Once you have successfully set up your business in Dubai, the next thing on the to-do list is to open your corporate bank account. This is where a potential challenge lies and where the process can become stressful, especially for foreign business owners looking to open a bank account for their free zone companies. Here, we discuss some of the key issues to consider when opening a free zone company bank account in Dubai.
Is it more difficult to get a bank account for certain free zones and business types?
The process of opening a corporate bank account in some free zones has become stricter as the Central Bank of the UAE tightens regulations. In some cases, the jurisdiction where a company is established might be the reason for an application refusal. This is why the cheapest free zone might not be the best option for your business. When choosing a bank, look for one that has a compliant company structure to suit your business and maximise your profits.
Some banks might consider your business activity as a free zone company before setting up a business company account for you. Having an onshore or mainland trading business scores you extra points during the screening process.
Another factor that increases your chances of getting approval for a corporate bank account in Dubai is having a UAE visa or an Emirates ID. Being a resident shows your commitment and potential contribution to the local economy. You may also be able to sail through the screening process more quickly if you have a company website and a sound business plan to add credibility.
Opening a corporate bank account in a Dubai Free Zone
The main options for opening a corporate bank account in one of Dubai’s free zones are UAE offshore company accounts and UAE free zone onshore company accounts. The advantage of these two main possibilities is that both types of companies can be 100% foreign-owned.
Other differences include:
- An account with a UAE free zone onshore company costs more to register but comes with several benefits. With this account, you qualify for a personal UAE residency visa, and your business bank account is eligible to be a UAE-resident account, which is often associated with fewer regulations and reduced requirements on the account balance.
- An account with a UAE offshore company is more affordable but much harder to open, and it has higher requirements in terms of your account balance. Since it is foreign-owned, it is under strict official compliance regulations.
5-step guide to opening a corporate bank account in Dubai
While it all sounds a bit daunting, you can be prepared for the process by following this step-by-step guide to opening a corporate bank account in Dubai:
1. Get your business licence
Your business licence is essential as it assures the bank of the credibility of your business. If you don’t have a licence yet, apply for one. Once you complete the simple process and receive the licence, you can apply for the corporate bank account.
2. Get all your legal documents in order
The required documents for business accounts in Dubai depends on the bank and the type of free zone business you run. The requirements for free zone businesses are often different from other businesses. However, some standard documents required include a trading licence, share certificates, the article of memorandum and article of association of your company. You will also typically need passport copies for all partners and board members of the company, as well as all the account signatories.
3. Check all visa-related requirements
This helps to make the screening process of corporate bank account opening easier. Make sure to check if your chosen bank requires all the shareholders of the company to have a residency visa because some banks might ask for this.
4. Choose a bank
The next step is to choose a bank that suits the needs of your company. Criteria such as eligibility, foreign trading, business cash flow and Islamic banking should be considered carefully before choosing a bank to work with.
5. Complete the application process
Now that you have completed all the paperwork, you can proceed to start the application process. You can do this online or directly at the branch depending on the bank you choose. In any case, you are encouraged to visit the bank whenever you get stuck in the application process to make sure you get timely help.
Opening a corporate bank account in DMCC
Note that if you prefer, you can also open the business bank account for your free zone company with some professional help. Named ‘Global Free Zone of the Year 2019’ by the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine for 5 consecutive years, DMCC is the fastest growing free zone in Dubai. At the heart of DMCC’s offering is the ease of setting up and doing business. The all-in-one solutions and service packages will help you open a corporate bank account without hurdles.
Get in touch with us at DMCC to help set up your business in the world’s #1 free trade zone and centre of global commodities trading.