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Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

The largest emirate and the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is situated on the south-eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, next to the Persian Gulf.

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It constitutes over three-quarters of the total area of UAE, and data shows that is the second most populated city in the Emirates, after Dubai. Though it holds approximately 10 percent of the oil reserves in the world and is also one of the biggest oil producers, Abu Dhabi is working to diversify its economy other than oil export since the year 2009. It has been investing strongly in the arena of real estate, industrial development, retail, and tourism.

One of the most rapidly growing and affluent markets globally, Abu Dhabi is one of the wisest choices if you are wanting to start a business in the Middle East. The biggest advantage is that the corporate norms and business processes in the Emirates are very transparent, and therefore, it takes just a few days for doing company formation in Abu Dhabi. However, it is recommended to take advice from business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi.

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There are six main steps to register a new company in Abu Dhabi:

  1. Decide the activity and legal form
  2. Register your Trade Name and Activity you want to perform
  3. Getting the Memorandum of Association or National Service Agency Agreement notarization onshore
  4. Determine the business location
  5. Getting the required approvals of government authorities
  6. Getting the government license(s) issued

Legal Requirements for Company Formation in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi opens and array of new business opportunities for all the foreign investors. There are various possibilities for company formation that global investors can pursue when they decide to launch a new company in the UAE. In case of an onshore formation, the company should get a UAE local partner roped in or engage with a UAE national agent.


Types of companies in case of 100% ownership

If you are planning for 100% foreign ownership, then there are six categories of companies that you can register in Abu Dhabi:

  • Foreign Company Branch
  • A GCC Company Branch
  • A Free Zone Company Branch
  • Representative Office
  • Foreign GCC Branch (must have one GCC national shareholder or one foreign shareholder)
  • Civil Works Company

In addition, there are four more company categories that are permitted to be registered in Abu Dhabi, besides the wholly foreign-owned alternatives:

  • A Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Sole Proprietorship L.L.C
  • Sole Establishment
  • Local Branch


  • Abu Dhabi free zone permits 100% foreign ownership, exemption from all taxes, 100% repatriation of capital and also of your profits, levies no currency restrictions, and no import tariffs.
  • Only one shareholder is needed to register a company or business in Abu Dhabi.
  • The corporate income tax rate applicable in Abu Dhabi is 0% or nil as UAE provides exemption to all the businesses from income tax.
Company registration LLC Free Zone (FZ) Branch Office Representative Office
Time to set up 6 weeks 4 weeks 8 weeks 8 weeks
Cost to set up US$24,500 US$26,350 US$37,400 US$14,750
Minimum capital US$41,000 Varying NA NA
Physical office needed Yes Yes Yes Yes
Is doing a business in Dubai allowed? Yes Yes Yes No
Permitted to sign a sales contract with local clients? Yes Yes Yes No
Allowed to apply for visa? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Public register of various shareholders and directors? Yes No No No
Appointments needed LLC Free Zone Branch office Rep Office
Shareholders 1 1 NA NA
Directors & Managers 2 1 NA NA
Company Secretary Yes Yes Yes Yes
Resident/Local Director or Representatives No No Yes Yes
Local Shareholders needed? Yes No No No
Key Facts LLC Free Zone Branch office Rep Office
Abu Dhabi Corp Tax Rates Applicable 0% 0% 0% 0%
Shelf Companies Yes Yes No No
Client is needed to travel No No No No

Why Opt Us?

IMC Group assists entrepreneurs and companies in setting up and doing company formation in Abu Dhabi, company registration, and legal consulting services. Our experienced professionals will take responsibility of your visa, banking, legal, and other licensing formalities, in compliance with the UAE laws. We would provide you guidance throughout the company formation process aligning to your business goals.

If you are looking for business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi, IMC Group could come to your rescue. We have been enabling its clients efficiently and with complete dedication to do best company formation in UAE, register your company in Abu Dhabi, decide which category of business license you should apply for, determining if a UAE national sponsor could help you, deciding the banking and cash flow considerations, planning on various immigration and hiring or recruiting strategies and then offering office space rental solutions.

We will hand-hold you to place your business and company in this booming economy and help you gain a foothold and establish free trade agreements, besides making sure that you benefit from all the state-of-the-art offerings of this region. For business setup services in Abu Dhabi, simply get in touch with us and we will be glad to assist you.