Year-End Audit in UAE: Mandatory or Not? #2023 Guidelines

A Comprehensive Guide to 2023 Year-End Financial Audits in UAE

What is a year-end audit in UAE?

A year-end audit in UAE serves as a vital financial instrument, offering businesses a comprehensive view of their present financial standing and empowering informed decision-making for the future. By providing an impartial evaluation of a company’s financial statements, it uncovers potential areas of concern, ensuring a clear understanding of the company’s financial health.

A year-end audit in UAE is a compulsory examination of a company’s tax liability, compliance, and financial records. Conducted by accredited auditors, this review scrutinizes financial statements, tax returns, and documents to identify any discrepancies or errors.

These audits, mandated by the FTA (Federal Tax Authority), ensure that companies adhere to corporate tax laws and FTA guidelines. They serve as a means for the authorities to verify tax settlement, outstanding debts, and the timely payment of taxes by taxable entities.

Year-end audit in UAE can be a smooth and efficient process if you’re prepared. Here are some best practices to ensure a seamless experience:

1. Understand the Audit Requirements:

  • Federal Law No. 32 of 2021 (Commercial Companies Law): This law mandates annual audits for specific companies (Article 27, Chapter 2).
  • Free Zone Regulations: Each free zone has its audit requirements. Check with your specific free zone authority.
  • International Accounting Standards (IAS): Use IAS for accurate financial reporting.

2. Start Early and Plan Well:

  • Gather your team: Assign roles and responsibilities for audit preparation.
  • Communicate with your auditor: Discuss their expectations and timeline.
  • Prepare a client-prepared list: This helps the auditor identify key documents.

3. Ensure Data Accuracy and Completeness:

  • Reconcile accounts regularly: Bank statements, receivables, payables, etc.
  • Review contracts and agreements: Verify proper revenue recognition.
  • Accrue expenses and prepayments: Don’t miss anything.
  • Maintain a strong internal control system: Minimize errors and fraud.

4. Documentation is Key:

  • Organize all financial records: Keep invoices, receipts, contracts, etc.
  • Maintain a proper filing system: Easy retrieval for auditors.
  • Electronically store documents (optional): Secure and readily accessible.

5. Seek Expert Help:

  • Consider internal audit resources: Can identify and address issues early.
  • Consult with experienced financial professionals: Ensure compliance and best practices.

By following these best practices and utilizing the resources provided, you can approach your year-end audit in UAE with confidence. Remember, preparation is key to a smooth and efficient financial audit process.

Year-End Audit in UAE Mainland Companies

Under the UAE Commercial Companies Law, mainland companies are compelled to undergo financial statement audits. These assessments adhere strictly to the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). Annually, these audits must transpire, administered by one or a consortium of auditors.

Foreign companies with branches registered in the UAE are obliged to furnish annual audit reports and audited financial statements. Additionally, companies undergoing liquidation must provide audited financial statements, crucial for formulating the liquidator’s audit report.

Year-end financial audit in Corporate Tax

A corporate Tax Audit in UAE stands as an obligatory assessment, delving into a company’s tax liability, ensuring tax compliance, and scrutinizing financial records, applicable to companies meeting specified criteria.

Financial Audit Period in UAE

The audit period in UAE spans five years. According to prevailing laws, companies must maintain their books of accounts for this duration, conduct annual audits, and retain these records in their possession.

Internal and External Audits

Typically, businesses perform internal audits on an annual basis to evaluate financial controls and operations. External audits, aiming for transparency and compliance, occur annually or periodically as necessitated by the company’s specific needs and requirements.

Mandatory Financial Audits in UAE: Regulatory Compliance

According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, over 670,000 active business licenses were issued in 2022. Of these, a staggering 95% were for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This means that a vast majority of UAE businesses fall under the mandatory audit requirement. It’s not just about the big players; financial accountability is crucial for businesses of all sizes in the UAE’s thriving economy.

Year-end financial audits are compulsory in UAE primarily to guarantee adherence to regulatory standards. The government mandates specific guidelines and regulations for businesses, including the necessity of audits, and ensuring compliance with established norms.

Year-End Audit Requirements in UAE Companies

Confused about whether your company needs a year-end audit in the UAE? You’re not alone. With a mix of mainland, free zones, and various company structures, navigating the UAE’s audit requirements can feel like deciphering a Rubik’s cube.

All mainland companies must undergo an annual audit, regardless of their size or industry. This includes joint stock companies, limited liability companies, and even partnerships and affiliations limited by shares. No exceptions.

Free zone companies (FZCOs) and free zone establishments (FZEs) also face mandatory audits. If a company’s annual revenue exceeds AED50 million, there will also be an in-depth financial examination. 

It’s important to note that even if an audit is not mandatory, it is still good practice for all companies to maintain their financial records for at least five years. This can be helpful for tax purposes, as well as for providing transparency to investors and other stakeholders.

The size of a company isn’t the only factor that triggers a financial audit. Even if a company’s revenue does not imply a bigger number, a financial audit is still required if it falls under certain categories. These include:

  • Qualifying Free Zone Persons: This applies to individuals with specific roles within free zones, like branch managers or authorized representatives.
  • Publicly Traded Companies: If a company proudly boasts a listing on the stock exchange, annual audits are mandatory.
  • Liquidation Looming: If a company’s facing closure, an audit becomes a mandatory step before waving goodbye.

UAE Financial Audit Checklist for Year-End Audits

A Financial Audit Checklist serves as a comprehensive document outlining tasks essential for the annual financial auditing process. It aids in examining a company’s income and expenses, ensuring thorough scrutiny and compliance with auditing procedures.


  • Audit engagement letter: Signed and agreed upon by both parties, outlining scope, fees, and timeline.
  • Understanding of the entity and its environment: Industry analysis, business model, risk assessment, internal controls evaluation.
  • Year-end cutoff procedures: Review of transactions near year-end, revenue recognition, accruals, and expense cut-offs.

Financial Statements Audit UAE:

  • Balance Sheet: Cash, receivables, inventories, property, plant & equipment, investments, liabilities, equity, completeness and accuracy.
  • Income Statement: Revenues, expenses, gains, losses, classification, accuracy, and adherence to accounting standards.
  • Cash Flow Statement: Direct and indirect cash flows, operating, investing, and financing activities, reconciliation to balance sheet.
  • Notes to the Financial Statements: Significant accounting policies, related party transactions, subsequent events, contingencies.

Compliance Audit UAE:

  • UAE Commercial Companies Law: Articles of Association, share capital, shareholder agreements, statutory records.
  • Tax regulations: VAT compliance, corporate income tax, withholding taxes, tax returns filing.
  • Industry-specific regulations: Financial services, healthcare, construction, etc. (as applicable).

Internal Controls Audit UAE:

  • Segregation of duties: Review of key control points and potential risks of fraud or error.
  • Authorization procedures: Purchase orders, payments, payroll, asset disposals.
  • Recordkeeping and data integrity: Accounting system controls, backup, and recovery procedures.
  • Internal audit function: Effectiveness and independence of the internal audit department.

Year-End Audit Procedures UAE:

  • Physical inventory count observation: Verify accuracy and existence of inventories.
  • Confirmation of receivables: Direct communication with customers to confirm balances.
  • Cut-off testing: Transactions near year-end are properly recorded in the correct period.
  • Analytical procedures: Comparison of financial data to prior periods, industry benchmarks, and budgets.


  • Management letter: Communication of identified weaknesses in internal controls and recommendations for improvement.
  • Audit opinion: Based on International Standards on Auditing (ISA) and expressed clearly and concisely.

Key Takeaways

Year-end audits in UAE might seem daunting, but they are not meant to give businesses a hard time. It is there to ensure transparency, build trust, and ultimately, contribute to a robust and sustainable business environment in the UAE.

Whether a seasoned entrepreneur or a fresh-faced start-up, a year-end financial audit is an opportunity to strengthen a company’s financial standing and stay compliant. After all, in the UAE’s dynamic market, a clean year-end financial audit report is an entrepreneur’s golden ticket to success.

Reasons why a business needs year-end financial auditing services in Dubai


  • Mandatory for certain businesses: In the UAE, some businesses are legally required to undergo an annual financial audit. This includes companies registered under the Federal Commercial Companies Law (FCCL), as well as those operating in certain free zones.
  • License renewal: Many free zones and licensing authorities require audited financial statements for license renewal.
  • Tax compliance: An audit helps ensure your business is compliant with UAE tax regulations, reducing the risk of penalties and fines.

Credibility and transparency:

  • Increased investor confidence: Audited financial statements provide investors with a verified and reliable picture of your company’s financial health, attracting more investment opportunities.
  • Enhanced stakeholder trust: Stakeholders like banks, lenders, and suppliers rely on audited financials to make informed decisions about your business, fostering stronger relationships.
  • Improved corporate governance: Regular audits demonstrate your commitment to transparency and ethical business practices, boosting your reputation.

Financial health and risk management:

  • Error detection and prevention: Auditors identify and address accounting errors, inconsistencies, and potential fraud, safeguarding your financial stability.
  • Internal control assessment: Audits evaluate the effectiveness of your internal controls, pinpointing weaknesses and suggesting improvements to mitigate risks.
  • Strategic financial insights: Auditors offer valuable insights and recommendations based on their analysis, helping you make informed financial decisions for future growth.

Additional benefits:

  • Benchmarking and comparison: Financial Audits enable you to benchmark your financial performance against industry standards and identify areas for improvement.
  • Preparation for future fundraising: Audited financials are often a prerequisite for securing loans or other forms of financing.
  • Peace of mind: A clean audit report provides peace of mind knowing your financial statements are accurate and compliant.

Year-end audits in UAE offers numerous benefits, going beyond mere compliance. It’s an investment in a company’s credibility, financial health, and future success.

The Role of Financial Auditors in UAE

Financial Auditors meticulously assess a business’s operations and obligations within the framework of UAE Anti-Money Laundering Laws. Recognizing the uniqueness of each business, they scrutinize accounts, documents, and control policies with exceptional vigilance to detect any suspicious transactions or doubtful accounts. Financial Audit Firms also:

  • Review the company’s financial statements and compare them to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). This ensures that the financial statements are accurate and fairly presented.
  • Test the company’s internal controls to see if they are effective in preventing and detecting errors and fraud. This helps to protect the company’s assets and ensure the reliability of its financial reporting.
  • Identify any areas where the company’s financial reporting could be improved. This could include recommending changes to accounting policies, internal controls, or disclosures.
  • Communicate their findings and recommendations to the company’s management. This helps the management to understand the results of the audit and take any necessary corrective action.

Overall, the role of financial auditors in year-end audits in UAE is to provide an independent and objective opinion on the fairness of a company’s financial statements. This helps to ensure that the financial statements are reliable and can be used by investors, creditors, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions.

Ready to ensure your financial compliance and success in the UAE? Our expert accounting services in Dubai are tailored to navigate the complexities of year-end financial audits. Let’s secure your business’s financial health for the upcoming year. Reach out today for a comprehensive audit and strategic financial planning that sets you up for growth and prosperity in the UAE market. Book a free consultation today.

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