How to set up a business in Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)

How to set up a business in Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)

- Connor Hayes

Qatar is an economic powerhouse and boasts one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world. Traditionally, the country has gained a large amount of its wealth from its oil reserves. However, as part of Qatar’s National Vision of 2030, it is now focused on expanding and cultivating growth in new business sectors.

This plan brings exciting new opportunities and attractive incentives for businesses looking to set up operations in Qatar. One of the great resources available to businesses is the Qatar Financial Centre.

What is the Qatar Financial Centre?

To accomplish their national vision and attract foreign investors, Qatar established the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) in 2005. Based in the capital city of Doha, the QFC is a business and financial centre that gives organisations the ability to operate in Qatar and leverage tax advantages while providing regulatory oversight. The Qatar Financial Centre offers its members a wide range of infrastructure services including legal support, regulatory compliance, and tax advisory services.

Types of Businesses Allowed in the QFC

The Qatar Financial Centre was originally set up to support the financial services industry. However, its scope has been expanded to include a wide range of other non-regulated businesses. Your organisation must meet the criteria in order to apply.

  1. Financial Services — Banking, asset management, Islamic finance, and insurance.
  2. Professional Services — Includes management consulting, IT services, event management, public relations, advertising agencies, legal services, and many other services.
  3. Not-for-Profit — Such as business councils and professional associations.
  4. Family Offices — Single-family offices, trusts, and investment clubs.

Benefits of Choosing the QFC

Businesses are not required to register or set up their business through the Qatar Financial Centre. If you choose, you can establish your organisation directly through the Qatari government. However, there are many benefits that come from working through the QFC instead.

  1. Less Regulation — Financial Services within the QFC are not subject to regulations from the Qatar Central Bank.
  2. No Ownership Restrictions — Generally, businesses operated in Qatar require that 51% of the organisation be owned by a Qatari national. The QFC allows 100% foreign ownership.
  3. Easier Setup — Setting up a business entity with the QFC is easier and more streamlined compared to working directly with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The QFC will assign a dedicated relationship manager to help you through the process.
  4. Tax Advantages — The tax structure is more transparent with the QFC and there are special tax savings and advantages available to members.

QFC Laws and Taxes

The Qatar Financial Centre is comprised of four independent bodies — the QFC Authority (QFCA), the QFC Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), the Civil and Commercial Court, and the Qatar Regulatory Tribunal. These groups govern through a set of comprehensive laws, rules, and regulations that address contract law, insolvency, financial and tax regulation, immigration and employment rules, and data protection. Organisations must adhere to these laws and regulations to maintain the operating approval status.

Taxes Within the QFC

Many companies face financial pressures that result in them looking for better opportunities outside of their home country. The QFC is attracting thousands of businesses to Qatar through its very generous tax incentives that include but are not limited to:

  • No withholding tax, personal income tax, wealth tax, or value-added tax (VAT).
  • Flat corporate tax rate of 10% for locally sourced profits.
  • Tax exemptions for company headquarters or holding companies.
  • Double taxation agreements with over 60 countries.
  • Repatriation of profits.

The Process to Obtain a QFC Business Licence

Applying for a business licence with QFC is fairly straightforward and involves two main steps — a Strategic Fit Assessment and Licensing.

Strategic Fit Assessment

The Strategic Fit Assessment is the process by which the QFC reviews organisations to ensure that their business objectives align with and support the QFC’s strategic objectives. The organisation is required to submit an application and business plan for the QFCA to review. The business plan must outline the experience of the organisation’s leadership, a market analysis, risk strategy, a three-year financial plan and justification for setting up within the QFC.

There are no fees associated with this step of the process. The QFCA Business Development team provides applicants with guidelines and templates to use. The review process can take up to two weeks.

Licensing

Once the Strategic Fit Committee has approved the Strategic Fit Assessment, the organisation just needs to complete a series of forms to secure licensing to operate. The business must also incorporate through the Companies’ Registration Office (CRO).

The fees associated with this step of the process include a $5,000 application fee. Organisations must also pay annual fees that range from $500 to $5,000 depending on the business activity that the organisation conducts.

How can PRO Partner Group help?

PRO Partner Group has strong ties with Qatar and in QFC, we have an extensive team on the ground and in-depth knowledge of the market, company incorporation requirements, government departmental requirements and visa, labour and immigration services to support clients, staff and family members in country.

We understand that entering and developing in new markets is challenging. We can help you identify the correct legal entity for your business set up in Qatar and assist you with all relevant PRO services, such as staff visas, immigration and labour matters, and all relevant company licensing, corporate structuring and corporate governance.

If you need assistance in setting up a company in Qatar and particularly in Qatar Financial Centre QFC, and for further information on any other related company setup, local partner or PRO service matter in Qatar, UAE, Oman or Saudi Arabia then please do get in touch with us on +974 4478 8765, email us at info@propartnergroup.com or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

Get in touch with Connor Hayes

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