Dear Friends and Clients,

The UAE show special incentives at the end of the year. So the golden visa possibilities are extended, Abu Dhabi allows a variety of freelance licenses without the necessity of a local service agent, the tax residence certificate for individuals as well as for companies can be applied online and also notary services are available online. With the beginning of next year, the biggest hurdle, namely the 51% stake of the UAE Nationals should fall.

Those who have not renewed their visa and illegally reside in the country can still leave without penalty until the end of the year.

RAK Freezone gives substantial discounts for new establishments and license renewals.

But also we are very client friendly to compensate negative effects of the Covid crisis: we have reduced our fees for company formations by almost 50 % and give members of all our cooperation partner organizations like AHK, Austrian Business Council UAE, Austrian Business Association Singapore and the Swiss Business Council discounts on our fees. In our ASEAN offices we have also significantly reduced the cost of all immigration services.

The review of the past year may remain undecided. For most it was not a good one. However, we must admit that many things have changed this year in ways we never expected and have not seen in decades or perhaps even longer. We have changed our lives, not only that travel has been reduced or stopped altogether, we have become more domestic, probably more concerned with friends and families than with business, have held our conferences online much more often than in person, and perhaps have been able to realize that many supposed necessities are not so necessary.

Life was a little different. And as long as we accept changes and don’t see these changes as a burden or negative, we will find it easier to adapt. Only those who complain every day how bad the current situation is, suffer.

We wish all our friends and customers what they wish for themselves for the New Year. However, such a wish can also be a burden, especially if it does not come true and causes disappointment. So it is best to go your way and accept the current situation.

We as advisors can always only outline and show a path, you have to walk it yourself.


Theodor Strohal

UAE: Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates for Investors via E-Services portal

The Federal Tax Authority will now start issuing digital Tax Residency Certificates and Commercial Activities Certificates on its e-portal starting November 14.  The Tax Residency Certificate is issued to individuals and companies to benefit from Double Tax Avoidance Agreements. The Commercial Activities Certificate allows applicants to refund VAT paid in advance outside the UAE, whether or not DTAs are applicable.

UAE: Applications suspended for citizens of 13 countries

UAE has released a circular effective November 18 that stopped issuing visas from 13 countries including:

  1. Iran,
  2. Iraq,
  3. Lebanon,
  4. Syria,
  5. Yemen,
  6. Pakistan,
  7. Afghanistan,
  8. Libya,
  9. Somalia,
  10. Kenya,
  11. Tunisia,
  12. Turkey,
  13. Algeria.

The reason for halting the issuance of visas is not yet explicated by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Abu Dhabi: Launch of verification service for licensed companies in Abu Dhabi

A new website called “TAHAQAQ” was launched by the Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development (ADDED). It offers a verification feature which provides basic information about businesses registered with ADDED. Consumers and business customers can verify a company’s existence and status before they make any transactions by entering the serial number of the e-commerce activity or the license number.

UAE: Extension of grace period for visa violators until December 31,2020

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has extended the grace period of exemption for all visa violators until December 31, 2020. This new decision is applicable for those who violated the entry and foreigners’ residence law before 1st March 2020. Violators will be allowed to exit the country without fines or adjust their status before the year end.

Abu Dhabi: DED allows non-citizens to obtain Freelancer licenses for several activities

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) will now allow the issuance of Freelancer licenses for UAE Citizens, residents and non-residents. Under the new resolution, license holders can now practice up to 48 economic activities. Work terms and conditions for employed individuals:

  • An approval from the government employer must be obtained if the applicant works in the public sector.
  • If the applicant works with a permanent employment contract in the private sector, an approval from the employer must be obtained if the activity is similar to or overlaps with the activity of the requested license. An approval is no longer needed if the activity is different and not similar in any way.
  • The two parties’ agreement’s terms and conditions will be applied in terms of work timings, leaves and other obligations.

UAE: Expansion of the Golden Residency programme

The UAE Cabinet has announced the expansion of the Golden Residency programme with its implementation starting on 1st December 2020. A ten-year visa can now be obtained by the following individuals:

  • PhD degree holders,
  • Doctors and engineers in the field of computer engineering, electronics, programming, electrical engineering and biotechnology,
  • Graduates from UAE accredited universities who scored Grade Point of 3.8 and above,
  • Specialists in artificial intelligence, big data, virology, epidemiology, and
  • UAE high school top graduates and their families.

Ras Al Khaimah: Discounts for on-time and advance renewals

RAKEZ has launched offers for on-time and advance renewals which is valid until December 31, 2020. The year-end SME boosters include the following incentives:

  • 20% discount renewal package,
  • 20% discount activity change request,
  • 20% discount additional license fees,
  • 20% family visa requests, and
  • Flexible installments.

UAE: Cabinet amends Law on Evidence in Civil and Commercial Transaction Law

The UAE Cabinet has held a meeting which discussed the approval of a federal decree law amending certain provisions of the “Law on Evidence in Civil and Commercial Transactions. The amendments include:

  • Introduction of remote communication technologies in evidence-related procedures.
  • Adoption of digital signatures and documents.
  • Legitimizing e-hearing minutes that document witness testimonies, decisions of judges, notary documents and other related provisions.

The UAE Cabinet also approved the issuance of federal law to amend certain provisions of the law regulating the notary public profession. The amendments include:

  • Simplifying the evidence-giving process for all parties.
  • Enabling the use of e-transactions in all notary public procedures.
  • Facilitate the creation of memos, verification of proof of identity, registration, signing and payment of fees.

Saudi Arabia: Labour reform launched in order to boost expats rights

Saudi Arabia has made labor reforms to enhance the contractual relationship between workers and employers which will take effect starting March 14, 2021. The new reforms will regulate the exit and re-entry visa issuance of expatriate workers without employer’s approval. Workers will now be allowed to transfer between employers upon the expiry of their worker contract and will allow them to travel outside Saudi Arabia after submitting a request without the need of their employer’s consent. Also, foreign workers can now leave the country after the end of their employment contract and the employer will then be notified electronically. However, those who break their working contracts will bear all consequences.

Far East:

Myanmar: Import license list disclosed

Myanmar has declared that import licenses will now be required for 3931 goods categories and will take effect of December 1. Some of the goods that are included in the list are agriculture products, machineries, automobiles, mineral fuels, beverages, forest products, chemicals, and medicines. Traders are now required to apply for import licenses under the HS Code 2017 Version.

Thailand: Fresh tax breaks for electric vehicle companies

Thailand’s Board of Investment has approved a three-year tax holiday for manufacturers of plug-in hybrid vehicles and an eight-year corporate income tax waiver for battery electric vehicle makers. The government aims to accelerate the production of electric vehicles in the country and to position itself as a center for battery-powered vehicles. The new incentives cover electric cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and ships. Details of the package include:

  • Four-wheel vehicle manufacturers must invest a minimum of 5 billion baht to be eligible for the tax breaks.
  • Those investing less than 5 billion baht will get a three-year tax holiday. Companies investing to produce motorcycles, three-wheelers, buses and trucks will be entitled to a three-year corporate income tax exemption.
  • Manufacturers of electric-powered ships with less than 500 gross tonnages will get an eight-year corporate income tax waiver.
  • For critical parts including high-voltage harness, reduction gear, battery cooling system and regenerative braking system, projects will receive an eight-year corporate tax exemption.
  • Projects for production of battery modules and cells for local market will get a 90% reduction in import duties for two years on raw or essential materials not available in Thailand.

Cambodia: Government introduces digital service tax on international tech firms

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in Cambodia plans to impose digital tax on international tech companies. It aims to collect tax on the services provided by these firms that generate revenue from Cambodians. The telecom ministry and the General Department of Taxation plan to implement bilateral information exchange, share telecom operators’ revenue data from the Data Management Centre, provide technical support in enforcing tax obligations using the upcoming National International Gateway. They will also jointly draft regulations and build technical capability to tax digital advertisements and services.

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