The Companies Law, in article (313) allows a foreign company to exercise its main activity in the UAE by opening a branch or a representative office.
The difference between the two is that the foreign company which opens a branch in the UAE may exercise freely the activities for which it is licenced whereas a representative office may practice only promotional activities for the products and services provided by the parent company.
Unlike a foreign branch a representative office cannot conduct business operation or market its product. In order to engage a foreign branch to conduct its operation in Dubai it should obtain a licence from the Ministry of Economy prior to obtaining the licence from the Department of Economic Development.
However, it is now allowed for foreign professional and service companies to open their Branch in Dubai without Ministry of Economy registration whereas foreign companies registering their presence as a Representative Office must obtain registration with the Ministry of Economy.
The main condition for opening a representative office or a branch of a foreign company in the UAE is to appoint a Service Agent who should be a UAE national.
Standard Documentation Requirements for registering a Foreign Company Branch
A foreign company is required to submit the following documents (standard) to the concerned authority(s) and obtain necessary approvals for registering the branch in Dubai.