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Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)

About Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)

The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) was created in 1985 to manage the industrial area surrounding the Jebel Ali Port and attract international investment. Over the years, Jebel Ali port has evolved into one of the world’s biggest shipping ports and an integral trading hub.

Jebel Ali is located on the outskirts of Dubai. Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), an airport that aspires to be the largest in the world in both freight and passenger volume, is also in the vicinity of the port area. In the next few years, Etihad rail will link JAFZA to the entire Arabian Peninsula, making it even easier to trade across the GCC. More than 20 percent of the foreign investment and over 50 percent of total exports from Dubai are from JAFZA.

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The Basics

JAFZA offers the most extensive variety of business licences amongst all the jurisdictions in the UAE. The options for licencing are general trading licence, service licence, industrial licence, national industrial licence, logistics licence, e-commerce licence, innovation licence and offshore licence. You can opt for warehouses, showrooms, land, retail space, on-site residences, offices, or shared offices. The choices are truly unlimited.

Each JAFZA client is registered to the e-services platform called the Dubai Trade Portal. It is a single-window channel to online services of various business entities such as DP World and Dubai Customs. In addition to the e-portal, JAFZA provides 156 administrative and commercial services via a mobile app. You can process visa applications, lease and licence renewals at your convenience.


A company in Jebel Ali Free Zone can operate under these types of licenses:

Commercial License

Encompassing trading activities;

Industrial License

Encompassing industrial or manufacturing activities;

Professional License

Encompassing professional services;

JAFZA Offshore License

JAFZA, working alongside the Dubai Government, started offering offshore companies in 2003 under the Jebel Ali Free Zone Offshore Companies Regulations 2003. JAFZA Offshore Companies are the only type of offshore company that are permitted to act as holding companies for Dubai real estate.

Below are highlights of the JAFZA offshore licence:

  • Share Capital – No minimum share capital requirements;
  • Shareholders – A minimum of one shareholder is required and corporate shareholders are allowed;
  • Directors – A minimum of two directors are required;
  • Secretary – A company director may also act as company secretary. Every company is required to have an appointed secretary.

There is currently no public register for JAFZA offshore companies. One of the reasons people opt to open JAFZA offshore companies is to retain privacy as the authorities allow JAFZA Offshore Companies to hold the shares of both Free Zone and local limited liability companies which have public registers. Instead of having your details on internet databases, you can have your JAFZA offshore company listed instead.

Documents Required to Start a JAFZA Free Zone Company

The current list of documents required are:

  • Passport copy of the general manager and shareholders;
  • Project summary;
  • No Objection Certificate from local sponsor (if applicable);
  • Business profile of shareholder(s);
  • Board Resolution attested by JAFZA;
  • Specimen signature of manager attested by JAFZA;
  • External approvals (if applicable);
  • If industrial license, technical and environmental assessments might be required;
  • If a company, instead of an individual holds the shares, they need to be notarized and attested.

Documents Required to Setup a JAFZA Offshore Company

Every JAFZA offshore company is required to appoint an approved registered agent. You cannot register directly with JAFZA.

The current list of documents required are:

  • Passport copy;
  • CV or personal profile;
  • Proof of residential address (i.e. utility bill which includes physical address issued in the last 90 days);
  • True copy of valid Certificate of Registration or Incorporation Certificate or Commercial Registry; Valid Certificate of Good Standing (for offshore companies); True copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association; Board of Directors Resolution (or Shareholders Resolution) calling for the establishment of the offshore company and appointing the director(s) and the secretary; (for corporate shareholders);
  • If a company, instead of an individual holds the shares, they need to be notarized and attested.

Timeframe for JAFZA License (Offshore & Free Zone)

The timeframe to get a JAFZA offshore licence is usually around a week. The JAFZA free zone licence timeframe can vary significantly on the type of licence. We have seen anywhere from 2 weeks to several months. Speak to us for details on your specific type of licence.