Established in September 2004, Dubai International Financial City is the world’s fastest growing international financial center that caters to the financial needs of the region. This federal financial free zone aims to develop to the same stature as New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong and primarily serves the global financial centers between Western Europe and East Asia due to the time-zone advantage. Since its establishment, DIFC has attracted top notch firms across the globe owing to its efficiency, operational transparency and core values of integrity. DIFC is home to a world-class stock exchange, the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX), which was opened in September 2005, in the DIFC.

This onshore financial center is setup in a sprawling area of 110 acres (approximately) and has a distinct legal system with absolute jurisdiction over matters related to employment, corporate security, commercial trusts and civil bodies. Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is an independent risk-based regulator and the governing body that regulates financial and banking services conducted by DIFC, and provides them a growth-oriented, secure, and stable platform to conduct business. This regulatory body issues business licenses to companies planning to setup operations in this largest intercontinental financial cluster located between Singapore and Europe.

The strategic location of DIFC between the East and the West provides easy access to financial institutions to conduct business from this platform, and venture into the regional markets. NASDAQ Dubai is an equity–focused market, that serves as a wholesale trading platform to institutional Investors to engage in International Commodities Derivatives or equities Exchange, Banking and Credit Services, Structured Financial Products, Islamic Finance and Bonds, Capital Markets, Asset Management, Securities, Custody and Trust Services, Equity Derivatives, Insurance, Banking services, Collective Investment Funds, Business Processing Operations and Commodities Futures Trading.

Reason to Setup Company in Dubai International Financial City

Dubai International Financial City is a perfect base for companies related to finance due to tax-friendly regime, advanced infrastructure, systematic legal framework and independent regulations. DIFC Authority or DFCA oversees the operational administration and strategic development of DIFC.

Company incorporation in Dubai International Financial City is a cherished business proposition due to the following reasons:

  1. Unique Legal Framework:

DIFC legislative system has created an independent judicial system consistent with English Common laws and has its distinct set of civil and commercial laws and regulations. DIFC Courts handle any civil or commercial disputes of companies registered in DIFC, and ensure proper enforcement of justice in the free zone

  1. Financial Sustainability:

DIFC ensures financial risk management, economical benchmarking, and resource alignment

  1. Vision for Unhindered Growth:

Dubai’s is reputed as a global business hub with stable economic development and employment opportunities

  1. Infrastructure Development:

World-class infrastructure and facilities customized for financial services community including luxury hotels, restaurants, residential apartments, ultra-modern office spaces, art galleries, retail outlets etc.

  1. Client Centric Policies:

Centralized client-servicing model that offers superior client experience in the form of streamlined business processes and improved service quality

  1. City within a City:

‘City within a city’ structure that provides widespread business and lifestyle facilities for business professionals

  1. Free Zone Incentives:
  • No restrictions on foreign exchange
  • 100% foreign ownership
  • 0% tax on corporate or personal income
  • 0% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Dollar denominated environment
  • Strict money laundering laws
  • State-of-the-art office accommodation, advanced technology, and sophisticated transport, communications and internet infrastructure
  • Data protection/security
  • Operational support and business continuity facilities of high standards
  • Transparent operating environment
  • Availability of skilled professionals
  • Transparent business environment complying internationally accepted laws and regulatory processes in accordance with global best practices
  • An international stock exchange with debts and equity listings (primary and secondary)

Financial Activities Permissible in DIFC

Businesses operating in DIFC are allowed to perform following activities in the region:

  • Accepting Deposits
  • Advising on Financial Products
  • Arranging for the Custody, and Investment Credit or Deals
  • Carrying out Contracts of Insurance
  • Dealing in Investments as Agent or as Principal
  • Effecting Insurance Contracts
  • Insurance Broking and Management
  • Management of Assets
  • Managing Profit Sharing Investments
  • Operating a Collective Investment Scheme
  • Providing Credit
  • Providing Custody
  • Providing Money Services

Types of Legal Entities in DIFC

Dubai International Financial City offers a lucrative value chain to individual or corporate investors in the form of multiple incentives. It allows an entity (individual or corporate) to register business in any of the following legal forms in DIFC:

  • Limited by shares (LTD)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Branch office – Of an existing foreign company (Recognized Company), a party may also strive to transfer from another jurisdiction the incorporation of an existing company to DIFC (Continued Company)

Business Set Up Process in Dubai International Financial City

DIFC has an independent common law judicial system and act as a one-stop-shop for business setup services including the issuance of work permits, visas and registration formalities, and other law related requirements. The application fee varies depending upon the financial services to be provided, and you may contact our executives for details.

Here are the mandatory procedures that need to be followed for setting up a company in DIFC:

Documents Required

Financial Institutions planning business incorporation in DIFC need to submit following documents:

  • Anti-money laundering procedures and controls
  • Applicant’s company’s financial position and regulatory history
  • Company’s internal audit functions and compliance system
  • Detailed business plan
  • Detailed information on operating systems and controls
  • Names of key controllers, major shareholders having above 5% shares, and key staff
  • Propriety certificate confirming Institution’s fitness to conduct business
  • Proposed institution’s organizational structure

Licensing and Incorporation

In order to avail license and complete registration formalities successfully, businesses need to get company incorporation certificate or a certificate of business continuation or registration in DIFC. As per the scale and scope of the requirements, and the type of business activity to be performed, companies can choose from a wide range of real estate options and avail any of the following types of business licenses in Dubai International Financial City:

  • Leased offices
  • Serviced offices and meeting facilities
  • Ownership

Type of Licenses Available

  • Ancillary Services
  • Asset Management and Fund Registration
  • Banking Services
  • Business Processing Operations
  • Capital Markets
  • Islamic Finance
  • Reinsurance & Captive Insurance


The task of providing information about DIFC entities and their registration in DIFC is handled by the Registrar of Companies office. The main function of Registrar of Companies is to:

  • Make information regarding DIFC entities available to the public
  • Examine and store information related to DIFC entities as per the laws and regulations applicable in DIFC
  • Register and dissolve DIFC entities

The Registrar of Companies further processes and reviews the online applications submitted by prospective DIFC registrants according to the General Partnership Law, Limited Partnership Law, Limited Liability Partnerships Law, and the Companies Law applicable in the free zone. Additionally, the Registrar of Companies staff reviews the multiple regulatory and operational details filled by the prospective aspirants for company formation in DIFC, including:

  • Approval from Dubai Financial Services Authority, DFSA
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey
  • Registration with the Registrar of Companies and the Office of Data Protection
  • Survey of the Economic Activity

Feel free to contact and get your queries resolved.