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Business Setup in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is quick, easy, and rid of unnecessary red tape. Still, there is a process that needs to be followed in order to complete the company formation. The free zone is consistently ranked by local and foreign entrepreneurs and investors as one of the greatest places in the world to conduct business.

Step 1: Have the name of the company approved

Prior to the registration of the company with the free zone authority, it first has to have its name approved by the Abu Dhabi Dept. of Economic Development. The name approval can be a long, complicated, and tedious process. Take note: the name of the company has to follow certain guidelines, including the following:

  • The company name must not be vulgar or obscene;
  • The company name should not be one that’s reserved for another company;
  • The name of the company must not be infringing on the rights of a trademark holder;
  • The company name must not be similar or identical to existing businesses in the country;
  • Any word that is deemed unappropriated shouldn’t be used;
  • Abbreviations that can’t be justified aren’t allowed;
  • Words like Trust, Banking, Government, Financial, Royal, Insurance, Assurance, and the like aren’t allowed;
  • Cities and countries aren’t to be mentioned in the name of the company

As soon as you’ve received the approval of the authorities on the name of your company, then you can start with the process of business registration in ADGM.

What we always advise businesses and entrepreneurs planning on setting up a business in the country is to come up with several different names for the company. This will ensure that there are enough choices for you when your number one choice gets rejected by Abu Dhabi DED.

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Step 2: Gather the documents for company registration

After the DED sends a notification on the approval of the company name, you should then gather the requirements for business setup in ADGM. This includes the following:

  • Company constitution or articles of association. There is an option for companies to adopt ADGM standard company constitution. It’s acceptable for most businesses and consists of conditions and terms which are considered to be reasonable and fair for all the parties involved with the company registration.
  • Written and signed consent in acting as the company director
  • Identification for every officer or shareholder of the company
  • Written and signed consent in acting as the company’s secretary

Verification of the identification cards provided by the parties involved will be done by authorities. If possible, provide a professional background for officers and stakeholders of the proposed business for quicker approval of company formation in ADGM. The exact list for the requirements can vary, as per the discretion of ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market). All documents that are not in Arabic are to be officially translated into the Arabic language.

Supporting documents that the compliance team will ask from a proposed company can include the following:

For individual shareholders:

  • Residency card (copy and original)
  • Valid passport (copy and original)
  • Residential address proof

For corporate shareholders:

  • Certificate of registration that is issued by the registrar of a jurisdiction wherein the corporate entity is registered;
  • A company extract that is issued by the company registrar of a jurisdiction wherein the corporate entity is registered (should crucial information such as the name of the company, registration number, registered address, paid-up capital, particulars of the directors and shareholders, and business activities which the business is engaged in);
  • Authorized person resolution that is passed by the company directors of the company (should include authorization in holding shares in the company that will be formed in ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market), the appointment of a person that will be authorized in singing the documents for company formation on behalf of the shareholding company)

Step 3: Submit the requirements to the free zone authority

Submit the documents that you have gathered. In rare cases, with a company that has to get the approval of another government agency and get vetted further, the company registration process will take a longer period of time to complete. When the free zone authorities provide their approval for the registration of the proposed company, it will be issued with a certificate of registration.

There are other tasks that the independent free zone authority may ask for a business to carry out in order to be approved to operate in its jurisdiction. This can include the application of trade or business permits, opening a corporate bank account dedicated to the business in ADGM, and applying for the most suitable visa among others.