Commercial Banks in the UAE are divided into two major categories – Locally Incorporated Banks and Branches of Foreign Banks. There are 23 Locally Incorporated Banks and 28 Branches of Foreign Banks that operate in the UAE (as at 2016). All banks are regulated by the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates, which is tasked with ensuring the financial soundness of these institutions.
Opening a company bank account in Dubai/UAE:
A company – be it onshore or offshore – will require a bank account to undertake any kind of business. Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE is a relatively straightforward procedure for UAE Mainland Companies. However, customer identification requirements may vary depending upon the size and activity of the business.
The financial Institution will request information detailing the legal existence of the entity. Companies that are owned by corporate entities will need to provide a full set of corporate documents in order to identify the management and ultimate beneficial ownership of the structure. In most cases, these documents will need to be notarised/legalised in their country of origin and again in the UAE.
Global initiatives against tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing in the past decade have obliged the Central Bank to impose enhanced customer due diligence procedures on financial institutions that open accounts for Offshore Companies. As a result, banks have had to adopt a risk-based approach to account opening. The financial institution must further understand the customer’s primary business areas, the anticipated volume of currency and total deposits, the level of revenues and its main customers and suppliers.
How can Sovereign assist?
Sovereign Corporate Services Dubai can guide you through the process and help you prepare all necessary documentation to facilitate an account application. Our fees for attending to the account opening procedures start from US$1,500. This would not include the costs of preparing any additional notarised documentation that a particular bank may require.
Documents required to open a corporate bank account in the UAE:
- Company Trade Licence;
- Certificate of Registration;
- Share Certificate(s);
- Company Memorandum & Articles of Association;
- Board Resolution empowering a Company Officer to open the account;
- Passport copies for shareholders and authorised signatories.
*Required documents will vary depending on the bank and the corporate structure of the company. Companies with corporate shareholders that are outside the UAE will be required to notarise and attest all parent company documents in the country of origin and again in the UAE.
UAE Banking Services – FAQs
- Can a non-resident open a company/personal bank account in the UAE?
Yes, in most cases. However, banks will often limit the facilities available to the company/individual. Typically, they will only allow the use of an internet banking facility for online transfers. The majority of banks will not provide credit or debit cards for non-residents.
- Are there any minimum holding requirements for banks in the UAE?
Most local banks require a minimum balance to be maintained, which can vary dependent upon the particular bank and the particular type of account. Banks typically require the account to maintain an average monthly balance between AED 20,000 (approx. US$ 5500) and AED 150,000. If the average balance falls below the required amount, a nominal fee will be charged to the account.
- How long does it take to open a bank account in the UAE?
There is no set timeframe for this process. Each bank has its own internal procedure and timeframe for account opening. It generally takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks to open a bank account for an LLC or Free Zone company in the UAE. However, this is not guaranteed (especially in respect of Offshore Companies) because each application is subject to a bank’s internal compliance and management approval.
- Which banks do you work with?
We work with the majority of commercial banks in the UAE. We also work with a number of local private banks. If your company does not require a local bank, we also work with a number of international banks in the Caribbean (St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Mauritius, Malta, Isle of Man, Singapore and Qatar. All these banks provide multi-currency accounts, banking via the Internet, telephone or fax. Debit cards are available from most banks that we represent, depending on the type of account.
- Do I need to meet the banker in person?
Yes, but only in the case of the account being opened in the UAE. We have agreements with offshore banks where we obtain the client’s signatures and verify their authenticity. However, all the information and documents required by the bank will have to be provided by the client.
- If Sovereign provides corporate director services for my company, how can I control and operate the bank account?
As a corporate director of your company, Sovereign must assert full control of the company’s bank accounts. We provide multiple authorised signatories to the account to make sure your banking requirements are fulfilled, even if your dedicated administrator is on leave. This relationship between the beneficial owner and the corporate director is regulated by our standard Terms and Conditions of business. The authorised signatories will never act on their own accord. They will only act on receipt of express written consent and instructions from the beneficial owner.