GENERAL
Dubai South is a registered trademark of Dubai World Central Corporation. From 2015, Dubai South is the new name of the 145 km2 development area in Madinat Al Matar around Al Maktoum International Airport.
Dubai World Central is the original name of the Madinat Al Matar development area. Dubai World Central continues to be the name of the Free Zone located within the Dubai South development area. Companies registered within the Free Zone are designated DWC-LLC.
GETTING STARTED IN THE FREE ZONE
All businesses operating in the DWC Free Zone must have a physical presence in the Free Zone. Accordingly, the first step to getting started is to meet with the DWC Sales team and agree on the type, location and size of premises to be leased. All businesses must then be registered and licensed to operate within the DWC Free Zone. There are two registration options: registration as a Branch of an existing entity, or incorporation of a new DWC limited liability company (DWC-LLC).
Provided that the security checks have been cleared and the application fee and all supporting documentation are present and correct, the registration and licensing process can be completed within as little as 1 day.
BUSINESS TYPES
A Branch is a representative office of a legal entity which already exists outside of the DWC Free Zone (local or international). A Branch does not have a separate legal personality, and it derives its power and authority from the parent entity. A Branch must have a General Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Branch, but it will not have a board of directors or company secretary. A Branch must retain the same name as the parent entity and end with the designation (Branch).
A DWC limited liability company is a new legal entity with its own legal personality. The liability of its members (shareholders) is limited to the value of the share capital they hold in the company. A DWC limited liability company must have Shareholders, Directors, a Company Secretary and a General Manager, and will have the designation DWC-LLC.
Yes. If an applicant’s proposed business model spans more than one (or overlaps any) of the categories set out in the DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations, the applicant is advised to apply for separate Licences (e.g. an applicant who wishes to carry out both trading and manufacturing should apply for two Licences - one for the trading activity and the other one for the manufacturing activity) (only for exceptional cases).
DWC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES
To establish a DWC-LLC, the following must be submitted to the Free Zone Administration Department:

  • A completed form – Registration & Licensing Application (Dubai World Central LLC);
  • Clear and valid passport copies (preferably in colour) of any individual listed as a Shareholder, Director, General Manager and Company Secretary in the application form;
  • A notarized, attested and legalized copy of certificate of incorporation, valid certificate of good standing or trade licence (for foreign companies, should be notarized, attested and legalized) of any Shareholder that is a corporate entity;
  • If the person handling the application and signing the declaration at the end of the Registration & Licensing Application form is not named as a Shareholder, Director, General Manager or Company Secretary in the application, then a notarised Power of Attorney or signed Board Resolution (if the Shareholder is a corporate entity) will be required from each Shareholder, confirming that the person handling the application is properly authorised to act on behalf of the Shareholders;
  • 2 copies of the Memorandum of Association and the Articles of Association of the DWC-LLC on this site under Commercial Business, bearing the name of the company to be incorporated and signed by all Shareholders, noting their names, addresses and respective shareholding; and
  • The applicable fee.
No. All Free Zone Enterprises in DWC can be formed with 100% foreign ownership.
A DWC-LLC is currently limited to a maximum of 6 shareholders.
A DWC-LLC is currently limited to a maximum of 6 shareholders.
Anywhere between 1 to 7 Directors can be appointed to a DWC-LLC company. A DWC-LLC company must have at least 1 Director at any given time.
No. Shareholders, Directors and the Company Secretary can be located anywhere in the world.
Yes. However, the General Manager must be a UAE resident.
No. The General Manager must reside within the UAE as he/she will be the day-to-day point of contact for all matters concerning the DWC Free Zone business, and may need to be reached quickly in an emergency.
Yes. An individual can be a partner/shareholder in multiple companies.
The minimum capital of a DWC-LLC company will be AED 300,000 (each share is AED 1). If the capital is AED 1,000,000 or more, then a proof of capital is required.
The consideration for which a share in a Free Zone Establishment is issued may take the form of cash or non cash consideration. We don’t ask for bank letters to prove the minimum capital is paid up.
BRANCHES
  • A completed form – Registration & Licensing Application (Branch);
  • Either a copy of a signed Board Resolution OR a notarised Power of Attorney from the existing entity, confirming the intent to establish the Branch and nominating a representative to handle the filing;
  • Notarized, attested and legalized Memorandum and Articles of Association or similar constitutional documents of the existing entity;
  • Notarized, attested and legalized certificate of incorporation, certificate of good standing or valid trade licence of the existing entity; and
  • The applicable fee.
No. The Branch must be immediately related to the existing entity.
Yes. A Branch cannot undertake any business activity which the existing entity is not already authorised to undertake.
Yes.
LICENSES
The categories of licence available within the DWC Free Zone are:
  • Commercial Licence – allows the holder to carry out specified commercial services including general trading and logistics services;
  • Service Licence – allows the holder to carry out services specified in the Licence within the DWC Free Zone and elsewhere in the UAE;
  • Industrial Licence – allows the holder to carry out specified light manufacturing activities; and
  • Education Licence – allows the holder to carry out educational and social services, educational aid training, and educational consultancy services;
  • Please refer to DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations on this site under Commercial Business for a detailed description of these licences.
ACTIVITY TYPES
DWC is able to licence most of the activities that are allowed by the Dubai Department of Economic Development. Click here for a list of DED activities in Microsoft Excel file.
A Free Zone enterprise can have up to 5 related activities in the DWC Business Centre and up to 10 related activities in the Aviation District and Logistic District. A trading activity and a service activity cannot be issued under the same licence.
Yes, in limited cases. For example, a company with a service license could provide consultancy services to clients outside of the DWC Free Zone and a company providing logistics services under a commercial licence could pick up and deliver (but not sell) products within the UAE. However, trading activities under a commercial license only permit the holder to sell completed products in the UAE market through a local registered distributor or a commercial agent in the UAE.

Different restrictions apply on different licence categories. Please refer to the DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations for further details.
LEASES
Yes, in limited cases. For example, a company with a service license could provide consultancy services to clients outside of the DWC Free Zone and a company providing logistics services under a commercial licence could pick up and deliver (but not sell) products within the UAE. However, trading activities under a commercial license only permit the holder to sell completed products in the UAE market through a local registered distributor or a commercial agent in the UAE.

Different restrictions apply on different licence categories. Please refer to the DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations for further details.
No. All applicants wishing to operate from the DWC Free Zone are required to register as a Free Zone Enterprise.
No. Leasing and investment activities are only permitted within DWC.
DWC has a wide range of products from the business centre upward that will suit different types of business needs. For leasing enquiries, please call +971 4 816 0000 or e-mail business.park@dwc.ae
No. To qualify for and to hold a licence, the applicant must be in possession of a valid lease for office space, warehouse space, or development land within the DWC Free Zone or have a service contract with the DWC Business Centre.
Yes. All DWC Free Zone Enterprises may lease multiple premises under the same licence.
No. In the DWC Free Zone, you can only lease offices.
Yes. DWC has a wide range of Business Centre products and services which includes Smart desks and Smart offices. Please Contact DWC Business Centre on +971 4 816 0000 or submit your enquiry online here
OWNERSHIP CHANGES
  • Branch – If the FZE is a Branch, generally a change of ownership at the parent company would not impact the Free Zone Branch registration and would not need to be notified to the Free Zone Administration Department. Only if a change in ownership triggered a change of name, registered office or a change in the business activities of the parent entity would this need to be notified. The form for such changes can be found on this site under Commercial Business.
  • DWC-LLC – If the FZE is registered as a DWC-LLC, a change in ownership would affect the company’s Free Zone Register entry and the company’s corporate documentation. A change in ownership must be notified to the Free Zone Administration Department.
To confirm the transfer of shares from the original owner (transferor) to the new owner (transferee), the following must be submitted (along with a covering letter) to the Free Zone Administration Department:
  • A copy of the share sale/transfer agreement signed by the transferor and the transferee;
  • A copy of a signed Board Resolution approving the sale/transfer and appointing the Company Secretary or other third party to handle the filing and processing of the share transfer with the Free Zone Administration Department;
  • The original share certificate for the shares being transferred;
  • 2 original copies of an Amendment to the Memorandum of Association and 2 copies of an Amendment to the Articles of Association reflecting the change of shareholding and signed by the transferee and the remaining shareholders;
  • If the transferee is an individual, a copy of a valid passport of the transferee; if the transferee is a company, a certified/true copy of a valid trade licence or certificate of good standing; and
  • The applicable fee.
This responsibility usually falls to the Company Secretary, although the Board of Directors can resolve to appoint an alternate person or professional third party, such as a lawyer, to handle the filing. In such a case, the Company Secretary will still be ultimately responsible to the Free Zone Administration Department for the accuracy and completeness of the filing under the DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations.
A change in ownership will have no legal effect until the Free Zone Register has been updated with the details of the new owner, even if consideration has already been exchanged in respect of the transfer or sale of shares.
The fees for a change of ownership are currently AED 2,500, payable in advance.
Yes. All amendments related to the licence (i.e. changes in the legal form, trade name or shareholding of the business, and cancellation of its licence) would need to be published in at least 1 daily newspaper in the UAE and such changes are invoiced at cost.
No. This is a matter for the shareholders and Board of Directors of the DWC-LLC. We strongly recommend that professional advice is taken in respect of any share sale or transfer.
The Board Resolution needs to confirm the names of the transferor and the transferee and the number of shares being transferred or purchased, and refer to and approve the instrument of transfer (i.e. the share sale/transfer agreement). The Board Resolution also needs to instruct and authorise the Company Secretary or other third party to handle the filing and processing of the transfer with the Free Zone Administration Department.

In addition, if the Articles of Association of the DWC-LLC contain provisions regarding pre-emption rights (i.e. the right of an existing shareholder to have first refusal over the purchase/transfer of any shares), then the Board Resolution must also acknowledge whether the existing shareholders have agreed to exercise or waive these rights (evidenced by either a letter signed by all existing shareholders or a signed Shareholders Resolution).
If a transfer has been registered by the Free Zone Administration Department and pre-emption rights have not been followed, the transfer can be challenged by the existing shareholders lodging a complaint (in writing) with the Free Zone Administration Department.
The share sale/transfer agreement must include the name and address of both the transferor and the transferee, the number of shares being transferred or purchased, and the consideration for the share sale/transfer.
The Amendments need to reflect the change of ownership of the company, stating the names, addresses and shareholding of all shareholders after the transfer. The Amendments must also be signed by each shareholder, confirming their agreement to the amended documents.
One set will be retained with the Free Zone Administration Department and the other set will be returned to the DWC-LLC after it has been officially stamped and sealed by the Free Zone Registrar.
The Free Zone Administration Department will cancel the original share certificate and issue a new share certificate in the name of the new owner, and stamp and seal the Amendments to the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Free Zone Administration Department will then update the Free Zone Register with details of the change of ownership, and send the new share certificate and the stamped and sealed Amendments to the Memorandum and Articles of Association to the DWC-LLC. The change of ownership is legally effective as soon as the Free Zone Register has been updated.
If the transferor is listed as an Officer of the company (i.e. a Director, Company Secretary or General Manager) and it has been agreed that the transferor will no longer hold such positions, the transferor will need to resign from the relevant position or positions. The changes must be notified to the Free Zone Administration Department, along with the change of ownership by completing and submitting the appropriate Registration & Licensing Application form and applicable fee (currently AED 2,500 per position).
Yes, these are available for download here or by contacting DWC Customer Service on +971-4-8141111.
Yes, provided that the amendments continue to comply with the DWC Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations. However, all amendments will be subject to review and approval of the Free Zone Administration Department, and this could delay the time it takes to process a registration.
COMPANY ACCOUNTS AND AUDITORS
Yes. Each Free Zone Enterprise must appoint an independent auditor that is registered and licenced in the UAE. Audited financial statements must be submitted annually.
Yes.
CERTIFICATES AND ATTESTATION
Notarisation authenticates signatures that appear on a document. The Notary Public will insist on witnessing the signature and any supporting documents which certify the identity of the signatory (such as a passport). In the event that the document is being signed on behalf of a company, the Notary may need to see evidence that proves the individual signing is authorised to do so by the company.
Attestation can be best described as the process whereby a document is certified to give it legal standing internationally, which is why this process is also occasionally referred to as legalisation or an apostille.
Please refer to the requirement checklist.
We provide certified true copies of corporate documents (eg. Certificate of Incorporation, Trade Licence etc.). We also provided confirmation of basic register information such as the name and address of the FZE, directors and other officers upon request of the FZE. However, we do not notarise Board Resolutions, Powers of Attorney or similar documents.
REGISTERED OFFICE
A registered office is the official contact address of the Branch or DWC-LLC. A registered office can be a location anywhere in the world, however, it should be a location from which correspondence is easily retrieved. All correspondence delivered to a registered address will be deemed validly served and notified provided proof of delivery exists.
LANGUAGE
We accept documents and application forms completed in English or in Arabic only.
FEES AND CHARGES
The cost of first registration are included in the license fee (please see below).
The fees for all licences (except General Trading) are currently AED 10,000 per annum, per licence, payable in advance. The fees for a General Trading licence are currently AED 20,000 per annum, also payable in advance.
All DWC Free Zone administration fees are payable in advance in accordance with the rates and charges set out in the Tariff in force from time to time.

Payments can be made in cash or cheque at the Free Zone Administration counter or by bank transfer in local currency to the following account:

Bank Account Name: Dubai Aviation City Corporation
Bank Name & Address: Dubai Islamic Bank, Main Branch, Dubai, UAE
IBAN Number: AE330240001520011195201
Account Number: 001 - 520 - 0111952 - 01
Swift Code: DUIBAEADXXX
H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai has issued the law number 4 for 2005 on levying an additional fee on each transaction at government, quasi-government or public entity. The third article of the law provides for collecting an additional fee of 10 Dirhams, thereinafter called the 'Knowledge Dirham' for each transaction done at any public department of the emirate.

According to the law, proceedings from the 'Knowledge Dirham' fee shall be deposited in a special local bank account in the name of Dubai Executive Council. The Council, as per the law, shall allocate an annual budget to support social and cultural development initiatives based on the proceedings.
SETTING UP A P.O. BOX
Yes.
Emirates Post are offering P.O. Box services tailored to meet your needs. Please check their website http://www.emiratespost.com/ for branches and timings.
No. However, there is a plan to open a branch within DWC in the near future.
The closest is Jebel Ali Post Office which is open from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm., and can be reached on +971 4 8816989.
You have to submit to Emirates Post a completed Corporate application form (which can be downloaded from http://www.emiratespost.com/) stamped by your company, along with a copy of your valid trade licence.
There are various offerings available to corporate customers which will enable you to select a suitable category depending on your company’s mail volumes. You can get the fee structure by calling the Emirates Post Call Centre, or visiting their branch or website http://www.emiratespost.com/.
EMPLOYMENT
An FZE is allowed to have 1 visa per 8m2 of leased space in DWC office and warehouse buildings. A different ratio applies for FZE’s established through the DWC Business Centre, depending on the setup package taken. For FZE’s leasing development land for constructing their own facility, the number of visas should not exceed a reasonable allocation determined by the Free Zone Administration.
No, we do not provide template employment contracts. The terms and conditions of employment contracts are a matter of negotiation and agreement between the employer and the employee. As a minimum, the contract must comply with the UAE Labor Law.
RULES & REGULATION
  • DWC’s Free Zone and Administration Rules and Regulations are available here.
  • Development Regulations and Guidelines are available here.

In addition, Free Zone Enterprises are also subject to the applicable laws of the Emirates of Dubai and Federal Laws of the UAE.