ADGM Tech Startup License | Abu Dhabi Global Market

ADGM Tech Startup License


Technology has been the buzzword for a while now and has seen exponential leaps in the past decade. The recent big-ticket acquisitions in the region, starting with Amazon acquiring and the multi-billion dollar acquisition of Careem by Uber, have attracted the interest of both established players and high-profile startups.

The Middle East was always an exciting market considering the early adoption tendencies and access to capital, but new government-led initiatives have led to a large number of setups in the past year. The ADGM Tech Startup License is one such initiative from the Abu Dhabi Global Market.


What is the ADGM?

The Abu Dhabi Global Market is the world’s newest onshore financial free zone, based in the UAE capital. With pioneering products such as the RegLab for fintech companies, Crypto-Asset Framework for blockchain firms and the ADGM SPV and Foundations regimes, the center has made quick inroads and aims to contribute to the entrepreneurial push of the Emirate.


What is ADGM Tech Startup License

The ADGM Tech Startup License allows local and international entrepreneurs to set up an entity in Abu Dhabi, without incurring high startup costs in the first two years. The license itself is a full-commercial license and can invoice clients without any additional restrictions. Costs are kept down due to a low ADGM License fee and the ability to operate to operate out of dedicated desk spaces at WeWork or Regus. The Tech Startup can use the first two years to explore the local market, develop its business model and cater to clients all over the UAE.

What are the advantages of setting up in the ADGM?

The ADGM is a Common Law jurisdiction, and well-regarded in the local and international community. It offers 100% foreign ownership, with no restrictions on the employment of foreign nationals, and exemption from personal and corporate taxation. The availability of sophisticated vehicles such as ADGM SPVs with multiple classes of shares and ADGM Foundations for legacy planning allow founders of startup companies to tailor their structures to allow for funding and dilution without a loss of management control.

What kind of companies can apply for the ADGM Tech Startup License?

The focus is on technology-driven startups that have a practical and innovative business concept with the potential to scale and be deployed in the UAE market. Both local and international startups can apply.

The emphasis is on promoting innovation.

What is the process for registering a Tech Startup License in the ADGM?

The process comprises the following steps:

  1. Submission of application, including a detailed business plan and KYC
  2. Pre-screening and issuance of approvals
  3. Completion of the registration of the legal structure at the Registration Authority
  4. Issuance of license
  5. Establishment card and e-channel registration – for visa processing

What is the role of a corporate service provider in this process?

Services of a corporate service provider include the following:

  1. Provision of incorporation services – a one-time service, that involves a complete review of the ADGM Tech Startup License application, submission, and followup until receipt of the license.
  2. Assistance in bank account opening – with all major banks in the UAE
  3. Accounting and bookkeeping – Outsourced accounting services to further help reduce costs, with no compromise on the quality of financial information.
  4. Corporate secretarial services – Company secretarial services cover the mandatory annual general meeting (AGM) and submission of annual returns. Other services include ongoing maintenance of the shareholding and directorship registers, drafting of resolutions and powers of attorney, etc.
Our additional services

1. Structuring your Tech Startup company - designing the optimum structure, including multi-class vehicles to protect founder interests, ESOP plans, share vesting plans and investor on-boarding options

2. Legal agreements - Shareholder agreements, JV agreements, IP assignment agreements, basic legal toolkit (including privacy policies, GDPR and Terms of Services) 
3. Market entry services - Options for market entry into Europe, India and Saudi Arabia

How much does all this cost?

The following costs will be incurred in setting up a Tech Startup license at the ADGM:

ADGM License fee – US$ 700

Data Protection fee - US$ 300 (year 2 onwards)

Desk spaces - from US$ 440 per month (1.5 visas allocated per desk space) 

10 Leaves services – Contact us for a quote


Visa Processing - optional

Establishment Card - (3 years): AED 1,030

E-Channel Account Fee

Year 1: AED 4,100

Annual Renewal: AED 1,520

1 Year Visa Fee per individual:

Year 1: 1,935 AED

Annual Renewal: AED 1,325

3 Year Visa Fee per individual:

Year 1: 4,250 AED

Renewal: AED 2,620

Are you looking to set up a Tech Startup License at the ADGM? Contact us

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