Should I set up an offshore company?

Huge amounts of red tape could be offset by greater personal security if you're willing to try it
(Picture for illustrative purposes only)
By Staff writer
Mon 01 Oct 2012 09:51 PM

Pros: Given the UAE’s strict laws on debt, it’s well worth thinking about. Effectively this would mean your business is owned by an offshore company, which insulates you from many potential pitfalls.

Cons: A huge amount of paperwork and will cost you a fair bit upfront plus regular on-going fees.

How do I do it?

You need to get the professionals to handle this for you (see below). The first step is to choose a name for your company; they will check if it is available and where. To begin with, you need to have passport copies with visa page, two utility bills, a bank reference letter and CV.

How much will it cost?

Typically you are looking at around $2,600 for the first year and close to $1,800 in annual fees thereafter.

Do I still keep my personal UAE bank account?

Yes, but all the serious money would be kept offshore, and you simply bring back what you need.

Can I use this offshore company to buy property in the UAE?

Ah, now here’s where it gets tricky. When it comes to buying a freehold property in Dubai, it can only be owned by a Jebel Ali offshore company. But in order to avoid forced heirship under Sharia laws, it is recommended to own your Jebel Ali (JAFZA) offshore by, for example, a BVI offshore company.

Will this cost even more?

Yes. First you have to incorporate a BVI company ($1,895) and then get all the BVI company documents notarised and legalised in the UAE ($1,600). Then this BVI company sets up a JAFZA subsidiary ($5,100). Following the incorporation of JAFZA company, you will need a no objection certificate from the Jebel Ali offshore authority ($500) and from the property developer ($136) [Nakheel, Emaar] to $1,360 [Dubai Properties Group] — prices will vary depending on the developer. Once you have all these documents ready, you will be able to get the title under this JAFZA company from the Land Department in Dubai.

Who can help me sort this all out?

Take your pick from the web. Our recommendation is the Sovereign Group who seemed to be the most switched on of the ones we tried. Check out www.sovereigngroup.com.

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