Abu Dhabi is UAE federal capital and the largest emirate that occupies more than 80 percent of the country’s land. As such, the emirate is home to a number of free zones that are designed to offer a favorable business formation and operations environment for both local and foreign investors hailing from all over the world. Notably, free zones in Abu Dhabi make up the Emirate’s economic diversification initiative that boosts local economy in a bid to encourage foreign investments. 

Abu Dhabi free zone legal entities

Free zone limited liability company: a limited liability company is a legal and independent business entity that can be started by an individual shareholder or corporate shareholders. The minimum capital requirement for a limited liability company is determined by the nature of business activity to be carried out. 

Branch of UAE company: a company that is setup in the UAE can open a branch in the Abu Dhabi free zone.

Branch of foreign company: foreign companies are allowed to open branch offices in Abu Dhabi free zone upon acquisition of a trade license from the Ministry of Commerce and Economy. 

Abu Dhabi free zone business setup process

The first step is determining the nature and type of business activity you wish to conduct. Every business activity is governed by a unique set of rules and laws that must be adhered to. Next step would be registering a trade name with the Abu Dhabi Free Zone Authority. Upon registering the trade name, investors must obtain approval from the Free Zone Authority in order to acquire a business trade license that grants them permission to commence business operations in Abu Dhabi. There are a number of documents that must be presented to the Free Zone Authority for approval. They include;

  • Abu Dhabi free zone business setup application form.
  • Valid passport copies belonging to shareholders.
  • Passport sized photographs of all shareholders with white background.
  • Clear specification of business activities to be carried out.
  • Shareholders proof of address that must not be older than 3 months.
  • Professional or bank reference letter.
  • Freelance license applicants must provide a CV or detailed summary of their professional history.


Like in other free zones, Abu Dhabi free zone business setup offers a wide range of incentives to both local and foreign business people. Starting a business in Abu Dhabi free zone is cheaper and easy. Other benefits to foreign investors include; 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and full capital and profits repatriation.

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