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Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

DIFC Dubai

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the prime financial hubs of the Middle East. DIFC houses the topmost financial and business institutions of the UAE. DIFC offers a secure and efficient business infrastructure support to the financial companies to reach out to the local UAE market as well as the rest of the world.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the independent regulator for DIFC business operations. It covers a large scope of financial activities ranging from asset management, banking, credit services, securities trading, investment funds, commodities trading, and more.

They are the regulatory body for authorizing, registering companies and individuals to conduct financial services in or from the DIFC Free Zone. The Free Zone is one of the top-rated Financial centers of the Middle East region with many global financial houses making it their headquarters.

DFSA has a robust regulatory framework based on international best practices to foster transparency and avoid discrepancies in financial transactions by companies operating in DIFC. It aims to achieve high quality and compliance standards for companies operating in the Financial Center. Gaining trust and credibility for a financial center and companies involved in financial business is crucial for growth.

DIFC – A Financial Centric Free Zone

Dubai International Financial Centre is a special economic zone specifically focused on financial services companies. DIFC offers a world-class infrastructure for companies in the field of finance, investments, banking, and fin-tech.

DIFC is governed by a robust regulatory body, common law framework, and government support. It offers the perfect platform to foster companies focused on financial and business services. DIFC is also a perfect location to work due to the time zone advantages. It merges the time-zone gap between the international financial Centres of London, New York, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. The investors have an advantage of closely tracking all the major financial markets by setting up their base in Dubai.

1. Top-Class Regulatory Environment

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the independent risk-based regulator for DIFC businesses. DFSA is the authority that issues licenses and regulates the banking and financial institutions in DIFC. It is compliant with world-class regulatory policies and is in line with financial regulatory policies practiced in the financial centers of London and New York.

2. Robust Legal Framework

DIFC has a legislative system in-house consistent with the English Common Law. The DIFC Courts are the entity for the independent administration and enforcement of justice in DIFC. All civil and commercial disputes arising within DIFC are addressed by the DIFC Courts.

Business Benefits from DIFC Business Setup

  •   100% Foreign Ownership
  •   0% tax rate on income and profits
  •   Leverage UAEs Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement
  •   100% profit repatriation
  •   Independent Regulatory Environment
  •   Common-Law Framework consistent with the English Law
  •   Fully transparent operating environment complying to world-class compliance and regulatory process
  •   Hub & Spoke Model - Open branches anywhere in the world
  •   An international Stock Exchange with a host of financial instruments for investment
  •   Exceptional talent pool available in Dubai
  •   Elevated lifestyle, best-in-class apartments, shopping outlets, transportation, technology infrastructure

Types of Legal Entities in DIFC

DIFC is the hub for all financial and fin-tech type of companies. The Special Economic Zone is focused on companies involved in financial and investment-related activities. Legal Business Forms in DIFC are:-

  •   A company limited by shares
  •   Limited liability company
  •   Branch Office
  •   Partnership

Business License Types Available

Managed License - Business activities that are linked with Finance and Banking are maintained by a financial regulatory system.

Non-Managed License - The Non-Managed License in DIFC is those ones that are not linked with Finance or Banking.

E.g. Retail spaces. Salons, Tailors, Wellness exercise, Cafes & restaurants.

Procedure for Business Setup in DIFC

  •   Fill up the application form
  •   After initial approval, proceed to the registration process
  •   Submit all the documents with proof of minimum share capital of the business
  •   Open the bank account for the company
  •   Once the documents are reviewed, the certification of incorporation will be issued.

Documents Required to Set Up a Business in DIFC

  •   Proof of trade name reservation
  •   Proof of initial approval of business activities
  •   Passport copies of the shareholder
  •   Passport copy & Profile of the manager
  •   Personal profile information sheet for each shareholder & manager
  •   A detailed plan of business activity
  •   Details of the organizational structure, IT Support system, Operations process
  •   Information on the organization's internal audit and compliance system
  •   Anti-money laundering procedures
  •   Detailed information on key shareholders and employees
  •   Property Details of shareholders to check the propriety to conduct the business
  •   Lease agreement contract stating the physical address and office location
  •   Any third party approval for activities if applicable

Setting up an Entity in DIFC – Steps to Follow

Setting up a company in Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) requires the below 5 steps to complete the process. Investors can set up their company in DIFC with minimal processes and documentation requirements.

1. Submit the interest

Talk to AURION, one of the top-rated Registered Agents for DIFC Free Zone. The expert Business Consultants will share the required details for setting up the company as part of the initial onboarding process. Investors will receive a detailed proposal with various business options to choose from, a breakup of the cost involved in setting up the business, visa cost of investors/employees, and all the related expenses for setting up the company in DIFC.

AURION will assist in the complete process of registering a company for the investor in the DIFC Free Zone. From the initial process of selecting the right business activity to obtain the Investor Visa, corporate bank account, and beyond, the team will handle all the assignments proactively.

2. Apply for DFSA Authorization

For setting up a company in DIFC Free Zone, the investors must apply for a pre-approval from DFSA. Aurion will handle the task of coordinating with DFSA for the Approval of the financial services company. DFSA would require a business plan to be submitted along with the application form for review. Once the approval is obtained the Financial Services license will be processed by DIFC Free Zone Authority.

3. Registered Address

Obtain the tenancy contract for the office space based on the Registered Address. The Lease Agreement must be registered with the right DIFC Authority depending on the nature of the ownership of the office space. For purchasing an office space at DIFC, the owner or the company must fully own the space and must apply for the 'Self Occupy' Certificate. Lease registration is a mandatory requirement for all entities leasing space with third-party developers in the DIFC area.

4. Register with DIFC

After the initial approval of the financial services from DFSA, lease agreement completion, proceed with the remaining process of registering the company with the DIFC Registrar of Companies. Depending on the selected legal structure and nature of business activities, and office space, the fee will vary significantly.

5. Authorization by DFSA

Detailed information about the company, shareholders, business plan, etc, will be reviewed and the business license will be authorized by DFSA for the go-ahead. The DIFC Licensing Authority will issue the Financial Services License after the authorization from DFSA. The company can apply for an establishment card at this stage. It is a requirement for processing employee visas for the company at a later stage.

Fintech and Innovation License - Dubai International Financial Centre Authority

License & Registration Fees as per DIFCA laws and regulations:


Fee in USD

Incorporation fee

USD 100

For Innovation license fee (payable upon incorporation and annual renewal)

USD 1,500

New Establishment Card Fee

USD 618

Permit to process sensitive personal data under Article 10(2) of the Data Protection Law

USD 250

Flexidesk – 4 visa quota visa cost separate

USD 6,083

Aurion Professional fee for company incorporation 

USD 1,440 


USD 9,991 / AED 36,468

Lease Types


Yearly / AED

Flexidesk yearly

AED 22,200

Dedicated desk

AED 26,680

Closed offices:

AED 46,500 – 88,800

Key Features
  • Cost-effective workspaces supported by high-end infrastructure
  • Diverse financial ecosystem backed by DIFC
  • Home to DIFC FinTech Hive, DIFC’s FinTech accelerator
  • Associated to DIFC Innovation Hub, which is home to innovation and creativity
    No minimum share capital requirement
  • Located at Gate Avenue, Zone D

Data Protection - In this section, investors must specify whether the entity will be processing personal data or not. In the case of processing personal data, they must specify the manner of processing personal data. This section also requires the details of the Data Controller appointed by the proposed entity.

  1. Clear Passport copy, Photograph, a Signature sample of Shareholder/s
  2. 3 proposed company names in order of priority
  3. Business Plan
  4. 3 months Bank Statement

How Aurion will Assist you?

Aurion Business Consultants will assist you in effectively setting up your financial services or allied services company in DIFC. As companies in DIFC are focused on Finance and Investment, it requires a thorough review of the shareholder profile, business activity, and business model by the concerned authorities.

Our legal & business experts will handhold you throughout the entire process of company formation in DIFC. Interested to know more about the Company Formation process in DIFC, talk to our expert consultants right away!

Contact Us Now

AURION Provides Assistance in

Dubai South
Rak Media City
UAQ Freezone
Hamriyah Freezone
Kizad Freezone
Abudhabi Freezone
Ajman Freezone
Sharjah RTI Park
Sharjah publishing city Freezone