Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Free Zone

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an independent free zone established in 2004. It is a global financial nucleus for Middle East, South Asia and Africa, connecting the regional markets with the economies of Americas, Europe and Asia. It is located midway between London in the west and Singapore in the east, i.e., equidistant from two global financial hubs. DIFC is home to several financial institutions, in addition to multinational companies, residences and places of recreation. DIFC has its own independent judicial system and regulatory body, financial exchange, and law framework. It is home to several financial institutions, investors and wealth funds, in addition to amenities like eateries, hotels, residential zones, retail outlets and exhibition galleries.

The governing body of DIFC is DIFC Authority. And the financial services in DIFC are regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), monitoring the nature of financial services to and from DIFC. The laws of DIFC are distinct from that of the UAE, written in English, and resorting to the English law for resolving any conflicts. DIFC has independent jurisdiction when it comes to matters of commerce, securities, corporations or civil systems.


Dubai International Financial Centre offer the following benefits to companies:

  • Provision of 100% ownership, with no need of a local partner
  • 0% tax liability for first forty years of operation
  • A huge cosmopolitan business environment
  • No limit on capital repatriation
  • State-of-the-art infrastructure and ultra-modern office spaces
  • Provision of fair adjudication under the common law framework
  • An independent regulatory environment
  • Internationally accepted laws and regulatory processes
  • Presence of a high-class stock exchange with a primary and secondary listing of debts and equity instruments
  • Transparent operating environment
  • Availability of competent professionals

Fiscal Activities Allowed in DIFC

  • Accepting deposits and providing credit facility
  • BPO services
  • Providing and arranging custody
  • Insurance and reinsurance services
  • Managing profit-sharing investments
  • Asset management and fund registration
  • Dealing in investment as agent or as principal
  • Advising on financial products
  • Trust services

Types of Legal Entities Permitted in DIFC

Dubai International Financial Centre provides an individual or corporation to start their business in any of the following legal forms:

1. Company

  • Company Limited by Shares
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Recognized Company
  • Protected Cell Company
  • Open Ended Investment Company

2. General Partnership

3. Limited Liability Partnership

4. Limited Partnership

5. Trust

6. Association

How to Set Up a Business in DIFC Free Zone?

Dubai ensures easy access to financial services for companies established in DIFC free zone through a competitive benchmarking and financial risk management. Apart from financial aspects, DIFC comprises top-class infrastructure, retail outlets, and restaurants offering vast event space for any occasion. Coming to company formation, DIFC introduced non-financial activities to encourage the growth of other businesses. To start a business in DIFC, an individual or corporate body needs to have a commercial license.

Below is the procedure to be followed to obtain a commercial license in DIFC.

For a Business Not Engaged in Financial Services (Non-DFSA Regulated)

  1. Introductory meeting with the Business Development team of the DIFC
  2. Initial screening by the team of DIFC
  3. Submission of application to the DIFC
  4. Evaluation by the Registration Review Committee (RRC)
  5. Registration with the Registrar of Companies (ROC)

For a Business Engaged in Financial Services (Authorised Firm)

  1. Initial meeting with Business Development team
  2. Initial screening by the authority
  3. Submission of letter of intent to the DIFC
  4. Authorisation by Dubai Financial Service Authority (DFSA)
  5. Registration with the ROC

For a Business Engaged in the Provision of Legal or Accounting Services (Ancillary Services Provider)

First meeting with Business Development team of the DIFC

  1. Initial screening by DIFC
  2. Submission of ASP application to the DIFC
  3. Authorisation by the DFSA
  4. Registration with the ROC

For a Business Engaged in Operating an Exchange/Clearing House (Authorized Market Institution)

  1. DFSA authorization
  2. ROC registration

Documents Required to Set Up a Business in DIFC

  • Proof of trade name reservation
  • Proof of initial approval for business activities
  • Passport copies for the shareholders
  • Passport copy and CV of the manager
  • Personal Information sheet for each shareholder & manager
  • Detailed plan of business activity
  • Information on operating system and controls
  • The organizational structure of the proposed business
  • Information on the institution’s internal audit functions and compliance system
  • Anti-money laundering procedures
  • The history of the applicant institution and the financial position
  • Detailed information on key shareholders and staff
  • Property details of shareholders to check their fitness and propriety to conduct the business
  • Lease agreement [possessing a physical address for one’s office is mandatory in the UAE]
  • Third party/authority approval for activities, where applicable

Why Us?

Business Setup Worldwide is a business advisory firm that helps you start your business in any part of the world. We provide services like accounting, tax consulting, legal advisory and other value-added utilities. With the opportunities, business incentives and options available in Dubai, choosing the right kind of incorporation and location is a prerequisite to a successful company here. We at Business Setup Worldwide save your time as we take care of the lengthy procedures and guide you step by step throughout the process.

Business setup in Dubai International Financial Centre is an easy task with assistance from a business consultant. We at Business Setup Worldwide help you in understanding and following the legal formalities and business incorporation procedures to set up a business in DIFC and making company incorporation a hassle-free task. For further details, contact us – our team of business advisors will be glad to assist you.