The concept of Permanent Establishment (PE) in the UAE has gained prominence with the introduction of the UAE Corporate Tax Law and its alignment with international tax standards. Understanding PE is crucial for businesses operating in the UAE to ensure compliance and avoid unintended tax liabilities.

Permanent Establishment (PE)

 Definition of Permanent Establishment

A Permanent Establishment typically refers to a fixed place of business through which the business of an enterprise is wholly or partly carried on. The UAE Corporate Tax Law defines PE in line with international standards set by the OECD.

 Types of Permanent Establishments

1. Fixed Place PE:

    A place of management, branch, office, factory, workshop, or any other place of extraction of natural resources.

    A building site, construction project, installation, or assembly project that lasts for a specified duration (e.g., more than six months).

2. Agency PE:

    Exists when a person (other than an independent agent) acts on behalf of an enterprise and has the authority to conclude contracts in the name of the enterprise.

3. Service PE:

    Created when employees or personnel provide services in the UAE for a specified duration (e.g., more than 183 days within any 12month period).

 Determining Factors for PE

Several factors are considered when determining if a foreign entity has a PE in the UAE:

 Fixed Place of Business: Does the entity have a physical place through which business is conducted?

 Duration: Is the business presence or activity sustained over a significant period?

 Authority to Conclude Contracts: Does the entity have personnel or agents in the UAE authorized to conclude contracts?

 Nature of Activities: Are the activities carried out in the UAE core to the business operations?

 Implications of PE

1. Taxation:

    Income attributable to the PE is subject to UAE corporate tax.

    Foreign entities with a PE in the UAE must register and file tax returns in accordance with UAE tax laws.

2. Compliance:

    Proper documentation and reporting of activities to avoid penalties.

    Transfer pricing rules may apply to transactions between the PE and other parts of the entity.

 Avoiding Unintended PE

Businesses can take several steps to avoid creating an unintended PE:

 Use of Independent Agents: Engaging agents who act in the ordinary course of their business and do not have the authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the foreign entity.

 Short-term Activities: Limiting the duration of projects or activities to below the threshold that would constitute a PE.

Careful Structuring: Structuring operations to minimize the fixed place of business and personnel activities that could trigger PE status. 

Permanent Establishment (PE)


Understanding and managing PE risks are crucial for foreign businesses operating in the UAE. Proper planning and compliance with UAE Corporate Tax Law can help avoid unintended tax liabilities and ensure smooth business operations. Consulting with tax professionals and  advisors familiar with UAE tax regulations is highly recommended to navigate the complexities of PE and maintain compliance.