DIFC introduces new licences categories, reduces fees

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) on Wednesday announced four new licences including short-term and dual licence categories at a reduced fees to make it more competitive at the global level and attract foreign multinationals.

The four new licences are categorised in to short-term licences, restricted licences, commercial permissions and dual licences which would allow more firms to conduct business from the centre.

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

The dual licence category allows Dubai's Department of Economic development (DED)-licensed non-financial and non-retail firms with an affiliate in the DIFC to operate from the centre. This licence will cover law firms, audit companies, consultancy firms, family businesses, holding companies and corporate service providers, who will benefit from an annual fee of $1,000.

The commercial permissions category licence 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 DIFC at competitive rates ranging from $100 to $2,000, depending on the nature of activity and duration.

Lastly, DIFC has introduced restricted licences category for firms which want to develop or test new and innovative products. DIFC introduced reduced registration fee of $100 and annual licence fees ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.

Khalid Al Zarouni, senior vice president and registrar of companies at DIFC Authority, said 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.

"Not only do these changes strengthen our position in international markets, but they also support Dubai's vision to be the number one city for ease of doing business by 2021," he said.

In June, DIFC introduced a new cost-effective regime which allowed certain firms to establish in the financial free zone with more flexible office requirements. Under a newly introduced regime, structures such as Intermediate Special Purpose Vehicles (ISPVs) and Special Purpose Companies (SPCs) will now be classified as Prescribed Companies which would make structuring and financing faster, economical and more flexible.