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DIFC Company Formation: A Comprehensive Guide

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DIFC Company Formation

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC): Your Gateway to Business Excellence

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) stands as Dubai’s only independent financial free zone, sprawling across 110 acres in the heart of the city. Positioned strategically between new and old Dubai, DIFC serves as a stable and secure platform for businesses and financial institutions, enabling them to tap into the burgeoning markets of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. DIFC offers a well-regulated environment for investment firms and other financial entities, allowing them to provide a wide array of services, including deposit-taking, credit provision, underwriting, mergers, acquisitions, venture capital, private equity, brokerage, trade finance, asset management, capital markets, and Islamic finance operations. The Centre plays a pivotal role in enriching the regional financial markets by expanding the range of financing options available and attracting liquidity for investment opportunities.

Established under the UAE Federal Decree No. 35 of 2004, DIFC aligns with Dubai’s strategic vision to enhance its financial assets and attract capital and investments in the region. Since its inception, DIFC has evolved into one of the world’s top 10 Global Financial Centres and a leading International Financial Hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

DIFC: Where Legal Excellence Meets Business Growth

One of the distinguishing features of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is its autonomy in creating a legal and regulatory framework for civil and commercial matters. This framework, deeply embedded in the UAE’s constitution and laws at both the Federal and Dubai levels, allows DIFC to have its own civil and commercial legal system. This includes financial services regulation and a court system closely modeled on international standards and common law principles, tailored to the region’s unique requirements.

A Record-Breaking 2022: DIFC’s Commitment to Business Prosperity

In 2022, Dubai’s DIFC achieved a remarkable milestone by registering its highest revenue in history. This achievement underscores the robust growth and potential of the Dubai International Financial Centre as a prime destination for businesses. The substantial revenue increase reflects the favorable business environment, regulatory reforms, and strategic initiatives within the DIFC. This positive trajectory further reinforces its appeal for companies seeking a dynamic and prosperous business hub.

Three Pillars of Excellence: DIFC’s Independent Bodies

To support the growth and development of businesses within the Centre, three independent bodies have been established:

  1. Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFC Authority): DIFC Authority was established to administer the strategic development, operational management, and planning of Dubai International Financial Centre. It is also responsible for the development and administration of laws and regulations other than those related to financial services firms.
  • Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA): DFSA serves as an independent regulator of financial and related services conducted in or from the Centre. It supervises regulated companies and ensures their compliance with relevant laws and regulations. DFSA possesses the authority to make rules that allow it to respond swiftly to market developments and business needs.
  • Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA): Operating within a common law framework, DRA ensures the highest international standards of legal procedure and dispute resolution. It administers justice and legal excellence within DIFC, which includes:
    • DIFC Courts: Dubai’s established English-language, commercial common law judicial system.
    • DIFC Wills and Probate Registry: The first Common Law, English language wills and probate service for non-Muslims in the Middle East.
    • DIFC Academy of Law: An independent entity providing excellent legal education and support to the UAE legal community.
    • Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC): Offers high-caliber arbitration services and facilities on an international scale.

Benefits of DIFC Company Formation: Your Path to Success

  • 100% Foreign Ownership: In DIFC, expatriates, corporates (local and international), Foundations, and Trusts enjoy 100% ownership.
  • 100% Capital Repatriation: Companies can repatriate capital and profits without any restrictions, penalties, or locking periods.
  • Common Law Framework: DIFC operates as an independent jurisdiction with its own courts, adhering to the Common Law Judicial System.
  • 0% Tax on Corporate Income & Profits: Companies in the free zone enjoy no taxation of any kind for the next 34 years, guaranteed.
  • 0% Tax on Personal Income: Individuals working in the free zone enjoy tax-free income locally.
  • Independent Risk-Based Regulator Environment: DFSA adheres to the highest industry standards, providing sophistication, comfort, and trust to companies and individuals working with DIFC Companies.

Explore the Possibilities: Types of Companies in DIFC

  • Authorized Firms
  • Authorized Market Institution
  • Designated Non-Financial Business or Profession
  • Registered Auditors
  • Non-Regulated Entities
  • Exempt Companies

Setting up Your Venture in DIFC: The Road to Success

An applicant interested in setting up operations in DIFC must submit an application to DIFC’s regulatory body, the DFSA. The DFSA will assess the merits, suitability, and category of license for the application.

Upon receiving the In-Principal Approval, the applicant must complete the following steps:

  • Incorporate or register the entity with the DIFC Registrar of Companies (ROC).
  • Open a local bank account and provide proof of capital remittance.
  • Provide evidence of office space for conducting financial activities.

Once these conditions are met, the DFSA grants a license to the applicant. Application processes and requirements vary depending on the type of regulated entity.

Your Team for Success: DIFC Licensed Functions

DIFC-registered entities must maintain a physical presence within the DIFC and appoint Authorized Individuals to cover licensed functions, which may include:

  • Senior Executive Officer (SEO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Compliance Officer (CO)
  • Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO)
  • Company Secretary

Unlock Your Potential: Setting up a Non-Regulated Entity in DIFC

DIFC offers a streamlined process for establishing a Non-DFSA regulated business. Applicants must submit an application for Company Registration & Audited Financial Statement for the Last 2 Years to the Registration Review Committee (RRC) for provisional approval.

The decision is based on various criteria, including reputability, center/cluster building, financial wherewithal, business risk, employee suitability, business implementation, and contribution to Dubai GDP.

Upon approval by the DIFC Registration Review Committee (RRC), the formal Provisional Approval is provided to the applicant to fulfill the DIFC Registrar of Companies (ROC) requirements. The ROC reviews the application documents, and if complete, issues the relevant Certificate of Incorporation, Registration, or Continuation, along with a non-regulatory Commercial License.

Why Choose Al Kabban & Associates for DIFC Company Formation in Dubai: Your Trusted Partner for Success

With over three decades of experience since 1993, Al Kabban & Associates are leaders in the field of business advisory. We offer comprehensive services that go beyond consultation. When it comes to Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) company formation, our expertise is evident through every step of the process.

Navigating the intricate landscape of DIFC company formation requires a partner that not only understands the process’s intricacies but also stays updated with the ever-evolving regulatory framework. Al Kabban & Associates take pride in supporting Anti-Money Laundering regulations, a pivotal aspect of modern business operations. Our team ensures that your company formation aligns seamlessly with Anti Money Laundering Compliance, providing a solid foundation for your business’s ethical and lawful practices.

Our commitment extends beyond paperwork and compliance; we are dedicated to facilitating a holistic business setup experience with a sound legal foundation. From initial planning and strategizing to the final execution steps, Al Kabban & Associates are your trusted legal and business advisors. Our expertise doesn’t stop at DIFC company formation; we provide a comprehensive suite of services, including legal advisory and PRO services that streamline government interactions and approvals, ensuring your company remains on the right track from the very beginning.

In conclusion, Al Kabban & Associates presence in Dubai since 1993 is a testament to our dedication to empowering and protecting our clients and their businesses. Our role in DIFC company formation extends beyond consultancy; it’s a partnership built on trust, experience and expertise. From adhering to Anti Money Laundering Regulations and navigating the business setup landscape to offering financial & legal advisory, trademark registrations, and more, we stand by you as your comprehensive business advisory partner. Our main objective is to assist our clients in establishing successful business ventures, and we are here to guide you towards a thriving business journey within DIFC and any other jurisdiction you envision growing your business within.

Contact us on to meet with one of our highly experienced business associates, and find out why Al Kabban & Associates is rated as one of the most sought after and leading law firms in Dubai and UAE.


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