Opening a business bank account in most countries is a straightforward process, especially if you’re choosing a bank account without bells and whistles. In the UAE, however, things are not as simple.
While the UAE has done much to make the process of moving and setting up a business in the UAE more straightforward, opening a bank account is not. You must abide by the UAE Central Bank’s strict compliance procedures.
Today, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to open a bank account in the UAE.
How to Open a Business Bank Account in the UAE
Once you’ve set up your UAE company, you can move on to the next step which is opening a business bank account.
There are two ways to open a business bank account in the UAE – you can open the bank account in person or remotely. However, note that your physical presence is required before your account will be opened.
If you are in the UAE, you can physically go to meet a bank representative, sign your application forms, and submit the necessary documents.
If you are not currently in the UAE, you can start the process remotely. You will need to meet a bank representative online in a meeting or over the phone. After your application is approved, you’ll need to physically go to the bank in the UAE to personally sign the account opening form.
We’ll go into more detail about what you need to open a business bank account in the UAE below, but here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Decide which bank is the best fit for your business (you may need some expert help to ensure you choose the right one)
- Gather the documents you need to apply for a business bank account (you can find a full list below)
- Complete an application form and meet with a bank representative
- They will compile a report and approve or decline your application
- Sign the bank account opening form
- Your business bank account will be opened
How long does it take to open a bank account in the UAE?
From start to finish, it takes 2-4 weeks. The more complex the application, the longer it is likely to take.
What bank should I open a business bank account with in the UAE?
There are now online banks offering business bank accounts in the UAE, and while many online banks have established themselves well in other countries, we believe they need more time to establish themselves in the complicated market.
At this point in time, relying on an online bank may be a fatal mistake. While they offer simplicity, the fact that they are difficult to reach for help is more trouble than it’s worth. In the UAE, we still recommend that you work with proven banks that can offer you reliable service, with branches you can walk into to speak to someone if you need to.
Each bank has its own eligibility requirements, which may include a minimum monthly balance, an initial deposit, and/or a requirement for someone in the organization to have a current or savings account. Here are some examples of the minimum balance requirements of some of the biggest banks (in AED and USD):
- Emirates NBD: AED 50,000 – 300,000 ($13,650 – $81,680)
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank: AED 25,000 – 1,000,000 ($6,850 – $272,500)
- Mashreq Bank: AED 25,000 – 150,000 – ($6,850 – $40,000)
- United Arab Bank: AED 10,000 ($2,750)
- First Gulf Bank: AED 20,000 ($5,500)
We can guide you on which bank will be the best fit for your company based on your activities, expected turnover, initial funds, and more.
Can I open a business bank account myself in the UAE?
While it is possible to open a bank account without the guidance of another company, you need to understand that the process is complicated and is rarely as straightforward as it is made out to be.
We liken the process of applying for a business bank account to job applications. You’ll apply on paper, followed by one or more appointments which are much like interviews, after which the banker will prepare a KYC and AML report about your company. These reports are then sent to the central bank, where they will pass through various departments until the application is approved or denied.
The banks want you to be absolutely ready to do business – in other words, you need to have everything figured out on paper before you apply. Without the guidance of experts like us, you may find your application is denied or disqualified.
Why is opening a business bank account in the UAE difficult?
The UAE fines banks if they do not do their due diligence and ensure any business they take on will not break compliance or sanctions. They need to be sure that they understand where your money will be coming from and ensure you will not be dealing with sanctioned countries. Since banks need to be so rigorous and cannot be automated, the process often goes slowly.
Many banks now have a preference over which jurisdiction your business is formed in, or have more due diligence requirements for certain free zones. Many also have additional requirements for free zone businesses undertaking certain business activities. Those opening mainland businesses generally find things go more smoothly, but mainland businesses are not often the right choice for entrepreneurs making the move to the UAE.
We can advise you on which free zone to choose before forming your business to ensure it matches well with your business purpose, or help you find the right bank if you have already formed your business.
What do I need to open a business bank account in the UAE?
To open a business bank account in the UAE, you’ll need:
- A copy of your CV (resume)
- A copy of your passport and any other shareholders (you should have the real one with you when you attend the bank in person)
- A copy of your visa
- A copy of your Emirates ID
- Your original company incorporation documents, plus a copy
- Your company’s trade license
- A letter from the board giving you permission to open a corporate account, if necessary
- Share certificate(s)
- Utility bill to prove your current address
- If your company already operates elsewhere, you’ll need to bring 6 months’ bank statements
You’ll also need to supply us with a business plan, which should include:
- What your company will be doing
- Who will be involved in running the company and their experience
- Your business development plan
- Your business’s financial plan
- List of current or potential partners (international and regional in the UAE)
- List of current or potential customers (including the primary country they operate from)
- Any current contracts with business partners and suppliers (these contracts must be supplied in English)
The bank will ask you questions about how the business will be run, including questions about how to plan to receive payment. For example, will you be paid through other payment providers, such as PayPal or Stripe, or will you be paid directly?
Don’t worry about trying to do all of this now – we can guide you through.
Can you open a multi-currency business bank account in the UAE?
Yes, many banks will allow you to hold major currencies, including AED, USD, GBP, CHF, and Euros.
What does it cost to open a business bank account in the UAE?
Banks in the UAE do not charge setup fees for opening a new business account, but there is often a minimum balance you need to maintain in the account or an initial deposit amount. For accounts that require a minimum balance, there is often a penalty if the balance dips below that amount. Most of the time, the minimum balance is between AED 50,000 and AED 500,000.
Work with Us to Set Up Your Business Bank Account in the UAE
As discussed above, opening a business bank account in the UAE is not a straightforward process, and there are many boxes you need to tick before you’ll have an operational bank account. While your physical presence is necessary for some of the steps, we can help ensure all the steps go smoothly and liaise with the bank when necessary.
We’ll help you decide which bank is best for you, prepare all your necessary documents, and take you through each step so you don’t make any mistakes that could result in the denial or disqualification of your application.
To find out more about how we can help you set up your bank account smoothly and without stress, click here. Don’t forget we can also help you strategize your move to the UAE and help you form your business, so if you’re still in the early stages of planning, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more guidance.