Economic Substance Regulation Update in UAE

As per the recent Economic Substance Regulation, all UAE onshore and free zone companies and other UAE business forms (referred to as “Licensees”) are required to notify to the Relevant Authorities as to whether they are conducting the relevant activity or not as per the regulation and required to file the necessary details as mentioned in the Notification form.

Below mentioned authorities have recently made an announcement with respect to the deadline for filing of Notification form:

  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – The Licensees registered at DIFC are required to file a notification by 12th June 2020.
  • Ras Al Khaimah International Corporate Centre (RAKICC) – The notification deadline for licensees registered at RAKICC will be 30th June 2020.
  • Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)– The notification filing deadline of 03rd May 2020 has been extended by DAFZA to 31st May 2020.
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Authority (DMCC) – The notification deadline for entities licensed in DMCC is 30th June 2020.
  • Hamriyah Free Zone – The notification deadline for entities licensed in Hamriyah Free Zone is 30th June 2020.
  • Sharjah Airport Free Zone (SAIF Zone) – The notification deadline for entities licensed in SAIF Zone is 30th June 2020.
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) – The notification deadline for entities licensed in ADGM is 30th June 2020.

Penalties for failing to notify the Regulatory Authority within the given deadline is between AED10,000 and AED50,000. Other penalties shall also apply in case Licensees fail to provide accurate or complete information and demonstrate sufficient economic substance in the UAE.

Economic Substance FAQs

Q1- What are the Economic Substance Regulations (“ESR”) and why did the UAE government enact them?

ESR have been introduced in countries with low or no corporate taxes, in order to comply with international initiatives to combat harmful tax practices including unlawful avoidance or evasion. ESR requires certain legal entities to demonstrate that they carry out substantial economic activities in these jurisdictions, in accordance with the Economic Substance Test (see Q6 below).

The UAE introduced the Economic Substance Regulations, applicable in free zones as well as on-shore, to honour its commitment as a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“BEPS”), and in response to a review of the UAE tax reporting framework by the European Union (EU). The purpose of the Regulations is to ensure that UAE entities undertaking certain activities report actual profits that are commensurate with the economic activity undertaken within the UAE.

Q2- When did the ESR come into force?

The UAE Economic Substance Regulations came into force on 30 April 2019, and subsequent guidance on the regulations was issued on 11 September 2019. Regulatory Authorities responsible for administering the ESR were identified in a Ministerial Resolution issued on 4 September 2019. Amendments were made to the ESR in Cabinet Decree No. 7 of 2020, which was issued on 19 January 2020. The Ministry of Finance is working with the OECD to further refine the scope and applicability of the UAE Economic Substance Regulations. Updates will be posted on this website and on the Ministry’s website.


Q3- Who does the Economic Substance Regulations apply to?


The Regulations primarily apply to legal entities that carry out a ‘Relevant Activity’.


Q4- What are the Relevant Activities?

The Relevant Activities under the Economic Substance Regulations are:

  • Banking Businesses
  • Insurance Businesses
  • Investment Fund Management Businesses
  • Lease-Finance Businesses
  • Headquarters Businesses
  • Shipping Businesses
  • Holding Company Businesses
  • Intellectual Property Businesses
  • Distribution and Service Centre Businesses


Please refer to the UAE Economic Substance Relevant Activities Guide issued by the Ministry of Finance for further information and explanation on each of the above Relevant Activities.


How can we help


We will assess the business activities of the companies to determine whether the activities are relevant activity under Economic Substance Regulation and assist in the preparation, reviewing, and filing of the ESR Notification Form with the Relevant Authority.


For more information about the economic substance regulation update, please get in touch with us…

You can also reach us on +97142690673 or email to [email protected]


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