The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates or states, each with its own unique character and personality but united with a common goal and destiny. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The UAE is an amazing amalgamation of the traditional values of the east and the modern technologies of the west and a melting pot of various nationalities and cultures living together and working in harmony.
Offshore Companies have been used by people all over the world to hold their property and investments in a safe and secure jurisdiction free of tax. In most jurisdictions, confidentiality is guaranteed, and the details of beneficial owners remain with the registered agent of the company. This is also a very good vehicle for people who do not wish to conduct business locally. Receiving commission payments or for consultancy services rendered offshore is possible. Offshore Companies can have a local bank account provided all due diligence is submitted. The UAE offers Offshore Company set ups in Jebel Ali (part of Dubai), Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman.
As UAE Offshore Company requires a Local Agent who will act as the liaison with the concerned authorities and will also provide the registered office address for the Company.
Exemption from Taxes: At present there is no personal tax or corporation tax imposed neither at the city level nor at the federal level with limited exceptions, such as oil and foreign banks. However, Municipal fees and duties are imposed in relation to certain special commodities, such as liquor and tobacco and this freedom from tax will equally apply to offshore companies.
100% Foreign Ownership: The International Companies Regulations requires no local shareholding in an Offshore Company as opposed to the Mainland Companies incorporated in Dubai and the UAE, which requires mandatory local shareholding. Therefore, foreign investors either individual or corporate entities may own 100% share equity.
Simple Registration Procedures and Cost Efficiency: The registration process is simple and expeditious and can be completed within 3 to 4 working days upon submission of the required documentation. Incorporation cost is relatively low as compared with other entities incorporated in free zones or mainland of individual emirates.
Low Operational Costs: UAE Offshore Companies are not subject to any registration conditions regarding the leasing of premises, the provision of guarantees and employment of staff. Offshore Companies may conduct the offshore company business through the office of registered agents like Law Firms and Accountant approved by the registrar and through whom communication with the company can be maintained.
Share Capital: There is no requirement for any minimum share capital.
Transferable Shares: Shares in offshore companies are easily and freely transferable by a written instrument.
Limited Liability: The liability of shareholders in an Offshore Company is limited to their share in the capital of the company. The regulation requires that the name of the Offshore Company shall end with “Limited”.
Other Benefits: A UAE Offshore Company can be used for international trading, asset protection, tax planning, acquiring real estate properties in the designated areas of the UAE, holding, becoming partners and acquiring shares of the other companies, trust funds etc. Capital requirement is only symbolic. Identity of beneficial owners will be kept confidential by law unless there is suspicion of criminal activity. A UAE Offshore Company may open an account in the UAE banks and operate such accounts. The Offshore Company shall also have the option of choosing the governing law, either the UAE Law or the law of the applicant country.
Offshore Company formation in Dubai is via the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) and is the most popular and preferred place for starting an Offshore Company in the UAE.
RAK International Corporate Centre (RAKICC) is a corporate registry operating in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).
Ajman Offshore Companies are registered with Ajman Free Zone (AFZ) situated in the emirate of Ajman.
An Offshore Company refers to a Corporation, LLC or similar class of entity formed in a country foreign to that of the principals of the organization. It also refers to a company that can only operate outside of its country of formation.
In general, an Offshore Company is a company that is set up in a different country from the country of residence of the stakeholders, and it is usually not meant to undertake any economic activities in that particular country.
Currently, there are 3 jurisdictions in the UAE within which one can setup a UAE Offshore Company.
Jebel Ali Offshore Company (JAFZA)
RAK International Corporate Centre (RAKICC)
Ajman Offshore Company (AFZA)
An Offshore Company is generally used to hold personal assets and property in the name of the Company rather than individual names as this protects the assets from being distributed according to the local inheritance laws. It is also a very good vehicle for people who do not wish to conduct business locally. Receiving commission payments or for consultancy services rendered offshore is possible.
As a result of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and RAKICC, Offshore Companies registered with RAKICC are now permitted to own freehold property in Dubai.
It is possible to open bank accounts for a UAE Offshore Company for corporate and private individuals. In the first case, an account is opened to secure the company’s activities, in the second, to manage personal assets.
A UAE Offshore Company is allowed to trade and do businesses in any country except the UAE itself