Rules & Regulations in the UAE To Follow When Choosing a Business Name
They say, “A name pronounced is the identification of the entity to what it belongs”, and we can’t agree more! But given a chance, a majority of people in the world would like to change their name for whatsoever reason, and many of them change it as well. But once your title becomes your identity to the world, switching to a different name is the last thing you would ever do. Naming your company is your one-and-only chance to rename your identity. It has to be right the first time.
Your business is no less than your baby. You give birth to it, you name it, you feed it, you nurture it, you raise it and when it grows up enough it starts feeding you. Coming back to naming your brainchild, you can’t choose your name but your company’s. And it has to be unique, powerful, defensible, memorable, and most importantly in line with the law of the country where the company is located. Your name is your first impression, so is the name of your business. Therefore, giving a perfect name to your business is crucial. And when you are an expat and decide to take your business beyond boundaries, you have to steel yourself to comply with the rules of the foreign country. You have to be extra careful even at the time of naming your business in the UAE despite the fact that the regulations in the UAE with respect to naming the companies are quite susceptible, and the factual elbow grease with approval of a company name is rare.
First off, it’s your business, and you have the right to pick a brand name of your choice, but here’s the rub. Every country has different rules and regulations for expat business persons to adhere to, from registering a company to paying taxes to carrying on business activities to winding up the operations. And UAE is no exception. If you aren’t cognizant of them, you can seek the help of lawyers and legal advisors in Dubai. No, it’s not that complicated, but it’s mandatory that the name you choose for your firm is meeting the naming criteria set by the country. So, before you burn the midnight oil thinking of an awesome name for your dream-come-true business, you must know what are the rules and regulations to abide by in connection with brand names in the UAE.
When you are in the UAE, location wise you have three choices before you to incorporate your company – Offshore, Free Zone and Mainland. Each of these areas comes under different jurisdiction and is governed by its own regulations with respect to all permitted and prohibited words and terms used in company names, plus the indication of a legal form at the end of the company names.
Basic company naming rules/regulations in the UAE
Your preferred brand company name has to waltz through myriad rules and regulations when you are planning to register your company in any of the seven emirates of the UAE. Let’s take a look at the crucial ones. For incorporating a business in the UAE, your company name should not:
- Partially or completely match the names of any active government projects or local/international world-renowned business (Apple, Prada, Mercedes, etc.). In addition, the branch’s name must be the same as its parent company’s, unless it has restricted words in it (Legal type not included). The subsidiary’s name must not be identical to its parent company’s name (Legal Type and Suffix are not considered as part of the name) and must comply with all other naming rules. The joint Venture’s name can be reserved as similar to its parent company’s name upon NOC and/ or Justification Letter, whichever is needed based on the particular case.
- Begin with “International” “Middle East” “Global” etc. Nor should it be translated.
- Contain any indication of global political organizations, religious sectarian; i.e., FBI, Vatican.
- Be similar to DED/Local active company that is engaged in similar activities.
- Include offensive or obscene terms. Neither should it be offending to the common public, even if it is a person’s name.
- Have religious references or contain God’s or Allah’s name or His divine attributes (neither in Arabic nor in English). Case in point: Al-Baseer, Al-Fattah, Al-Muhaymin, Al-Qahhar, and so on.
- Be reserved if it is protected/has copyright against it. Confirm the name you propose doesn’t belong to somebody else by checking online and the official documents.
- Use the names of emirates, cities, districts, and airports codes of the UAE and UAE itself.
- Be family names, tribes’ names and other persons’ names unless the first name is included and must be the name of one of the proposed shareholders. Individual first names of Arabic origin can be used if the name belongs to one of the proposed shareholders. Family names would be used only if the first name was d. Does not apply to names that have other meanings and/or use.
- Contain any of the punctuation marks or special characters, such as (. /,) except “&”. Operating name exempted.
- Be similar to government organizations’ names or it’s abbreviations.
- Contradict the activity, however, it’s preferred to reflect it.
For more information, you may read this DMCC document.
Naming norms for offshore companies in the UAE
Speaking of restrictions on offshore company names are categorised into three groups – Allowed, Partially Allowed (those requiring additional approval) & Prohibited. Allowed company names are those titles that do not come under the other two categories. Be informed that if there is a company with the same name in the registry, the registration of another one under this name is forbidden. In general, the UAE offshore companies’ registry is pretty generous with reference to the company names. The company name can be both in English as well as in Arabic. If it has the form of an abbreviation, such abbreviation must be expanded.
The prohibited names category or the names which need additional approval with the registry include such words as:
- Miscellaneous abbreviations that must be commented on to receive 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 presence of the word “Management” jointly with “General Trading”).
- Words that do not follow the traditions and culture of the UAE.
- Any other words and names that the registry may deem unacceptable.
Furthermore, the legal form of the limited liability companies is specified at the end of the offshore company name by adding specific words or abbreviations. Although the chances are high that you will see the names of offshore companies, registered in the UAE ending with suffixes viz. “Limited”/“Ltd.” and “Incorporated”/ “Inc.” there are certain exceptions such as Masdar city free zone companies that end with the word “Limited” despite being free zone entities.
Naming norms for onshore / FTZ companies in the UAE
Concerning the names of the onshore companies to be registered in free zones (FTZ) of the nation, each free zone has its own registry and restrictions. First of all, such restrictions are applicable to the words, which signifies a specific business area. In fact, these restrictions are akin to those put on the names of offshore companies. However, when seeking approval for the names that have restrictions, the onshore companies, unlike the offshore ones, are required to receive approval from the appropriate Ministry of the UAE. For instance, any company utilising a word related to education in the company name must be approved by the Ministry of Education.
Restricted or prohibited names of the company are those names that are:
- The names of already registered companies or dissolved companies that have not completed one year yet.
- Identical to prominent brands/company names.
- Fail to adhere to the declared activities.
- In some way relatable with the names of public authorities.
- The name of any of UAE’s seven emirates.
- Linked with finance – “bank”, “exchange office”, etc.
- Generic names that do not have any specifics, such as “Products Trade Limited”.
- Using country names or names of public authorities of other countries.
- Words that are not in accord with 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. Apart from this, the FTZs also hold a list of terms and names, which necessitate obtaining 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 acquired from the incorporation documents of a legal entity.
Given a chance, a majority of people in the world would like to change their name for whatsoever reason, and many of them change it as well. But once your title becomes your identity to the world, switching to a different name is the last thing you would ever do. Naming your company is your one-and-only chance to rename your identity. It has to be right the first time.
Naming norms for mainland companies in the UAE
Now comes the companies with suffix LLC. When you are deciding a name for your mainland or LLC company in the UAE, make sure you are complying with the hard and fast rules set by the jurisdiction. Naming rules for LLC or mainland entities are a bit stricter than the other two types, but you can easily conform to them if you play safe. Firstly, the name you choose for your mainland firm should pass through several checks from your side to ensure it doesn’t seem to be taken from any of the currently active, popular brands locally/worldwide. Secondly, the proposed mainland firm name should be self-explanatory enough, communicating exactly what you do or giving an idea of the business activities you are engaged in. And for that, it’s recommended you add some extra words to your proposed company name. This helps the registration authority to ensure that companies practice declared business activities only. Simply put, if you are into education business, and you name your institution “XYZ” then better you name it as “XYZ Beauty Academy L.L.C” or “XYZ IELTS Training Institute L.L.C.” as a precautionary measure to avoid disapprovals. Imagine if a company named as “X Tours & Travels L.L.C.” comes to you and tries selling furniture. Won’t you be suspicious about it – why they are then called Tours & Travels?! That’s why mainland company names are a little more descriptive, as this helps to eliminate bad practices. Furthermore, just like the limited liability companies use the abbreviation LLC at the end of their names to indicate their form, there are joint-stock companies on the main territory of the UAE that use “PJSC” with their name. Similarly, certain free zones (such as Sharjah Media City free zone) also use an “LLC” suffix for their free zone member companies. All the same, the LLC suffix for free zone companies is rather an exception, not a rule. All in all, no matter what name you choose for your business, a specific suffix completes the name, communicating the legal form of your company.
We are sure, you have created a username for your email account or for playing any online games at least once in your life. Remember how your favourite name you would think was already taken by someone sitting in some corner of the world. Then you would try various usernames and after a few attempts, it finally got accepted? Easy-breezy! Here’s the catch. You have to come prepared with three or more names upfront. When you approach a registration authority, they will ask you for more than one proposed company name, so they have an option to pick another proposed name from the list you provide to them if the one you actually preferred the first time already exists. You may also contact us to save your valuable time and steer clear of unnecessary hassles. We perform these sorts of initial checks and obtain all the necessary approvals and permits for registering your company.
When you are in business, you have to make a million decisions every now and then. Some simple, some difficult. Deciding on a name for your business can seem one of the simplest ones. But that one name might take tons of research and effort. And you won’t want all your efforts to go down the drain just because you were not aware of the country-specific naming stipulations. Sure, you may find a cartload of resources to help you out in finding the company name that checks all the boxes for the country as well as you. But too much information can be confusing at times and might require you to spend a significant amount of your valuable time. And remember, in business when one process ends, another starts. After you finalise your trade name, keeping all the mandatory rules and regulations in mind, the next step is registration of the company with the name approved by the authorities.
You are excited to embark on your entrepreneurial journey in Dubai and sure can decide the title of your company under your own steam. But you might need professional help to move ahead, as registering a company overseas is a tricky and tiresome process. Find an experienced and qualified business formation consultant in Dubai, UAE like Adam Global, before you go dead on your feet. Meet some of the best Dubai Business Advisorsat Adam Globalfor any assistance regarding your business name or its registration. Whether you are about to set off for your exciting entrepreneurial journey, or in the middle of it, or are wondering to add more destinations to it, it’s never too late to involve a business expert. And yes, we don’t charge you for your first consultation with us. See you soon!