What Is The Best Free Zone For Your Business? 

About the Author

Mariben Christine Eustaquio

Mariben is the Founder and Managing Director of EZONE. Being an entrepreneur herself, she understands the challenges of starting and maintaining a business and is an advocate of entrepreneurship for all. She encourages new entrepreneurs and supports existing entrepreneurs throughout their business journey.

There are over 40 free zones in the United Arab Emirates and determining the best free zone for incorporating a business is a very common question raised by aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners alike. 

To be able to address this, it is important to understand the history of free zone authorities in the UAE dating back to 1985. This started when JAFZA, which was the first official UAE free zone authority, was established as a move to attract foreign investment by allowing 100% foreign ownership and to diversify & grow the economy. 

Today, free zone authorities are geographically segregated and have the autonomy to operate under their own UAE compliant regulatory framework. Each authority has dictated their own administrative processes and licensing requirements, promoting specific industries, and effecting competitive advantages and disadvantages, thereby ensuring that no two free zones are 100% alike. 

 

Why are Free Zones attractive?

Free Zones provide a wide range of incentives to business owners, starting with 100% full ownership and extending to other financial benefits. However, the more important benefits are usually unique to each free zone such as:

  1. The ability to combine trading and professional business activities in one trade license
  2. The ability to become an investor/partner without a No Objection Certificate requirement
  3. The ability to obtain the fixed incorporation fee as opposed to estimates
  4. The ability to obtain multi year licenses (up to 10 years in validity) 
  5. The ability to obtain a dual license to operate the business in the mainland 
  6. The ability to avail of discounts incentives/promotions offered by the free zones

 

What is the Cost of Incorporating in a Free Zone? 

Depending on the free zone that best suits your business requirements. The starting cost of obtaining a free zone license would be AED 3700 for a freelance approval, to AED 5750 for a media/publishing license, to AED 15,750 for a license which includes a visa package. 

Below is a basic comparison of the common & cost effective free zones within the UAE: 

 

IFZA 

Creative City

KIZAD

SPC

SPC Publishing

SHAMS

SHAMS Media

Freelancer 

NA

NA

NA

NA

Holding license

 

 

NA

 

0 Visa Package

AED13,900.00

AED14,000.00

AED9,000.00

AED5,750.00

AED11,500.00

AED5,750.00

1 Visa Package

AED17,900.00

AED17,000.00

AED11,000.00

AED14,500.00

AED9,250.00

AED16,775.00

AED9,250.00

2 Visa Package

AED21,900.00

AED20,000.00

AED13,000.00

AED15,750.00

AED10,850.00

AED18,375.00

3 Visa Package

AED23,900.00

AED15,000.00

AED17,000.00

AED12,450.00

AED19,975.00

4 Visa Package

AED25,900.00

AED24,000.00

AED17,000.00

AED18,250.00

AED14,050.00

AED21,975.00

5 Visa Package

AED27,900.00

AED19,500.00

AED15,650.00

AED23,175.00

6 Visa Package

AED29,900.00

AED28,000.00

AED20,750.00

AED17,250.00

AED24,775.00

15 Visas 

AED35,000.00

 

In Conclusion

Each Free Zone has its pros & cons, it is therefore important to speak to a Business Setup Consultant who has industry knowledge and business acumen to ensure you establish your business in the most suitable free zone specific for your business activity and in line with your long term plans. So to the questions of what is the best free zone for your business? The answer is – there is none. There is however, the most suitable free zone for each business owner and their business requirements. 

Whilst the various free zone options are attractive, as a business owner, the most important point to consider is – Will a Free Zone license be beneficial to achieving your business objectives in the long run? 

If you are a business owner looking to start your business or relocate your business to the United Arab Emirates and are overwhelmed with the various free zone options in the market, our EZONE Business Setup Consultants are available for a free consultation to provide you with unbiased guidance & direction without commitments. At EZONE, Your Business Matters to us and we believe that starting your business right begins with making an informed decision in the jurisdiction you will register your license in. 

UAE Free Zone Directory 

Dubai
Abu Dhabi
Sharjah 
Ras Al Khaimah 
Ajman 
Fujairah 
Umm Al Quwain

 

Information current as of 15 June 2021. Prices can vary depending on the month free zone promotions. 

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