The Ras al Khaimah International Company is one of the most confidential, secure, and flexible “offshore” solutions available today. Apart from its integral features, it draws enormous credibility and prestige from the broader socio economic context of the UAE as a global financial centre. Born out of a multi-award winning Free Trade Zone (operating within a world class regional business hub), the RAK IC enjoys a strong “commercial authenticity”, untarnished by the “tax haven” status attributed to so many jurisdictions.
Ras Al Khaimah is one of the seven emirates forming the UAE federation. Since 2003 it has pursued a highly successful policy of industrialisation and economic diversification in various sectors. A key engine driving the Emirate’s economic growth and development has been its Free Trade Zone. Established in 2000, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) remains one of the fastest growing and most successful free trade zones in the UAE. It is also home to the RAK International Business Registry and the RAK International Company.
In September 2006, the RAK Government launched an international business registry (the second offshore facility in the UAE), regulated by the RAK Free Trade Zone Authority – enabling foreigners to register international companies in the RAK Free Trade Zone without the need to establish a physical presence and with nominal equity investment (no minimum capital requirement).
This International Company model was based on a set of rules and regulations designed to offer one of the most attractive and flexible offshore tax and legal regimes in the world.
RAK IC’s enjoy absolute confidentiality in every respect. There is no disclosure whatsoever of any details pertaining to the company, the beneficial owners or directors, and no public access to details on the international business registry.
Foreign individuals and entities can be 100% owners of RAK IC’s, which enjoy zero corporation or capital gains tax – as well as respected “white list” status deriving from the UAE. Indeed the UAE is the only OECD white listed jurisdiction that has no taxes for international companies, free zone entities, or local companies and individuals.
Businesses who do not intend to conduct any onshore operations within the UAE, can utilise the RAK IC for a wide range of purposes including international trade, ownership of international assets and real estate, as well as ownership of intellectual property (patents, trademarks and copyright). It can be used for head office operations, and act as a global holding company for entities engaged in various international activities. The RAK IC may hold shares in any legal entity in the world, including offshore companies in other jurisdictions. Naturally, there are no restrictions on capital and profit repatriation.
Despite a general prohibition on conducting business with persons resident in UAE or carrying out any trade within the UAE (unless it has obtained the appropriate licence from the relevant authority), the RAK IC can hold shares in both offshore, free zone and onshore UAE companies. It can also own or hold an interest in designated freehold properties throughout the UAE.
In addition a RAK IC can of course hold and operate a bank account in the UAE, and may also maintain professional relations with legal consultants, accountants, management companies or other similar persons within the UAE.
The UAE currently has in place 48 double taxation prevention treaties and plans to implement 5 new treaties every year. The majority of these treaties do not contain the recent OECD clause for “exchange of information”. Moreover, other than the Netherlands-UAE bilateral treaty, the UAE’s bilateral treaties do not discriminate between entities established on the mainland or within the free trade zones. In this context a RAK IC will be able to avail itself of the benefits deriving from the UAE’s comprehensive treaty network thus helping to safeguard profits remitted abroad arising from dividends, interest, royalties and fees.
In cases where certain anti avoidance provisions or optimal tax planning contingencies require a physical presence, a basic RAK Free Zone entity (“flexi desk” or “flexi-office” facility) can easily be established and can be wholly owned by the International Company – affording a high degree of flexibility and confidentiality together with a physical presence, as well as the opportunity to procure visas for designated officials. If desired, a bona fide local business activity can be established through the acquisition of an appropriate business licence. Local “management and control” can also be asserted through the appointment of a corporate director in the UAE.
Although all UAE companies must abide by UAE law, RAK IC’s can choose which legal system should be applied for resolving inheritance issues, commercial disputes, and any other legal matter. .
Flexibility is evidenced in the ability to tailor the memorandum and articles of association of a RAK IC to suit specific needs, including the citing of the preferred legal convention, whether it is common law, civil law, Sharia or Hindu succession law etc and also the issuance of multiple classes of shares, including custodian shares and restricted bearer shares.
The incorporation process itself is extremely straightforward with comparatively minimal compliance procedures and with a minimum requirement for one director and shareholder (which may be the same person). The director and shareholder can be individuals or corporate entities, and may of course be non resident in the UAE.
Moreover on an ongoing basis, RAK IC’s have no annual reporting requirements, no need to conduct AGM’s, and no need to file accounts or annual returns.
The RAK IC derives enormous strength from the stable socio-political environment and economic dynamism afforded by the UAE, and its location within of one of the fastest growing emirates. The Confidentiality, versatility, and security of the IC, combined with its zero tax status and access to the UAE’s double tax treaty network make it a uniquely attractive proposition.
There is only a restricted number of fully licensed agents directly authorised to incorporate and manage International Companies in Ras al Khaimah, some of which can benefit from a prestigious “World Trade Centre” registered office address in Dubai.