Representative Offices

Branches & Representative Offices of Foreign Companies
The Companies Law covers the regulation of branches and representative offices of foreign companies conducting commercial activities in the UAE.

Foreign companies registering a branch or a representative office in U.A.E. may be 100 per cent foreign owned, but are required to appoint a national service agent who must be a UAE national or a company 100 per cent owned by UAE nationals. The service agent’s obligations are restricted to the provision of certain services necessary for the company to become licensed, and he bears no responsibility, financial or otherwise. In return for providing services such as the obtaining of visas, labor cards etc., the national agent can expect to receive either a fixed annual sum and/or a percentage of the profits or turnover of the company. Representative offices are not permitted to carry on trading activities as their principal purpose is to represent the interests of the overseas company. Branch offices are technically capable of trading and importing goods although such licenses are usually issued with an endorsement not entitling them to trade which effectively makes them the same as a representative office. Accordingly, the company’s trading activities in the UAE must usually be conducted through the appointment of a local distributor / commercial agent. The main requirements for establishment of a branch or representative office of a foreign commercial company in Abu Dhabi are as follows:

  • Application must be submitted to the UAE Federal Ministry of Economy & Commerce Department of Economic Development for approval for registration in the Register of Foreign Companies.
  • The Ministry will forward the application to the Federal Foreign Companies Committee for approval of the company’s proposed activities in the UAE.
  • If the application is approved it is then referred to the licensing section of the Department of Planning and Economy of Abu Dhabi for issue of a license covering the company’s approved activities.
  • The branch or representative office must also be issued with a Commercial Registration Certificate and should also be registered with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Various documents, including a Service Agency Agreement, notarized, legalized and consularised where appropriate, must be submitted in support of the foreign company’s application, and various fees will be payable in connection with the requisite licensing and registration procedures.

Documentation

  • Contract agreement with a services agent holding the UAE nationality. The agreement must be duly authenticated by the Notary Public. 
  • Submission of a duly attested "Undertaking" issued by the mother country pledging to bear any financial liabilities on behalf of its branches in the UAE.
  • Duly attested decision taken by the concerned administrative body at the mother Company confirming willingness to open a branch in Dubai.
  • Duly attested official certificate issued by the competent authority at the country in which the foreign company is registered. The certificate must state for the company registration; legal status; capital; names; capacities and powers of its representatives.
  • Duly attested facsimiles of the mother company’s letter of incorporation and articles of association.
  • Latest duly attested balance sheets of at least two financial years accredited by the mother company, along with auditor report: profit/loss accounts and other balance sheet-related explanations.
  • Statement, showing main operations and activities practiced by the foreign company outside the UAE, and accounting for its previously accumulated experiences.
  • Duly attested power of attorney in favor of the Company’s representative in Dubai, along with his passport photocopy and personal photograph. 
  • Passport photocopy and personal photograph of the national services agent if he is a natural person. In case he is a legal entity, an official certificate confirming that all partners are UAE nationality holders should be attached along with copies of issued licenses.
  • Statement showing the number of employees expected to be recruited in the company branch in Abu Dhabi.
  • Bank guarantee in favor of the Ministry of Economy of AED 50,000.
  • All documents should be translated into Arabic by an authorized legal translator and duly attested by the UAE Ministry of Justice. All the documents should be submitted in two sets in separate files with a divider between two documents.