Applicants interested in setting up operations in DIFC are required to apply to the 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 being submitted.
The category of license will depend upon the regulated activity(ies) that the business would like to engage in.
Category 1: Accepting Deposits
Managing an unrestricted Profit sharing investment account
Category 2: Providing Credit
Dealing in Investments as Principal
Category 3A Dealing in Investments as Principal (where it does so only as a Matched Principal)
Dealing in Investments as Agent
Category 3B Providing Custody (where it does so for a Fund)
Acting as the Trustee of a Fund
Category 3C Managing Assets
Managing a Collective Investment Fund
Providing Custody (where it does so other than for a Fund)
Managing a restricted Profit sharing investment account
Category 4 Arranging Deals in Investments
Advising on Financial Products
Operating an Alternative Trading System
Providing Fund Administration
Providing Trust Services (where it is not acting as trustee in respect of an express trust)
Arranging Credit and Advising on Credit
Category 5 is an Islamic Financial Institution and manages a Profit sharing investment account
In the initial stages of the registration process, an introductory meeting is arranged with the DIFC and DFSA and a Letter of Intent is filed with the DIFC. Once the DFSA has informally reviewed a draft business plan, the applicant submits their full application, including the Regulatory Business Plan. DFSA will conduct an initial review of the application documents to ensure they are in good order and establish an ongoing dialogue with the applicant. An In-Principal Approval letter is issued to the applicant once the DFSA have satisfactorily concluded their due diligence. The applicant is required to incorporate their entity, open a bank account and rent office space before the DFSA grant a license to the applicant.