Company Formation in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)

Company Formation in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)

Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious free zones in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), offering a gateway to the Middle East and beyond. Established in 1985, JAFZA is strategically located near Jebel Ali Port, the largest port in the region, and is designed to support a diverse range of industries. This article provides an in-depth guide on company formation in JAFZA in 2024, covering the benefits, processes, costs, and requirements associated with setting up a business in this dynamic free zone.

Benefits of Setting Up a Company in JAFZA

JAFZA offers a myriad of advantages for businesses looking to establish a presence in the UAE. Key benefits include:

Strategic Location

JAFZA’s location near Jebel Ali Port and Al Maktoum International Airport facilitates efficient logistics and distribution. This strategic position allows businesses to easily access major markets across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. The proximity to key transportation hubs significantly reduces shipping times and costs, making JAFZA an ideal base for companies engaged in international trade.

Tax Exemptions

One of the most attractive benefits of setting up a company in JAFZA is the complete tax exemption. Companies enjoy 100% exemption from personal and corporate income taxes, as well as import and export duties. This tax-free environment enables businesses to maximize their profits and reinvest in their growth.

Full Foreign Ownership

Unlike many other jurisdictions, JAFZA allows for 100% foreign ownership of companies. This means that international investors can retain full control of their businesses without the need for a local sponsor. This level of ownership provides greater flexibility and security for foreign entrepreneurs.

World-Class Infrastructure

JAFZA offers state-of-the-art infrastructure, including modern office spaces, warehouses, and industrial units. These facilities are equipped with the latest technology and amenities to support various business activities. The free zone’s infrastructure is continuously upgraded to meet the evolving needs of businesses and ensure seamless operations.

Business-Friendly Environment

JAFZA is renowned for its business-friendly environment, characterized by streamlined administrative procedures and a supportive regulatory framework. The free zone authority provides comprehensive support to businesses, from initial setup to ongoing operations. This includes fast-track company formation processes, simplified licensing procedures, and dedicated customer service.

Access to a Large Market

With access to a market of over 2 billion people across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, JAFZA offers unparalleled growth opportunities. Businesses in JAFZA can easily reach a diverse customer base and tap into emerging markets with high demand for goods and services. The free zone’s strategic location and robust infrastructure make it a prime destination for companies looking to expand their reach.

Company Types in JAFZA

JAFZA allows the formation of various types of business entities to suit different business needs. The main types of companies you can establish in JAFZA include:

Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

An FZE is a single-shareholder company suitable for entrepreneurs and small businesses. This type of entity allows for complete control and streamlined decision-making processes. FZEs can be formed by individual investors or corporate entities, providing flexibility in ownership structure.

Free Zone Company (FZCo)

An FZCo is a company with 2 to 50 shareholders. This structure is ideal for partnerships and medium-sized businesses. FZCos offer a balance between ownership control and resource pooling, making them suitable for joint ventures and collaborative enterprises. Shareholders in an FZCo can be individuals or corporate entities.

Branch of a Foreign Company

A branch of a foreign company allows an existing international business to establish a presence in JAFZA without creating a separate legal entity. This option enables companies to expand their operations in the UAE while maintaining their original corporate identity. Branch offices benefit from the same tax exemptions and incentives as other entities in JAFZA.

Branch of a UAE Company

Similar to a branch of a foreign company, a branch of a UAE company allows an existing local business to extend its operations to JAFZA. This option is suitable for UAE-based companies looking to leverage the free zone’s strategic advantages and expand their market reach.

How to Start a Company in JAFZA

Starting a company in JAFZA involves several steps designed to be straightforward and efficient:

Business Plan

Prepare a detailed business plan outlining your company’s activities, target market, and financial projections. The business plan should include an executive summary, market analysis, organizational structure, product or service offerings, marketing strategy, and financial forecasts. A well-prepared business plan demonstrates the viability and potential of your business to the JAFZA authorities.

Select Business Activity

Choose the type of business activity your company will engage in. JAFZA offers licenses for trading, services, industrial, logistics, and more. Each business activity has specific requirements and regulations, so it is essential to select the appropriate category that aligns with your company’s operations.

Submit Application

Submit your application to JAFZA along with the required documents, including passport copies, proof of address, and a detailed business plan. The application process also involves completing relevant forms and providing information about the shareholders and directors. JAFZA’s customer service team is available to assist with any queries or clarifications during the application process.

Initial Approval

JAFZA reviews your application and, if approved, issues an initial approval letter. This letter confirms that your business concept and proposed activities comply with the free zone’s regulations. Initial approval is a crucial step that allows you to proceed with the subsequent steps of company formation.

Lease Agreement

Sign a lease agreement for your office space or warehouse within JAFZA. The free zone offers a variety of rental options to suit different business needs, including flexi-desks, serviced offices, and industrial units. The lease agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the rental, including the duration, rent, and additional services provided.

Company Registration

Complete the registration process by submitting the necessary legal documents and paying the required fees. This includes drafting the Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA), which define the company’s structure, governance, and operational procedures. JAFZA’s legal team ensures that all documents comply with UAE laws and regulations.

License Issuance

Once all the requirements are met, JAFZA issues the business license, allowing you to commence operations. The business license specifies the type of activity your company is authorized to conduct and is valid for a specified period. Regular renewal of the license is required to maintain compliance with JAFZA regulations.

Business Licensing in JAFZA

JAFZA offers various types of business licenses, each catering to specific business activities. These include:

Trading License

A Trading License allows businesses to import, export, and trade goods and commodities. Companies with a Trading License can engage in wholesale and retail activities, both within the UAE and internationally. This license is suitable for businesses dealing in consumer goods, electronics, machinery, and other products.

Service License

A Service License is designed for companies providing professional or consultancy services. This includes a wide range of activities such as management consulting, IT services, marketing, legal advisory, and financial services. Service-oriented businesses benefit from the free zone’s business-friendly environment and access to a diverse client base.

Industrial License

An Industrial License is required for businesses engaged in manufacturing or industrial activities. This license permits companies to produce, assemble, package, and process goods within JAFZA. Industrial units benefit from advanced infrastructure, logistical support, and proximity to suppliers and customers.

Logistics License

A Logistics License is tailored for companies offering logistics and supply chain services. This includes warehousing, distribution, transportation, and freight forwarding services. JAFZA’s strategic location and connectivity make it an ideal hub for logistics companies serving regional and global markets.

E-Commerce License

An E-Commerce License is suitable for businesses operating online platforms and services. This license allows companies to sell products and services through digital channels, catering to the growing demand for online shopping and digital transactions. E-commerce businesses benefit from JAFZA’s advanced IT infrastructure and support services.

Cost of Setting Up a Company in JAFZA

The cost of establishing a business in JAFZA varies depending on several factors, including the chosen license type, office space requirements, and additional services. Key costs to consider include:

Incorporation Fee

The incorporation fee for company registration in JAFZA is AED 5,300. This fee covers the administrative costs associated with processing the application and issuing the initial approval.

License Fee

License fees in JAFZA start from AED 5,000 for trading and service licenses. The exact fee depends on the type of license and the scope of activities. Specialized licenses, such as industrial and logistics licenses, may have higher fees due to the additional regulatory requirements.

Office Space Rental

Office space rental costs vary based on the size and location of the office space. JAFZA offers flexible office solutions, including flexi-desks, serviced offices, and dedicated office units. Rental agreements typically include utilities, maintenance, and access to shared facilities.

Visa Processing

Visa processing fees apply for employee and investor visas. These fees cover the cost of visa applications, medical tests, Emirates ID cards, and other administrative processes. The cost of visas varies depending on the type of visa and the number of employees.

Additional Fees

Additional fees include Chamber of Commerce fees, E-Channel registration, and refundable deposits. The Chamber of Commerce fee is AED 3,020, while the E-Channel registration fee is AED 2,080. A refundable deposit of AED 5,000 is also required for E-Channel services.

Business Registration Requirements in JAFZA

To register a business in JAFZA, you need to meet several requirements:

Completed Application Form

A completed application form with accurate information about the business and its shareholders. The application form should include details such as the company’s name, business activity, shareholder information, and contact details.

Passport Copies

Passport copies for all shareholders and directors. These copies should be valid and include the personal information pages. For corporate shareholders, additional documentation, such as a certificate of incorporation and board resolution, may be required.

Proof of Address

Proof of address for all shareholders. Acceptable documents include utility bills, bank statements, or tenancy agreements. The proof of address should be recent and clearly indicate the residential address of the shareholders.

Business Plan

A detailed business plan outlining the company’s activities and financial projections. The business plan should include an executive summary, market analysis, organizational structure, product or service offerings, marketing strategy, and financial forecasts.

Bank Reference Letter

A bank reference letter from a recognized bank confirming the financial standing of the shareholders. The bank reference letter should be addressed to JAFZA and indicate that the shareholders have maintained a satisfactory banking relationship.

Board Resolution

A board resolution, if applicable, from the parent company approving the establishment of a branch. The board resolution should be signed by the authorized representatives of the parent company and include details of the proposed branch office.

JAFZA Free Zone Facilities

JAFZA provides a wide range of facilities to support businesses of all sizes:

Office Spaces

Modern office spaces equipped with the latest technology. JAFZA offers various office solutions, including flexi-desks, serviced offices, and dedicated office units. Office spaces are designed to meet the needs of different businesses, from startups to large corporations.


High-quality warehouses for storage and distribution. JAFZA’s warehouses are equipped with advanced security systems, climate control, and easy access to transportation networks. These facilities are ideal for businesses involved in logistics, manufacturing, and distribution.

Industrial Units

Customizable industrial units for manufacturing activities. JAFZA’s industrial units are designed to accommodate a wide range of manufacturing processes, from light assembly to heavy industrial production. The units are equipped with essential utilities and infrastructure to support efficient operations.

Retail Outlets

Spaces for retail businesses to operate within the free zone. JAFZA offers retail spaces in strategic locations, providing businesses with high visibility and foot traffic. Retail outlets benefit from the free zone’s diverse customer base and vibrant business environment.


Affordable and flexible workspace solutions for startups and small businesses. Flexi-desks provide a cost-effective option for businesses that require a professional work environment without the commitment of a long-term lease. Flexi-desk packages typically include access to shared facilities and business support services.

JAFZA Business Setup Packages

JAFZA offers various business setup packages tailored to meet the needs of different types of businesses:

Standard Packages

Basic packages include company registration, license issuance, and office space rental. Standard packages are designed for businesses that require essential setup services and are looking for a straightforward and cost-effective solution.

Customized Packages

Tailored packages that include additional services such as visa processing, PRO services, and accounting support. Customized packages are ideal for businesses with specific requirements and those seeking comprehensive support throughout the setup process.

Startup Packages

Special packages designed for startups, offering flexible payment plans and affordable office solutions. Startup packages provide new businesses with the resources and support needed to establish a presence in JAFZA and grow their operations.

Expansion Packages

This is for established businesses looking to expand their operations within JAFZA. Expansion packages include additional office or warehouse space, increased employee visas, and other services to support business growth.

JAFZA Business Setup Services

Setting up a business in JAFZA is made easier with a range of professional services:

Consultancy Services

Expert advice on business setup, legal requirements, and market entry strategies. Consultancy services help businesses navigate the complexities of setting up in JAFZA and ensure compliance with all regulations.

Legal Services

Assistance with drafting legal documents and ensuring compliance with JAFZA regulations. Legal services include the preparation of a Memorandum of Association (MOA), Articles of Association (AOA), and other necessary documentation.

PRO Services

PRO services handle government-related processes such as visa applications, license renewals, and document attestation. They streamline administrative procedures and save businesses time and effort.

Accounting Services

Comprehensive accounting and bookkeeping services to manage financial records. Accounting services ensure that businesses maintain accurate and compliant financial statements, facilitating smooth operations and financial planning.

GCS Group: Your Partner for Business Setup in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)

Setting up a company in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) offers numerous advantages, from strategic location and tax benefits to flexible business solutions and support services. By following the outlined steps and leveraging the available resources, you can successfully establish and grow your business in this thriving economic hub.

At GCS Group, we specialize in helping businesses set up in JAFZA. Our expert consultants provide end-to-end assistance, ensuring a seamless and efficient business setup process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your business goals in JAFZA.

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