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The difference between consultants and free zones for company set up

Half a million. That is roughly how many companies were being set up, on average, every year in the United Arab Emirates before the pandemic. It’s a huge number of companies!

Many of these entrepreneurs and start-ups choose to locate in one of the UAE’s many free zones. There are over 40 such free zones across the country, offering a variety of benefits to start-ups, including 0% income tax rates, no VAT and 100% foreign ownership.

If you’ve decided you’d like to set up a company in the UAE and feel that launching in a free zone is the right option for your business, the next question is how you will actually go about doing it. There are two options here:

1. Approach the free zone directly yourself: This is very much the ‘do it yourself’ method. You will need to find a free zone, contact them about applying for a licence and they can usually support you with the process of getting set up on their premises. Other than the free zone’s own fees, this approach has no direct costs.

2. Go through a company set-up consultant: A UAE company setup consultant is basically an agent who can help you identify the right free zone (or mainland business structure) for your business, and support you with the entire end to end process of launching your company. If you choose to go with a consultant, you will pay them a fee for the support.

So, which option is right for you? At Creative Zone, we offer a consultancy service to help businesses set up free zone and mainland businesses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And we help thousands of companies set up each year.

The vast majority of new companies choose to work with consultants to set up a business, rather than going directly through a free zone themselves. Why is this? Let’s look out the top reasons people choose consultants over going direct to free zones.

5 reasons people choose consultants over free zone company set up

Are you currently thinking about launching your next business? You will likely have seen or heard about the UAE’s free zones. Although most free zones accept direct applications from interested parties, most businesses choose to go through a consultant instead. Here are five reasons why:

1. Access to a wider variety of potential free zones
One of the most significant advantages of using consultants, instead of going direct to free zones, is that consultants will have a broad knowledge of free zones right across the UAE. Their in-depth knowledge of the different free zones and the kinds of business licences they offer, means consultants can recommend the right free zone for your company’s sector and ambitions.

Unlike applying directly, you won’t be limited to just a single free zone that you have heard about near where you currently live or work. Instead, consultants can introduce you to a wider variety of locations to set up your company – some of which might be less well-known, but which are ideal for your industry. On the other hand, if you just go directly to a single free zone, you obviously won’t see the same variety of opportunities.

Similarly, using a consultancy to set up your business means that you can expand your search by geographical location. Consultants will be able to recommend free zones further afield which you may not have been aware of.

2. End to end support
UAE company set up consultants offer comprehensive support to help you with all aspects of launching your business. From completing application forms to choosing your business type, applying for licences, filing records with the government, or complying with any regulations – these are all under the auspices of what consultants can do. Essentially, you will be getting a far more comprehensive service than what any individual free zone can offer.

Free zones normally offer little more than supporting you with the process of registering your free zone licence application – so you’ll have to do the rest. If you go direct via an individual free zone to start your company, you will then have to carry out the many other legal and compliance activities you must do when starting a company in the UAE. While this is of course possible to do by yourself, it can take up a lot of time and effort – which you really don’t need when you are trying to launch a business. Consultancies, on the other hand, can offer a ‘hand holding’ service, to walk you through the entire process.

3. Connections and relationships
Running a successful business is all about building connections and developing relationships with other companies and partners. Once again, using company setup consultancy businesses helps you do this much more easily than if you were to just apply directly to an individual free zone.

Consultants, by their nature, will have countless contacts and knowledge of other businesses working in the same space as you. They can introduce you to people who can help your company grow, including business networks, banks, investors, lawyers and much more.

On the other hand, if you worked exclusively with a single free zone, you would only really meet other companies in the same building. That means you’d potentially miss important opportunities for business connections that a consultant can facilitate.

4. Consultants can save you a lot of time
At Creative Zone, we help our customers with all aspects of setting up a company. After an initial consultation, you can rely on us to take responsibility for almost every aspect of launching your company – from completing application forms, to verifying if there is space in a free zone to performing various governance and compliance tasks, such as setting up a bank account for you.

By using a consultancy, you save yourself countless precious hours when launching your company. On the other hand, if you were to go direct to a free zone, you would need to do all these tasks yourself.

5. Help you choose the best option
It is, unsurprisingly, in the interest of a free zone to encourage you to set up your company in their space. Very often this is perfectly fine – but sometimes businesses end up launching in free zones, when actually it might not be the best option for them in terms of the kind of contracts they want to win or the way they operate. That means they end up with real headaches running the business, and eventually have to move.

Company formation consultants in the UAE are able to give you much more independent advice on the best place to launch your business – whether that is in the mainland, in a free zone, or even offshore. Working with consultants who truly understand your business and have its best interests at heart means you won’t end up regretting your choice.

Talk with the business set up experts

At Creative Zone, we have consulted with thousands of businesses to support them through the entire process of setting up a company in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, across the UAE and internationally. Our expert consultants have a deep knowledge of all the different free zones in the country and their various strengths, weaknesses and suitability for different kinds of business.

We will guide you to the best free zone (or an alternative home for your company), and rapidly complete all relevant business applications, so you don’t have to do them yourself, and introduce you to other firms you could benefit from knowing.

For a no obligation initial consultation, contact us today.


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