12 June 2024

How to Set up a Business Bank Account in Dubai | Ep 18

In this highly requested episode of Opportunity Awaits, Aaron Henriques dives into his personal journey of setting up both corporate and personal bank accounts in Dubai. This episode is especially helpful for free zone business owners with residency in Dubai.

Aaron shares the steps he followed, the hurdles he faced when setting up a company bank account in Dubai both before and after getting his Emirates ID, and offers practical tips to save you time and money. You’ll learn how to open your corporate bank account in Dubai without needing an agent or consultant.

Discover why having a UAE business bank account in Dubai is essential, what documents you need, and the fees involved. Aaron also debunks the myth that you need expensive agents and consultants, providing straightforward advice to guide you through the process.

Start a business in Dubai: https://handlrzone.com/yt

Disclaimer at https://aaronhenriques.com/disclaimer

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Opportunity Awaits podcast Episode Transcript

How to set up a bank account in Dubai is the most frequently requested video on my channel so far. And it's really relevant for you if you are a free zone business owner with residency in Dubai. So let me read the list of the things that I'm going to share with you today. It's going to be the steps I took trying to open up a personal and a corporate bank account in Dubai before I had my Emirates ID when I was still in London. Why even after I visited Dubai and got my Emirates ID, I still wasn't able to open up a bank account when I was back in London. How I eventually got my corporate and personal bank accounts open here in Dubai. Towards the end, I'm going to share with you some helpful tips and everything that you need to have in place to be able to get your business bank account and your personal bank accounts open here in Dubai. and of course some important things for you to watch out for.   This video is going to be hated by agents and consultants because it could save you thousands on something [00:01:00] that may seem like a complicated process, but actually it isn't. So stay tuned. Now for those of you who don't know me, very quickly, I'm Aaron Henriques. I'm from London in the United Kingdom. I've been starting, failing, trying to run businesses for the last 15 years. I left a 10 year career as a police officer in London to go full time in business in 2017. And I have companies in London and Dubai. I previously shared my experience in setting up a company and going through the visa process and right now I'm here in Dubai for about one more month before it gets way too hot and I need to go back to London. I'm sharing my own experiences to hopefully save you a bit of time and a bit of money along the way. And just to be clear, I am going to mention a particular bank's name quite a lot throughout this short video. However, this is about setting up a bank account in Dubai, and it just happens to be that's the bank I set up the company with. This isn't a sponsored video by any means. I've got no affiliation with them. So I'm just letting you know that I'm only talking [00:02:00] about my own experience and the process that I've gone through. And if this video helps you at any point, please like it, leave a comment, get involved in a conversation about this and share the video with someone else who you think that this could help. But anyway, let's get into this. this video is gonna be shorter than most of my videos. And to be honest, it took me a really long time to actually get round to recording it despite the number of people who was requesting it. I didn't think it was gonna add much value to many people, and it's not a complicated process. But it was requested so much and I kept saying to people, look, I'll think about it. There's obviously a lot of misconceptions out there, a lot of fear. Otherwise you wouldn't be asking for it. So I've decided to put this together. it's not going to solve the mysteries of the universe by any means. But look, hopefully this is going to help you. So first off, let's look at why you even need a bank account in Dubai. It seems like a scary and difficult enough process for many of you, and that's why a lot of you are turning to agencies and consultants, literally paying them [00:03:00] thousands to get help opening up a bank account. And to be honest, I did try and fail a couple of times before I was successful actually opening up an account, had I known the really basic information that I'm putting in this video today, that wouldn't have been the case. It would, for me, at least in my circumstances, it would have been a very simple, straightforward process. Quite simply, if you set up a company here in Dubai, whether it's a free zone company or a mainland company, you're going to need a corporate bank account here in Dubai. It is highly regulated here, and depending on where you're from, they may operate very differently from what you're used to. you can get by personally using a foreign bank card with the likes of wise or Revolut, similar types of banks. But if you do want to deal with business out here, it must be a UAE bank account. Now the process I'm going to talk to you about is as me, a British entrepreneur who set up a free zone company in Dubai in 2023, With IFZA. And to be quite frank, it might be different for you [00:04:00] and your circumstances. Plus the banks change their rules and anything else can happen. Basically I don't want you to come round to me and leave me a shitty comment about, oh this process didn't work for me, but it did work for me. So I'm only telling you what I did and hopefully it will work for you   I'm only talking about the process I went through. Cool? my first attempt at trying to open up a corporate bank account in Dubai was when I was still in London before I ever visited Dubai. I heard that it was possible that you could set up bank account in Dubai without even visiting. Had a look around and HSBC seemed to offer that as a product. So I applied to HSBC. Didn't hear anything back. Then two months later, literally two months later, I had them ask me a question, which I'd already answered in the initial application. And I was just like, look, if it's taken you two months to get back to me about setting up a bank account, I'm just not going to bother. Goodbye. So anyway, if you've watched the visa video, you would have [00:05:00] seen that I then later went to Dubai because I needed to get my medical done for my Emirates ID and stuff like that. Because I'd used Wise, I wasn't that bothered about a personal bank account at that time, particularly after looking at the fees and stuff involved with all of the bank accounts, which I'll get back onto at some point later in this video. But the free zone I set up with, who's called IFZA, they had done some deal with Mashreq Bank and it was meant to be a pretty simple process to open up the bank account, So I started the application process for the Mashreq NeoBiz bank account. And I completed all the steps, but the only thing I couldn't do is that they wanted proof of where I was living. And I needed something like an ejari, which is basically a tenancy contract. And I didn't have one. I was only staying in, hotel apartments. So I tried to submit the documents and it wouldn't let me do it online. So I thought, at this time, I didn't have much time left in Dubai after I had my Emirates ID and stuff given to me. So I just thought, you know what I'll do, is I will do it when I'm back in London. And also [00:06:00] because I wasn't able to get the ejari and I knew I wasn't gonna have one for a really long time if ever, what I decided to do is I had a look at other banks and I come across a bank called Wio Bank. I think they're trying to go for the same sort of thing as like Revolut, Monzo, Wise, Starling, that sort of, challenging the mainstream old school type banking systems. So when I tried to apply for Wio when I was back in London, I hit an issue. And my issue wasn't actually to do with Wio itself. My issue was to do with my phone number. Wio requires that you enter your UAE phone number. to start the application process. And it sends an OTP, one time We're all very familiar with that now, right? What I wasn't anticipating is that I wasn't receiving this OTP and I was confused as to why. Because it showed that my Virgin line was connected still, although I was in the United Kingdom, it showed that the line was connected. So I expected I should be able to receive text messages. However, when I entered [00:07:00] the UAE and set up the Virgin phone sim, they set me up on the basis that I was entering on a 30 day visa, because that's all you get as a tourist visa coming from the United Kingdom to Dubai is a 30 day visa. Now, yes, I now had a two year visa as an investor's visa, however, I didn't update Virgin with that. And I didn't know that they would cut off your line once your visa date expired. So my 30 days had expired, so they suspended my line, so I still have my number, but they suspended it. So then I noticed that Virgin Mobile in the UAE, On their mobile app, they had a way for you to upload your Emirates ID. And I had my Emirates ID, so I was like, great, let me upload my Emirates ID. No. It said you can't do that whilst you're outside of the UAE. So me being me, I turned on my VPN whilst I was in the United Kingdom, not illegal. Turned on my VPN whilst in the United Kingdom and set it to show that I'm in Dubai. [00:08:00] And it still showed the same thing. So then I turned off the GPS and then I realized that actually the Virgin Mobile app will not allow you to do anything on that app unless you have the GPS on your phone turned on. Now, I don't know if there's a way to make the GPS think you're somewhere else, but whatever, I'm not that technical on it. And I wasn't going to go to those lengths to try and trick the system into thinking I'm somewhere different. So I was like crap, I don't have a UAE number, so I'm not going to be able to open up the bank account because that was the first step required in the Wio setup process. what I don't know is that how do I been able to get the one time passcode from Wio if I still would have been able to complete the process while outside of the UAE. So if you are someone who does that process at some point, please leave something in the comments to let us know if it actually worked or not for you to set up Wio outside of the UAE. So anyway, wasn't able to set up a corporate bank account or a personal bank account whilst I was in the United Kingdom for those [00:09:00] reasons. So I wasn't able to accept payments from the company, which actually didn't bother me at all because at that point I didn't actually have much of a massive plan with the business, didn't really know what I was going to do with it. It was more of a knee jerk reaction setting up, to be honest with you. for the fact that I was pissed off that the United Kingdom government just keep taking like extreme amounts of the pie, let's say, well over 50 percent of my pie goes to the United Kingdom government in taxes, which I don't like. So anyway, the next time I visited Dubai a few months later, this visit was going to be for three months. So when I landed in Dubai airport, the first thing I did is I went to the Virgin kiosk. I gave them my Emirates ID and I asked them to update it whilst at the kiosk center, they sorted that out for me, which then allowed me to keep my number active for the two years, basically based on the time of my visa to be in Dubai. And to be honest, I then actually started to think, in fact, even before I come back to Dubai, I was thinking, do I need to actually get an [00:10:00] agency, or a consultant to help me set up my bank account in Dubai? There must be a reason why there's so many of them promoting their services and, maybe it is actually a really difficult thing to get the company set up. But I thought, The main thing that I faced last time was in relation to not being able to get my one time passcode. So this time I was going to get my one time passcode. So let's see what would happen next. So I think it was the next day, or possibly the day after, I then got on the Wio app again and I decided to try the application process. it was a fairly quick process, and these are the things that I needed. I needed my phone, obviously my personal details, passport, the Emirates ID, my trade license documents, and the proof of unit lease for the business. And all of that, apart from obviously my personal details, came with the company setup. It was approved very quickly, I think actually within the same day, it might have been the day after. And within a couple of days, they then asked me to provide a delivery address. Now, let me just rewind there because when I set [00:11:00] up, it didn't give me an option for where I was staying at that time. Unlike Mashrek, which I mentioned earlier, it didn't give me an option for that. It only asked me about my business details. I put the business office that's shown on the unit lease agreement, which is a requirement to be able to set up a company in Dubai, but I don't actually have a physical office there. It is a real building. I just don't have a physical office. It's a registered office, from the United Kingdom people are more familiar with that. And I was thinking maybe I'm going to have to go and plod along to the IFZA offices Because they're only going to deliver the bank card and the checkbook to the IFSR offices. So anyway, when they got in contact and asked me for address, I gave the hotel address that I was staying at the time. And lo and behold, they actually delivered it to there. just like getting any sort of recorded post delivery here, they ask to see your Emirates ID before they sign it over to you. I repeated the process with the personal bank account, and it was easy and slick getting it set up with Wio at that time. But the one thing that didn't dawn on me then, which is obviously dawning [00:12:00] on me now, is that even if I'd set it up abroad, they wouldn't have sent the bank card and the checkbook abroad. I would have had to have been here to receive it anyway. So I would suggest it's probably not the best idea to actually set it up whilst you're out of the UAE. Okay, so last few things. I said it's going to be a fairly short video, and it is. Now, there's a few things that you need to be careful of here. one of my biggest reservations is that Wio, it is a new bank. At the time when I set up, I think it was about one years old. I think it's, at the time of recording, it's about two and a half years old, something like that. as far as I'm aware, There are no guarantees with the banks in the UAE. Now, I did actually send Wio a message to ask them, if the bank went under, is there any guarantees about my money? What happens with that? They sent me back some answer which basically said no. They didn't say no, but it was some wishy washy answer which wasn't just getting to the point of just saying actually, there isn't. And I've got a [00:13:00] feeling that they don't have something like we have back in the United Kingdom where they'll guarantee up to £85,000 per bank account. Of course, if you have more than that and the bank goes under, you potentially lose that money. But here I don't think they have that. So with Wio as such a new bank, I was a bit concerned around that. So that's a consideration for you to have, particularly if you're going to have large sums of money in your bank account, you may want to spread your risk a little bit, across some other banks as well, particularly more like the mainstream long established, banks here in the UAE. Now, just in case you missed it, I'm going to go through the list of things you need to have in place to set up the corporate bank account here in Dubai. you need access to a working UAE phone number, you need your Emirates ID, you need your corporation documents, which you would have been sent if you set up the company with IFZA, You need proof of your unit lease agreement, somewhere you are physically staying so that you can receive your bank cards and your [00:14:00] checkbook. And it's exactly the same for a personal bank account. So let me get onto a few tips for you. As I mentioned before, Before you leave Dubai, you need to update your phone line with your Emirates ID. Otherwise, you run the risk that your phone line could be suspended. That's certainly the way that Virgin Mobile do it. I imagine the other networks are probably operating in the same way. just be careful, particularly if you are receiving calls on that line business calls, which could be worth thousands of, dirhams, dollars, pounds, whatever you want to call it, to you. You may end up not being able to receive any of those calls because your line is suspended if your visitor, visa has expired. If you've only got a few days left in Dubai before you leave and you're trying to get your corporate bank account open or your personal bank account open, just remember that you do need to receive the card and the physical checkbook. Yes, the actual physical paper things that you write in, literally those. And there's a reason for that, particularly if you're [00:15:00] going to rent anywhere on a ejari. They require physical checks. Strange, I know, but that is how it is done here for some reason. They're so advanced in every other way, but that one thing seems to be the way that it's still done. So just make sure that you give yourself more than a few days, in case there are any, issues that crop up with your application, any delays with the postal service, anything like that. Give yourself a bit of extra time, do it as soon as you can before you have to leave. As I mentioned before, be really careful and be satisfied in yourself that you're comfortable with the amount of money that you may store in that account. Now, for me, I may use it more of a sort of cash flowing thing. I don't keep large sums of money in at any point. I'm not actually doing large sums of business out here anyway right now. I still wouldn't be keeping large sums of money. Particularly not just in my Wio bank account, I'd probably look to a more established, state bank, to put my money in. I will get onto one of the reasons why you need to consider not just opening up [00:16:00] tons of bank accounts in Dubai. And my last real tip here is, and yes it's going to piss off those agents and consultants who might be charging literally thousands to set up a bank account, but most of you probably do not need to use an agent or a consultant. If you wouldn't do it back home where you live, where you come from. to set up a bank account, then I would urge you, please don't just do it here, just because. There's fees for everything, and people, for some reason, seem to think it's a really difficult process. It certainly wasn't for me, once I knew all the things that I needed to have in place to be able to open up the account. 99% of people will not need to pay an agent or a consultant to set up a bank account for them. It is a very short process and probably not one that's needed. That comes from someone who has a company here in Dubai who has the corporate service provider activity on their trade license who could sell you this as a service, but I won't, I would refuse. And I would just say, go and [00:17:00] watch this video and try that. And if you really can't get it done, then there's probably specialist agents out there or ask an accountant to help you or something like that as part of the terms of coming on board with them. now I'm going to get on to the important things you need to know There's only a couple of them and I'm going to wrap up this video soon one of the annoying things which if you're from the United Kingdom is something you probably don't experience as much is Every transaction that you do. I mean anything at all that you buy doesn't matter if it's $1 or less you get a text message and it gets really annoying If you go on your SMS settings on an iPhone You can silence your notifications for those. They're just really annoying. I don't know why, they do that, but they do So finally, the last few things that you need to know. Bank fees. If you're from the United Kingdom, you probably don't pay bank fees for either your business or your personal bank accounts, particularly your personal bank accounts. I'm not aware of anyone who pays bank fees for their personal bank account unless they get these add [00:18:00] ons, where you get free insurance and all sorts of other stuff with it. Business bank accounts in the United Kingdom, yes, there are some. Some of the older school banks will charge, a small fee. £8-£15 pounds a month. So the likes of Starling and Monzo and whoever, they don't charge fees. Certainly not at the time of recording this. But in the UAE, the banks that I have seen, For personal bank accounts, they will charge a fee unless you get your salary paid directly into the account over a certain amount per month, or you hold a certain balance. It depends on bank to bank. With Wiobank at the moment, what they're doing is that they charge a small fee. I think it's 25 dirhams, which is not much money. It's about £5 ($7) per month. If you want to have interest on your balances, it's 49 dirhams a month at the moment, which at this time is 5.5% interest if you have it in a saving space, whereas When I set up the account, it was 6%. So it's gone down very slightly. However, compared to the other banks, the interest [00:19:00] rates are normally sub 1%. So less than 1%. So it has concerned me a bit as to why and how Wio.able to pay 5-6% in interest when all the other mainstream banks are below 1%. But anyway, so far they have been paying that interest. And if you have your balances over a certain amount, depending on which plan you're on, then it will be free. Now for the business bank account, again, things are different. So you get a choice of a couple of with Wio and with all of them that I've looked at, the fees range, from 99 dirhams ($27) to a couple of hundred dirhams ($55) per month, for your bank account. And some of them do have minimum balance requirements. I think there are some which are then free if you have a certain balance, which the balance is usually quite high. So what I would say is that Where in the United Kingdom you could easily have, three or four business bank accounts across different banks. [00:20:00] And sometimes people do that one to protect the money, but also just in case sometimes banks decide to just freeze you from being able to do Any transfers, where they prevent you from being able to do any transfers or something like that. Which has happened to me as well plenty of times in the United Kingdom, and I don't do anything odd in there. It's happened to me with a couple of my banks. If you have something like that, if you're used to that sort of setup, just be mindful that you could be paying a few hundred dirhams every month to be able to just to keep those bank accounts open, which you may find it's probably not worth it. So that's something that you need to be aware of. Don't go into it just quickly going through the process and not really checking about the charges because the charges are there. And the second thing you need to know about interest, I've already mentioned it, which is already, it was the second on my list. So yeah, you already know. So that's it. That is my total experience of setting up a corporate bank account and a personal bank account here in Dubai with Wio Bank. It is possible things may be different for [00:21:00] your personal circumstances. But once I had the documents that I needed, I didn't really face any obstacles, so yeah. And that is why I wasn't even sure about making this video because it wasn't a complicated process. It was pretty simple to get through once I had all the documents. But people keep asking, so it's obviously something that is a concern for many people. So hopefully this has been helpful. Hopefully it saves you a bit of money from having to go with an agent or a consultant. Sorry agents and consultants, I just feel like they make a video like this and just give it out for free to people. Watch this video next and please remember to like the video, leave a comment, subscribe, and most importantly, share this video with someone who you think it could really help. I'm Aaron Henriques. Thanks for staying with me. Bye.

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