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Five Ways To Avoid The Pitfalls Of Cheap Business Incorporation Packages With the amount of new startups in the UAE, make sure you get off to a running start with these tips.

By Anisha Sagar

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When setting up a business in the UAE, it may be tempting to go for the cheapest free zone incorporation package. However, you'll quickly discover that what looks like a bargain at first may well come with hidden extras.

That could end up being a waste of time– preventing you from getting up and running.

So what's the best approach to avoid these pitfalls?

Let's start here:

  • Avoid anything that's "too good to be true'
  • Know what you want and the cost
  • Look for great customer service
  • Ensure you get access to trusted banks
  • Make sure all the boxes are ticked

It's true that on the surface, many free zones' offerings look very similar. So let's look at how to avoid the problems that come with cheap deals, while still getting real value for money.

Beware of "too good to be true" introductory offers

With more than 35 free zones to choose from in the UAE, it certainly pays to shop around, particularly when so many are directly competing with each other. There are also numerous businesses offering some form of "incorporation service' – often at very different prices.

The main rule of thumb to keep in mind is "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is." For example, some services offer cheap free zone incorporation packages to lure you in. While the first year may be an absolute bargain, renewal prices could be astronomical in subsequent years.

To avoid paying more in the long run, always ask what you can expect to pay in the first five years. And be clear on exactly what services the incorporation agent is offering for the price they're asking.

Also, some agents can make it difficult to get out of their trade license services – meaning you might need to close down your existing company with them in order to "renew' with another provider. If in any doubt, always defer to each free zone's official incorporation agent.

Related: The Top Five Challenges Of Doing Business In Dubai

Know what you want– and how much it's going to cost

Research is always an essential process when starting a business. Being clear on your business objectives from the very start is crucial and can help you avoid dealing with time wasters. Know ahead of time exactly what you want, and what questions you need to ask.


  • How quickly do you want to set up?
  • What type of organization to you want to incorporate? (eg, FZE, FZ LLC, FZ Co.)
  • What business sector will you operate in?
  • Where will you be physically located when operating the company?
  • What are your office requirements? (single office, co-working space, etc)
  • How many employees will you have?
  • What are your employee visa requirements?
  • Any other essential business/material costs?

Keeping these points front of mind will help guide you when assessing setup costs, and will help save you time and money in the long run.

Look for great customer service

Setting up a business can be difficult enough– even with the right advice and a clear path to incorporation. So when you're being offered a cheap company setup, you probably won't get the level of service you anticipate.

"Low cost" usually means "poor customer service," which turns into a lot of unanswered questions, miscommunication, and general anxiety. The tell-tale signs are often there from the start. If a company is slow to respond to your enquiry, or their website looks basic or outdated, it's often the case that they'll put similar (low) effort into incorporating your business effectively.

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. If the price of setting up with a particular agent seems incredibly low, don't expect 5-star support.

Related: Setting Up Shop In The UAE: The Role Of A Local Sponsor For Your Enterprise

Ensure you're getting access to trusted banks

One of the biggest advantages of setting up a business here in the UAE is having access to some of the world's biggest and most trusted banks.

So you need to ensure that your chosen free zone can indeed give you access to leading financial institutions. Facing a series of problems opening a corporate bank account is not only frustrating, but slows down your entire business setup process.

Go with an agent who has great relationships with trusted banks. They are your intermediary, so having someone who is on your side and who the banks also trust is key. You want to avoid being in a position where you're waiting longer than necessary to begin trading.

Make sure all the boxes are ticked

Non-oil revenues are set to strengthen over the next few years. And with the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 shining the international spotlight firmly on the UAE, trade and service-based businesses are set to thrive. So now is an exciting time.

Which is why it's important to take a moment and ensure the free zone you choose really does offer your international business a turnkey solution for setting up in the Emirates. If your free zone doesn't offer the following, then it's time to look elsewhere:


  • Expert setup advice and guidance
  • Great customer service
  • Ability to incorporate individually or with partners
  • Visa sponsorship for up to 15 employees
  • Access to co-working spaces/office facilities
  • Ability to open a corporate bank account
  • Easy navigation of tax, accounting, capital repatriation
  • No requirement to be physically present at the free zone
  • No requirement to maintain an actual office
  • Great relationships with financial institutions

Hit the ground running

By acquainting yourself thoroughly with the rules and restrictions of the free zone you wish to operate in, you're carrying out essential groundwork that will help your business thrive.

Any package that offers fast, low cost setup is going to be tempting. But it's important to remember that setup is just the beginning. Taking the longer view will maximize your chances of getting off to a flying start.

Related: The Do's And Don't's Of Doing Business In Dubai

Anisha Sagar

General Manager, Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ)

Anisha Sagar is General Manager of Revenue & Marketing at BIZ where she leads a 40-strong team of company formation professionals. She is responsible for stakeholder relationships in the region, business strategy and growth, managing profitability and increasing brand recognition. With over 15 years of experience leading successful sales and marketing teams, Anisha started her marketing career as an Account Director at International Marketing Communications (IMC), later becoming the Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Anisha holds an MBA from Australia as well as Negotiation and Influence training from MIT Sloan.

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