Business setups in UAE are some of the most popular and also recognized to be some of the most successful amongst all of the world’s economic centers. The modern infrastructure and many attractions here persuade many expats to launch their own business right here in the UAE. This is a haven for multinational cultures and customs, and the level of hospitality in the UAE is second to none. For these and many more reasons, Dubai and the UAE are perfect places to get your dream business started. Of course, it’s not just about getting your business off the ground. There could also be times where you’re ready to do more, or to grow your current UAE business in some new directions. That could entail adding some new business activities to your slate, or perhaps changing your company name and branding for one of many possible reasons. But how to navigate such changes? Let’s have a closer look at what these proposed changes might mean in terms of required procedures in the UAE.
Changing your LLC company name
It’s not uncommon for a business leader to want (or need) to change the name and branding of a particular company. This could be for many reasons, including the possibility that your current company name is a little more similar to that of another company, thus creating some potential confusion. But no matter why you’re interested in changing your company name, it’s important to be aware of the legal procedures and requirements which apply in Dubai, UAE. The UAE lays out some strict policies regarding company name changes for both local and international companies and enterprises which operate within the jurisdiction of the UAE. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for managing this entire process. Essentially, a company name change is considered as a two-part process which includes an initial DED approval and a subsequent final approval.
Acquisition of initial DED approval
Before beginning a company name change process in the UAE, the following requirements must be met:
• Provide proof of your Trade Name Reservation.
• Provide originals and photocopies of the registration licenses and certificates issued by the Commercial Registrar.
• Present original approval from The Ministry of the Economy for Public Shareholding Companies in the UAE.
• Produce a shareholder’s resolution stating your new desired company name.
• Be advised that the responsible registration authority has the right to request additional documentation during this process, as well.
After the submission of all the required documents to DED, the initial approval process begins. During this step, the government authorities will publish a company’s proposed name change for a given period of time. If no objections arise during this trial period, an amended Articles of Association (AOA) and Memorandum of Association (MOA) will then be issued, as long as everything concerning the company’s new name registration is still in order.
Why would you want to change your company name?
There are actually any number of reasons why you might consider changing the name of your company, including the following:
1. Whenever a company expands its business activities
Whenever a company grows and decides to venture into other sectors, a name change may be required to make the company’s name relevant to all of its business activities. For example, Starbucks Coffee had to change its name to Starbucks after deciding that they would no longer offer just coffee, but would provide baked products as well.
2. Trademark issues
Let’s say that a company name has been duly registered for some time, and then for whatever reason, another company is allowed to register a very similar sounding name. A possible negative impact of this situation is that either company could start to lose customers due to the confusion arising over the very similar company names. To best address this and establish a unique brand for each, one or both companies may just decide to change their respective names.
Another reason for a company name change would be due to an intentional rebranding effort. The rebranding might involve choosing a new company name that’s more relevant to their revised target audience. Some companies occasionally decide to change their name simply because they feel a new name is more suitable for reflecting the company’s identity and its brand objectives.
Changing your LLC company activity
Healthy businesses are always looking for ways to grow and expand. And whenever it comes to growth and expansion, companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) need to be mindful of the impact of changes with their business where it concerns remaining compliant under VAT rules. One such change can include adding or making changes to the list of approved business activities for your company. Delineating your specific business activities is an important step in setting up a company in Dubai. As an investor, entrepreneur, or business leader, you must spell out the business activities in which your business engages. But if you’re ready to make some changes to that list, you’ll need to understand how that works. The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai is responsible for governing this process. The adding or changing of activities must be consistent with those laid out for your existing activity group. If the activity or activities you want to add don’t fall into your current activity group, you’ll need to choose a new activity group for your business, and also remove any activities that don’t reside within that category. External department approval may also be required for some business activities. For instance, Building Contracting requires approval from the Municipality, while Transport requires approval from the RTA.
Why would you want to change your business activity?
There are several reasons to consider changing your business activity status, like changing the nature of your business, evolving your business focus, expanding into an area of a larger scale, changing economic factors, innovative leadership, etc.
Steps to change the business activity for LLC company
Here are the essential steps involved in gaining initial approval from the DED in Dubai. The documents under this include:
• Provide proof of business registration, including your original licensing application.
• Provide proof of your reserved trade name.
• Show original License and original Certificate of Registration.
• Gain support from the DED, as it involves foreign company branches registered with the Ministry.
• Provide the board resolution of any parent companies requesting a change of activity (for departments of foreign companies that aren’t registered with the Ministry of Economy).
• Provide a copy of your current office lease agreement.
After submitting these documents, the next step is to make an amendment to the Memorandum of Association (MOA). The requirements for this step include:
• Gain initial approval from the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the Tas’heel Center.
• Complete the BR1 form, obtain the signature of the Managing Director, and then submit it to the DED.
• Signatures of all partners aren’t required for an amendment, but all names must be typed out.
• The DED officer will write NOC for adding an activity or activities.
• An Addendum to LLC Agreement must be transcribed by a legal translator, and attestation must be stamped by a Notary Public at the DED.
• If the agreement is only written in Arabic, then there will be no need for a legal translator’s seal.
• All partners of the company must attend the Notary to sign the Court Agreement. If any existing partner is located outside of the country, then she/he can send Power of Attorney (POA) authorizing another Partner to represent him/her at the Court.
• Submit all necessary documents along with attested Addendum at any branch of the DED.
• After final payment to the DED, the new business license reflecting your new activity or activities will be issued.
Ready to change your company name, or make changes to your approved list of business activities or both? If the whole process still seems a bit confusing to you, don’t worry. MSZ Consultancy is here to help! We’re located right here in Dubai, and we know all the ins and outs for ensuring that the whole process will go smoothly for you.
Frequently asked questions
1. Can you change your company’s legal structure?
Yes, you can. Two of the most common circumstances of changing the legal structure include:
• Change in management – If you take on a business partner, you may decide to change from a sole trader structure to a partnership structure.
• Change in ownership – If you purchase an existing business, you may want to change the legal structure of the business to better meet the goals you have in mind for the business.
2. Can you change LLC classification?
Yes, an LLC can elect to change its classification. Just note that once an LLC elects to change its classification, it can’t make any further classification changes during the 60 months after the effective date of the election.
3. How can I make a change to my company name?
Step 1: Board resolution seeking a name change.
Step 2: Check for the availability of your new proposed company name.
Step 3: Pass a special resolution for a company name change.
Step 4: Application for approval of a company name change with the appropriate government authority or authorities.
Step 5: Issuance of a new certificate of incorporation.
Step 6: Make changes to the MOA and AOA.
4. Can you change your business classification?
In most circumstances, the LLC’s owners have the right to choose the company’s tax classification when the company is first set up, and can change that classification at any time. However, once the classification is changed, the LLC generally cannot change it again for another five years.
5. What exactly is an LLC company?
A limited liability company – commonly referred to as an LLC – is a type of business structure commonly used in the United States. LLCs can be seen as a hybrid structure that combines features of both a corporation and a partnership. Like a corporation, LLCs provide their owners with limited liability in the event the business fails. But like a partnership, LLCs choose to “pass through” their profits so that they are taxed as part of the owners’ personal income.