IFZA Free Zone | What is it & how to get started?


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IFZA Free Zone

Do you want to start you company in IFZA Free Zone? A free zone is an area where goods and services can be stored or traded at preferential tax and customs rates. Many countries use these as a way to boost local economies whilst offering 100% foreign ownership. 

UAE free zones have become even more popular in the last 12 months, driven by businesses looking not only to expand. But to escape costly lockdowns in their home countries. Many people are drawn to the zero percentage tax regime the UAE has to offer. Both for their business and personal incomes.   

What Free Zone should you choose?

There are currently 45 free zones in the UAE, each specializing in slightly different industries and areas. We would typically focus on those located in Dubai as the reputation is better and the running of a business is significantly easier. Although the Northern Emirates are useful for free zones, there are many pitfalls, banking being the crux of the problems business owners face. 

One of the newer free zones, IFZA (International Free Zone Authority) started out in Fujairah. However, due to high demand and obstacles faced by business people, IFZA relocated to Dubai Silicon Oasis during the end of 2020. IFZA has always been a favorite of those looking to start a company without having to pay the big bucks usually required in Dubai. IFZA is a friendly free zone with helpful staff that speaks to you without jargon. This makes setting up much easier.

How to set up an IFZA company

Step one

For starters, you should already know what you want to do. Have a business plan, and know which activities you want to focus on. Most free zones allow from 3 to 6 activities per license. These activities have to be related; otherwise, huge problems will arise when trying to set up a bank account later on. International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) has almost 2,000 activities to choose from, some require third party approvals, so please check beforehand.

In addition to specifying your business activities, you also have to choose one of the following licenses: 

Consultancy license: For business professionals providing expert and professional consultancy services across all industries.

Service license: Allows service providers production, re-production, transformation and distribution of services. Service licenses include rendering services as the primary objective and utilizing associated goods to provide those services.

Trading license: Authorizes the import, export, distribution and storing of items specified on the license.

General trading license: This enables the licensee to trade in a wider range of activities.

Industrial license: This enables the licensee to import raw materials, then production, re-production, manufacture, package the specified products, and finally export.

Holding license: Allows the holding of standalone assets and/or shares in other companies.

Step two

By now you will have a clear idea of what you want to name your company. But before you do, it’s important to check with the UAE government if the name is permitted.  The UAE has an incredibly unique business environment. Some of it will seem odd to you at first. It is better to be safe than sorry, so ask your set up advisor to help with this. Giving your company an unpermitted name can be an expensive mistake.

Step three

Now you can go ahead and make the application, it’s straight forward and easy to understand.

You will typically be asked for the following:

  • Completed application form
  • A copy of your passport
  • A colour photograph
  • 3 company name options
  • Activities
  • An overview of the company

As most free zones only work with registered set up consultants, you’ll need to select one you feel most comfortable with. 

Why set up with IFZA?

IFZA have certainly come a long way in the last 3 years. They can now offer office space and warehousing solutions, which is proving to be a big hit. Although IFZA has mainly targeted logistics, there are plenty of options for pretty much any company.

How does IFZA compare to other Dubai free zones?

IFZA is often offering promotions to attract new businesses. The free zone is currently at a lower price point than its competition, as its still growing its good reputation.

IFZA offers packages ranging from a zero-visa package and up to 6 visas. IFZA often have fixed pricing for the license fees for up to 3 years at a time, which can be very useful when planning your budget. 

The cost of your set up will vary depending on the following. 

  • Activity (third party approval required or not)
  • Number of visas required
  • Company structure

The International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) company setup experts

IFZA are one of the many free zones in the UAE that won’t work directly with those wishing to set up. You will need to choose a set up firm to deal with this for you. This does not mean you will pay more to the set-up firm, because IFZA pay an introducer fee to the set-up advisor. It is greatly beneficial to use a professional firm to help you set up. Firstly, they have an extensive knowledge of the landscape and the best people within the free zone to get things done. Secondly, when dealing with any government entity, there are many different department, people and processes involved. To figure this out from scratch will be very time consuming. 

An advisory will help you select the right license from the right free zone, as well as the right activity. This way you don’t have to worry about making costly mistakes. Peace of mind while starting a business is priceless, but not expensive.

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