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Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone (UAQ FTZ) is the UAE special economic zone, established with the objective of attracting foreign direct investment and stimulating economic activity. The zone confers exclusive privileges upon investors and presents opportunities for business growth. This article delineates the company registration process in UAQ FTZ, analyses the permissible legal entities, and provides relevant intelligence to enable informed decision-making.

Incepted decades ago pursuant to a strategic government initiative, UAQ FTZ aims to leverage policy incentives to boost investment and commerce in the UAE. Since its genesis, the zone has pursued infrastructural development and legal reforms to create optimal conditions for customer convenience. Moreover, partnerships with international stakeholders have enabled market access and global expansion.

Contribution to the UAE economy

UAQ FTZ plays a pivotal role in attracting foreign capital and catalysing economic progress in Umm Al Quwain and the UAE through beneficial regulatory policies. The streamlined business registration process and favourable tax treatment draw foreign direct investment, enriching the national economy. Moreover, robust business growth within the zone creates employment opportunities across various sectors, alleviating unemployment. 

With permitted activities spanning manufacturing, trade, and services, UAQ FTZ promotes economic diversification and sustainable development. The strategic location offers connectivity to global supply chains and international trade networks, supporting the UAE's integration into the world economy. Additionally, technology enterprises and startups are attracted to the zone, enabling innovation.

Free zone benefits of establishing a company in UAQ FTZ

UAQ FTZ offers an attractive proposition for business expansion owing to the preferential policies and advantages conferred upon investors. 

  • Tax incentives. UAQ FTZ guarantees a 100% corporate income tax exemption for 15 years, maximising business profitability. Additionally, the zone exempts employers from mandatory social security contributions and value added tax, further reducing fiscal burdens.
  • Full foreign ownership. Foreign investors can fully own onshore companies in UAQ FTZ without requiring local sponsorship, ensuring complete authority and control. This mitigates risk and safeguards business interests.
  • Streamlined registration. The business registration process in UAQ FTZ entails minimum documentation and accelerated processing, facilitating expedited launch. This enables entrepreneurs to commence operations quickly in a transparent regime.
  • Customs facilitation. Simplified clearance procedures in the zone optimise cargo movements, reducing associated expenses and delivery times. This facilitates international trade and competitiveness.  
  • Global access. Strategically situated with advanced transport links, UAQ FTZ provides connectivity to international markets, aiding companies partaking in cross-border transactions.
  • Capital repatriation. The zone imposes no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital/profit repatriation abroad, accommodating overseas investors.
  • Ancillary support. UAQ FTZ offers investors extensive assistance including advisory services, visas, office/warehouse leases, and business events. This comprehensive support catalyses growth.

In summary, the preferential treatment, global exposure, and robust assistance makes UAQ FTZ an optimal hub for business expansion.

Requirements for incorporation in UAQ FTZ

Official registration constitutes a key initial step for commencing operations in UAQ FTZ. The process entails meeting certain mandatory requirements, chiefly related to minimum capitalisation and documentation.

UAQ FTZ prescribes a uniform min. share capital of AED 300,000 applicable to all business entities incorporated in the zone. This threshold enables prospective promoters and investors to ascertain and prepare the requisite funding in line with applicable financial regulations. We advise consulting UAQ FTZ authorities or licensed consultancies to ensure full conformity based on the sector, commercial activity, and licence category.

Incorporating a business in UAQ FTZ requires preparation and submission of prescribed documents per licensing guidelines. Investors should apprise themselves on the specific documentary requirements and procedures associated with their desired industry to ensure regulatory compliance and swift processing of registration applications. We provide guidance and assistance with incorporation in UAQ FTZ, assembling and submitting the necessary documentation. 

  • Registration application: a formal application in the mandated format expressing the intent to register a company in UAQ FTZ, signed by all incorporating shareholders/partners.  
  • Founder passport copies: certified passport photocopies proving the identity and credentials of all individual founders.
  • Corporate documents: in the case of institutional investors, certified copies of certificates of incorporation or other statutory documents evidencing legal status.  
  • Business plan: a comprehensive plan elucidating proposed business activities, growth strategies, and financial forecasts. This aids in evaluating viability.
  • Power of attorney: If third parties represent promoters in the registration process, a duly signed and executed power of attorney authorising the representative.

Additional documentation may be warranted under specific circumstances per licensing policies concerning entity type, commercial activity, and prevailing regulations. Investors should apprise themselves accordingly through consultants.

The basics regarding permissible legal entities 

Legal entity type





Incorporation process

FZ Establishment 

A legal entity requiring one promoter, who can be either an individual or corporate entity.

One proprietor


100% CIT exemption;

unrestricted foreign ownership without local sponsorship requirements


Manufacturing, trading, services, etc.



Streamlined with minimal bureaucratic processes, allowing for expedited launch.

FZ Company 

A legal entity requiring two or more shareholders, who can be individuals or corporate entities.

Two or more shareholders

Company incorporation process 

Registering a company in UAQ FTZ involves navigating prescribed regulatory steps:


Pre-registration phase  

The preparatory stage establishes the optimal foundations for commencing operations. Key aspects include:

  • Selecting the appropriate business structure based on commercial objectives. 
  • Choosing a distinctive company name aligned to branding goals and checking availability.  
  • Preparing the mandated documents like business plans detailing proposed activities, projections, and growth roadmaps to communicate with authorities.

Registration application  

The application phase involves formally applying to register the entity by submitting:

  • Completed application form furnished by UAQ FTZ authorities containing requisite information.
  • Necessary attachments namely promoter credentials, corporate documents, plans etc. 
  • Online submissions may be accepted depending on e-governance initiatives.

Application scrutiny  

  • UAQ FTZ authorities scrutinise submissions, which may take weeks to months depending on entity type and industry. Payment of prescribed state fees and processing charges applies.

Successful applications are granted registration certificates and trade licences authorising company operations. Rejection entails reapplication after addressing deficiencies.

Post-registration procedures and compliance 

After completing statutory registration in UAQ FTZ, companies must fulfil key ongoing compliance requirements for streamlined operations.

Bank account opening  

UAQ FTZ necessitates newly registered entities to open a business bank account for financial transactions by furnishing prescribed documents. Entities should evaluate service offerings across banks while considering aspects like fees, interest rates, digital features, and target industry specialisation.   

Accounting and reporting  

Registered firms must implement systematic accounting to record all fiscal activities like invoicing, taxation, assets, and liabilities. Financial statements — namely income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements in the mandated formats must be accurately maintained. UAQ FTZ stipulates specific accounting standards for uniform applicability.   

Periodic audit may be warranted if balance sheet parameters meet prescribed thresholds. It is prudent to engage professional accountants to ensure reporting complies with regulations, avoiding penalties.  

Tax registration and compliance  

While UAQ FTZ permits corporate tax exemption, value added tax registration is obligatory beyond an applicable turnover threshold. Successful registration confers an identification number for remitting applicable indirect taxes on goods and services.

For overseas operations, entities should determine their global taxability and appropriate jurisdictions to mitigate double compliance exposure while preventing extraterritorial conflicts through appropriate tax advice.