What is Establishment Card & Why you Need It

Now that you have learnt, how to establish a company, it is time to discuss what steps you need to take further. You may be surprised, but there are still several things you need to take care of, before you can, for example, hire employees, issue invoices, receive payments and more. We have summarized all relevant aspects in this module and each chapter is devoted to a certain topic. Often entrepreneurs learn about these things as they start company operations. We, on our part, want you to know everything in advance, so that you could proceed quickly with each step. And in this chapter we will talk about company establishment card.




    Let’s start with what establishment card is. First, of all, it is not the only name of the document. Establishment card can be also called, CEC or company establishment card and CIC or company immigration card. Regardless of the name of the document, it is essentially a plastic card, as big as your bank card, which specifies the information about your company. This includes the name of your company, card number and expiry date. Company establishment card is issued by Immigration Authority of that emirate, where your company is registered. It is again important to mention, that the card is not issued by the registration authority itself but by Immigration authority instead. In other words, if your company is registered with Ajman Free Zone, for example, it will be not Ajman Free Zone issuing the document. Registration authority will request Ajman Immigration Authority to do so. It is important to understand this, because many many entrepreneurs manage to set up a company in a certain free zone in a matter of a day or two and then they need to wait for 8 to 14 days, till the immigration card for the company is issued.  At the moment, when there are certain delays with card release, entrepreneurs become frustrated and start contacting free zone authority. In light of this, be prepared to wait for your company establishment card issuance for 8 to 12 days and schedule all your next steps accordingly. If you have a local company, in Dubai, for example, you will take care of your company’s establishment card independently and you will visit Immigration counter in Al Manara Center in Dubai on your own. There the establishment card will be issued to you immediately on the same day after payment and signing of the relevant form. Let’s summarize it briefly: if you have a free zone company, the application for establishment card of your company is often processed automatically, once your company is established, or you need to hand over certain documents to the free zone authority to initiate the process with Immigration Authority. In case you have a local/mainland company, you will be taking care of the card yourself by visiting Immigration Authority.


    Issuance of establishment card is always associated with payment of respective government fees. You may not know about the charges, if you incorporate a free zone company, because oftentimes establishment card fee is included in the company formation and renewal package costs. Sometimes, however, free zones specify establishment card charges separately. As far as local companies are concerned, for them establishment card charges are paid separately directly to the immigration authority. The establishment card fees vary from free zone to free zone and can be anywhere from AED 650 to AED 1,500 a year. Local companies, in Dubai for example, pay AED 4,940, almost AED 5,000.


    The card itself is most of the time issued for a period of one (1) year for free zones, while local companies can have their establishment cards for a three-year-term.


    If you wonder, what you may need the card for, the answer is very straightforward. You will not be able to apply for any resident visas, both for yourself and your employees, without the card. The reason is that along with the application documents for visas you will need to present a copy of the company’s establishment card. As such, you shall be prepared for your company registration process to take several days, next reserve 8 to 12 days for establishment card issuance (if your company was established in a free zone) and only after that you can submit the documents for your resident visa. We will cover the topic of resident visas in chapter 8, which will follow. Also, company establishment card can be required by state service providers, when you wish to connect internet or water and electricity in your office.


    Once the card is issued, it is either handed over to you in original, and you see it often happening with Dubai free zones, or you just receive a soft copy of the document to your registered email address. If you receive the original, you must ensure that you keep it safe, because if you loose it, you will need to apply for a new card and pay respective replacement charges. Additionally, you must ensure that your company’s immigration card is renewed timely, which is before its expiry date. If your company is registered in a free zone, free zone authority usually takes care of the renewal automatically. As we already mentioned, establishment card charges are often included by free zone authorities in company renewal costs. However, if you are charged separately by a free zone, you may need to approach the registration authority for renewal separately. And finally, if you have a local company, you will need to take care of the renewal process on your own and it shall be several weeks in advance before the card expires but after company’s registration has been renewed.


    In case of renewals after expiry date, respective authorities impose late renewal penalties. As such, keep this in mind. We generally recommend to track the expiry dates of your major corporate documents in a separate file. This way you will ensure that you do not need to pay any penalties and everything is renewed in a timely manner.


    We trust you have found information on establishment card helpful and now you will know, what this card is usually used for, how to take a proper care of it and why you should renew it timely.


    If you want to know more about Dubai freezone company formation, feel free to get in touch with our professional consultant team and we would be delighted to assist you and help you to compare Dubai freezone company setup costs and help you to find that free zone, which would suit your business needs the most.


 Disclaimer: Business Boutique UAE-Consultants.com is not affiliated with any particular government or legal entity. Business Boutique does not give professional legal advice nor any other professional advice subject to a public office in the government. This article merely sets out a simple and basic idea as to the reasons of Dubai freezone company setup and Dubai free zone company formation cost. Business Boutique in no way holds nor imposes any official governmental or legal authority and the article herein is only to be taken as a guide. All further governmental or legal issues should be addressed to the corresponding authorities.

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