What is the Difference Between a Dubai Visa and a Free Zone Visa?

Dubai vs Free Zone visa

When you are considering to start a business setup in Dubai as an expat, you would need to consider a lot of things first. One of the most important factors you need to think about is getting a visa.

Of course, applying for a visa is not as easy as it sounds. There are a few things you need to consider. Most essential among them is what type of visa you should apply for.

There are two main visas you might consider: a Dubai visa or free zone visa. Knowing the difference between the two could dramatically help you in making an informed decision when starting a business in Dubai.

Dubai Visa or Dubai Mainland Visa is a type of visa that allows you to obtain a visa on behalf of a company you own in the mainland. However, since you are an expat or non-resident, you would need to have a local sponsor as part of a business partnership in Dubai. The law requires your sponsor to own at least 51% of your company.

On the other hand, a free zone visa is a type of visa that you need to apply for when you have a business set up in one of the free zones of Dubai.

So, one of the most important differences between a Dubai visa and free zone visa is the location of your business.

When applying for a Dubai visa, it is your sponsor who will do some of the paperwork. They serve as your representative and would get in touch with government departments, prepare requirements, and handle other legal matters related to the formation of your business.

This is not the case in applying for a free zone visa. Since you will be starting a business with 100% ownership, you will most likely be handling all legal matters on your own. Of course, you have the option to seek help from local service providers who offer business setup services in Dubai.

Another significant difference between a Dubai visa and a free zone visa is the time of validity. Dubai visa’s validity lasts for two years, while a free zone visa is valid for three years.

Moreover, your mainland visa application is mostly governed by the UAE Labor Law. Free zone visa depends on the specific law of your chosen free zone district.

When it comes to cost, free zone visa is a little cheaper. You will spend around 30,000 AED for your Dubai visa application and about 27,000 AED for free zone application.

Getting a visa before you can enter Dubai can be a little tricky. If you want to learn more or get the right guide, you will be happy to get in touch with Austria Business Center. We have the right experience and expertise to help you set up your business a free zone area or in a business center in Dubai. Give us a call today!


    Jumeirah Bay X2 Tower (3rd Floor)
    Email: office@austriabc.com
    Phone: +971 (0)4 427 3600

    Jumeirah Bay X2 Tower (3rd Floor)
    Email: office@austriabc.com
    Phone: +971 (0)4 427 3600

    Jumeirah Bay X2 Tower (16th Floor)
    Email: office@austriabc.com
    Phone: +971 (0)4 437 5700

    Opal Tower
    Email: office@austriabc.com
    Phone: +971 (0)4 427 3700