Dubai is famous for many reasons, from its ambitious construction projects, exceptional hotels and nightlife to its low tax environment and welcoming business environment.
A benefit of this beautiful emirate that garners less attention, however, are its free zones. Yet they are of just as much importance to this bustling metropolis. Operating from a Dubai free zone not only allows entrepreneurs to access exclusive benefits but also to apply for the coveted free zone visa.
In this article, I am going to explore the features of the Dubai free zone visa, including:
- What is a free zone visa in Dubai?
- What are the benefits of a free zone visa in Dubai?
- How much is a free zone visa in Dubai?
- Dubai free zone visa rules and regulations
- Free zone visa process in Dubai – step-by-step
- Dubai free zone visa processing time
- Is a free zone visa limited or unlimited?
- Why choose BIZ?
What is a free zone visa in Dubai?
In short, free zone visas are visas issued by Dubai free zones. They are usually linked to a licensing package and can be applied for by entrepreneurs and business owners, along with their employees, dependants and domestic staff.
Free zones are designated economic zones that offer distinct benefits to the businesses that operate within them. There are over 40 in the UAE, all offering fast and affordable company incorporation and licensing, smooth workflows and a range of other advantages.
The free zone visa is just one of the many benefits of operating within these zones. Others include 100% foreign ownership, which allows overseas investors to operate in the UAE without handing over a 51% stake to a local sponsor.
What are the benefits of a free zone visa in Dubai?
Perhaps the main benefit of the Dubai free zone visa is that it allows the holder to live and work freely in Dubai. It also affords the holder a certain tax exemption, meaning as well as benefiting from the UAE’s 0% tax rate on personal and corporate income, free zone visa holders are exempt from paying import, export and customs taxes.
Anyone with a Dubai free zone visa is also able to open financial and banking products in the emirate, lease premises, access healthcare and apply for a UAE driving licence. Finally, holders of a Dubai free zone visa can embark on visa free travel to tens of countries around the world.
How much is a free zone visa in Dubai?
A free zone visa in Dubai costs approximately AED 5,000, however this figure will vary depending on the free zone that you apply through.
Additional visas such as those for your employees, dependants and domestic staff carry an additional cost, usually in the region of AED 3,000 to AED 6,000. For a full breakdown of the costs involved, tailored to your specific requirements, get in touch with the team at Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ).
Dubai free zone visa rules and regulations
There are two common types of free zone visa in Dubai. The first is the investor visa. This is usually applied for when setting up a business in a free zone. In most cases, the investor visa is valid for three years.
The other common visa type is the employment visa. This is sponsored by an employer and tied to a specific job in the UAE. Again, employment visas are usually valid for three years.
Holders of both visas can also apply for dependant visas for their spouse, children or domestic staff such as maids and drivers.
Free zone visa process in Dubai – step-by-step
When you apply for your Dubai free zone visa with BIZ, we’ll guide you through the following five-step process.
1. Register for e-channel services
As the free zone visa application takes place largely online, you’ll first need to register in the UAE government’s e-channel portal. BIZ can manage this process for you, all that’s required in the mandatory registration fee of AED 2,500.
2. Entry permit
With initial registration out of the way, you can now apply for your entry permit. This is like a temporary visa in that it allows you to enter and stay in the UAE for up 60 days. While you are permitted to leave during this period, it is strongly advised against as it can cause issues with your immigration file.
3. Status change
Next up is the status change. This is the process of activating your entry permit. To do this, you can either submit your passport for stamping to immigration in the UAE, present your visa to immigration at an airport when entering the UAE, or leaving the UAE by land and having your permit stamped upon re-entry. The former is by far the easiest option.
4. Medical and Emirates ID registration
To obtain a free zone visa, you will need to pass a medical exam and fitness test. This includes a blood test and chest X-ray. Once you have the results of your test, you can apply for your Emirates ID which allows you access to services in the UAE.
5. Residence visa stamping
The final step is the affixing of the actual residence visa in your passport. You can do this by presenting your passport to the relevant immigration authority here in the UAE. Once this stage is completed, you are free to live and work in Dubai until the expiry of your visa.
Dubai free zone visa processing time
The free zone visa process usually takes two to three weeks to complete. Entry permits are issued within 15 days though can be fast-tracked. After this, you will usually receive your visa within a week of your medical test results.
Is a free zone visa limited or unlimited?
Free zone visas are always limited to the period that they are valid. This will be shown on the visa itself. Even employment visas that are tied to unlimited employment contracts are limited in that they have an expiry date. They can, however, be regularly renewed for the duration of your stay in the UAE.
Why choose BIZ?
Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ) gives you everything you need to launch, operate and grow your small business here in the UAE.
As well as assisting with trade license applications and company administration, we can also help you find and access banking services, guide you through the UAE free zone visa and relocation process, and support you throughout the life of your business with our wide range of concierge services.
Ready to get started? Get in touch with our expert team today on 800 BIZ (249), email [email protected], or pop in and visit us at our offices in Dubai and Fujairah.