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UAE: Business Closure – A Guide for Entrepreneurs

UAE: Business Closure – A Guide for Entrepreneurs


Entrepreneurs and business owners may face a complex and challenging process when closing their business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially when dealing with legal and administrative requirements. Regardless of whether the company operates on the mainland or within a free zone, it is essential to understand the necessary steps for properly closing the business to avoid any potential legal complications, penalties, or fines. In this article, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know regarding closing down your business in the UAE.


Closing a Business in the Mainland


For businesses operating in the mainland, proper closure requires several formalities and steps to ensure compliance with regulations. Here’s what you need to consider:


  1. Licence Cancellation:
    Regardless of the business type, canceling the business license and associated permits is mandatory when closing down. This process involves applying for the license cancellation through the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) in Dubai or the relevant authorities in other emirates.


  1. Formalities for Cancelling Your Licence:
  • For establishments and sole proprietorships, the process is relatively straightforward and involves applying for cancellation through the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and obtaining clearances from various governmental entities.
  • The process is more complex for companies with shares, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) or Public Joint Stock Companies (PJSCs). It requires liquidating shares, settling debts, and obtaining approvals from multiple government bodies.


  1. Visa Cancellation and Employee Termination:
    Before closing the business, it’s essential to cancel employees‘ visas and work permits, coordinate with relevant authorities like Immigration, and adhere to UAE Labour Law regarding notice periods and employee rights.


  1. Utility Services Cancellation:
    Closing a business also involves canceling utilities and telecommunication services, obtaining a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from service providers, and settling any outstanding dues.


  1. Appointment of a Liquidator:
    Specific company structures, including General Partnerships, LLCs, and PJSCs, require the appointment of a liquidator to oversee the dissolution process, including debt settlement and asset distribution.


  1. Dissolution Process: The dissolution process usually involves two stages:
  • Stage 1: This includes preparing official documentation confirming company liquidation, applying for cancellation through DET, publishing a notice of liquidation in local newspapers, and allowing debtors a grace period to submit claims through official newspapers.
  • Stage 2: Once the grace period expires, submit a declaration letter indicating no objections to cancellation, obtain approvals from relevant government bodies, and finalize cancellation with DET.


Closing a Business in a Free Zone


The closure process may vary slightly for businesses operating within a free zone but still requires adherence to specific procedures. Here’s what you need to know:


  1. Types of Closures:
    In free zones, closures may involve summary winding up, creditors winding up, or bankruptcy, each with its own set of procedures and requirements.
  2. Application for Closure:
    You’ll need to apply for closure through the respective free zone authority through their member portals, initiating the review and processing of your application.
  3. Visa Cancellation and Employee Termination:
    Before closing the business, it’s essential to cancel employees‘ visas and work permits, coordinate with relevant authorities like the Immigration and adhere to UAE Labour Law regarding notice periods and employee rights.
  4. Utility Services Cancellation:
    Closing a business also involves canceling utilities and telecommunication services, obtaining a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from service providers, and settling any outstanding dues.
  5. Appointment of a Liquidator:
    It requires the appointment of a liquidator to oversee the dissolution process, including debt settlement and asset distribution.
  6. Dissolution Process:
    This includes preparing official documentation confirming company liquidation, applying for cancellation through the member portal, publishing a notice of liquidation in local newspapers, and allowing debtors a grace period to submit claims through official newspapers.


How TME Services Can Support Your Business


Closing a business in the UAE requires careful attention to legal requirements, administrative procedures, and timelines to ensure a smooth and compliant transition. Whether operating on the mainland or within a free zone, understanding the steps involved and seeking appropriate guidance from legal experts can help mitigate risks and streamline the closure process. By adhering to regulatory guidelines and fulfilling obligations to stakeholders and authorities, you can navigate the closure process with confidence and integrity, safeguarding your business reputation and interests for future endeavors. Meeting compliance requirements reduces management liability for non-compliance, giving you the best chance to start anew.


At TME Services, our team of 45 experts is ready to help your business make the most of these opportunities. With over 18 years of experience in the UAE and the Middle East, we specialize in legal, tax, accounting, and compliance matters.

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