Can Freezone Companies Do Business in Dubai?

company formation

Compared to other territories in the UAE, starting a business in free zones offer several benefits, including ease of business setup, tax-free zones, and 100% foreign ownership. Because of this, free zones are often the top choices for entrepreneurs who wish to set up business in the UAE.

As businesses continue to grow, many investors and business owners can’t help but consider moving their operations to mainland Dubai. Unfortunately, the process for this won’t be as easy as its freezone counterpart since there are limitations and additional requirements that business owners must meet.

Can Freezone companies do business in Dubai?

Freezone companies are often not allowed to do business in Dubai. However, when freezones companies can do business in the mainland, there are instances given that they meet certain conditions set by authorities. They also need to acquire additional licenses and permits from the Department of Economic Development (DED) to start a new business setup in Dubai.

If you wish to expand your business to Mainland Dubai, here are some of the options that you can look into:
  • Start a civil work company

You may establish a civil work company that offers a range of professional activities. The company may be owned by a foreign individual or corporate entity registered in the free zone, as long as the activities of the corporate entity and the civil work company are the same.

Additionally, the civil work company must appoint a UAE local service agent who will make transactions with legal or government authorities on behalf of the corporate or foreign investor.

  • Establish a branch in the Mainland

Another option you can look into is registering a branch of your Freezone company in Mainland Dubai with the DED and the Ministry of Economy. To be legally allowed, the branch must use the same name and conduct the same business as its freezone counterpart. The branch must also appoint a UAE local service agent (LSA) who will handle government transactions and acquire all the needed documents for company formation in Dubai. The branch won’t need to appoint an LSA if UAE nationals own 51% of the Freezone company.


Whether you need legal services to acquire permits to start operating or serviced offices for your branch in Dubai, Austria Business Center offers a range of business solutions and rental offices to meet your requirements.


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