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United Arab Emirates (Ras al Khaimah)

Ras al Khaimah, a thriving emirate within the United Arab Emirates, offers a dynamic and investor-friendly environment for businesses.

United Arab Emirates (Ras al Khaimah)

Company incorporation United Arab Emirates, Ras al Khaimah

Ras al Khaimah, commonly referred to as RAK, is one of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Known for its strategic location, advanced infrastructure, and pro-business policies, RAK presents a lucrative proposition for entrepreneurs and businesses globally. Coupled with its rich cultural heritage, the emirate also offers a modern business environment that aligns with international standards, making it an optimal choice for investors looking to expand their footprint in the Middle East.

Country Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Language Arabic (official) (90%)
English (widely spoken, especially in business and tourism) (10%)
Time in Ras al Khaimah GMT+4
Population 9.3 million (2021)
Currency UAE Dirham (د.إ, AED)
Religion Islam (predominant)
Tax regime 0% income tax regime for individuals. However, certain corporate taxes are applied to foreign banks and oil companies
VAT 5%
Overage salary 168,100 AED (World Salaries)
Types of incorporations Company Limited by Share (CLS)
Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)
Unlimited Company (UC)

Why opening a company in Ras al Khaimah?

Opening a company in Ras al Khaimah offers several strategic advantages. The emirate’s geographic location, coupled with its robust infrastructure and free trade agreements, makes it an ideal hub for businesses targeting both Eastern and Western markets. Additionally, the favorable tax regime and business-friendly policies appeal to a wide range of entrepreneurs, particularly those seeking cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality or compliance.


Setting up a company in Ras al Khaimah (RAK) can offer businesses a myriad of benefits. Below are some of the distinct advantages to consider:

Advantages Details
Strategic Location Acts as a bridge between East and West, enabling easy access to major global markets. Ras al Khaimah is strategically positioned close to key international trade routes and prominent shipping lines, acting as a central hub for the shipping, manufacturing, and trading sectors.
Favorable Tax Regime No personal income taxes and competitive corporate tax rates for certain sectors. The absence of personal income tax and the negligible corporate tax rates for most sectors make it a financially attractive place for startups and established enterprises.
Robust Economic Landscape: Diversified Economy: RAK has been consistently diversifying its economy, reducing its reliance on oil. Sectors like tourism, manufacturing, and real estate have witnessed substantial growth. The stable political climate in RAK ensures a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
Skilled Workforce Access to a pool of qualified, professional, and skilled human resources, thanks to the UAE’s focus on education and skills development. Easier recruitment, less spending on training, and higher productivity.
Cost-Effective Business Operations Competitive Setup and Operational Costs: Relative to many global business hubs, RAK offers lower costs in terms of registration, licensing, and even rentals. Affordable Labor: The labor market in RAK provides access to a diverse, skilled, and cost-effective workforce.
Free Zones Dedicated zones offering special incentives and facilities for various sectors.


While Ras al Khaimah offers numerous advantages, potential investors should also be aware of certain challenges.

Disadvantages Details
Cost of Living While not as high as in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the cost of living can still be significant, affecting both employers and employees. May increase overhead costs such as salaries and benefits to attract quality talent.
High Competition The ease of doing business attracts many players, leading to a saturated or highly competitive market in certain sectors. Could lead to increased marketing spends and reduced profit margins.
Cultural Differences Foreign businesses might need to adapt to local cultural norms and business etiquettes, which may be quite different from Western practices. A potential learning curve, and cultural missteps could impact business relations.
Limited Natural Resources Despite diversification efforts, there is still a dependence on oil and gas sectors. Economic sensitivity to fluctuations in oil and gas markets.

Most popular sectors to set up a company in Ras al Khaimah

Ras al Khaimah has identified several key sectors for growth, including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, and renewable energy. The emirate’s focus on diversifying its economy and reducing dependence on oil has led to significant investments in these sectors, offering numerous opportunities for businesses.

Fiscal system in Ras al Khaimah

The fiscal system in Ras al Khaimah, as part of the UAE, is one of the most attractive in the world, characterized by its simplicity and pro-business orientation.


The taxation landscape in Ras al Khaimah is favorable for businesses and individuals. The emirate, in line with the broader UAE policies, does not impose personal income tax. Furthermore, most businesses, except foreign banks and oil companies, are not subject to corporate tax. However, companies should be aware of the federal tax regime, particularly regarding Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Tax. Specialized zones, such as Free Zones in Ras al Khaimah, offer additional fiscal incentives and benefits to attract global investors. Additionally, the UAE has an extensive network of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with various countries, ensuring that businesses operating in Ras al Khaimah do not suffer from double taxation on foreign income.

VAT in Ras al Khaimah

The UAE introduced a Value Added Tax (VAT) regime in 2018 at a standard rate of 5%. Businesses with a turnover exceeding a specified threshold are required to register for VAT. It is a consumption tax levied on the sale of goods and services. While most goods and services fall under the standard rate, some are zero-rated or exempt, such as basic food items, healthcare, and education.

CFC Rules

The UAE, including Ras al Khaimah, does not have specific Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules. However, it’s essential to monitor any regulatory updates or changes.


Local director

In Ras al Khaimah’s mainland, companies are generally required to have a local sponsor or partner, who would typically act as a local director. However, in Free Zones, there is no such requirement.

Local secretary

There is no specific requirement for businesses in Ras al Khaimah to appoint a local secretary. However, it is always advisable to check any specific regulations in the chosen business jurisdiction or sector.

Annual return

Companies in Ras al Khaimah are required to maintain their financial records, but there isn’t a universal requirement to file an annual return. However, regulations might differ based on the specific business jurisdiction and sector.

Audited accounts

Free Zone companies in Ras al Khaimah typically need to submit audited financial statements annually. However, this requirement may not apply universally across all sectors and jurisdictions within the emirate.

Company types in United Arab Emirates (Ras al Khaimah)

Company Limited by Share (CLS)

Type Designations Minimum Share Capital Taxes
CLS Ltd., Limited As defined by the articles of association 0%

A Company Limited by Share (CLS) is a popular choice among investors and business owners in the United Arab Emirates (Ras al Khaimah) due to its favorable regulatory framework and financial benefits. The primary appeal of this type of incorporation is its limited liability feature, where the shareholders’ liability is restricted to the amount of capital they have invested in the company.

Entrepreneurs often opt for a CLS structure as it provides a sense of security and minimizes personal financial risks. Furthermore, the corporate governance and operational flexibility offered by a CLS are conducive to both small and large scale business operations. The ability to raise capital through the sale of shares is another compelling advantage, allowing for the infusion of fresh funds which can be pivotal for business growth and expansion.

The 0% tax regime in Ras al Khaimah is a significant incentive, attracting a myriad of businesses to incorporate as a CLS. This tax-friendly environment, coupled with a straightforward incorporation process, makes a CLS an attractive option for business ventures in various sectors.

Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)

Type Designations Minimum Share Capital Taxes
CLG (Guarantee) Limited N/A 0%

A Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) is often the go-to choice for non-profit organizations, societies, and other charitable entities. Unlike a CLS, a CLG does not have a share capital or shareholders. Instead, it has members who act as guarantors and agree to contribute a predetermined sum to cover the company’s liabilities in case of dissolution.

The lack of a share capital structure makes a CLG a unique entity, promoting a sense of community and shared responsibility among its members. This type of incorporation is tailored to suit the needs of organizations where profit is not the motive, and the primary focus is on promoting a specific cause or community benefit.

Similar to a CLS, a CLG benefits from the 0% tax regime in Ras al Khaimah, which is an enticing feature for non-profit entities looking to maximize the allocation of resources towards their cause. The legal structure and regulatory compliance of a CLG ensure transparency and accountability, fostering trust and credibility among stakeholders and the community at large.

Unlimited Company (UC)

Type Designations Minimum Share Capital Taxes
UC Unlimited N/A 0%

Unlimited Companies (UC) are quite uncommon yet they have their place in the corporate landscape of Ras al Khaimah. In a UC, there is no limit to the members’ liability, which means that personal assets of the members could be used to cover the company’s liabilities.

This form of incorporation is suitable for business owners who have a high risk tolerance and are confident in their business operations. It’s often chosen by those who wish to have a closer financial relationship with the business, as it allows for greater freedom in managing the company’s capital.

The absence of a minimum share capital requirement provides a low barrier to entry, making it accessible for smaller or newly established enterprises. Like other types of companies in Ras al Khaimah, a UC also enjoys a 0% tax rate which can be financially beneficial in the long run. The simplified regulatory framework and ease of setting up a UC can be attractive to certain business ventures, despite the inherent risks associated with the unlimited liability feature.

Common Questions

Are there any free zones in Ras al Khaimah?

Yes, Ras al Khaimah boasts several free zones catering to various business activities. The Ras al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is a prominent free zone that offers a wide range of customizable solutions for businesses. In these free zones, businesses can enjoy 100% foreign ownership, full capital repatriation, and exemption from import and export duties.

Is it mandatory to have a local partner or sponsor in Ras al Khaimah?

For Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) set up outside the free zones, it is mandatory to have a local sponsor who holds at least 51% of the company’s shares. However, in the free zones, foreign investors can own 100% of their business.

How long does it take to set up a company in Ras al Khaimah?

The duration to set up a company in Ras al Khaimah varies based on the type of business and where it’s located (free zone or mainland). Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, provided all the necessary documents are in order and approvals are obtained promptly.

Are there any restrictions on the business activities I can engage in?

While Ras al Khaimah offers a wide range of business activities for entrepreneurs, certain activities, especially those related to banking, finance, and insurance, are regulated and might require additional approvals or are restricted to specific business structures.

What are the primary costs associated with setting up a business in Ras al Khaimah?

The costs can vary based on the type of business, its location, and the scale of operations. Typically, costs include business licensing fees, visa fees, office space rent (if applicable), and other miscellaneous government charges. It’s advisable to get a detailed breakdown from the relevant authorities or business consultants before setting up.

How is the banking system in Ras al Khaimah for foreign businesses?

Ras al Khaimah boasts a robust and modern banking system, conducive for foreign businesses. Several international and local banks offer corporate banking services, making it easy for businesses to open corporate bank accounts, conduct transactions, and avail various banking facilities. Many banks also offer online banking services, ensuring easy financial management for businesses.

Can I hire foreign employees for my company in Ras al Khaimah?

Yes, businesses in Ras al Khaimah can hire foreign employees. However, they must obtain the appropriate work permits and visas for them. The emirate provides a streamlined process for obtaining employment visas, making it easier for businesses to bring in skilled labor from other countries.

Are there any double taxation agreements in place?

The UAE, including Ras al Khaimah, has double taxation treaties with numerous countries globally. These agreements prevent businesses and individuals from being taxed in both their home country and the UAE, encouraging foreign investment and ensuring businesses aren’t unfairly taxed.

How does intellectual property protection work in Ras al Khaimah?

Ras al Khaimah, as part of the UAE, is committed to protecting intellectual property rights. The country has stringent laws in place to safeguard trademarks, patents, copyrights, and designs. They are also a signatory to various international IP conventions, ensuring global businesses that their intellectual assets are protected.

What is the infrastructure like for businesses, especially in the tech and manufacturing sectors?

Ras al Khaimah has been investing heavily in its infrastructure. For tech companies, there’s state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, high-speed internet, and tech parks. Manufacturing companies can benefit from industrial zones, easy access to ports, and a network of well-maintained roads for logistics and transportation.

Can I own real estate or office space for my business in Ras al Khaimah?

Foreign businesses set up in the free zones of Ras al Khaimah can lease or own office spaces within those zones. In certain designated areas, foreign nationals and companies can also purchase real estate. However, it’s essential to consult with local real estate experts to understand ownership rights and regulations fully.

Are there specific sectors or industries that the government of Ras al Khaimah is particularly encouraging?

Ras al Khaimah’s government is keen on promoting several sectors, including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, and technology. They offer incentives, grants, and support programs for businesses in these sectors, aiming to diversify their economy and promote sustainable growth.

How is the judicial system, and how does it cater to business disputes in Ras al Khaimah?

Ras al Khaimah, being part of the UAE, has a comprehensive judicial system that adheres to international standards. The emirate ensures that business disputes are handled efficiently, with specialized commercial courts dealing with business-related cases, ensuring a fair and expedited resolution process.

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