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UAE freezone company, EMI/bank solution.

L1orB

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Jun 24, 2024
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Hey guys, I need some serious help.

I’m a 22-year-old from a country currently at war. After losing friends, I decided to leave, relocate, and open a business using my expertise to make money, support my friends still in the army, and memorialize those who have fallen.

I hired a top lawyer to handle my relocation, revoking my residency (so I wouldn’t have to pay taxes in my home country), and setting up a business. I'd have to pay taxes in two countries since most of my relocation options didn’t have tax treaties with my home country. So, I decided to revoke my residency there.

We opted to open a business in the UAE, specifically in a Dubai free zone. I was still living in Cyprus when we did this. I left my country at the end of December, lived in Cyprus until March, and since then, I’ve mostly been in Dubai.

Why Dubai? My lawyer told me in February, after the business was set up, that I could either open a "digital bank" account (like Payoneer) or open a local bank account in the UAE. Wanting everything in one place, I chose the latter.

I didn’t realize it would take so long. I’ve been stuck in Dubai for 3 months, dealing with getting a work visa, EID, and other delays. After 3 weeks of back-and-forth emails, WIO bank rejected my application because I can’t provide a bank account statement in my name since I haven’t had a bank account since leaving my home country (half a year).

I’ve burned through about $30K in expenses over six months without any income because I can’t operate my business without a bank account. Now, I’m moving to Thailand because I can’t stay in Dubai any longer.

I’m on the edge, super depressed, and don’t know how to move forward. I just need a "bank" account or any alternative to take money from customers. My lawyer suggested Payoneer, but I’m not sure if it can serve as my only bank. Can I use it to get money from customers and pay my employees?

If not, do you have any recommendations for an EMI/bank that would take someone in my situation? I don’t know how to keep going right now. It’s been half a year of bureaucracy with nothing going my way.

Thank you, and sorry for the long message. I’m super lost and depressed.

TL;DR
Can anyone recommend an EMI or bank that can provide services for a UAE freezone company in my situation?
 
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I'm amazed its taken you so long to get to this stage. It really sounds like the lawyer you used isn't local to Dubai or if so, hasn't a clue what they are doing/has given poor advice.

I had company formed and Visa issued in under 2 weeks. Medical, Emirates ID, Personal Banking and Business banking setup in Dubai in under 2 weeks. This would have been sooner, however, it was during eid so slowed things down.

Which free zone do you have the company registered with? E.g. IFZA? Maydan? Airport freezone? It makes a difference in terms of banking options.

What activities do you have listed on your company licence?

Which type of payments do you need to receive? Local payments in AED? International payments in GBP/Euro/USD? Which currencies etc?
What amounts per month are we talking?

When you say "country currently at war" - Does this mean you have a Russian passport? Or a Ukrainian one? Again, this makes a difference in terms of banking options!
 
I'm amazed its taken you so long to get to this stage. It really sounds like the lawyer you used isn't local to Dubai or if so, hasn't a clue what they are doing/has given poor advice.

I had company formed and Visa issued in under 2 weeks. Medical, Emirates ID, Personal Banking and Business banking setup in Dubai in under 2 weeks. This would have been sooner, however, it was during eid so slowed things down.

Which free zone do you have the company registered with? E.g. IFZA? Maydan? Airport freezone? It makes a difference in terms of banking options.

What activities do you have listed on your company licence?

Which type of payments do you need to receive? Local payments in AED? International payments in GBP/Euro/USD? Which currencies etc?
What amounts per month are we talking?

When you say "country currently at war" - Does this mean you have a Russian passport? Or a Ukrainian one? Again, this makes a difference in terms of banking options!
Hey,

The lawyer's well-versed in Dubai, but I faced numerous delays due to holidays and bureaucratic hurdles.

Consider this: a whole month was spent in endless email exchanges with WIO until rejection, only to be rejected over an issue addressed on day one.

There were many delays; the lawyer's not entirely to blame, though I'm dissatisfied with his performance. For instance, closing my home country bank account was my decision after his lead, yet WIO demanded statements from a bank account, leading to rejection, while he was the one that sent me to WIO.

Currently, I'm not seeking solutions in the UAE, as none seem viable at the moment. I'm registered with IFZA for Managment consultancies, marketing research $ consultancies, and marketing services via social media.

My business aids coaches and course creators, mainly from the American market, in scaling their sales through marketing, ads, and consulting.

Transactions ideally in USD, possibly GBP or EUR, but not AED.

Over the past months, I've built a strong team with my consultant, offering services around $7K per, aiming for 2-3 projects monthly, totaling $20-30K.

I am Israeli, I understand there might be challenges with Russian or Ukrainian passport, but never heard about Israeli ones, but in general UAE banks aren't currently an option, despite exploring all avenues.

Thank you for your time; any recommendations to resolve this situation would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Why isn't your lawyer/PRO guiding you on the bank application? This is a basic thing that a local with experience of the UAE banking industry can assist with.

Ok, the good news is that the company is structured through IFZA. This will help in the opening of the bank account over some 2 bit worthless free zone.

The bad news is that the business will be seen as high risk to any due to the way you have just described it and in the fact you are transacting mainly in USD.

You need to think of a better way of explaining what the business does without using the terminology "the business aids coaches and course creators". Think out side of the box and more exciting, for example, will the business provide AI technology (hot topic right now) that will assist business owners in increasing client satisfaction whilst improving overall client acquisition costs.

If you explain that the business is already trading and generating $20k-$30k per month, the bank will request bank statements, website, contracts, income proofs and lots more documents. The more documents they have, the more likely they will be to decline if they dont understand your business fully.

I would simply apply and say:
  • You are a Dubai resident
  • You a starting a new business which intends to do XYZ
  • You expect the turn over to be around 70,000 AED per month ($20k)
  • You don't have a website / it is currently being developed.
  • You expect to transact locally and in AED (You can open a USD / GBP / Euro account once the account is active)
Be prepared to supply:
  • 3 months personal bank statements
  • Ejari / proof of residential address / Airbnb / hotel booking confirmation etc
  • Emirates ID
  • IFZA documents
If you have been in Dubai for 3 months, can't you supply 3 months personal bank statements from a Dubai bank? If you cant, go open a Wio personal account. Just because they have rejected your business application, it doesn't mean they'll reject your personal one.

In terms of the business banking side of things. I would take three steps right now assuming you have everything on the list above. 1) Go and apply for a MashreqNeo Biz account. Very similar to Wio. Remember the above points. 2) Whilst you await the outcome of MashreqNeo Biz, Email IFZA at [email protected] with your trade licence and they will tell you which banks will give an account based on your trading activities listed on your licence. 3) Apply at the banks that IFZA recommend.

This is the most robust solution.

If you are looking at opening an EMI account over a "real" bank account, then you can ofcourse consider applying to the likes of 3S Money, Satchel and so on. However, these are reliant on other banks.
 
Why isn't your lawyer/PRO guiding you on the bank application? This is a basic thing that a local with experience of the UAE banking industry can assist with.

Ok, the good news is that the company is structured through IFZA. This will help in the opening of the bank account over some 2 bit worthless free zone.

The bad news is that the business will be seen as high risk to any due to the way you have just described it and in the fact you are transacting mainly in USD.

You need to think of a better way of explaining what the business does without using the terminology "the business aids coaches and course creators". Think out side of the box and more exciting, for example, will the business provide AI technology (hot topic right now) that will assist business owners in increasing client satisfaction whilst improving overall client acquisition costs.

If you explain that the business is already trading and generating $20k-$30k per month, the bank will request bank statements, website, contracts, income proofs and lots more documents. The more documents they have, the more likely they will be to decline if they dont understand your business fully.

I would simply apply and say:
  • You are a Dubai resident
  • You a starting a new business which intends to do XYZ
  • You expect the turn over to be around 70,000 AED per month ($20k)
  • You don't have a website / it is currently being developed.
  • You expect to transact locally and in AED (You can open a USD / GBP / Euro account once the account is active)
Be prepared to supply:
  • 3 months personal bank statements
  • Ejari / proof of residential address / Airbnb / hotel booking confirmation etc
  • Emirates ID
  • IFZA documents
If you have been in Dubai for 3 months, can't you supply 3 months personal bank statements from a Dubai bank? If you cant, go open a Wio personal account. Just because they have rejected your business application, it doesn't mean they'll reject your personal one.

In terms of the business banking side of things. I would take three steps right now assuming you have everything on the list above. 1) Go and apply for a MashreqNeo Biz account. Very similar to Wio. Remember the above points. 2) Whilst you await the outcome of MashreqNeo Biz, Email IFZA at [email protected] with your trade licence and they will tell you which banks will give an account based on your trading activities listed on your licence. 3) Apply at the banks that IFZA recommend.

This is the most robust solution.

If you are looking at opening an EMI account over a "real" bank account, then you can ofcourse consider applying to the likes of 3S Money, Satchel and so on. However, these are reliant on other banks.
Hey,

Firstly, I truly appreciate your time and willingness to assist me. Thank you once again.

Let me break it down step by step to ensure clarity and address everything thoroughly.

My lawyer suggested I apply for the WIO application independently. I believe if he had handled it, acceptance might have been smoother.

If including AI-related aspects in the business description would enhance my application, I'm more than willing to do so. I have a solid understanding of AI solutions in my niche and can really offer as a part of my service.

Currently, the business isn't generating revenue, but I foresee profitability due to the strong foundation I've built. This leverages my expertise in marketing and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, I can't provide three months of bank statements as I haven't had a personal bank account for about a year. I've been managing expenses using my father's credit card.

I want to clarify that I'm no longer in Dubai; I've left and can't afford “financially” to return for 3 months again. This poses challenges such as proving residential address, which I anticipated, prompting me to consider WIO.

While I can attempt to open a personal WIO account, logistical issues arise now that I've left Dubai. For instance, receiving the card or showing EID to a delivery person isn't feasible anymore, which makes finalizing an account (at least a business one) undoable.

Currently, I lack proof of residential address and any recent bank statements, and I'm no longer in Dubai.

Therefore, I'm seeking a digital bank or EMI that doesn't require physical presence.

Again, thank you immensely for your time. I'm relatively new to this realm, so I appreciate your patience and understanding. Thank you.
 
Hey,

Firstly, I truly appreciate your time and willingness to assist me. Thank you once again.

Let me break it down step by step to ensure clarity and address everything thoroughly.

My lawyer suggested I apply for the WIO application independently. I believe if he had handled it, acceptance might have been smoother.

If including AI-related aspects in the business description would enhance my application, I'm more than willing to do so. I have a solid understanding of AI solutions in my niche and can really offer as a part of my service.

Currently, the business isn't generating revenue, but I foresee profitability due to the strong foundation I've built. This leverages my expertise in marketing and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, I can't provide three months of bank statements as I haven't had a personal bank account for about a year. I've been managing expenses using my father's credit card.

I want to clarify that I'm no longer in Dubai; I've left and can't afford “financially” to return for 3 months again. This poses challenges such as proving residential address, which I anticipated, prompting me to consider WIO.

While I can attempt to open a personal WIO account, logistical issues arise now that I've left Dubai. For instance, receiving the card or showing EID to a delivery person isn't feasible anymore, which makes finalizing an account (at least a business one) undoable.

Currently, I lack proof of residential address and any recent bank statements, and I'm no longer in Dubai.

Therefore, I'm seeking a digital bank or EMI that doesn't require physical presence.

Again, thank you immensely for your time. I'm relatively new to this realm, so I appreciate your patience and understanding. Thank you.

I'm not trying to play the blame game here at all but the lawyer should have been handholding throughout the application, e.g. Them doing the application on your phone or at least giving you the answers to the questions asked throughout the application. This is how Fred at DLS used to work.

If you are no longer in the UAE, you won't be able to open an account (personal or business) as you need to give your emirates ID to the courier who delivers the bank card and cheque book.

If funds permit, I would speak with emiratessetup.ae (forum sponsor) or another PRO who is on the ground in Dubai, they can help you with the personal ejari for proof of address in the UAE, you can then use this to open a personal bank account which will assist with business bank account opening also. They can also assist with the MashreqNeo Biz application if you are nervous around what information to input etc. Then simply fly in to Dubai and have the bank card delivered to your hotel/Airbnb location where you are staying.

It's an easy and quick solution. It doesn't need to take 3 months. As I said before, from the day of me entering Dubai it took just under 2 weeks to have the medical test, get my emirates ID, apply and receive banking / cheque book for personal banking and apply and receive banking / cheque book for business. This would have been closer to 10 days if it wasn't for national holidays (eid). As you already have Emirates ID, it will be less than this if you apply correctly.

The benefit of opening an account in UAE with UAE residency is that there is no CRS/reporting. If you open an account with an EMI, they will need the proof of address outside of the UAE and will report back to this country. Plus, you need to think about risk, an Isreli passport holder with a business in Dubai who is residing in Thailand screams money laundering and will most likely trigger a decline. As I said in my initial post, you need to make the business appear as simple and easy to understand as possible. You are overcomplicating it.

Alternatively, you can try to open an EMI account with the likes of 3S Money, Satchel and other EMI's - however, be aware, the fees are higher and the compliance checks are greater/more frequent plus you still have the struggle of being unable to provide a proof of address.

Remember, you need to spend at least 1 day in Dubai every 6 months to maintain your Dubai visa/residency. Otherwise, additional fees will apply from IFZA for reissuing the visa.
 
+1 to everything @uk29 wrote.

The application for Mashreq Neobiz is straightforward and with them you can get AED, EUR and USD accounts.
not that much and they ask a ton of questions including substance outside the freezone or some other ejari.
OP better get some personal bank statement before that at the minimum.

There are cheaper places than Dubai (Sharjah, Ajman, Rak) where one can stay until stuff has been resolved.

I'm not trying to play the blame game here at all but the lawyer should have been handholding throughout the application, e.g. Them doing the application on your phone or at least giving you the answers to the questions asked throughout the application. This is how Fred at DLS used to work.

If you are no longer in the UAE, you won't be able to open an account (personal or business) as you need to give your emirates ID to the courier who delivers the bank card and cheque book.

If funds permit, I would speak with emiratessetup.ae (forum sponsor) or another PRO who is on the ground in Dubai, they can help you with the personal ejari for proof of address in the UAE, you can then use this to open a personal bank account which will assist with business bank account opening also. They can also assist with the MashreqNeo Biz application if you are nervous around what information to input etc. Then simply fly in to Dubai and have the bank card delivered to your hotel/Airbnb location where you are staying.

It's an easy and quick solution. It doesn't need to take 3 months. As I said before, from the day of me entering Dubai it took just under 2 weeks to have the medical test, get my emirates ID, apply and receive banking / cheque book for personal banking and apply and receive banking / cheque book for business. This would have been closer to 10 days if it wasn't for national holidays (eid). As you already have Emirates ID, it will be less than this if you apply correctly.

The benefit of opening an account in UAE with UAE residency is that there is no CRS/reporting. If you open an account with an EMI, they will need the proof of address outside of the UAE and will report back to this country. Plus, you need to think about risk, an Isreli passport holder with a business in Dubai who is residing in Thailand screams money laundering and will most likely trigger a decline. As I said in my initial post, you need to make the business appear as simple and easy to understand as possible. You are overcomplicating it.
nothing presented in this story "screams money laundering".
 
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I sympathize with the guy calling for help here, but he has been let down and/or doesn't understand the matter.
I opened a FZ Company in RAK for a friend and managed to get his medical and EID all done within 4 days.
Then I attacked the Bank A/C problem. Firstly introducing him to my bank, FAB (I am a 30 year UAE resident), and they opened a personal A/C immediately for him (btw he is an EU citizen)
Then through the RAK FZ Management, they recommended their own agency that helps companies get Bank Accounts and that was done through Wio and attained in 48 hours. So a personal account and Business account all sorted.
3 months later he came back to UAE again and I organised his Driving License - again all done, with License in hand in less than 3 hours, and the next day we set up a Power of Attorney for me to act on his behalf (so you see, I did all this for him WITHOUT a POA ......... just charm and a smile)

P.S. I am not a company formation agent, nor a lawyer, solicitor or accountant ............................. I am actually an Engineer in the Construction sector.
But of all the info on our achievements above was the little note that I have been here 30 years ....... if you know how things work here - You're IN!
 
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I'm not trying to play the blame game here at all but the lawyer should have been handholding throughout the application, e.g. Them doing the application on your phone or at least giving you the answers to the questions asked throughout the application. This is how Fred at DLS used to work.

If you are no longer in the UAE, you won't be able to open an account (personal or business) as you need to give your emirates ID to the courier who delivers the bank card and cheque book.

If funds permit, I would speak with emiratessetup.ae (forum sponsor) or another PRO who is on the ground in Dubai, they can help you with the personal ejari for proof of address in the UAE, you can then use this to open a personal bank account which will assist with business bank account opening also. They can also assist with the MashreqNeo Biz application if you are nervous around what information to input etc. Then simply fly in to Dubai and have the bank card delivered to your hotel/Airbnb location where you are staying.

It's an easy and quick solution. It doesn't need to take 3 months. As I said before, from the day of me entering Dubai it took just under 2 weeks to have the medical test, get my emirates ID, apply and receive banking / cheque book for personal banking and apply and receive banking / cheque book for business. This would have been closer to 10 days if it wasn't for national holidays (eid). As you already have Emirates ID, it will be less than this if you apply correctly.

The benefit of opening an account in UAE with UAE residency is that there is no CRS/reporting. If you open an account with an EMI, they will need the proof of address outside of the UAE and will report back to this country. Plus, you need to think about risk, an Isreli passport holder with a business in Dubai who is residing in Thailand screams money laundering and will most likely trigger a decline. As I said in my initial post, you need to make the business appear as simple and easy to understand as possible. You are overcomplicating it.

Alternatively, you can try to open an EMI account with the likes of 3S Money, Satchel and other EMI's - however, be aware, the fees are higher and the compliance checks are greater/more frequent plus you still have the struggle of being unable to provide a proof of address.

Remember, you need to spend at least 1 day in Dubai every 6 months to maintain your Dubai visa/residency. Otherwise, additional fees will apply from IFZA for reissuing the visa.
I'm in a tough spot financially now with all these expenses and can't afford another flight to Dubai and back, whether for a day or a week. It's not something I can spend money on casually just to show myself to a courier. That's why I'm exploring alternative solutions that don't involve Dubai.

My lawyer is suggesting Payoneer as an option. Would that be a viable solution for my situation?
 
Regardless of if you have a
I'm in a tough spot financially now with all these expenses and can't afford another flight to Dubai and back, whether for a day or a week. It's not something I can spend money on casually just to show myself to a courier. That's why I'm exploring alternative solutions that don't involve Dubai.

My lawyer is suggesting Payoneer as an option. Would that be a viable solution for my situation?
That’s understandable!

In which case, your only option moving forward now is to speak with EMI’s. Speak with the ones I mentioned above and they will confirm what documentation they require,

You will need to address the issue of having no personal proof of address/bank statements, however! Banks nor EMI’s will accept that you lived off of someone else’s credit cards.
 
Regardless of if you have a

That’s understandable!

In which case, your only option moving forward now is to speak with EMI’s. Speak with the ones I mentioned above and they will confirm what documentation they require,

You will need to address the issue of having no personal proof of address/bank statements, however! Banks nor EMI’s will accept that you lived off of someone else’s credit cards.
How should I phrase it then? I’ve been for real living on my dad’s credit card since I remember myself.
Also no way of getting any proof of address/bank statements…
 
Do you hold any credit cards in personal name? Or any Government issued documents/tax statements? emi’s will take this as proof of address typically.

If you are unable to travel back to UAE, I would suggest opening a personal bank account where you reside.

This can also then be used as a proof of address.
 
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Do you hold any credit cards in personal name? Or any Government issued documents/tax statements? emi’s will take this as proof of address typically.

If you are unable to travel back to UAE, I would suggest opening a personal bank account where you reside.

This can also then be used as a proof of address.
My situation is akin to someone who has never held a bank account and is traveling around the world, technically, I live no where. I don't have a permanent residence, no official government documents, or tax records anywhere. Financially, I don't have any bank statements, credit cards, or income under my name. The only income I had was from serving in the army, which was minimal. I used to trade stocks under my father's name to accumulate funds for starting my business, hence my financial history is not under my personal name.
In essence, I'm like non existent in terms of personal documentation and financial records.
 

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