When setting up a business, one of the initial steps is to open a corporate bank account in Dubai. Fortunately, for foreign entrepreneurs, the UAE government has been sincere in its efforts to facilitate overseas investment and boost business activity locally. Its measures to strengthen the financial sector have created financial services of a global standard being offered to business owners.
As of June 2019, there are 22 locally incorporated banks in Dubai. Moreover, there are 27 branches of regional and international banks in the UAE, most of which have a presence in Dubai. With about 45 banks to choose from, new investors looking to register a business in Dubai must carefully select a bank that supports their business needs.
When opening a business in UAE and choosing a corporate bank account, you should be mindful of the varying differences in banking rates and policies, such as minimum balance requirements, between institutions. Fortunately, for new investors, banks are more lenient towards startups and their policies are usually less restrictive for small and medium businesses.
The process of opening a corporate bank account is similar across different institutions. Below is a breakdown of how the corporate bank account opening process occurs:
Generally speaking, opening a corporate bank account requires the presence of the director or another major shareholder in the company. This applicant must submit a complete set of documents as evidence of his or her statements about the company structure and management team.
This document set includes, but is not limited to:
Passport, visa and Emirates ID of the company’s shareholder representative
Passport of the company director
Information about the activities expected on the account
Disclosure of the source of funds
Any existing contracts, reference letters from business partners
Complete set of certified company incorporation documents, memorandum and articles
Certificate of incorporation
company extract (from the official companies registry), and
Certificate of good standing.
After the documents are received, the bank initiates a process of vetting the background of the business’s management team. This includes the company director and major shareholders.
This information gathering begins with a standard ‘Know Your Customer (KYC)’ check, in which the bank confirms the identity of the customers, understands the nature of their business activities to verify legality and assesses risks, such as money laundering and/or other fraudulent activities.
The bank then proceeds to an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) check, which is similar but more focused on ensuring that the applicant is not investing on behalf of other undeclared parties. If the applicant is American, the banks may be required to report their assets to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under the FACTA agreement.
The final step in the account opening process is an interview with the applicant to back up information collected during their documents submission and verification. Once those stages are complete, the corporate account can be opened.