Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Company Formation





Any entrepreneur setting up in the UAE must at least consider establishing a business in one of the country’s many free zones. There are many attractive free zones spread right across the Emirates, all of which offer a broad range of benefits to entrepreneurs from the world over.

Perhaps the biggest advantages of setting up in a UAE free zone include zero percent personal and corporate income tax and 100% exemption from customs tax. What’s more, unlike in many other countries, UAE free zone businesses are able to repatriate all invested capital and profits. There are also no foreign exchange controls or currency restrictions.

These headline benefits can be found across the board in most UAE free trade zones. When you begin to delve deeper into each individual free zone, however, it becomes increasingly clear that each also offers its own unique set of advantages.

One particularly attractive free zone that we’ll take a closer look at today is Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Governed by three independent authorities – the Registration Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) and ADGM Courts – ADGM offers entrepreneurs the chance to do business within a thriving community in line with international best practices that are recognised by major financial centres across the world.

While the free zone’s focus is across three core sectors – Private Banking, Wealth Management, and Asset Management – ADGM is also open to many non-financial business sectors too. These include some forms of manufacturing, publishing, engineering, education, and other professional services.

Business setup in ADGM

Establishing a business in ADGM is a straightforward yet precise process. The exact steps needed to form a company here will depend on the nature of your business. In most cases, the first step is to liaise with the relevant business authority.

Should you wish to undertake financial activities, the relevant authority is the FSRA. For non-financial activities, you would need to liaise with the Business Development team of the Registration Authority. Non-financial activities allowed in ADGM can include professional services, such as law firms and accounting firms, consultants or business training providers; IT and HR firms; corporate headquarters, management offices, and treasury functions; or retail outlets.

Having contacted the relevant team, you may be required to attend a meeting to gain an understanding of the workings of the free zone and the application process. Next, you should submit your formal application. This application must include details about your business along with your chosen legal entity type. Again, the exact type of business setup in ADGM that is right for you will depend on the nature of your business.

Only once your application is approved can you begin the process of registering and incorporating your business at ADGM. While the process appears simple, it is vital that your application is both accurate and complete. Any errors or omissions may lead to delays or even the rejection of your application altogether. That’s why it often pays to work with a company formation expert who can manage every step of your application, liaising with ADGM and all other relevant authorities on your behalf.

Doing business in Abu Dhabi

One of the major benefits of setting up in ADGM is its enviable location in the heart of Abu Dhabi. The free zone is situated on Al Maryah Island – a 114 hector island that occupies a unique location directly midpoint between Abu Dhabi’s existing downtown district, the upcoming development at Al Reem Island, and the new cultural district on Saadiyat Island.

Abu Dhabi itself is the largest of the UAE’s seven emirates and has a highly diverse and international population – international residents from 120 countries make up 80% of its population.

As well as its famously progressive stance towards healthcare, arts, economic and environmental sustainability, and educational and human development, the emirate is committed to building on its position in international finance, in partnership with the world’s leading financial centres. Overall, the emirate is home to a thriving business landscape, inhabited by a host of talented and skilled professionals across a range of vital sectors.

ADGM license categories

Abu Dhabi is also often praised for its easy and inclusive business processes. The World Bank ranks Abu Dhabi (and the UAE more generally) 11th out of 190 countries in 2019 Doing Business Index, making it the highest placed country in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi is also often praised for its easy and inclusive business processes. The World Bank ranks Abu Dhabi (and the UAE more generally) 11th out of 190 countries in 2019 Doing Business Index, making it the highest placed country in the Middle East.

It is possible to establish several company types within Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone. These include both private and public limited and unlimited companies.

Whichever company type you choose, ADGM company formation is a straightforward process. To apply for your ADGM startup license, you must submit your complete application form along with some relatively standard documentation.

Your application must include:

  • The company’s proposed name
  • Information regarding whether the liability of the members of the company is to be limited, and if so whether it is to be limited by shares or by guarantee, and whether the company is to be a private or a public company
  • A statement of the company’s proposed officers
  • A statement of the intended address of the company’s registered office in the Abu Dhabi Global Market
  • A copy of any proposed articles of association

In the case of a company that is to have a share capital, a statement of capital and initial shareholdings must also be included.

ADGM company formation made easy

The exact steps required to start your company in Abu Dhabi Global Market will largely depend on the nature of your business and your chosen business setup. In most cases, however, as well as the documentation listed above, you’ll also be required to provide:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
  • Two coloured passport size photos with a white background
  • Proof of share capital, as required

In the majority of cases, the ADGM company formation process takes only a matter of days, providing your application is complete and correct. As previously mentioned, it is vitally important that you keep in mind that errors in your application can lead to delays or even rejection.

That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as CREATIVE ZONE when forming a new business anywhere in the UAE. Our team of company registration professionals is passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.

Our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – making UAE company formation easy.


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