Setting up a Branch of a Foreign Company in Dubai




Setting up a branch office in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah

The UAE Commercial Law provides two options to foreign companies wanting to setup a branch of a foreign company (foreign branch office) in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the rest of UAE. The first is a full branch of a foreign company in UAE, which can practice the same activities as the mother company. The second is a Representative Office, which is a marketing office and cannot be commercially traded. Each of these legal forms gives the company varied amounts of access to function in the local market. Both allow foreign companies to establish a presence in the UAE while retaining 100% ownership. Thus, the branch functions as an extension of the parent company and have no separate legal identity. Therefore, the parent company remains completely liable for all activities conducted under this license. For both legal forms, a local service agent is required for the registration of a foreign company in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the rest of UAE.

What is the difference between a Foreign Branch Office and a Representative office?

Branch of a Foreign Company in UAE:

Setting up a foreign branch office in UAE permits you to perform all activities offered by its parent company. This is subject to approval on activities as specified in the license at the time of incorporation and approved by the Ministry of Economy.

Representative Office in UAE:

Setting up a Representative Office allows you to market the services or products offered by the parent company. A Representative office cannot commercially trade or sign contracts in the UAE.

Both these legal forms need a service agent. Either as an individual or corporate vehicle to complete the incorporation process. A service agent’s responsibility is to render labour and immigration services for the company. They hold no financial liabilities or obligations related to the company inside and outside the Emirate.

Advantages of ACT PRO & Business Services being your Local Service Agent

Setting up a branch of a foreign company in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and the UAE has many perks and attractions. Although the process can consume a lot of time and complexities. Choosing ACT PRO will guarantee a hassle-free experience while setting up your business. Moreover, we at ACT have extensive market and process knowledge. Hence, make sure you get reliable support in setting up your company. We equip ourselves with all the information on documentation required. Besides this, you have the advantage of availing a free and secure local service agent for a foreign branch.

We handle all the necessary paperwork which includes visas, licenses, and obtaining labour quotas. In addition, we also assist with translation services and the opening of corporate bank accounts.

  • Your company retains 100% Management Control and 100% Financial Control.
  • Suitable for entrepreneurs, SMEs, and MNCs entering the UAE market.
  • We keep you informed every step of the way. Thus, making us transparent and reliable.

Required steps for setting up a Foreign branch office in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and the rest of UAE

  • It is mandatory for any foreign company to appoint a local service agent to handle the process. Additionally, the agent must be a UAE national or a company owned completely by a UAE national.
  • The agent then completes the trade name reservation process. They process this through the Department of Economic Development (DED)
  • Obtaining Approval from the Ministry of Economy and a licence from the Department of Economic Development
  • The Ministry of Economy (MOE) will issue the initial approval letter to either Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADED) or Dubai Department of Economic Development (DDED).
  • Documents required include MOE initial approval, copy of the proposed lease in UAE (Tawtheeq in AD, Ejari in Dubai). Also required are copies of documents submitted to MOE and an engagement letter from a locally registered UAE auditor confirming company existence.
  • The DED issues a commercial license for one year and is subject to annual renewal
  • Office Space and Bank Accounts
  • Apply for visas and labour cards for employees.

It is important to adhere to this process along with payment of the associated fees to complete the setup of a foreign branch office.

For registration of a foreign company in Abu Dhabi or setting up a branch office in Dubai you can fill out our contact form or contact us at +971 4 428 1505, +971 52 704 6939, +971 52 667 9677 or email us at