Setting up an Offshore Company in the United Arab Emirates

11 Apr 2022

An Offshore company, also known as a Non-Resident company, is a company that conducts its business operations outside its home country. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), entrepreneurs and investors prefer offshore companies for the purpose of business confidentiality and asset protection.

To conduct their business internationally, offshore companies are allowed to open multi-currency accounts in the UAE. However, such companies are not permitted to have physical premises within the UAE or conduct business with UAE residents. The key aspects to be considered during the registration of an offshore company in the UAE are:

 1. Finding right jurisdiction: UAE provides three “tax-free” jurisdictions that charge no income or corporate tax and permit 100% foreign ownership, namely: 

  • Ajman Offshore – Ajman Free Zone (AFZ)
  • JAFZA Offshore – Jabel Ali Free Zone
  • RAKICC Offshore – Ras Al Khor International Corporate Centre

 2. Selecting the Registered Agent

 3. Opening Bank account

Ajman Offshore Company Setup

AFZ commenced its functions in 2014 and quickly became a desirable location to set up an offshore company due to its strategic location at beginning of the Arabian Gulf, allowing access to both the Eastern and Western markets. It is also the cheapest offshore jurisdiction with the quickest formation procedure in the UAE. 

The documents required for Ajman Offshore company incorporation are:

  1. Passport copy of the shareholder/s
  2. Original proof of residence of the shareholder/s (can be recent telephone/electricity bill or any Bank Statement showing the address)
  3. Duly signed application form and Memorandum of Association

The documents required for corporate shareholders are:

  1. Incorporation Certificate of parent company
  2. Memorandum and Articles of Association
  3. Board Resolution stating the same about Ajman Offshore company formation
  4. Good Standing Certificate
  5. Passport copies of two Directors


JAFZA Offshore Company Setup

Following Jebel Ali Free Zone Offshore Companies Regulations 2003, a non-resident company with a corporate legal identity may be formed by individuals or corporate bodies in JAFZA. The simple steps of the procedure are:

  1. Submission of an application to the Registrar
  2. Attestation of Memorandum & Articles of Association prepared as per the regulation

To submit an application to the registrar, the following documents are required:

  1. Applicants Personal Profile
  2. Bank Reference from anywhere in the world
  3. Proof of residence (recent utility bill like electricity bill or telephone bill in the name of applicant)
  4. Passport Copy (with at least 6 months validity)

The Registrar has the authority to accept or reject applications. Upon acceptance, an Offshore Company registration number will be allotted, and a registration certificate will be granted. If you need any legal assistance in any procedures you can reach out to the best corporate lawyers in UAE.

RAKICC Offshore Company Setup

With the highest level of industrialization in the UAE (manufacturing amounts to 26% of the GDP), RAK is reputable for its competitive cost and convenience for investment. Moreover, the cost of operating a business in RAK is 25% – 50% lesser than the national average. 

The required documents to set up an offshore company in RAKICC are:

  1. Passport copies of the shareholder/s
  2. Original Utility Bill (Water & Electricity Bill / Telephone Bill) – at least within 3 months
  3. Original bank reference letter from any bank in the world

The documents required for corporate shareholders are:

  1. Certificate of Incorporation
  2. Memorandum of Association
  3. Good Standing Certificate
  4. Incumbency Letter
  5. Share certificate