Ajman is the smallest of the UAE’s seven Emirates, enclosed entirely by the Persian Gulf and the Emirate of Sharjah. In keeping with the other Emirates, Ajman has its own regulations and incentive schemes for establishing and licensing businesses within its territory.
The Emirate’s main scheme to attract investment is its free zone, which is a strategy widely seen within the UAE and across the wider Middle East. Ajman’s Free Zone initiatives mirror the core of those found elsewhere, including permitting 100% foreign ownership and offering a one-stop-shop service for incorporation and business services.
Since Ajman and the rest of the UAE require majority local or GCC ownership, the liberalization on foreign ownership is important.
There is also no tax on profits, capital gains, personal income, imports or exports, which makes Ajman a very tax-efficient place to do business. This isn’t a specific benefit of the free zone, as the UAE generally does not impose taxes on these items. The free zone does however provide up-to-date infrastructure for businesses established there, which can be licensed for up to three activities.
Licences for Ajman Free Zone businesses
Businesses located in the Ajman Free Zone are subject to licences based on their business activities. The license categories are industrial, services and e-commerce, as well as general trading, which encompasses all business types. Single-activity business benefits from lower annual costs for space in the Free Zone’s facilities, with the highest cost being for general trading activities.
- Industrial licence: it permits manufacturing activity that is in line with local environmental standards and policies, with warehousing space available within the free zone to store inventory. If the company is majority-owned by GCC nationals and carries out at least 40% of its manufacturing within the free zone, a National Industrial License is available. This license exempts the company’s goods from customs charges in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. This scheme has helped to draw 15% of the UAE’s manufacturing to Ajman province.
- E-commerce licence: providing digital services or making sales online are caught by this type of licence, so app developers, digital marketing companies and software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses require this licence in order to be able to operate within the free zone.
- Service licence: other services like those provided by management consultants, marketing agencies, IT consultancies and other professional firms require this kind of licence, which is charged at the same rate as a three-activity licence. Service businesses are therefore able to add industrial and e-commerce activities without increasing their costs to use the free zone.
Offshore licences for Ajman companies
The Ajman free zone is rare in the Middle East for allowing businesses to register themselves without any local presence. This entitles the businesses to the no-tax environment offered by the free zone with the reputation of the UAE, but with the privacy and flexibility offered by traditional offshore arrangements. Although Ajman’s fellow Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah offers a similar scheme within its free zone, entrepreneurs and investors can benefit from Ajman’s streamlined registration process.
Starting a business in Ajman
If you are considering starting a business in, or expanding your business to, the UAE, Healy Consultants Group PLC can assist you with company incorporation, licensing and bank account opening in Ajman’s free zone or elsewhere in the country. To learn more, visit our page on Ajman company registration or email us at