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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

How Abu Dhabi Free Zone Companies Can Operate Onshore

19th July 2018

On the 8th of July 2018, Administration Decree No. 219 of 2018 was passed relating to dual licensing for free zone entities. This decree is in relation to free zone entities being able to operate onshore in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Licensed entities in Abu Dhabi free zones can apply to the Department of Economic Development (DED) to request a trade license to carry out their activities outside of the free zone in which they are licensed.

It is necessary for the relevant free zone authority to give approval.

The free zone entity must meet all of the requirements necessary to obtain a license issued by the DED to operate onshore (outside of the free zone).

The free zone authorities must ensure that the free zone entity wishing to operate outside the free zone has a commercial premise within the free zone and that no more than one license is issued at that location.

Free zone companies are only legally able to operate within the geographical area of the specific free zone and with overseas companies. To work with onshore companies and with government entities, it is necessary to have an onshore license issued by the DED, which is known as a dual license.

It should be noted that a free zone company can only apply for a dual license in the Emirate where the free zone is located. E.g. a free zone company located in either Masdar City or TWOFOUR54 free zones, which are located in Abu Dhabi, can only apply for a dual license in Abu Dhabi.

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO, Gateway Group of Companies


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