Navigating Financial Services in the DIFC: What You Need to Know

In a recent circular, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) clarified an important distinction for businesses operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Being incorporated in the DIFC does not automatically grant the authority to provide financial services. This informative piece breaks down the key points and sheds light on how businesses can ensure compliance.

The DFSA emphasises that the ability to offer financial services is contingent upon obtaining authorisation. Over 85% of DIFC-incorporated companies currently lack a financial services license from the DFSA, rendering them unable to provide any financial services.

To determine a company’s eligibility to offer financial services, individuals are encouraged to refer to the DFSA Public Register. This comprehensive database allows users to search for Authorised Firms, understanding the specific financial services they are licensed to provide. Importantly, the register provides details on endorsements, such as the ability to serve retail clients, and any restrictions on particular financial services.

It’s essential to understand that merely being an Authorised Firm does not provide exhaustive information on the scope of financial services a company can offer. Users must enquire into the specifics, including endorsements, to ascertain the range and limitations of services.

The DFSA outlines that businesses providing goods or services that may pose a risk for financial crime, such as money laundering or terrorist financing, are registered as Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). While DNFBPs are not regulated for their main business activities, they must adhere to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing requirements.


In conclusion, the circular underscores the importance of due diligence when engaging with companies in the DIFC. It highlights the significance of the DFSA Public Register as a valuable resource for confirming a company’s regulatory status and the financial services it is permitted to provide.

For further details and to access the DFSA Public Register, individuals are encouraged to visit

KBH offers invaluable guidance to businesses operating within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). KBH plays a pivotal role in ensuring businesses obtain the necessary authorizations to provide financial services. KBH commitment to thorough due diligence ensures that clients are well-equipped to engage with confidence in the DIFC marketplace.