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Why Suddenly Book Keeping is necessary in UAE

Table of Contents

Financial records form the backbone of any business, providing visibility into the health and performance at a granular level. For companies operating in the UAE, bookkeeping is not just best practice but a legal obligation. UAE regulations like the Commercial Companies Law and taxation rules mandate meticulous record keeping with severe penalties for non-compliance.

This article delves into:

  • Specific Bookkeeping Requirements in UAE
  • How Proper Books Enable Financial Visibility  
  • Role in Streamlining Compliance and Audits
  • Implications of Flouting Accounting Rules
  • How Accounting Firms Can Assist

Proactively investing in robust accounting systems and resources is crucial for continuity, minimizing penalties and unlocking funding for sustainable success in the UAE.

Section 1 – Bookkeeping Rules and Standards in UAE 

The UAE has stringent book and record keeping requirements for companies as per federal laws and international accounting standards.

UAE Commercial Companies Law Requirements

The primary regulations stem from Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 regarding Commercial Companies. All onshore firms must maintain detailed accounts of:

  • Revenues, receivables and incomes
  • Expenses across business activities
  • Assets – fixed and liquid – along with depreciation
  • Liabilities and financing structures
  • Equity ownership and profit distribution

Additionally, original documents like purchase agreements, invoices, contracts, inventory lists and payroll records need archiving for at least 5 years.

International Accounting Standards 

As a financial hub, the UAE also adheres to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and International Accounting Standards (IAS). These dictate globally aligned processes for preparing financial statements.

Specific Industries Have Added Rules

Sectors like banking and insurance have further guidelines from respective regulatory bodies. New licenses also bring associated requirements. For example, Value Added Tax (VAT) registrants must issue compliant invoices and submit periodic tax returns.

Section 2 – How Bookkeeping Enables Financial Visibility

Beyond legal compliance, proper books unlock tangible business benefits through financial visibility.

Tracking Money Inflows and Outflows

Transaction level recording across business activities offers insights like:

  • Accounts receivable cycles and cash flow management 
  • Sales performance of products and services  
  • Identifying most profitable revenue streams
  • Seasonal or cyclical patterns in customer payments  
  • Salary and manpower costs across divisions
  • Major expense areas to control 

Informed Financial Planning 

These insights enable data-backed decisions on:

  • Optimizing budgets, improving margins and reducing wasteful costs
  • Forecasting working capital needs accurately
  • Valuing the company precisely for expansion or exit  
  • Raising funding from banks, investors and lenders

Essentially, bookkeeping provides the key performance indicators for shaping financial strategy.

Section 3 – Streamlining Compliance and Audits

Proper bookkeeping systems also minimize headaches and penalties from recurring compliance processes. 

Banks Require Assessing Business Finances

Banks and NBFCs will thoroughly examine past financial statements before extending any business loan or credit facility. Weak, inaccurate or incomplete books will hurt chances of securing funding.

Annual Audits Verify Finances 

All companies registered in UAE’s mainland and free zones have to undergo periodic audits from approved firms. Any lapses in documentation or payments of taxes/fees discovered during audits can lead to fines starting from AED 10,000.

Certifying Payroll, Insurance, Licenses 

Similarly, presenting up-to-date records is required during attestation of health insurance policies, visa quotas and trade license renewal. Disorganized books will really delay or disrupt these mandatory procedures.

Outsourcing Bookkeeping

Handling these exhaustive and evolving accounting and reporting demands alongside regular business activities can be extremely taxing for founders and managers. Outsourced accounting services are an efficient solution. Qualified professionals take over end-to-end books, compliance and audit coordination for reasonable monthly fees. This leaves leadership free to focus on core operations.

Section 4 – Implications of Flouting Accounting Regulations 

The UAE takes financial reporting seriously with steep fines for non-compliance.

Penalties for Errant Accounting 

Common consequences include:

  • Fines starting from AED 50,000 up to AED 500,000  
  • Trade license suspension until issues are fixed
  • Imprisonment in certain serious violation cases
  • Reputational damages hampering operations

Doubling Fines

Additionally, penalties for subsequent violations keep doubling rapidly making continuity challenging for smaller firms. Despite the costs, fixing issues and preventing future lapses is critical.

Loss of Funding Lines

Banks, creditors and investors will be wary of lending more or continuing existing facilities for businesses with accounting red flags. This strains cash flows and growth prospects.

Operational Disruptions

Trade license blocks or changing finance teams to fix problems will directly stall business activities. The disruptions frustrate customers and hurt revenues.

Tackling Accounting Compliance

Given the scale of risks associated, business owners must invest appropriately in internal accounting resources and systems from the beginning alongside other functions like sales or marketing.

Outsourcing to reputed accounting firms also offers comprehensive guidance and execution on staying compliant at relatively affordable monthly rates suitable even for early stage companies.


As evident, maintaining orderly, accurate and timely records of all financial transactions is a legal prerequisite for running any onshore UAE business. Apart from simply avoiding steep fines, proper bookkeeping and accounting provides crucial business intelligence to drive growth with financial visibility. It also minimizes disruptions from recurring compliance processes like annual audits.

While handing the function off to seasoned professionals or modern software tools has explicit costs, it pays off manifold in the long run – both financially and operationally. The earlier leadership realizes this imperative and allocates resources appropriately, the faster their venture can scale sustainably.


What documents need archiving as per UAE commercial law?

Alongside bookkeeping registers, original copies of all contracts, invoices, inventory records, payroll lists and other supporting documents need archiving for 5 years minimum.

What sectors have additional bookkeeping regulations?

Banking, insurance, money exchange along with new licenses like VAT registration bring added documentation and reporting requirements mandated by respective governing agencies.

What is the minimum fine for accounting non-compliance?

The minimum penalty is AED 50,000 as per UAE commercial law. But fines keep doubling with repeat offenses making non-compliance commercially unviable.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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