What is the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) in Dubai?



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Dubai is one of the most investor-friendly and lucrative places in the Middle East. Its proximity to Asia and other countries makes it a great investment hub. If you are looking to set up a company in the United Arab Emirates you might have heard of the International Free Zone Authority or IFZA, situated in the heart of Dubai city. The IFZA is becoming one of the most important investment hubs within the developing economy of the UAE, due to a highly customized approach, its tax benefits combined with efficient international service standards, and cost-effective solutions.

In this article, we are going to talk about everything you need to know about Free zone, particularly the IFZA, from what it is to its benefits, and how to set up your company there. Here is a list of the contents involved:

  1. What are free trade zones in Dubai?
  2. Why should you set up your business in a Free trade zone?
  3. Commonly asked questions about Free zones
  4. What is the international free zone authority?
  5. Why should you choose IFZA to establish a Dubai Free Zone Company?
  6. What are the different types of IFZA licenses?
  7. How to establish a Free Zone Company with IFZA?
  8. Can I acquire a UAE Residence Visa through an IFZA company?
  9. How can Connect Resources help you?

1. What are free trade zones in Dubai?


Before understanding what is the International Free Zone Authority in Dubai, we first need to understand what is a free zone. Essentially, free trade zones (FTZ) or free zones in Dubai are special economic zones where businesses operating in them are exempt from all types of taxation such as Income tax, value-added tax (VAT), corporate tax, and customs. The objective of these zones is to encourage foreign investment and boost economic activity in the emirate. Dubai was actually the first city in the UAE to introduce the free zone model in the country.

There are more than 30 free trade zones currently operating in Dubai, one of them is the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA). Free trade zones in Dubai are governed in accordance with a special framework of rules and regulations. A Free Zone Authority or FZA offers business licenses to foreign-owned companies. Each FTZ is created around one or more industry categories and only offers business licenses to certain companies within those categories. Most of the free zones in the emirate broadly offer industrial licenses, and legal and economic services to investors looking to set up their businesses.

Free zones in the emirate are operated and managed by the relevant authority. For example, the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority in Dubai is in charge of supervising, managing and operating the Jebel Ali Free Zone, one of the largest free zones in Dubai.

2. Why should you set up your business in a Free trade zone?

There are many advantages of establishing a company in a Dubai free trade zone that business owners must be aware of. Here are the 5 top benefits of establishing a business in an FTZ:

2.1 100% Foreign ownership

Probably the most attractive benefit of setting up a business in a free trade zone is full ownership rights as an expatriate. In a free trade zone, foreign investors can enjoy 100% ownership of their business without the assistance of a UAE sponsor.

  • Personal and corporate tax exemptions

UAE’s tax regime is clearly one of the most evident reasons to establish a company here. You can acquire the cheapest free zone license in Dubai and obtain 100% exemption from Income tax (personal tax), corporate tax, and value-added tax.

2.3 Easy setup

Obtaining a free trade zone license from a Dubai Free Zone Authority is a very straightforward process. Though, the exact company formation process might vary depending on the type of business you want to set up. However, in the vast majority of cases, basic documentation and paperwork are more than enough for you to start.

The pre-requisites of registering a business in a Dubai FTZ include: Determining the type of legal entity, renting or buying an office, applying for a business license, and obtaining other pre-approvals

2.4 Export and Import duties exemption

The jurisdiction of the United Arab Emirates exempts business owners from paying export and import duties alongside no currency regulation restrictions. Flexibility in currency regulation makes financial transactions safer and easier.

2.5 Support from the UAE government

The government of the United Arab Emirates is very supportive and welcoming to foreign investors. The Free zone authorities constantly help new businesses in getting an FTZ license in Dubai and thereafter.

3. Commonly asked questions about free zones

Here are some of the common questions asked about free trade zones in Dubai:

3.1 Do I need a sponsor to establish a company in a Dubai FTZ?

The short answer is no. The biggest benefit of investing in a Dubai FTZ is that you do not need to get into a partnership with a local. Foreign Investors get 100% ownership of their company.

3.2 How much does it cost to establish a Business in a Dubai free trade zone?

Dubai free trade zones offer exclusive packages to help business holders. The cost of establishing a company in the emirate depends on several factors but the IFZA license cost considerably less.

3.3 What is the difference between free zones and freehold areas in Dubai?

Free zones should never be confused with freehold areas in Dubai. There are many differences between freehold and FTZ properties in Dubai. Freehold properties in Dubai offer 100% ownership of property or land to non-GCC residents. Once an Investor has purchased any freehold property, they are free to lease, sell, or live on the property. Dubai free zones on the flip side are exclusively for setting up businesses and do not include residential units.

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    4. What is the international free zone authority or IFZA?

    Situated in the heart of Dubai and world-class, the International free zone authority or IFZA business park is one of the most important investment hubs in Dubai. The IFZA was established by Dubai Silicon Oasis in August 2018 in Fujairah and moved to Dubai in August 2020, increasing significantly its popularity among the free zone authorities in the UAE.

    Since this FTZ provides opportunities for free zone company setup in Dubai with various lucrative packages, investors from all over the world vastly recommend IFZA Dubai. However, this is not the only reason they recommend IFZA Dubai above other free trade zones. IFZA Dubai provides special incentives and benefits that keep it ahead of the curve.

    5. Why should you choose IFZA to establish a Dubai Free Zone Company?


    IFZA is one of the cheapest and most reliable free zones in Dubai. The jurisdiction offers packages tailored to suit the needs of any owner looking for competitive pricing to establish a free zone company in Dubai. Besides that, IFZA Dubai offers flexible workspace options in the form of desks, office suites, and private offices, straightforward procedures, and minimum requirements to investors looking to establish their business in the UAE. Here at Connect Resources, our consultants will support you through the cost-effective setup process.

    Other benefits of establishing a free zone company with IFZA Dubai include:

    • 0% personal and corporate income tax.
    • 100% foreign ownership.
    • Most cost-effective company set-up options in Dubai.
    • Wide range of trading activities and services available.
    • Shareholders do not need to be physically present in Dubai for the IFZA freezone company setup.
    • The setup process is pretty quick.
    • There are no minimum paid-up capital requirements for the setup process.
    • IFZA businesses have limited liability.
    • 100% repatriation of profits and capital.
    • Many visa and non-visa packages available for shareholders
    • IFZA businesses also have the option to operate outside of the UAE.
    • IFZA businesses cater to a population of almost 10 million.
    • Commercial, professional, and industrial activities can be intertwined under one IFZA License. You can check IFZA activities list on its website.
    • No physical office requirements for the setup process
    • There are no foreign currency restrictions for IFZA free zone companies

    6. What are the different types of IFZA licenses?

    IFZA offers different types of licenses for Free Zone Company Setup. These are:

    Professional License: This license allows business activities that are frequently pursued by consultancy and service providers businesses here in Dubai. Businesses that must apply for a professional license include care service providers, healthcare institutions, security services providers, etc.

    Commercial License: This license is excellent for companies that want to export supplies from the UAE or want to become suppliers here in Dubai. The commercial license allows businesses to perform activities such as exporting, importing, distributing, and storage of products

    Industrial License: the industrial license allows business activities that are required to manufacture goods in the country. These activities include processing raw materials, importing raw materials, producing final products, packaging and distributing the finished products, and export of these products.

    General Trading License: This license is one of the most flexible trade licenses offered by IFZA Dubai. It allows a vast range of business activities including trading activities and service activities (Feel free to check IFZA activity list). All companies following the B2B, C2B, and B2C models can apply for a general trading license.

    Consultancy License: This license allows business activities indispensable for consultancy businesses. In order to obtain this license, your company needs experience and expertise in the particular field you want to provide consultancy services. For example, in order to provide construction consultancy, you need to have proven experience in the construction industry.

    Service License: the service license allows the business activities a company needs to perform for adding in the development, production, and distribution of services and products in the UAE.

    7. How to establish a Free Zone Company with IFZA?

    The process of establishing a free zone enterprise in Dubai is very easy with IFZA. You just need to place the order on the IFZA website by selecting your ideal package according to the IFZA business activity list. Here is the step-by-step guide for setting up a Dubai free zone business with IFZA:

    Step 1. Choose a package that matches your business activities and place the order on the IFZA website.

    Step 2. Submit the following documents for the application process:

    • Clear and colored passport copy of each shareholder.
    • Latest UAE visa or UAE entry stamp of each shareholder.
    • Emirates ID copy.
    • A passport-style photo of each shareholder with white background.

    Step 3. IFZA will finalize processing your application and the license will be sent by IFZA in 4 to 5 working days.

    8. Can I acquire a UAE Residence Visa through an IFZA company?

    Yes, you can. If you have opted for a license with visa entitlement, you can apply for a Dubai Freezone visa. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, UAE immigration requires the visa holder to be present in the country for the issuance of the Freezone Dubai visa.

    The UAE e-visa will be sent to you within 4 to 5 working days upon submission of the application to IFZA Dubai. Once the visa is issued, the visa holder must take the medical test and apply for the Emirates ID. The documents needed for the medical test and Emirates ID are:

    • Original passport.
    • A copy of the e-visa issued by IFZA.
    • Three passport-sized photos of the visa holder with white background
    • IFZA license of the company.
    • Establishment card of the company.

    9. How can Connect Resources help you?

    The best site for anyone trying to set up a free zone business in Dubai with IFZA is Connect Resources.

    Our business advisors have been establishing new companies in IFZA for many years and know all the ins and outs. Our team of experts will be happy to give you the advice that you need to set up a free zone business with IFZA as well as the issuance of residence visas to employees and shareholders.

    If you are looking for more than setting up your company in IFZA, we are here for you. We have been assisting companies for decades, helping them accomplish their objectives and develop in the UAE. As a result, we offer many services that can help your business such as:

    If you want to know more about the services we offer, do not hesitate in contacting us! With a quick phone call at +971 43 316 688, you can learn more about our services and how we can help your company grow. In addition, you can contact us by email at contact@connectresources.ae.

    Are you looking for job openings in the United Arab Emirates? Feel free to visit The Talent Point. Go to thetalentpoint.com. and register to start applying for job vacancies. Moreover, you can send your resume or curriculum vitae to contact@thetalentpoint.com and we will do our best to match you with the ideal job opening for you!

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