Offshore License – How to Obtain

We recommend our client’s legal structure, depending on their core business needs and investment budget


Select the appropriate type of business license for your mainland business.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), offshore company licenses are offered through various jurisdictions, each with its own regulations and types of licenses. Here are some common types of offshore company licenses available in the UAE:

  • Offshore Company (IBC) License - This is the standard type of offshore company license, often referred to as an International Business Company (IBC). It is a versatile license that allows businesses to engage in a wide range of activities such as international trade, holding investments, and asset protection.
  • Free Zone Offshore Company License - Certain free zones, such as DMCC and Fujairah Creative City Free Zone, offer offshore licenses that provide businesses with the advantages of being in a free zone while maintaining an offshore status. This can be suitable for creative industries and international business activities.
  • Offshore Limited Liability Company (LLC) License - In some jurisdictions, there is an option to establish an offshore Limited Liability Company. This structure provides limited liability to its members and can engage in various business activities.

Select the most appropriate legal form for your mainland company in the UAE

As part of an Instant License, there are available following legal forms:

  • International Business Company (IBC) - An IBC is the most common legal form for offshore companies in the UAE. This legal structure is designed to facilitate international business activities, and it is characterized by features such as limited liability, flexibility in ownership, and minimal reporting requirements
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) - Some offshore jurisdictions, such as those in the UAE, allow for the establishment of offshore Limited Liability Companies. An LLC structure provides limited liability to its members (owners) and offers flexibility in terms of management and operational structure.
  • Special Purpose Company (SPC) - Certain offshore jurisdictions, like RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC), provide for Special Purpose Company structures. SPCs are designed for specific business purposes or projects, allowing for a tailored legal form to meet specific objectives.

Company formation steps in UAE OFFSHORE COMPANY

Obtaining an offshore business license in Dubai involves several steps. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

Select business activities

Dubai Economic Development (DED) offers 2000+ activities to choose from. To choose the right activities for your business, get advice from our Business Setup Experts.

Prepare Necessary Documents

Gather all required documents, which typically include:

  • Passport copies of shareholders and directors.
  • Proof of address (utility bills, bank statements, etc.).
  • CV and bank reference for each shareholder and director.
  • Proposed company names.

Select a Business Name

Choose a unique and compliant business name for your offshore company. The name should adhere to the guidelines set by the relevant authorities.

Submit Application

Prepare and submit the application for the offshore business license to the relevant authority. This may involve providing details about the company structure, business activities, and other relevant information.

Payment of Fees

Pay the necessary fees associated with the application and processing of the offshore business license. Fees may vary depending on the chosen jurisdiction and the type of license.

Due Diligence and Background Checks

Undergo due diligence and background checks, which may be conducted by the relevant authorities. This is a standard procedure to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Receive Approval

Once the application is processed and approved, you will receive the offshore business license. This document confirms your company’s legal existence and the right to conduct business activities.

Bank Account Opening

Open a corporate bank account in a reputable bank in Dubai. The bank may require additional documentation, and the process can be facilitated by your registered agent.

Compliance and Renewal

Ensure ongoing compliance with local regulations and renew your offshore business license as required. Offshore licenses are typically valid for a specific period, and renewal is necessary to maintain legal status.

Off Shore Business Setup in Dubai

The final step in getting a work permit

The Trade License is not the final step in the company formation process. Following the license acquisition process, you can launch your business by doing the following:

  • Passport
  • Establishment Card application – a document that specifies the information about the company, and is required to apply for residency visas sponsored by the company.
  • Visa applications for investors and partners are submitted after the company establishment card has been issued.
  • Opening a corporate bank account – is essential for the company’s activities and is possible after the company’s authorized signatories obtain resident visas.
  • Ministry of Labor (MOL) file account opening application – MOL number is a unique ID that is used to identify establishment in MOL database. It will allow the company to request employee visa quotas.
  • Quota application – allows the company to apply for employees’ visas.
  • After the requested quotas have been approved, the company can start the hiring procedures and apply for sponsorship of employee visa applications.

We can help you establish a mainland UAE company.

It can take a while to set up and obtain an Offshore License in the United Arab Emirates; however, getting legal counsel will speed up the process and assist foreign companies in choosing the right legal structure for their enterprise.

1Pro Centre DMCC can help you choose the best corporate structure for your mainland business and can guide you through the registration process all the way to the point where your business is operational and complies with UAE laws and regulations.

In addition to assisting your business with its initial setup in the UAE, we also offer assistance with bank account opening, bookkeeping, tax compliance, and visa applications.