Financial Business

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Setting Up a Financial Business in the DIFC

Supported by an enabling and evolving financial regulatory ecosystem, regulated entities make up most of DIFC’s client portfolio. Businesses interested in setting up operations in DIFC are required to submit an application to DIFC’s regulatory body, the DFSA, which will consider the merits and suitability of the applicant and the category of license for which the application is made.

At the initial stages of the registration process, an introductory meeting is held with the DIFC and DFSA and a Letter of Intent (LOI) is filed with the DIFC. Once the DFSA has informally reviewed the submission, the applicant can lodge the full application, including a Regulatory Business Plan. DFSA will conduct an initial review of the application documents to ensure they are in good order and will then carry out its own due diligence and enter into an ongoing dialogue with the application.

Following the issuance of the In-Principal Approval, the applicant is required to attend to the following:

  • Incorporation or registration of the entity with the DIFC Registrar of Companies (ROC);
  • Opening a local bank account and providing the DFSA with proof of remittance of capital;
  • Evidence of office space from which it will conduct its financial activities.

Once the conditions are fulfilled, the DFSA grants a license to the applicant. Conditions and requirements for application processes vary according to the type of regulated entity.

All authorisation matters including application for initial license, extension or reduction to the scope of a license or an appointment of authorised individuals are set out in the DFSA’s General Module and the Conduct of Business Module. The scope and category of the license is determined by the types of financial activities that a regulated firm is authorised to offer. 

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