Dubai Airport Freezone (Authority), also commonly known as DAFZ(A), was established in 1996. The freezone is strategically located next to Dubai International Airport, making it a prime location for companies involved in import or export activities or companies which operate internationally .DAFZ was named as one of the fastest growing freezones in the world and there are now more than 17,000 professionals holding visas under the free zone authority and more than 2,300 registered companies across more than 20 business sectors.
With direct access to one of the world’s busiest international airports, registering in DAFZ opens opportunities for companies by providing enhanced connectivity and a gateway to the world. The freezone has a dedicated logistics centre and companies can take advantage of easy transfer of goods and rapid cargo clearance. They can also benefit from zero import tax and duties.
Like other freezones in the UAE, companies registering within DAFZ can be 100% foreign owned and 100% of the capital and profits may be repatriated. There are also various tax benefits associated with setting up within a freezone such as VAT exemptions and exemption from income and corporate tax.
DAFZ has won various awards over the past several years due to its favorable location, world class facilities and its state-of-the-art infrastructure. It is one of the fastest developing freezones in the Middle East region and was awarded first place by the Foreign Direct Investment Magazine’s Global Free Zone Awards in 2012/2013.
Company Registration Process
Companies that wish to register in DAFZ can do so in three straightforward steps:
- Choosing the appropriate business licence type
- Choosing the appropriate business structure
- Choosing the space against which to register the entity, (whether this be office space or a warehouse)
Step 1: Choosing the license type and activity/ activities
There are various license types to chose from when registering in DAFZ. A company should select the licence type based on the activities that they wish to conduct and the location in which they wish to operate. The dual licence, for example, gives companies the option to also operate within the mainland of Dubai. Activities can be selected from a defined list and multiple activities may be selected so long as they fall within the same category.
Trade License– This type of license allows companies to carry out trading activities including importing, exporting, re-exporting, distribution and storage.
Service License– this type of license is for companies providing service-based activities including installation, maintenance and repair.
Industrial Licence– this permits the licence holder to carry out manufacturing and industrial activities.
General Trading Licence– this allows the licence holder to trade products, import, export, store and distribute.
Dual Licence with the DED– this allows companies registered within DAFZ to apply for an onshore DED licence without the requirement to have physical space on the mainland. A company would need to possess the dual licence in DAFZ in order to be able to operate outside of the freezone.
Talent Pass Licence- this licence allows individuals to conduct freelance activities, whether this be in media, technology or education. It also enables the applicant to obtain a visa and reside in the UAE.
Step 2: Choosing the company type
There are only three company types to chose from, these are listed below:
Public Limited Company (PLC)
In a PLC there would be limited liability, but no limit of shareholders. This company type is for companies wishing to list their shares or offer their shares publicly via an initial public offering (IPO).
Freezone Company (FZCO)
A freezone Company may have up to 50 shareholders, with a minimum of one shareholder. The shareholders may be corporates, individuals or a combination of both. The minimum share capital is AED 1 (USD 0.27).
Existing companies can set up a branch of their parent company in DAFZ. The parent company would be the sole shareholder (100%). The branch would need to have the same name as the parent company and conduct the same (or very similar) activities. No share capital is required to incorporate a branch in the freezone.
Step 3: Choosing the premise
DAFZ provide office space, whether this be a standalone office or an office within a business centre. They also offer retail space, warehousing and industrial space, as well as cold storage.
For those registering a Talent Pass Licence, the individual may be able to lease a Smart Office. The Smart Office is ideal for freelancers and start-ups. The Smart Office offering provides desk space and Wi-Fi, there is also the option of Smart Office Plus, which provides a designated desk with a semi-private layout.
What are the required documents for company registration?
As well as completing the above steps, applicants will be required to provide the following documentation:
- Passport copy of the applicant and any other individual shareholders
- Parent company documents (if applicable)
- Corporate shareholder documents (if applicable)
What is the cost of company registration in DAFZ?
The costs of setting up in DAFZA include the one-time registration cost of AED20,000 as well as the business licence and premises costs which break down as follows:
Trading/Service/Industrial Licence: AED15,000 per year
Office unit: 1- year lease agreement – AED1,950 per sq.m + 12.5% of the annual rent as service charges
3-year lease agreement – AED1,850 per sq.m+ 12.5% of the annual rent as service charges
Light industrial unit (approx. 350sq.m) – AED1,000 per sq.m + 10% service charge
How can Global Link help?
Global Link has over 16 years’ experience working with local and global business, providing bespoke consultancy services for company incorporation in Dubai and the wider UAE.
We can help you through the process of business setup in Dubai Airport Free Zone and liaise with all relevant parties on your behalf.
If you need advice on establishing a business in Dubai Airport Free Zone or for any other company incorporation, visa or PRO service, please get in touch with us on +971 4 553 9901 or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you.