Dubai’s DIFC introduces new licence categories with reduced fees

Four new categories have been announced, primarily targeting non-finance firms



Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has introduced new licencing categories with reduced fees to attract more firms to do business in the centre.

Four new licencing categories have been launched including short-term and restricted licences, commercial permissions and dual licences.

Under the short-term licencing category, retail businesses and other non-financials will be able to operate their businesses from DIFC with flexible rates over shorter timeframes. This includes a registration fee of $100 and licence fee ranging from $300 to $5,100 depending on the duration.

The new restricted licences category is designed for firms interested in developing or testing new products and services in the DIFC.

Entities obtaining this licence will have a reduced registration fee of $100, and with annual licence fees ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, allowing testing and access to the DIFC ecosystem which includes incubator and accelerator programmes.

The third category – commercial permissions – will allow both DIFC and non-DIFC entities such as event companies, retail outlets, training providers or educational services to conduct their main business activities within the centre for a fee. The amount will range from $100 to $2,000, depending on the nature of activity and duration.

Meanwhile the dual licencing category enables DED licenced non-financial and non-retail firms with an affiliate in the DIFC to operate from the centre. This includes law firms, audit firms, consultancy firms, family businesses, holding companies and corporate service providers. They will need to pay an annual fee of $1,000.

The new licences have been introduced in response to “market needs”, a statement said.

Khalid Al Zarouni, senior vice president and registrar of companies at DIFC Authority, said: “We continue to develop and adapt our business ecosystem with world-class legislative framework to make DIFC a more attractive place for business.

“The new licences and fees… are a first of its kind in the region and will enable DIFC businesses to grow, whilst also encouraging a more diversified portfolio of businesses to establish in the financial centre.”

Last month, the centre enacted a new insolvency law, aimed at attracting more investors.

Read: Understanding DIFC’s new insolvency law: What kind of an impact will it have?

It also announced a new employment law that addresses issues such as paternity leave, sick pay and end-of-service settlements.

Read: Dubai’s DIFC enacts new employment law, introduces paternity leave

DIFC had 2,137 active registered companies as of 2018, including 625 financial firms. The size of its workforce stood at 23,604 professionals as at year-end 2018.

Read: Dubai’s DIFC sees over 1, 220 new jobs, 430 new company registrations in 2018