CORPORATE SERVICESFinancial Licensing DIFC (DIFC Company Setup)

Branches and Representative Offices
Wincore Advisory Group’s structuring team will advise you on the best structuring to establish your UAE presence, establish your branch or representative office whilst assisting you in fulfilling all regulatory licensing with ROC (Registrar of Companies), DED (Department of Economic Development), Freezone authority and the Regulatory authorities.

Difference between Branch and Representative Office UAE

Representative Office –

Representative Offices are usually the most cost-effective The major difference with representative offices is that their business activities are limited to promoting and sourcing work for the parent company. Representative Offices are not allowed to make a profit in the UAE and must outsource all work back to the parent company.

Branch Company –

The parent company remains its sole owner. As such, there is no share capital required to open a branch office. The branch company also uses the parent’s articles of incorporation.


Merits of establishing a branch or representative office in DIFC freezone :

  • DIFC is an onshore financial centre. At the heart of the DIFC model is an independent risk-based regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), which grants licenses and regulates the activities of all banking and financial institutions in DIFC.
  • DIFC is unique in that it has a legislative system consistent with English Common law. DIFC has its own set of civil and commercial laws -Companies Law DIFC Law No. 5 of 2018 including UK Companies Act 2006 plus policy decisions on where to deviate or apply lighter touch than UK or other common law positions)- and regulations and has developed a complete code of law governing financial services regulation.
  • As part of its autonomy, DIFC has created an independent judicial system. The DIFC Courts is the entity responsible for the independent administration and enforcement of justice in DIFC. The Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil and commercial disputes arising within DIFC and or relating to bodies and companies registered in DIFC.

Regulated Financial Entities DIFC

Wincore provides strategic assistance and coordination services on establishing regulated and non-regulated DIFC company formation.

Our team of senior level compliance and legal advisors, combined with sophisticated corporate service expertise, we can provide the highest quality advisory and set up services for regulated and unregulated set-ups, at competitive cost and within an efficient and respected processing timeline. The key to the success of a timely start up in DIFC, is the professional drafting of the compliance and business plans within the General Information for Regulated Activities (GIRA), application for financial services permission, presented to the regulatory and /or registrar authorities.

In parallel to the company set-up and in view to satisfy the In-Principle approval of the Regulatory authority, through its strategic partnerships, Wincore is able to provide a full range of services:

  • Outsourced Compliance Officer (CO) / Risk Officer (RO) / Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO)
  • Outsourced Accounting and Finance Officer
  • Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) assessments
  • VAT advisory, registration and implementation
  • CRS/FATCA assistance and implementation
  • Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP) assistance
  • Assistance in respect of policies, procedures and regulatory returns
  • Assurance subscription
  • Economic Substance Tests
  • Training

DIFC Authorities:

  • Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
  • DIFC Registration Authority (DIFCA)
  • The DIFC Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil and commercial disputes arising within DIFC and/ or relating to bodies and companies registered in DIFC. DIFC is has a legislative system consistent with English Common law unlike mainland jurisdictions. DIFC has its own set of civil and commercial laws and regulations and has developed a specific code of laws governing financial services.
  • Dispute Resolution Authority (DIFC Courts and Arbitration Institution)

Merits of obtaining a DIFC license

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • 0% corporate tax for 50 years
  • 0% import or re-export customs duties instead of 4% mainland
  • 0% personal income tax
  • 5% VAT only
  • design a tax-efficient transaction structuring;
  • No restriction on capital repatriation
  • No currency restrictions
  • No restriction on foreign talent or employees employment
  • US$ denominated economic environment
  • Responsive Authorities

DIFC Financial Licenses

Different types of DIFC licenses
First degree of structuring – More confidential and sophisticated
structuring are possible.

Procedure to DIFC Regulated Financial Licence Company Setup


1. Application stating the requested regulated activity (ies) and related category of license must be submitted to the respective regulatory authority which will consider the suitability of the applicant:

  • The DFSA and DIFC Registration Authority for DIFC.

2. Presentation to the authorization team and regulators, during an introductory meeting, of the draft regulatory business plan.
3. Compliance review of the application documents and Submission of the full application with its regulatory business plan upon the acceptation of the draft regulatory business plan.
4. All regulatory requirements attached to the requested category of license must be met before the incorporation is granted.
5. Issuance of an In-Principal Approval letter by the Regulator to the applicant upon satisfactorily completion of their senior management’s due diligence and essential points of the application. Incorporation of the entity upon fulfilling the incorporation requirements of the Registration Authority.
6. Grant of financial services permission upon all conditions of the In-Principal Approval are met.


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Office 2202, BB2
Towers Mazaya Business
Avenue, JLT, Dubai, UAE
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+971 55 138 9591
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