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Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE.

The process, requirements, and tips for opening a corporate bank account in the UAE
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Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE

After successfully setting up your company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the next step is opening a corporate bank account so you can start operating your business. The UAE provides a variety of banking choices with attractive features like credit cards, international money transfers, online banking, accounts supporting multiple currencies, trade financing, and additional services.

This article explores the intricacies of this process, offering a detailed overview for business owners looking to navigate the complexities and unlock the benefits of banking in the UAE.

Key takeaways

  • To ensure a smooth application process, familiarise yourself with UAE’s banking regulations and choose a financial partner aligned with your business needs. Gather necessary documentation, including company papers, owner/director IDs, and a detailed business plan.
  • UAE offers diverse corporate accounts for different needs, from everyday transactions to foreign currency accounts. While opening fees may be waived, banks might require minimum balances and charge maintenance and transaction fees.
  • The application usually takes 2-4 weeks, but timing varies based on business complexity.

Understanding the regulatory landscape

Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE involves navigating a well-defined regulatory landscape. The Central Bank of the UAE plays a pivotal role in overseeing the banking sector and has implemented stringent regulations to ensure the stability and integrity of the financial system. Businesses must be well-acquainted with the legal requirements and compliance standards to streamline the account opening process.

Selecting the right bank

Choosing the right banking partner is a critical decision that can significantly impact a company’s financial operations. The UAE boasts a robust banking sector, with both local and international banks offering a range of services. To ensure a seamless and productive banking relationship, consider the following factors:

  • Expected volume of transactions: Assess your anticipated volume of banking transactions to choose a bank that aligns with your business needs.
  • Initial capital deposit: Determine the sum of the initial capital you intend to deposit with the bank, as this may affect the type of account and services available to you.
  • Additional financial services: Identify any other financial services your business may require, such as trade financing or investment opportunities.
  • Minimum account balance requirements: Be aware of the minimum account balance requirements set by the bank, ensuring it suits your financial capacity.
  • Currencies for transactions: Consider the types of currencies you will be transacting in and choose a bank that supports these currencies.
  • Ease of transactions: Evaluate the ease of making transactions through the bank’s online platform and other services.

Banks comparison – compare various features of a handful of local and international banks, those we would recommend:

Feature Emirates NBD Mashreq Bank ADIB Standard Chartered HSBC FAB ADCB DIB RAKbank
Remote account opening Yes, via video conference Yes, via video conference Requires a face-to-face meeting Requires a face-to-face meeting Requires a face-to-face meeting (exceptions for existing customers) Yes, via video conference Yes, via video conference Requires a face-to-face meeting Yes, via video conference
Setup fee None None None None May apply (depends on account type) May apply (depends on account type) May apply (depends on account type) None May apply (depends on account type)
Minimum deposit AED 3,000 AED 3,000 AED 0 AED 10,000 AED 30,000 Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type
Minimum balance Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type Varies by account type
Debit card Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit card Yes (for eligible businesses) Yes (for eligible businesses) Islamic credit cards available Yes Yes Yes (for eligible businesses) Yes (for eligible businesses) Islamic credit cards available Yes (for eligible businesses)
Corporate commercial cards Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cheque book Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply Fee may apply
Internet banking Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Foreign currency accounts Yes, in major currencies Yes, in major currencies Yes, Sharia-compliant options available Yes, in major currencies Yes, in major currencies Yes, in major currencies Yes, in major currencies Yes, Sharia-compliant options available Yes, in major currencies

Types of corporate bank accounts

The UAE offers various types of corporate bank accounts to cater to the diverse needs of businesses. From current accounts for day-to-day transactions to savings accounts for surplus funds, companies can choose an account that aligns with their operational and financial objectives. Additionally, specialised accounts such as foreign currency accounts and term deposits provide flexibility and strategic financial management options.

Documentation and eligibility criteria

To initiate the corporate bank account opening process, businesses must compile a set of essential documents and meet specific eligibility criteria. Common requirements include:

Bank account opening form

This will be provided by your chosen bank and typically requires details about your business activities and ownership structure.

Company registration and documentation

Having a valid trade license is paramount. This serves as proof of your company’s legal existence in the UAE. Additionally, banks will request:

  • Completed corporate account opening forms: Ensure these are signed by authorised signatories as designated by a board resolution.
  • Board resolution documents: These will authorise opening the account and specify authorised signatories. Your company secretary can prepare these documents. Most banks have their own format, so ensure you use and sign the correct version.
  • Certified copies: You’ll need certified true copies of the following:
    • Certificate of Incorporation
    • Company Business Profile (from the Company Registrar)
    • Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA)
  • Business address proof: A lease agreement or utility bill can serve as proof of your company’s operating address.

Proof of identity

  • Passports: Banks will need copies of passports for all shareholders, directors, and ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs). This verifies nationality, as some banks have restrictions for certain countries.

Proof of residency

  • Documentation: Each shareholder, UBO, and director must provide documentation proving their residential address. This could include national IDs, recent tax returns, or utility/telecom bills (not older than three months).

Ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) background

Banks require transparency regarding UBOs. Provide information such as:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Biography
  • Official company website (if applicable)
  • Employment/appointment letters
  • Educational certificates

Company details

Be prepared to discuss details like:

  • Source of funds
  • Company purpose
  • Proposed business activities
  • Potential clients and suppliers
  • Anticipated banking transactions
  • Short-term business plan

The application process

The application process for a corporate bank account in the UAE typically involves submitting the required documentation, completing the bank’s application form, and undergoing a thorough due diligence process. The timeframe for opening a corporate bank account in the UAE can vary depending on several factors, including the type of business, the bank you choose, and the completeness of your application. Generally, it takes somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks for an LLC or Free Zone company. However, it’s not uncommon for the process to take longer, especially for offshore companies or if there are complexities with your application. Businesses are advised to maintain transparency and responsiveness throughout the process to facilitate a swift and successful account opening.

Fees involved in opening a corporate bank account in the UAE

Unlike some countries, many local UAE banks typically waive the opening fee for corporate accounts. However, there are other potential charges to consider:

  • Minimum balance requirement: This is a common feature, with minimums ranging from AED 50,000 to AED 500,000, depending on the bank and account type. Failing to maintain this minimum balance can result in a monthly penalty fee.
  • Monthly account maintenance: Some banks may have a monthly fee for basic account upkeep, although this is less common.
  • Transaction fees: Charges can apply for services like issuing cheques (around AED 25), international transfers (typically a percentage with a minimum fee), and using ATMs that aren’t affiliated with your bank (around AED 2).

Additional considerations: Internet banking and multi-currency features might be offered as part of the account package or come with separate fees. Always check the specific bank’s details for a complete picture of their corporate account pricing structure.

Consideration of additional services

Beyond the basic banking services, the UAE’s financial institutions offer a suite of additional services that can enhance a company’s financial management capabilities. These may include trade finance, treasury services, and online banking platforms tailored for corporate clients. Businesses should explore these offerings to optimise their banking relationship and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Conclusion

Opening a corporate bank account in the UAE is a pivotal step for companies looking to tap into the region’s economic opportunities. With a clear understanding of the regulatory framework, careful selection of a banking partner, and adherence to documentation requirements, businesses can navigate the process smoothly. A strategic approach to corporate banking in the UAE can not only ensure compliance but also unlock the full spectrum of financial services and support the long-term growth and success of the enterprise.

How Acclime can help

This is where Acclime, a leading corporate services provider, can be your trusted partner. Our team of experts possesses in-depth knowledge of the UAE’s banking landscape and regulations. We can guide you through the entire process of opening a corporate bank account, from selecting the most suitable banking partner based on your specific needs to ensuring all documentation is completed accurately and efficiently.