General rules for naming companies in the UAE
If you are planning on opening a business or a branch of a company in the Emirates, then you must choose the name of the company in advance. You can register the company only after a name has been chosen and approved.
An open and transparent business is a high priority for the UAE government. Therefore, one of the main rules for naming a company - that it is clear and unambiguous - is to avoid misleading customers. Ideally, the name will also state what the company actually does. The name must also steer clear of any association with UAE government organisations.
Yet another rule is that the name cannot be registered to another company. Before submitting the paperwork to get the name approved, you must make certain that no other company has been registered under that name. You can check if the name you want to give your company has already been taken here.
You can use the name of a company that has been liquidated, provided it has been closed down for at least one year.
If you are opening a subsidiary, the name must vary at least slightly from the parent company. On the other hand, if you are opening a branch, the name must exactly match the parent company. Joint ventures can choose whether to take the same name as the main company or not, but if they do, then they must present a No Objection Certificate (NOC) or an explanatory letter.
Which words are not allowed to be used in the name of a company in the UAE
Company names must not contain offensive language; words that are indecent, sexual, racist, religious or attack someone personally are strictly forbidden.
A company name in the UAE cannot use any of the following:
- God’s name or any references to religion or religious organisations;
- Names of political organisations or other words that indicate political affiliation;
- Surnames without the person’s first name – and if a personal name is used, it must be one of the shareholder’s;
- Abbreviations, including initials;
- Geographical places, such as a continent, country, region, district, emirate or provence;
- Names of business districts or UAE airport codes, i.e. DXB, AUH;
- Words that imply the opposite of what the company does;
- Words that are the same as a government project or popular local or international brands, i.e. Apple, Toyota, KFC, etc.;
- Specific words such as Assurance, Bank, Banking, Financial, Government, Insurance, Royal, Trust, etc.;
- Punctuation marks and symbols, with the exception of the “&” sign;
- Names that begin with the words International, Middle East or Global — in any language.
There are less strict rules, such as being able to use the word “goods”, provided your company sells more than one type of “good”. The word “capital” is allowed as long as the Central Bank gives permission to use it; and “FX” can be registered if the Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) approves.
Depending on the jurisdiction the company name is registered in, the authorities may be more or less strict regarding these rules. It is advisable to check with the specific jurisdiction that you plan to register in in advance to avoid having your request denied.
What should be included in the company name in the UAE
The company name should indicate the organisational and legal type of company it is. This is most commonly done using such abbreviations as FZE, LLC, etc, which are added to the end of the name. These abbreviations not only inform consumers about what type of company it is, but also which jurisdiction it was registered in. Companies registered in the free economic zones or as offshore businesses may face other rules regarding naming the company.
Registering the name of an offshore company
There aren’t many rules for naming offshore companies; you just need to indicate the type of ownership of the company, either spelled out or abbreviated, at the end of the company’s name. Limited liability companies have two options:
- Limited or Ltd.;
- Incorporated or Inc.
The name can either be in Arabic or English. Even if you’ve chosen to use abbreviations, when the name is entered into the registry, it must be spelled out.
Registering the name of a company in a free economic zone
If the name of the company that you want to open in a free economic zone (FEZ) indicates a specific type of business activity, for example, educational services, you must get approval from the relevant ministry.
At the end of your company’s name, one of the following three items must be added.
- FZE (Free Zone Establishment) — for limited liability companies that have just one shareholder;
- FZC/FZCO (Free Zone Company) or FZ-LLC —for limited liability companies that have two to five shareholders;
- Branch — for branches or representative offices.
Some free economic zones have their own rules for naming organisations. Instead of indicating the organisational and legal type of a company, the DMCC FEZ just adds “DMCC” to the end of company names in that zone. The Masdar FEZ adds “Limited” to companies registered there, and the Sharjah Media City FEZ adds “LLC”.
Registering the name of a company on the mainland
Companies that will be registered on the mainland have the strictest rules regarding names. If any company anywhere in the world has the same name as the one you want, your request can be denied. The name must also clearly state what type of business your company will be engaged in. For example, if you wanted to open a dog grooming salon and name it “Rex”, then your company name should sound something like, “Rex Grooming LLC”.
The organisational and legal type will be added to the end of the company name - more often than not, one of these two options are used:
- LLC (Limited Liability Company) — for limited liability companies;
- PJSС (Public Joint Stock Company) — for joint-stock companies.
How to register a company’s name
In order to register your company’s name, you must do the following:
- Provide authorities with at least three possible names, but the more, the better. That way, if the first ones are denied for whatever reason, one of the other options can be chosen instead.
- Reserve the approved name so that no one else can take it. You can typically hold a name for two to eight weeks before it becomes available to the public again. Depending on the jurisdiction you are registering your company’s name in, the reservation fee can vary from AED 100 (USD 27) to AED 1000 (USD 272), though some jurisdictions will reserve the name for free.
- Begin the process of registering your company.
How to comply with all the rules for naming a company in the UAE
In order to register a company name in the UAE, there is more to it than just coming up with a catchy and original name – it must meet a variety of requirements that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The specialists at METROPOLITAN PREMIUM PROPERTIES can help you choose a name for your company that is sure to get approved by the authorities, as well as accompany you through every stage of setting up and registering your business in the UAE.
If at some point in the future you decide to change your company’s name, that can be done and METROPOLITAN PREMIUM PROPERTIES will be here to help you every step of the way.