyers or engineers. Remember, you are all in it together, so choose your partners wisely!
  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC): Your assets are shielded from business debts, offering peace of mind. Plus, you can have up to 50 shareholders, which is perfect for attracting investors. As a Brit, you can be the sole owner in many sectors.
  4. Branch of Foreign Company: An extension of your existing company, operating in the UAE mainland but with full liability on the parent company.
  5. Branch of Freezone Company: A branch of your freezone company, allowing some operational benefits within the freezone but limited mainland activity.
  6. Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC):  This structure is for corporations ready to go public and raise serious cash. Just be prepared for a ton of regulations and hoops to jump through.
  7. Private Joint Stock Company: Like a PJSC, but with shares kept under wraps, not available to the public.  Offers some of the benefits of a public company with a bit more privacy.

Consulting Avyanco UK for your mainland business setup in Dubai or anywhere across the UAE can help you steer your way to the perfect structure. 

Process of Company Formation & The Costs Involved

So, you have decided to set up a company in Dubai mainland. But before you go ahead, let’s navigate the process:

Step 1: Charting Your Course

This initial stage involves some key decisions.  Firstly, what business activities will you be undertaking? This will determine the specific trade license you will need to apply for.  Secondly, how will your company be structured?  Choosing the right legal form, like a Limited Liability Company (LLC), ensures you operate within the appropriate legal framework. 

Step 2: Securing Your Brand Identity:

Before applying for your trade license, it’s time to secure your company’s name. This involves registering it in the general journal and placing an announcement in two local newspapers. If no objections arise, your chosen name becomes your registered trademark.

Step 3:  Initial Approval

The Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) plays a crucial role in registering new businesses. Once you have submitted the necessary application form, DET will review it and grant you the initial approval to proceed if everything’s in order.

Step 4: Finding Office & Obtaining Necessary Permits:

With DET’s initial nod, you can now secure your office space in Dubai. Remember to obtain the tenancy contract and EJARI certificate, both essential documents. DET will also advise you on any additional external approvals required for your specific industry.

Step 5: Banking

The final step involves opening a corporate bank account in Dubai. Research different financial institutions to find one that aligns with your needs. Opening a corporate account allows you to manage your business finances efficiently.

Mainland Business Setup Cost Breakdown in Dubai (GBP)


Cost CategoryEstimated Cost (GBP)Notes
Government Fees
Trade License2,183 – 10,915Varies depending on business activity and size (Initial exchange rate used: 1 AED = 0.2183 GBP)
Initial Approval65 – 153
Registration Fees655 – 3,275Based on legal structure
Ejari Registration437 – 655Office space registration
Other Permits (Optional)VariesDepends on specific industry requirements
Professional Fees
Business Setup Service2,620 – 4,366Includes applications, documentation, and DET liaisons
Visa Processing (per visa)655 – 1,092
Local Service Agent (if required)Annual fee: 3,275 – 5,458Required for some legal structures (e.g., Civil Company)
Other Costs
Medical Tests (per visa)65 – 109Required for obtaining residency visas
Bank Account Opening FeeVaries
Office Space Rent (Monthly)VariesDepends on location and size (estimated annual range: GBP 4,366 – 43,662)


This table provides estimated costs, which may vary depending on specific business needs. DET charges are also subject to change. 

For a more accurate estimate, consult a business setup company in Dubai, such as Avyanco. We can assess your specific requirements and provide a tailored cost breakdown.

Regulatory Compliance and Licensing

So, you have decided to conquer Dubai’s thriving market with your UK business acumen! Now, let’s ensure your venture operates seamlessly by navigating the legalities. Here’s a breakdown to keep you on top of licensing and compliance:

Licensing Essentials:

  • Trade License: This is your golden ticket to operate.  Issued by the Department of Economic Development (DET), it outlines your permitted activities. Choosing the right license depends on your industry and business structure. DET is your one-stop shop for guidance on selecting the appropriate license.
  • Additional Permits:  Some companies may need additional approvals from specific legislative bodies.  For instance, a food and beverage business might need approval from Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department. 

Maintaining Compliance: 

  • Federal Laws: The UAE has a comprehensive legal framework governing businesses, covering commerce, labor, and taxation. Familiarize yourself with these laws to ensure your business practices are compliant – just like back home, but with a Dubai twist!
  • Local Regulations: Dubai has rules that may apply to your business. These could cover health and safety, environmental protection, and consumer rights. DET or the relevant authority can provide details specific to your industry.
  • Renewals: Mainland company formation in UAE will need you to submit reports periodically, renew licenses, and stay updated on regulation changes.

How can Avyanco UK help me with mainland company formation in Dubai from the UK?

Navigating the legalities of setting up a mainland company from afar can feel like a right kerfuffle. Here’s where Avyanco, with its convenient UK branch office located at Harrow – Middlesex, steps in to be your one-stop shop for a smooth and efficient setup process.

Avyanco UK boasts over 20 years of experience guiding UK entrepreneurs like yourself through the intricacies of establishing a mainland company in Dubai. We handle everything from securing the right licenses and ensuring you meet all legal requirements to advising on the best office location and helping you secure a tenancy contract.

In a hurry? Avyanco UK’s fast-track services can get you registered and licensed in Dubai in under 24 hours – perfect if you are eager to hit the ground running.

By partnering with Avyanco UK, you can focus on building your business dream in Dubai, leaving the complexities of company formation to their seasoned professionals. Contact Avyanco UK now or visit at https://avyanco.co.uk/ to learn more and get started on your exciting Dubai venture!


1 – What are the advantages of setting up a mainland company in Dubai?

Mainland companies enjoy the freedom to conduct business across the UAE without any geographical restrictions, access to a broader customer base, ability to bid for government contracts, and full ownership of the company.

  1. What are the legal requirements for mainland company formation in Dubai?

Legal requirements typically include obtaining necessary licenses and permits, drafting the Memorandum of Association (MOA), securing office space, and adhering to specific business activity regulations.

  1. Do I need a local sponsor to set up a mainland company in Dubai?

The UAE’s 100% foreign ownership law, implemented in 2020, eliminated the need for a local sponsor for mainland companies in Dubai. Now, you can own and control your business entirely, with just a local service agent to help with paperwork and regulations. 

4.What is the difference between mainland and free zone company formation in Dubai?

Mainland companies allow for unrestricted business activities across the UAE and internationally, while free zone companies are confined to operating within the specific free zone or internationally where they are registered, with limitations on conducting business in Dubai mainland in terms of retail business.

  1. How long does it take to set up a mainland company in Dubai?

The timeframe for mainland company formation varies depending on factors such as the type of business activity, completion of legal procedures, and obtaining necessary approvals, but it typically takes between 1 to 2 weeks.

  1. What are the main steps involved in setting up a mainland company in Dubai?

The main steps include choosing a business activity and legal structure, selecting a local sponsor or service agent, obtaining initial approvals from relevant authorities, drafting legal documents, opening a corporate bank account, and obtaining the trade license.

  1. What types of licenses are required for mainland company formation in Dubai?

Mainland companies may require various licenses depending on the nature of their business activity, including commercial licenses, professional licenses, industrial licenses, and others specific to regulated sectors such as healthcare or finance.

  1. Can I register a company without coming to Dubai?

You can absolutely set up a Dubai mainland company without being there in person. Think of it like having a trusted friend handle things for you. Authorized representatives or business setup companies can act on your behalf. Most businesses can be registered remotely, like flipping a switch from your home country.

Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions, like restaurants or accounting firms. These might require a visit from you or your representative to get final approvals. But for most businesses, you can relax and let the local experts handle the paperwork while you focus on building your dream company.