Establishing a tech start-up in DIFC

Establishing a tech start-up in DIFC

- Fatima Hussain

Establishing a tech start-up in DIFC

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an international financial centre at the forefront of business, financial technology and lifestyle in the UAE. Established in 2004, it has grown to become one of the top 10 financial centres in the world and is one of only two financial free zones in the United Arab Emirates.

It has recently introduced a tech start-up licence with numerous incentives, for unique and innovative businesses that are embracing technology as a means to serve their customers and carry out their business activities. It offers entrepreneurs the resources and opportunities to establish and grow their businesses and to access the lucrative Middle Eastern, African and South Asian markets.

It is open to businesses from any sector that are modern, technology driven and have the potential to grow and shape the economic future of Dubai and the UAE.

This article details the benefits and incentives of setting up a business in DIFC with the tech start-up licence, the application process and the regulatory framework of DIFC.

What are the benefits of setting up a business in DIFC?

There are over 2000 businesses that operate out of the DIFC. They all operate under similar circumstances and the same civil and commercial laws. This has created an environment of support and collaboration which benefits everyone. Other significant advantages for businesses looking to set up in DIFC include:

  • 100% foreign ownership (in contrast to mainland registered businesses, where the majority shareholder must be a UAE national).
  • 0% tax on income or profits. This is guaranteed for a period of 50 years and carries extra significance thanks to the UAE’s treaties on the avoidance of double taxation.
  • Modern, state of the art accommodation, facilities and technical support.
  • A one-stop-shop service for visas, work permits and other associated documentation.
  • Legal system based on the common law system of England and Wales.
  • Exemption from the UAE Federal civil and commercial laws.
  • Access to highly trained professionals.

What are the incentives offered with the tech start-up licence in DIFC?

The tech start-up licence is available at a reduced rate with many initial setup fees waived and large discounts on visa costs. It also offers the opportunity to collaborate and conduct business with other technology focused companies and provides access to a huge network of service providers such as labour recruitment, computer consultancies, HR consultancies, advertisement design and production services, marketing research consultants to name just a few.

Below are details of the specific benefits that are available to tech start-ups in DIFC.

  • Licence fee of $1,500 per year.
  • No incorporation or registration fees.
  • Access to co-working and flexible desk spaces for only $500 per month.
  • Minimum share capital requirement waived ($50,000).
  • Up to 4 visas available on the co-working desk space.
  • 50% reduction on additional visas.

How do I apply for the tech start-up licence?

The registration process is very straightforward and can be divided into three steps.

Firstly, you should contact a DIFC advisor in order to discuss your business proposal. This will involve submitting a detailed business plan and KYC. You will then submit all necessary application documents.

The next step is a pre-screening process whereby the merits and suitability of the application will be considered, after which approvals for licences, visas and consent notifications will be given.

Finally, completion of the registration will take place at the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and the licence will be issued.

How can PRO Partner Group help?

Business setup in Dubai can be daunting without the support and services of an experienced partner. PRO Partner Group can offer you access to an experienced team who will advise you on whether the DIFC Tech Start-up licence is the right fit for your start-up and can guide you through the application process. We can also assist with all the procedures required to obtain visas for yourself and your staff. If you need assistance on this or any other related company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman or Qatar, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai, or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

Get in touch with Fatima Hussain

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