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Living the Dream: Company Formation and Residency Visas in the UAE

Thousands of people arrive in the UAE every day with dreams of building a successful career and enjoying a high-quality lifestyle. With its robust economy, strategic location, and favourable business environment, the UAE is a top choice for entrepreneurs and professionals. One of the first steps to realising this dream is understanding the company formation process and obtaining a residency visa. This blog post will guide you through these critical steps and help you decide between setting up in a Free Zone or the Mainland.

Company Formation in the UAE

Steps to Forming a Company

Determine the type of business you want to establish. This will influence your licensing and regulatory requirements.

Common structures include a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a Free Zone Company (FZC), and a branch of a foreign company.

Select a unique business name that complies with the UAE’s naming conventions.

Obtain approval from the relevant authorities to proceed with your business setup.

Secure a physical office location, as this is a requirement for obtaining a business license.

Draft and notarize documents such as the Memorandum of Association (MOA).

Submit all necessary documents to the relevant authorities and pay the applicable fees.

Once your application is approved, you will receive your business license to start operations.

Free Zone vs. Mainland

Free Zone


No need for a local sponsor or partner.

Exempt from personal and corporate income taxes for a specific period.

Full repatriation of profits and capital.

Streamlined procedures with support from Free Zone authorities.


Streamlined procedures with support from Free Zone authorities.

Must lease office space within the Free Zone.



Ability to trade directly with the UAE market and participate in government contracts.

Greater flexibility in choosing office locations and business activities.


A UAE national must hold at least 51% of the company’s shares (for LLCs).

Must comply with more extensive regulations and approvals.

Obtaining a Residency Visa

Steps to Acquiring a Residency Visa

The first step is to have a registered company, whether in a Free Zone or the Mainland.

Apply for an entry permit for yourself and your employees.

Undergo a medical examination, which includes blood tests and X-rays.

Apply for an Emirates ID, which involves fingerprinting and a photograph.

Submit your passport for residency visa stamping, which officially grants you residency status.

Types of Visas

– Investor Visa: This is for those investing in or setting up a business.

– Employment Visa: For employees sponsored by their employer.

– Family Visa: For family members of a resident or citizen.

Making the Right Choice

Deciding between a Free Zone and a Mainland setup depends on your business needs and goals. A free zone might be ideal if you aim to conduct international business and benefit from tax exemptions. However, a Mainland setup offers greater flexibility if you wish to engage directly with the UAE market.

Final thoughts …

The UAE provides a dynamic and supportive environment for entrepreneurs and professionals. By understanding the processes of company formation and residency visa acquisition, you can make informed decisions that align with your aspirations. Whether you choose a Free Zone or a Mainland setup, the UAE offers abundant opportunities to realise your business dreams.

For more detailed information and assistance, consider consulting with business setup experts like Virtuzone or Shuraa Business Setup

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Embark on your journey to living and working in the UAE today and transform your dreams into success.

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