Foreign Company Branch or Representative
Foreign Company Branch or Representative
To open a branch of a foreign company in Dubai, a manager must be appointed to represent the company; the manager must have an approved motion by the Board of Directors to open the branch
Foreign Company Branch or Representative Office
The branch will be considered the company’s headquarters in Dubai, and its business shall be subject to the provisions of the laws of Dubai and the UAE.
The parent company retains 100% ownership of the branch or representative office, which must operate under the same name and conduct the same business as the managing firm. There is no separate legal identity.
A branch or representative office needs to appoint a local services agent, who has no rights, interests or financial involvement in the business. This can be a UAE National, or a company owned by one or more UAE Nationals, who will manage the necessary government procedures and administration.
The branch office must have an independent budget, its own profit/loss statements and must appoint a UAE-accredited auditor.
The requirements for registering a branch office in Dubai differ, depending on whether the parent company and the branch are involved in commercial and industrial activities or professional Activities
3. Commercial and Industrial Activities
A foreign company can conduct trade, commercial or industrial activities in Dubai by registering first with the UAE Ministry of the Economy (MOE), then with the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).
For indirect commercial activities such as construction contracting, registration must first be done with DED then with the Ministry of Economy.
After obtaining MOE and DED approval, the company must engage a UAE National Local Service Agent before the business license can be issued. The Local Service Agent can be an individual or a company. If it is a company, it must be a UAE-based company licensed by the Dubai Department of Economic Development and 100% owned by UAE Nationals. The appointed Local Service Agent is subject to the approval of the Ministry of the Economy.
The obligations of the Local Service Agent towards the parent company, the branch office and third parties are limited to rendering the services required for the company, for example dealing with government requirements. The Local Service Agent has no responsibility or financial commitment in respect of the company's business or activities inside the Emirate or abroad.
4. Branch Imports
A branch can conduct all the business of the company apart from importing its goods into Dubai, which will be managed by a local trade or commercial agency. The registered agencies must be UAE Nationals, or companies 100% owned by UAE Nationals and will receive a commission or profit on sales.
5. Professional Activities
The Local Service Agent for a branch of foreign company undertaking professional activities must be an individual UAE National and not be a corporate body (a person, not a business).
For professional activities, the branch office does not need to be registered with the Ministry of Economy. The registration and licensing process can be completed directly with the Dubai Department of Economic Development.
6. Representative Office for Commercial Activities
While a representative office is not a business structure in its own right, it is a business activity that a branch can conduct and has its own criteria. This includes the authorisation to promote and market the parent company’s business but not conduct business operations.
A representative office must be registered first with the UAE Ministry of the Economy, then with the Dubai Department of Economic Development.
After obtaining the approval of the relevant authorities, the company must engage a UAE National Local Service Agent, either an individual or a UAE National-owned company. If the Local Service Agent is a company, it must be UAE-based—licensed by the Dubai Department of Economic Development—and 100% owned by UAE Nationals. The appointed Local Service Agent is subject to the approval of the Ministry of the Economy.
The Local Service Agent’s obligations towards the company and third parties are limited to rendering the services required for the company, such as dealing with government requirements, for example. The LSA holds no responsibility or financial commitment in respect of the company's branch, business or activities inside the Emirate or abroad.