Dubai Forex License
Dubai is a global financial and business epicenter, known for its progressive approach to economic development as its government actively supports business growth and innovation. With a strategic location bridging different continents, a reputable regulatory framework, tax exemptions, and a thriving financial ecosystem Dubai offers great opportunities for foreign exchange brokers and forex-related businesses seeking legitimacy and global expansion.
PACKAGE «COMPANY & FOREX License IN DUBAI»
- Company Formation
- 1 Investor Visa
- Opening Corporate Bank Account
- Establishment Card
- Reserving the company name
- Virtual Address
- Drafting and notarizing official company documents (Articles of Association, Statutes)
- Submission of company documents to the UAE Government
- Notary fees
Advantages of Dubai Forex License
Dubai is widely recognized for its world-class business infrastructure. It’s home to numerous multinational banks and financial institutions, offering forex businesses easy access to financial services, liquidity providers, and tailored banking solutions. The city’s state-of-the-art telecommunications and technological infrastructure ensures high-speed connectivity and uninterrupted forex trading operations which enables forex brokers to leverage it for the execution of swift and seamless trades. Also, Dubai hosts major international events and expos (e.g., Forex Expo Dubai 2023) where forex businesses have opportunities to showcase their services, network with potential clients, and gain exposure on a global stage.
Furthermore, Dubai’s strategic geographical location is a major advantage that greatly benefits forex brokers seeking to tap into international markets. Bridging East and West, Dubai is a gateway for accessing markets not only in the Middle East but also in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The city’s time zone is strategically situated between Asian and European trading hours, enabling round-the-clock trading activities. Besides, the overlapping trading hours between Dubai, Europe, and Asia create a window of opportunity for forex trading businesses to respond swiftly to market developments, news releases, and geopolitical events.
Dubai’s taxation framework is exceptionally favorable for foreign businesses. Usually, forex businesses operating within its jurisdiction aren’t subject to Corporate Income Tax or Personal Income Tax which contributes to increased financial viability of the business and its potential for growth. Also, Dubai offers flexibility when it comes to repatriating capital and profits earned by forex brokerage and similar companies, allowing them to efficiently manage their financial resources and allocate profits as needed, whether for reinvestment, expansion, or distribution to stakeholders.
Dubai maintains an open and liberal currency exchange policy, which is highly beneficial for forex businesses. There are no significant currency restrictions or exchange controls, enabling businesses to conduct transactions in various currencies without regulatory hurdles. Forex brokers operating in the city can access a wide range of global currencies, which is invaluable for executing trades, managing multi-currency trading accounts, and providing clients with a comprehensive suite of trading options. This unrestricted environment simplifies the execution of trades and allows brokers to swiftly respond to market opportunities that usually involve dealing with international clients.
Forex Regulations in Dubai
Dubai offers several free zones with different regulatory authorities where forex businesses can establish their operations and obtain licenses. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is responsible for the licensing and supervision of forex businesses operating within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) which is one of the most prestigious financial free zones. The DIFC operates under a unique regulatory framework, aligned with the English Common law, designed to ensure the integrity, stability, and transparency of financial activities, including forex trading, within the jurisdiction of Dubai.
The DFSA maintains a high level of transparency in its regulatory processes, rules, and enforcement actions, as well as collaborates with other reputable regulatory authorities worldwide to ensure that regulatory standards are consistent and regulatory efforts are aligned with global best practices.
The DFSA supervises forex businesses in accordance with the following legislation and rules (the list isn’t exhaustive):
- Regulatory Law of 2004
- Markets Law 2012
- Federal Decree-Law No. (20) of 2018 On Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations
- Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing and Sanctions Module (AML) [VER23/06-23]
- Conduct of Business (COB) Rulebook
- Financial Crime Prevention (FCP) Rulebook
- Client Money and Assets (CMA) Module
The Regulatory Law of 2004 is a fundamental piece of legislation in Dubai, establishing the regulatory framework for financial services and markets within the DIFC. It establishes the DFSA and emphasizes its independence in carrying out its regulatory functions which ensures that the DFSA is free from external influence or interference in its decision-making process. It grants the DFSA the power to issue licenses, conduct inspections, investigate violations, and impose sanctions on regulated businesses that fail to comply with regulatory requirements. It also defines authorized persons as financial institutions, including forex businesses, operating within the DIFC, which are required to obtain authorization and licensing from the DFSA.
The Markets Law of 2012 in Dubai primarily governs financial markets and activities within the DIFC. It establishes the regulatory framework for financial markets within the DIFC, including any financial institutions involved in forex trading. The law emphasizes the importance of maintaining market integrity, which includes preventing market abuse, insider trading, and fraudulent activities. Dubai forex brokers are expected to adhere to strict standards of conduct to ensure fair and transparent trading practices. It also provides a framework for listing requirements and trading rules for various financial instruments and defines mechanisms for resolving disputes related to financial transactions and market activities.
Federal Decree-Law No. (20) of 2018 On Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations is a key piece of legislation in the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE), aimed at preventing money laundering, combating the financing of terrorism, and addressing the financing of illegal organizations. It stipulates rules for customer due diligence, record keeping, risk assessment, and reporting obligations. This law reflects the UAE’s commitment to international standards and best practices for combating financial crime and ensuring the integrity of its financial sector.
While the DIFC is certainly worth your attention, bear in mind that with our help you can also choose from the following free zones:
- Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) with a focus on commodities trading, regulated by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority (DMCCA)
- Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ) welcomes a wide range of businesses and is regulated by the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)
- Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is the largest free zone in the world, and the oldest in Dubai, regulated by the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
- Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) with a focus on technology and innovation, regulated by the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA)
Types of Dubai Forex Licenses
Dubai offers several types of forex licenses, which you can choose on the basis of your business model and particular forex-related activities. The duration of Dubai’s forex license varies based on the specific type of license obtained and the terms negotiated with the regulatory authority of the chosen free zone.
The main types of Dubai forex licenses are as follows:
- Authorized Firm (AF) License – suitable for businesses intending to offer a broad range of financial services, including forex trading, and engage in financial activities within the DIFC (typically valid for 1-3 years)
- Authorized Market Institution (AMI) License – for businesses that intend to operate specifically as an exchange or trading platform for forex instruments as it allows the establishment and operation of financial markets and trading facilities within the DIFC (usually valid for 1-3 years)
- Representative Office (RO) License – suitable for forex businesses that want to establish and maintain a physical presence in the DIFC for marketing, liaison, or networking purposes, however, it doesn’t permit the provision of financial services within the DIFC (usually issued for a one-year term)
- Authorized Individual (AI) License is designed for individual professionals who work within forex businesses and provide financial services (generally valid for one year)
- A Restricted License (RL) or Innovation Testing License (ITL) isn’t a forex-specific license but is rather designed to encourage fintech and innovative financial businesses, and may be suitable for startups or more mature businesses looking to test new forex-related technologies or services within a controlled environment (the validity period is determined on a case-by-case basis)
FOREX LICENSE IN DUBAI
|Period for consideration
|Annual fee for supervision
|State fee for application
|Local staff member
|Required share capital
|Corporate income tax
Requirements for the Dubai Forex License Applicants
Obtaining a forex license in Dubai, particularly within the DIFC or another free zone, involves meeting various requirements and complying with regulatory standards set by the authority. While the specific legal requirements vary depending on the type of license you may want to apply for, there are certain common prerequisites that you should be aware of right now.
First of all, Dubai forex license applicants must establish a legal entity within the DIFC or another chosen free zone. This entity can take the form of a company, branch, or subsidiary, depending on the business’s structure and strategic preferences. The registration process can take several weeks depending on the type of legal business structure, and the completeness of the application. You can choose from such legal business structures as a Free Zone Company (FZCo), a Recognized Company (RC), and a Special Purpose Company (SPC).
To apply for a Dubai forex license, your Dubai-based legal entity must satisfy the following requirements:
- Minimum capital – varies widely depending on the type of license and scope of activities (e.g., AMI License applicants are required to have an amount equal to one-half of the estimated gross operating costs of the licensable company for the next twelve-month period, or an amount specified by the licensing authority)
- The license application fee also depends on the type of license and scope of activities, and is determined by the licensing authority (e.g., AMI License applicants are required to pay roughly around 36,000 – 183,000 AED (approx. 9,000 – 47,000 EUR) fee)
- A qualified management team with relevant industry experience (key personnel, including directors and compliance officers, must meet the licensing authority’s fit and proper criteria)
- Robust internal AML//CFT policies and procedures
- A comprehensive risk management framework to identify, assess, and manage risks associated with forex operations
- A compliance framework in place to ensure ongoing adherence to regulations enforced by the regulatory authority
- The necessary technology infrastructure to support forex trading activities, including reliable trading platforms and cybersecurity measures
- Appropriate insurance coverage, such as professional indemnity insurance, to mitigate potential risks
- Demonstrable access to the necessary liquidity providers and market infrastructure to facilitate proposed trading activities
- Demonstrable commitment to complying with international regulatory standards and best practices
At least the following documents are usually required to apply for a forex brokerage license in Dubai:
- A comprehensive business plan outlining the proposed activities, business model, risk management procedures, compliance measures, and more
- Audited financial statements for the past few years, demonstrating the applicant’s financial stability and ability to meet ongoing financial obligations
- Copies of passports of company shareholders, beneficial owners, directors, and other key personnel
- CV of the company’s shareholders, directors, and other key personnel
- Proof of residential address of each shareholder, director, and key personnel
- A detailed description of internal AML/CFT policies and processes
- A compliance manual detailing how the licensee will comply with applicable regulations (e.g., policies for handling client complaints, conflicts of interest, and regulatory reporting)
- An operational plan outlining the infrastructure, technology, and resources the licensee will use to facilitate forex trading
- Information about the ownership structure of the company, including details of shareholders and beneficial owners
- Proof of compliance with the minimum capital requirements
- Drafts of client agreements, including terms and conditions, risk disclosures, and client trading agreements
- Policies and procedures related to information technology, cybersecurity, and data protection
- Proof of adequate insurance coverage
English is the primary language used for regulatory and legal purposes within the DIFC, and the DFSA accepts documents and correspondence in English for the forex license application process. If you require certified translation services, we’ll be happy to offer you the most cost-effective solution.
How to Establish a Forex Company in Dubai
To establish a company in Dubai for forex trading purposes, you first need to choose the most suitable legal business structure. A Free Zone Company (FZCo) can be suitable for forex businesses, especially if you’re looking for a business structure that offers tax benefits and simplified regulations.
The main advantages of an FZCo are as follows:
- Full foreign ownership is allowed
- Tax exemptions, including zero Corporate Tax
- Simplified company setup process
- Operational flexibility
- Access to international markets
The main requirements for a forex-focused FZCo in Dubai are as follows:
- At least one shareholder
- At least one director who can be the same as the shareholder
- An AML officer
- Office space within the DIFC or another free zone of your choice
- A corporate bank account with a local or international bank operating within the DIFC or another free zone of your choice
- Dubai visas for shareholders, directors, and employees might be needed
- A registered agent based in the selected free zone
The main steps for opening a new forex company in Dubai are as follows:
- Appoint a registered agent
- Reserve a unique and compliant name for your forex company
- Prepare required documents
- Appoint shareholders, directors, and other key personnel for your company
- If applicable, determine your eligibility and apply for visas for shareholders, directors, and employees
- Submit the incorporation application form along with the required documents to the authority of the chosen free zone
- Secure office space within the DIFC or another free zone of your choice
- Open a local corporate bank account
Generally, the following documents are required to incorporate a forex company in Dubai:
- Memorandum of Association
- Articles of Association
- Passport copies and background information of shareholders, directors, and other key personnel
- A detailed business plan outlining forex activities and financial projections
- Proof of residential address for shareholders and directors
- A No Objection Certificate from your current employer or sponsor if you are residing or are employed in the UAE
- Proof of the minimum share capital
- Trade name reservation certificate
- A bank reference letter from each shareholder’s bank or financial institution verifying each shareholder’s financial standing and history
- Visa eligibility documents for shareholders, directors, and employees
- Power of Attorney if you appoint a representative or agent to handle the incorporation process on your behalf
How to Apply for a Dubai Forex License
Typically it takes from several weeks to a few months to obtain a forex brokerage license from the DFSA. However, the duration of the Dubai forex license application process ultimately depends on such factors as the chosen free zone and its regulatory authority, the complexity of your forex business, and the type of forex license.
The main steps of the forex license application process in Dubai are as follows:
- Prepare a comprehensive application package consisting of the application form and necessary documents
- Submit the completed application package to the relevant regulatory authority in Dubai
- Company shareholders, directors, and key personnel will have to undergo due diligence and background checks
- Company representatives might be invited to an interview with the regulatory authority to discuss compliance measures, business plan, and other key aspects – we can help you, among other things, prepare for it
- Once there is no missing or unverified information and the application is approved, you can expect a forex license to be granted for a specified period of time
When your license is due to expire, you must begin the renewal process well in advance of the license expiration date. You should start the process at least 3 months before the license’s expiry. Before initiating the process, it’s essential to ensure that the business operations are in full compliance with applicable regulations.
Ongoing Requirements for Forex Licensees in Dubai
Maintaining a forex license in Dubai requires continuous adherence to regulatory requirements and ongoing compliance which means that the licensee must stay up-to-date with regulatory changes and shape internal processes accordingly. Establishing and keeping open lines of communication with the regulatory authority might certainly help to stay on top of regulations and avoid any unnecessary misalignments.
In Dubai, the key ongoing regulatory requirements are as follows:
- Preparing and submitting regular financial reports to the regulatory authority to accurately reflect the financial status and performance of the forex business
- Maintaining effective AML/CFT procedures
- Implementing and improving risk management procedures to protect client funds and ensure the financial stability of the business, including ensuring that client funds are adequately protected and segregated from the company’s operational funds
- Maintaining comprehensive and accurate records of all transactions, client interactions, and compliance activities
If you wish to start a forex business and obtain a forex license in Dubai, our team here at Regulated United Europe will be delighted to support you in incorporating a forex company and applying for a forex license. We can also confidently guide you through the process of finding a viable forex license for sale and purchasing a ready-made forex business solution in the shortest possible time. With dedicated legal advisors, tax experts, and financial accountants at your side, you will find the processes of starting a forex business in Dubai easy, frictionless, and transparent. Contact us now to schedule a personalized consultation and set the stage for long-lasting success.
“Dubai, a global financial centre, is recognized for its proactive government support fostering business growth and innovation. Get in touch with me today, and I’ll steer you through the process of initiating this business.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Obtaining a forex license in Dubai involves navigating through the regulatory framework of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). The process typically includes the following steps:
- Preparation and Planning. Before initiating the application process, it's crucial to thoroughly understand the regulatory requirements, prepare the necessary documentation, and ensure compliance with DFSA regulations.
- Submitting a comprehensive application to the DFSA, including details about the company, its shareholders, directors, and the proposed forex activities.
- Due Diligence. The DFSA conducts a thorough due diligence process on the applicants, including background checks on key personnel and shareholders to ensure they meet the fitness and propriety criteria.
- Financial Requirements. Applicants need to demonstrate sufficient capital to meet the minimum financial requirements set by the DFSA. The amount varies depending on the type of license and the scope of activities.
- Operational Infrastructure. The DFSA assesses the applicant's operational infrastructure, risk management processes, and compliance procedures to ensure they meet regulatory standards.
- Approval and Licensing. Upon successful completion of the evaluation, the DFSA issues the forex license, allowing the company to operate as a regulated entity in Dubai.
The key requirements for obtaining a forex license in Dubai include:
- Demonstrating sufficient capital to operate a forex business in compliance with DFSA regulations.
- Meeting the DFSA's fit and proper criteria (applies to key personnel and shareholders).
- Demonstrating a robust operational and technological infrastructure that ensures the security and efficiency of forex trading activities.
- Implementing comprehensive compliance procedures to adhere to anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations.
- A detailed business plan outlining the proposed forex activities, risk management strategies, and plans for client fund protection.
The main steps in the application process for a forex license in Dubai include:
- Pre-application meeting with the DFSA to discuss the regulatory requirements and expectations.
- Submission of application including all required documentation and information.
- Due diligence process (including background checks on key personnel and shareholders).
- Financial evaluation to ensure compliance with minimum capital requirements.
- Operational and compliance assessment performed by the DFSA.
- Approval and licensing.
Yes. Registering a legal entity is a fundamental requirement for obtaining a forex license in Dubai. The company must be registered with the appropriate authorities and comply with company laws in the jurisdiction.
A forex license in Dubai typically covers activities related to foreign exchange trading, including buying and selling currencies, managing client funds, and providing investment advice.
Yes. Having a dedicated bank account is typically a requirement for obtaining a forex license in Dubai. The bank account is essential for conducting financial transactions related to forex trading and managing client funds.
Although specific documents may vary, typical documentation needed to obtain a forex license in Dubai includes:
- Application form (provided by the DFSA).
- Detailed business plan outlining proposed activities, risk management, and compliance measures.
- Proof of capital.
- Fit and proper checks including personal details, background checks, and qualifications of key personnel and shareholders.
- Documentation detailing operational and risk management procedures.
The main advantages of obtaining a forex license in Dubai include:
- Dubai‘s strategic location as a financial hub (access to a diverse and growing market).
- DFSA‘s maintenance of high regulatory standards (enhanced credibility and trustworthiness for licensed entities).
- Global recognition of Dubai's financial services (favorable conditions for business expansion and client acquisition).
- Tax benefits (favorable tax environment with no personal or corporate income tax).
- Access to international markets.
Dubai offers different types of licenses based on the scope of activities:
- Full Forex Dealer Member (FFD). This license allows for a wide range of forex and financial activities.
- Restricted Forex Dealer Member (RFD). This license restricts certain activities compared to the FFD license.
The process of establishing a company in Dubai involves the following steps:
- Determine the business activity and choose an appropriate legal structure for the company.
- Select a unique and approved name for the company.
- Submit the required documents and application to the relevant authorities, such as the Department of Economic Development (DED).
- Receive initial approval for the business setup from the relevant authority.
- Draft and notarize the MOA (Memorandum of Association) specifying the company's objectives and structure.
- Obtain the final approval from the relevant authorities.
- Register the company with the Dubai Commercial Register and obtain the trade license.
The documentation needed to establish a company in Dubai includes:
- Completed application form for company registration.
- Memorandum of Association outlining the company's objectives and structure.
- Passport copies of shareholders and key personnel.
- Proof of address for shareholders and key personnel.
- NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the sponsor for expatriate shareholders.
- Any additional legal permits required for specific business activities.
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