Steps to Setting Up A New Holding Company in DIFC


Are you a business owner looking to expand your operations and maximize your profits? Have you considered setting up a holding company in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)? If not, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to take your business to the next level.

The DIFC is a leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, offering a world-class business environment, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a robust regulatory framework. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of establishing a holding company in the DIFC and the steps you need to take to set up your business.

What is a Holding Company?

A holding company is a type of business entity that does not engage in any operational activities itself. Instead, it owns shares in other companies, known as subsidiaries. By setting up a holding company, you can benefit from various advantages such as tax efficiency, asset protection, and ease of management.

Why Choose the DIFC for Setting Up a Holding Company?

The DIFC is a leading financial hub in the Middle East, offering a business-friendly environment, world-class infrastructure, and a robust regulatory framework. By establishing a holding company in the DIFC, you can take advantage of numerous benefits, including:

  • Tax Efficiency: The DIFC offers a zero percent tax rate on corporate income, making it an attractive destination for holding companies looking to optimize their tax structure.
  • Legal Certainty: The DIFC operates under a common law legal system, providing a high level of legal certainty and protection for investors.
  • Access to Global Markets: With its strategic location and excellent connectivity, the DIFC provides easy access to regional and international markets, facilitating business growth and expansion.
  • Reputable Jurisdiction: The DIFC is recognized as a reputable and well-regulated financial center, which can enhance your company’s credibility and reputation in the market.

Steps to Setting Up a Holding Company in the DIFC

Step 1. Determine the Type of Holding Company

The first step in establishing a holding company in the DIFC is to determine the type of holding company you want to set up. The DIFC offers two types of holding companies:

  • Intermediate Holding Company: This type of holding company is used to hold shares in other companies and is not allowed to conduct any business activities in the DIFC.
  • Active Holding Company: This type of holding company is allowed to conduct business activities in the DIFC, such as providing management services to its subsidiaries.

Step 2. Prepare the Legal Structure:

The DIFC offers several legal structures for businesses, including:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): This structure is suitable for businesses with multiple shareholders and provides limited liability protection for its owners.
  • Branch Office: This structure is suitable for businesses looking to establish a presence in the DIFC without setting up a separate legal entity.
  • Sole Establishment: This structure is suitable for individuals looking to establish a business in the DIFC on their own.

Step 3. Verify Documents

To establish a holding company in the DIFC, you will need to prepare the following documents:

  • Memorandum and Articles of Association: This document outlines the company’s purpose, structure, and rules for operation.
  • Shareholders Agreement: This document outlines the rights and obligations of the shareholders.
  • Board Resolution: This document authorizes the establishment of the holding company and appoints the directors.
  • Passport Copies and Proof of Address: These documents are required for all shareholders and directors of the holding company.

Step 4. Obtain a Commercial License

 Apply for a commercial license from the DIFC Authority, specifying the activities your holding company will undertake. Once your application is approved, you will need to obtain a commercial license from the DIFC. The license will specify the business activities the holding company is authorized to engage in.

Step 5. Confidence

  • A highly regarded, independent regulator
  • Independent, English-speaking, common law judicial system
  • Distinct from the UAE legal system
  • Risk-based regulatory approach


Starting a holding company in the DIFC offers a range of benefits, including access to global markets, tax incentives, and world-class infrastructure. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up your investment vehicle in the DIFC and take advantage of all that this leading financial hub has to offer.

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