How Much Does It Cost to Set Up a Holding Company in the DIFC?

25 May 2023

Ajmal Khan

Setting up a holding company in the DIFC can provide numerous benefits for investors seeking efficient asset and investment management. With a strong investor ecosystem and significant family wealth in the GCC region, establishing a robust corporate structure is essential. A holding company consolidates investments, such as shares in other companies or properties, under one entity for easier management and reporting. While holding companies primarily focus on managing existing assets, they may not engage in trade or services. The DIFC, known as a leading financial hub for business, fintech, and lifestyle, offers an advantageous environment for holding companies.


DIFC holding companies have the flexibility to hold assets within the UAE, the GCC, or globally, including real estate and shares in other companies.


Several reasons make setting up a holding company in the DIFC appealing:


Regulatory Framework: The DIFC provides a legal framework that supports cross-border activities and allows for 100% foreign ownership. There are no restrictions on capital repatriation, and foreign individuals can be employed without limitations.


Tax Advantages: Holding companies in the DIFC enjoy tax benefits such as zero tax on profits, capital, or assets for 50 years. Personal income is also exempt from taxes.


Regulatory Confidence: The DIFC has a highly regarded, independent regulator and operates with an independent, English-speaking, common-law judicial system. It follows a risk-based regulatory approach separate from the UAE civil courts.


Ecosystem: The DIFC houses a concentration of international financial institutions and plays a prominent role in deal-making within the region. It offers world-class professional services and serves as the leading fund domicile in the area.


Strategic Location: The DIFC's strategic location allows GCC management offices, holding companies, and family offices to be closer to the assets they own or manage. The UAE's central role in global trade between Asia, Africa, and the West positions it well to leverage emerging market potential.


Registrar of Companies (DIFC ROC): The ROC assists in establishing the legal structure of the DIFC holding company, typically a Private Company Limited by Shares.


The costs are as follows:

Application for reserving a name (2 working days): US$ 800

Application for Incorporation of a Private Company Limited by Shares (5 working days): US$ 8,000

Commercial License on Incorporation (5 working days): US$ 12,000 (annual fee)


Data Protection: Registering a new entity in the DIFC requires a data protection notification.

The costs are as follows:


• Registration: US$ 500

• Annual renewal: US$ 250

• Office Spaces: Every DIFC-registered entity must lease a physical office. The prices vary depending on the space and building chosen. Here are some indicative rates:

• DIFC Business Centre – starting from a one-desk office at US$ 27,000

• DIFC Fitted Offices – starting from US$ 55 per square foot

• Other buildings – starting from US$ 32,000 per annum

• Visas: The number of visas you can apply for depends on your business type and the size of the leased premises. The visa costs are as follows:

• Establishment Card Application: US$ 630

• PSA Deposit: US$ 682

• Visas (per visa): starting from US$ 1,500

• PSA Deposit (per visa): US$ 682       


Establishing a holding company in the DIFC incurs various costs, but the advantages and opportunities provided by the DIFC's robust framework and financial ecosystem make it an attractive option for investors seeking effective asset consolidation and management.


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