There are 3 fundamentally different types of companies in the United Arab Emirates: offshore companies, onshore companies operating in the Free Trade Zones and the companies on the main territory of the UAE. Each of these types of the legal entities is governed by its own regulations with respect to all permitted and prohibited words and terms used in company names, as well as the indication of a legal form at the end of the company names.
Offshore companies in the UAE – regulations on company names
Let us start with the first type of the companies, namely the UAE offshore companies. In terms of restrictions on company names there are three groups of words: allowed, partially allowed, i.e. those requiring additional approval and prohibited ones. Allowed company names are those names that do not belong to the second or third group. It should be noted that if there is a company with the same name in the registry, the registration of another one under this name will be prohibited. In general, the UAE offshore companies registry is quite liberal concerning the company names. The company name can be both in English and in Arabic. If it has the form of an abbreviation, such abbreviation must be expanded.
The category of the prohibited names or the names which require additional approval with the registry include such words as:
- Various abbreviations that must be commented to obtain the approval.
- Financial, Insurance, Reinsurance, Assurance, Bank, Banking, Building Society.
- Chamber of Commerce, Chartered, Imperial, Municipal, Royal, Trust, Government.
- The names of countries and cities, names of religions.
- Words that do not relate to a certain line of business (for example, the use of the word “Management” together with “General Trading”).
- Words that do not follow to the traditions and culture of the UAE.
- Any other words and names that the registry may deem unacceptable.
The legal form of the limited liability companies is specified at the end of the offshore company name by means of using the words "Limited" / "Incorporated" or the abbreviations Ltd. / Inc.
Onshore companies in the UAE FTZ – regulations on company names
As to the names of the onshore companies, which are registered in the free trade zones (FTZ) of Dubai and the other Emirates of the UAE, each FTZ has its own registry and restrictions. First of all, such restrictions apply to the words, which are used to denote a particular business area. In fact, these restrictions are similar to those placed on the names of the offshore companies. However, when getting approval for the names that have restrictions, the onshore companies, unlike the offshore ones, need to get a necessary approval of the appropriate Ministry of the UAE. For example, any company using a word associated with education in the company name must obtain approval in the Ministry of Education.
The words and terms under restriction or prohibition in the company names:
- The names of the already registered companies or companies, which have been dissolved less than a year ago.
- The names similar to famous brands and company names.
- The names that do not comply with the declared activities.
- The names, which in some way can be associated with the names of public authorities.
- The name of any Emirate of the UAE.
- Words associated with finance – “bank”, “exchange office”, etc.
- General names that do not have any specifics such as "Products Trade Limited".
- The usage of country names or names of public authorities of other countries is also prohibited.
- Words that do not conform to the traditions and culture of the UAE.
- Any other names that the registry may deem unacceptable.
The legal form is specified at the end of the company name by means of the following indicators: FZE — a limited liability company with one shareholder; FZC — a limited liability company with two or more shareholders and a Branch— a representative office / subsidiary of the company.
Besides, the FTZs also have a list of terms and names, which require obtaining of an individual permit or are not allowed at all.
The name of the appropriate free trade zone is specified at the end of the company name in abbreviated form. In some FTZs this abbreviation, in fact, substitutes the reference to a form of a company. For example, the companies of the DMCC free trade zone in Dubai use only DMCC at the end of the name instead of specifying “FZE” or “FZC”. As to the form of a company – this information, in this case, can be obtained from the incorporation documents of a legal entity.
Companies on the main territory of the UAE – regulations on company names
The strictest requirements among the three categories are applied to the choice and approval of the names for Limited Liability Companies (LLC) in Dubai, the UAE. Initial checkout in the appropriate registry is required to get an approval of a company name. And if it is conformable to a name of another well-known company anywhere in the world, the registry may decline the registration of this company. Besides, the name of the legal entity must reveal the planned activity and be in line with the activity in the licence of a company. Abbreviation LLC at the end of a company name indicates the form of the limited liability company. There are also companies in the form of joint-stock companies on the main territory of the UAE. In this case, “PJSC” is specified at the end of a company name.
Summarizing all the facts mentioned above, there is no doubt, that the regulations in Dubai, the UAE with respect to the company names of the legal entities are quite tolerant, and the factual difficulties with an approval of a company name are extremely rare. We, in our turn, always pre-check the company names in the relevant registers before registration and obtaining all the necessary approvals and permits when registering companies for our clients.