Dubai Business Directory
Virtual Office in Dubai
Virtual Office is a concept meant for individuals or SMEs who wish to keep costs as low as possible. It is designed for those in need of accessibility to office space and business services as and when needed. A virtual office set-up is a cost-effective solution for small businesses planning to relocate their business or even for those planning to work from home.
Virtual Office set up is a minimal set up that provides the investor a business license to legally operate as a business, open a corporate bank account and get a UAE residence visa. Usually, virtual offices are set up by freelancers with limited financial resources and minimal staff requirements. To put it in short, Virtual office gives you the option of owning a prestigious business address, without investing on traditional office space.
Lately, Dubai has grown to be a popular jurisdiction in setting up virtual offices for businessmen and SMEs, aiming to support their business activities. However, Free Zones in Dubai, do not offer this type of set up. Dubai Free Zones require physical office space within the free zone boundaries, as they prefer established companies with solid track record, rather than individual small type investors. Hence, only Free Zones in the Northern Emirates offer the cost-effective minimal set-up of virtual office, with majority of them even having waived the share capital requirement.
Just as the name indicates, Virtual Office comes without physical office space. But, as per the current laws in the UAE, it is mandatory for every business to have a commercial space. The free zones in Dubai that are offering Virtual Office set ups provide business centers with hot desks, wherein, the clients can visit as and when they wish, taking up whatever space is available at that time. In fact, some virtual offices at free zones also provide conference room facilities that can be hired on an hourly basis.
In a virtual office set-up, you can work either from your residence, or anywhere else, but, you are not allowed to use home/residential address in your business cards or on your website, as it is against the law.
Other Rules for a Virtual Office set-up
Every Free Zone operates by their own rules and regulations, and accepts tenants that are directly registered with them. In case you wish to switch from one free zone to another, the company will have to terminate the whole process, and will have to restart again with another free zone. Therefore, it would be good to have a clear idea of the business its expansion plans that you intend to do, and as to when it may outgrow the virtual set up.
In case, your business activity has been registered as a service based business, you can work with any other company in the UAE (free zone or mainland). As per the law, if you own an E-Office Trading License, you may have to appoint a service agent, wherein 51% of that company will have to be owned by an Emirati. Thereafter you can event import/export goods within the UAE mainland.
Usually the free zone would require at least half a page description on the proposed business to check it complies with their respective regulations. While some only offer virtual office set ups for service companies, other offer E-Office Trading Solutions too.
The fee for Virtual Office, vary from one free zone to another. The cheapest may be worth Dh.25,000 p.a., permitting a maximum of two visas. This is inclusive of business license and registration fee for a year. Usually, no specific physical office space is given. However, some free zones offer business centre amenities with hot-desks on a first-come-first serve basis. In such cases, the minimum fee may begin at Dh.35,000 p.a. with maximum of 4 visas permitted. The number of visas depends on the free zone chosen. The usual range is from 1 to maximum of 5 visas per company. In case more is required, the company will have to rent a physical office space within the free zone limits.
Family sponsorship with Virtual Office set-up
The investor of the Virtual Office, is allowed to sponsor his family (Wife and kids) as dependants, provided, he draws a minimum salary of Dh.5,000 a month. He will have to produce notarized marriage and birth certificate documents with UAE consulate attestation and attestation by Ministry of Foreign Affairs too. The investor will have to first obtain his residence visa, prior to sponsoring his family. However, women are not allowed to sponsor their children, unless if they are divorced, and have the approval from the biological father of the children. Women are also permitted to sponsor their children, in the event of death of their father.
Types of Virtual Office set-ups
There are two types of virtual office options in Dubai. One, mainly for just marketing purpose, and the other as a complete business set up.
Virtual Office for marketing purpose
This is just for marketing purposes only, with address of one of the many Dubai business centres being used for PO Box and secretarial services on a monthly basis. However, such a type of virtual office does not warrant a residence visa or corporate bank account. It is mostly used by individuals or companies, seeking to use the name “Dubai” as a marketing tool and their address on their PR material. However, it should be noted that you cannot carry on any business legally in the UAE, with such an arrangement. This will just be a virtual marketing address without any physical space and no legal set up.
Virtual Office for full business set up (E-Office / Flexi Office)
This type of virtual office set up is different from the above illustrated option. In such a set up, you would require a proper business license, an online banking facility, corporate bank account, currency accounts and cheque book. The investor can seek residence visa, following successful completion of company registration.
However, the Dubai Virtual Office set up is licensed only through Northern Emirates Free Zone. Some of them maintain business centres in Dubai where they operate their business. Such a set up is called a full business set up, and requires a small business plan. Sometimes, free zones licensing this type of small businesses, request for proof of share capital, which would be in the range Dh.100,000 to Dh.185,000.
Dormant virtual office
Some people prefer Dormant Virtual Office in Dubai, wherein, they will be offered a business address in Dubai either for invoicing purpose only, or a Dubai business fax number, or Dubai business telephone number, all for invoicing purposes only.
Advantages of Virtual Office set-ups
There are several advantages of Virtual Office set ups, such as owning a prestigious corporate mailing address with mail receipt and distribution, personalized telephone reception services offering dedicated phone number and voice mall, preferred access to offices and conference rooms across the globe, access to executive lounges and cyber cafes.
Dubai Virtual Office is an excellent way to support Company formation, facilitate company’s trade with customers in Dubai, and open corporate bank account. Setting up a virtual office in Dubai can also support international company incorporation. For instance, in some countries, it is necessary to obtain an office lease as part of the incorporation process. Therefore, establishing a virtual office could be an ideal, cost-effective solution to such a statutory requirement.
Virtual offices provide your company with local identity and office address, and assist your firm to trade efficiently with local customers and suppliers.
Consultants for virtual office set-ups
If you plan to go through the procedure of setting up a virtual office yourself, the process can be very time consuming. Else, you can book a comprehensive consulting session with a consulting company, to help you with all relevant information regarding prices, and other ways to deal with the inherent paperwork.