Dubai Maritime Authority City (DMCA) Free Zone

For centuries, Dubai has attracted the interest of seafarers and global traders because of its strategic placement between Europe and Asia and witnessed the subsequent emergence as a happening trading center in 1833 when a trading port was set up in the city. A part of the Dubai World Group of companies, Dubai Maritime City (DMC) holds the distinction of being the world's first strategically-built maritime centre that has been created not only to cater to the requirements of the maritime sector, but also to provide a world-class environment for the global maritime community and act as a platform for networking and integration of different maritime businesses and services, adding extra value to the entire maritime community. The main regulatory body of DMC, the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) was created in 2007 to develop, monitor, and promote maritime activities. It aims for the maritime community to have a dynamic urban lifestyle.

The DMC structure is made up of 6 strategic locations:

  • It is set up as the main business center for local and international maritime companies
  • The industrial precinct where vessels can undergo repairs
  • The academic quarter is designed as a study center
  • The marina district which serves as a recreational center
  • The harbor residence for residential purposes
  • The harbor offices for maritime businesses to set up their firm

Benefits of Setting Up a Business in DMC

  • 100% foreign company ownership
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • 100% tax exemption on corporate and personal income
  • Exemption from all import and export duties
  • Abundant and inexpensive energy
  • Inexpensive and educated multicultural workforce and simple recruitment procedures
  • Plentiful financial incentives
  • Efficient corporate infrastructure
  • 'One-stop-shop' administration process
  • Vibrant networking atmosphere, business-friendly climate, and excellent logistics matrices
  • On-site customers inspection
  • Flexibility for companies to operate 24 hours a day in the free zone

Types of Entities Allowed in DMC

1. Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

In a Free Zone Establishment, just 1 shareholder is allowed.

2. Free Zone Company (FZC)

In a Free Zone Company, 2 to 5 shareholders are allowed.

3. Branch Office

A branch office is a dependent company whose business is carried out in the name of the parent company and whose legal status and obligations are same as those of its parent company as well.

Types of Business Licenses Available in DMC

1. Marine Crafts License

For foreign and local companies to build and use vessels in accordance with international maritime standards.

2. Maritime Commercial License

For companies engaged in maritime activities in Dubai and individuals who engage in recreational activities in Dubai waters

3. Maritime Operation Services License

For companies operating in waste management in sea water.

4. Maritime Education and Research License

For entities into the field of education and research in maritime affairs.

5. Commercial License

A commercial is required to be obtained by companies and individuals involved in general maritime activities.

How to Set Up a Business in DMC?

Business setup in DMC free zone, like the business set up in any other Dubai free zone, requires following a systematic and proper procedure. For applying for the registration process, a company has to submit various documents along with the application form and a few photocopies. Follow the procedure below to set up a business in DMC free zone.

Procedure to Set Up a Business in DMC

  1. A trade name must be registered and proof of registration must be submitted
  2. Obtain an initial approval from DMC free zone authority
  3. The designated manager must provide one’s CV and a copy of one’s passport
  4. The owner/shareholder must provide one’s personal information
  5. Submit the documents and pay the fee
  6. Collect the license and all the documents

Documents Required to Set Up a Business in DMC

For a new company setup:

  • Proof of trade name reservation and initial approval for the activities
  • Passport copies and résumé of the manager and the shareholders
  • Personal information sheet of each shareholder and manager
  • Documents for lease agreement [it is mandatory to have a physical business/office address in UAE for company setup, and the rent in a free zone usually varies between US$ 405 to US$ 720 per square meter]
  • A lease document specifying a suitable minimum office space for the business
  • Attested and notarized Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA) from the UAE Embassy at the place of origin
  • Attested and notarized Power of Attorney appointing a legal representative to act on your and/or shareholders’ behalf
  • Attested and notarized Certificate of Registration or incorporation, and business license of your existing company/entity by the UAE Embassy (only for corporates)
  • The physical address of your business

For branch setup:

  • Passport copies and résumé of the manager and shareholders [the manager must have a university degree]
  • Proof of trade name reservation for the new branch and initial approval sheet for the activities performed by each shareholder and manager
  • Initial approval and proof for the activities to be performed in the new branch
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA) of your existing main branch at the place of origin, notarized by a UAE public notary
  • Lease agreement of the new branch [it is mandatory to have a physical UAE business address with a minimum space of 60 square meters]
  • Notarized Power of Attorney appointing a legal representative to act on your and/or the shareholders’ behalf
  • Existing company or entity’ Certificate of Registration/Incorporation or license, duly attested and notarized by the UAE Embassy
  • Board resolution of the directors of your existing company at the place of origin, showing the expression of interest for establishing a branch of an existing entity in DMC (only for corporate shareholders)
  • Company profile of your main branch (only for corporate shareholders)

Why Set Up a Business in DMC?

Business setup in Dubai Maritime City is dream come true for anyone associated with the worldwide maritime industry as it is built on well-established maritime traditions and manifests supreme levels of excellence in terms of administration, corporate structuring, government policies, infrastructure, and unmatched incentives for investors. Additionally, existing maritime businesses in DMC free zone attract more international clients as it benefits from the growing tourism inflow in the Middle East, the presence of a cosmopolitan population, and the economic diversity of Dubai.

Business setup in Dubai Maritime City free zone is bound by a set of pre-defined rules and regulations related to employment, business licensing, registration, dispute resolution, etc. that need to be followed as specified by the DMC laws. Process for company incorporation gets easy if you are well aware of the procedures, and how to contact the relevant authorities. Getting in touch with a reliable business partner helps you set up your business with ease, as they take care of the entire business setup responsibility without your having to worry about the bureaucratic red tape and expansive company formation formalities.

We assist our clients with detailed decision making and business planning along with choosing a permissible legal structure, looking into a capital requirement, legal documentation formalities, getting a residential and office space, deciding the business activity type, hiring staff, etc. Contact us if you’re planning to start a business in Dubai Maritime City – we’ll be glad to be of assistance!


Where is the DMCA free zone located?

Between Dubai's Drydocks World and Port Rashid.

Can I open a branch of my existing company in the DMCA free zone?

Yes, you can open it. 

Can I renew my business license located in the DMCA free zone?

Yes, you can renew the marine activities and private development zones license.

What is a maritime commercial license?


Maritime commercial licenses are required for companies that engage in naval activities and people that engage in leisure activities on Dubai seas.

If I want to open an education and research centre in the DMCA, do I need the other license other than a business license?

Yes, you need a maritime education and research license.