Published: Apr 27, 2020

DIFC Fiscal Relief Package and other New Developments

The past months have brought numerous new developments to the DIFC framework:

  • Relief: announcement of various measures to support DIFC businesses through the challenging times, caused by the impact of COVID-19;
  • Reopening: rules governing the partial re-opening of certain sectors/ activities from Sunday April 26th 2020;
  • Emergency Measures: enactment of Directive No. 4 of 2020 concerning Covid-19 Emergency Measures;
  • Portal: a revamp of DIFC Portal for new and existing DIFC entities; and
  • Others: Other developments, e.g. concerning DIFC foundations as well as Economic Substance regime.


Fiscal Hardship – Easing Measures:

On 15th April 2020, the DIFC announced, in particular the following initiatives to help and protect DIFC businesses from the Covid-19-related impact on their financial performance:

  1. Deferred payment on all leases on DIFC Investments Ltd. leases: for six month-paid rents, referred by three months.
  2. Full waiver from annual licensing fees for new entities: on applications filed between 1 April and 30 June 2020.
  3. 10% discount on license renewal fee applicable on existing entities: on renewals due between 1 April and 30 June 2020.
  4. Reduction on fees for property registration from 5% to 4%
  5. Free movement of labour, allowing DIFC staff to move to other free zones.


Partial Operating Re-Opening:

From Sunday April 26th DIFC entities can partially resume for business, as follows:

  • Retailers (Excluding gyms).
  • Restaurants and Coffee Shops – open for delivery and take away requests only.
  • Offices – provided that a maximum of 30% of the workforce works from office premises.

Every person entering the DIFC (as employee or visitor):

  1. will undergo a temperature check, upon entry.
  2. must, particularly:
    • wear face masks at all times upon entering and inside DIFC buildings; and
    • ensure the two-meter distancing measure is maintained in all common areas.


Emergency Measures Introduction

Between 1 April and 31 July 2020, the following measures could be introduced by employers:

  • Reduced working hours.
  • Imposed annual leave/ remote working.
  • Reduced remuneration.


DIFC Portal Revamp

From 19 April 2020, in particular the following modifications have been introduced to the DIFC portal for entities:

For New businesses:

  • Initial approval for incorporation and final registration can both completed on the DIFC portal:
  • Initial approval for registration of company structures can be completed under the forms that automatically generate repetitive the information:
  • Articles of Association can be executed electronically, only.

For Existing businesses:

  • Allowing users with multiple entity accounts to manage all those accounts under one platform.
  • Single time download of a document to suffice under the entire portal of the entity.
  • Regular passport copies (rather than certified ones) suffice.

Other Developments


  • DIFC foundations are now able to own shares directly in Jebel Ali Free Zone entities.
  • Economic Substance Notification form will be available by 1st May 2020, for filing by each DIFC entity by 12 June 2020.


How can we help?

To help you benefit from the new developments, we would be particularly happy to advise you on:

  • how your business can benefit from the DIFC’s COVID-19 stimulus package or the Emergency Measures.
  • forming or reopening of your DIFC business.
  • completing any corporate actions under the modified DIFC portal.


Key Contacts:

Izabella Szadkowska
Partner, Corporate Structuring

Noff Al Khafaji
Senior Associate, Corporate Structuring