Dubai to allow unified licensing for free zones

Dubai’s ‘one free zone passport’ allows businesses to operate without multiple licensing

Dubai: Businesses can operate out of multiple free zones in Dubai through a single license under the “one free zone passport” scheme.

What this does is bring out significant cost savings in licensing fees for those businesses wanting to have a base in more than one free zone in the emirate. Meanwhile, there is also a proposal to allow free zone licenses entities to take up rental contracts from the current 25 years to 50 years.

The DFZ Council is also “developing a comprehensive geo-economic map of Dubai that seeks to position the emirate as a leading destination for investment and business set-up”.

“Greater coordination paves the way for sustainable development and presents exceptional opportunities to attract SMEs and international companies and empower entrepreneurs to realise their creative ideas,” said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of DFZ Council.

This ties in closely with another recent Dubai-wide initiative, whereby free zone based entities could operate freely in “onshore” Dubai as well as offshore. This again did away with multiple licensing requirements for such businesses.

Financial marketplace

The DFZ Council is also lending its weight to the “Free Zone 10X” platform, which would create a financial market exclusively for free zone enterprises to tap funding through IPO listings. A study is being held on the feasibility of such a marketplace, and is now researching the “legislative and logistical requirements for implementing” it.

“The coordinated efforts among the free zones in Dubai contribute to economic diversification — an essential pillar of the economy of the future,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “This creates a favourable environment to bring groundbreaking concepts to life.”

Updating rental agreements

In what could be a path-breaking move, the Council also discussed a draft law proposal to systemise rental agreements within Dubai free zones. If passed, this will be done in conjunction with Dubai Land Department and the various free zone enterprises.

The proposal aims at “providing a larger pool of real estate options for companies”. If passed, it would extend lease terms for free zone businesses from 25 years to 50.

Wide representation

The team working on updating the free zone concept in Dubai includes representatives of the Ministry of Economy, the Department of Economic Development, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Development Authority, Jebel Ali Free Zone, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Customs, and Dubai Municipality.

“The initiatives of the DFZ Council, such as the geo-economic map, bring added value to the local economy,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “Developments on the economic front transcend geographical borders and support the implementation of innovative projects in line with the priorities articulated in the recent “Letter of the New Season” from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

Excise Tax in UAE

All about Excise Tax in UAE

According to Cabinet Decision No. 52 of 2019 on Excise Goods

What is excise tax?

Excise tax was introduced across the UAE in 2017. Excise tax is a form of indirect tax levied on specific goods which are typically harmful to human health or the environment. These goods are referred to as “excise goods”.

When considering whether a product is an excise good, the following definitions apply:

  • Carbonated drinks include any aerated beverage except for unflavoured aerated water. Also considered to be carbonated drinks are any concentrations, powder, gel, or extracts intended to be made into an aerated beverage.
  • Energy drinks include any beverages which are marketed, or sold as an energy drink, and containing stimulant substances that provide mental and physical stimulation, which includes without limitation: caffeine, taurine, ginseng and guarana. This also includes any substance that has an identical or similar effect as the aforementioned substances. Also considered to be energy drinks are any concentrations, powder, gel or extracts intended to be made into an energy enhancing drink.
  • Tobacco and tobacco products include all items listed within Schedule 24 of the GCC Common Customs Tariff.

 Rate of excise tax

The rates of excise tax in the UAE will be:

  • 50 per cent for carbonated drinks
  • 100 per cent for tobacco products
  • 100 per cent for energy drinks.

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VAT Refund from FTA

Federal Tax Authority Reaffirms: ‘Refunding Tax for Eligible Applicants a Direct Transaction Between Registrants and the FTA’

Federal Tax Authority Reaffirms: ‘Refunding Tax for Eligible Applicants a Direct Transaction Between Registrants and the FTA’

  • The Authority reiterated its call for maintaining strict confidentiality of registrants’ data.

Abu Dhabi, September 10, 2019 – The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) reaffirmed that refunding taxes for legally eligible applicants is a direct transaction between the registered business and the FTA, and does not call for any intermediaries.

The process is completed via advanced electronic systems, available on the FTA’s official website, which boasts impressive security features for financial transactions. It is done through official channels using the International Bank Account Number (IBAN), and via systems under the authority of – and electronically linked to – the UAE Central Bank.

In a press statement issued today, the Authority noted that all of these official systems involve dealing directly with the FTA using Tax Registration Numbers (TRNs). They stand out for their accuracy, confidentiality, and data security, in addition to being inaccessible via email or any other medium that may be prone to piracy and hacking.

The Authority issued the above statement in response to reports that certain bank customers received emails from unidentified sources impersonating banks and financial institutions, and asking recipients to provide personal data, including names, credit card numbers, and PIN codes, claiming that providing the information will allow them to recover Value Added Tax.

The FTA reiterated its warning to all registered businesses, calling on them to remain vigilant and maintain the confidentiality of their personal data. The Authority reaffirmed that all transactions – registration, submitting Tax Returns, refunding tax for eligible candidates, etc. – can be completed with a few simple steps via the e-Services portal, available 24/7 on the FTA website:, which was designed in accordance with international best practices to make it easier for Taxable Persons to meet their obligations.

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