Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

The Qatar Financial Centre

Out-Law Guide | 12 May 2015 | 5:03 pm | 2 min. read

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is an attractive location from which to carry on business in Qatar with 100% foreign ownership permitted.

Last updated in June 2015.

The QFC is an onshore business and financial centre located in Doha, providing a platform for firms to incorporate and do business within the State of Qatar and the region. The QFC environment offers its own legal, regulatory, tax and business infrastructure, which allows 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits and charges a competitive rate of 10% Corporate Tax on locally sourced profits.

Permitted activities

The following activities are currently permitted for firms to conduct business in or from the QFC:

Financial services

Banking

  • corporate/wholesale banks
  • investment banks
  • private banks

Asset Management

  • retail schemes (UCITS type)
  • qualified Investor schemes
  • private placement schemes

Insurance/reinsurance

  • captives
  • (re) insurance brokerage
  • Islamic finance
  • Investment advice & investment services
  • Fiduciary businesses.

Non-financial services

  • Professional, consultancy and business services
  • Corporate headquarters, management offices and treasury functions
  • Single family offices
  • Trusts and trust services
  • Corporate services
  • Classification and grading services, including investment grading
  • Special purpose companies
  • Holding companies.

The list of permitted activities is regularly being updated and the above list is not exhaustive.

An applicant’s business must fall within one of the permitted activities, and must be a strategic fit with the aims of the QFC. Initial submissions will lead to a decision on whether an applicant’s business is permitted within the QFC legal environment.

If it does, a business case and full application pack must be submitted, together with the relevant fee. Premises need to be secured by an applicant firm in a building which has been designated for these purposes by the QFC.

The application process involves the preparation of local business plans, the preparation or review of policies on such things as data protection and anti money laundering, and ensuring that employment contracts are compliant with the relevant rules and regulations. Their

Thought should also be given to the most appropriate legal structure, as the right one can deliver an efficient tax result for your business.

World class legal environment

The QFC has established a world class legal environment supported by an independent judiciary consisting of the Civil and Commercial Court and the QFC Regulatory Tribunal. The legal environment includes:

  • its own QFC law, QFC Regulations and a transparent, accessible and predictable operating environment based on English common law;
  • access to an independent judiciary;
  • a choice of legal structures for your business including LLCs, branches, partnerships and a special regime for holding companies and special purpose companies.

Attractive and competitive tax regime

The QFC tax regime incorporates the following key features:

  • corporate tax at 10% on locally sourced profits
  • no withholding taxes on the payment of dividends, interest and royalties
  • no tax on capital gains in respect of most disposals of shares
  • an advance tax ruling service
  • access to Qatar’s network of over 60 double tax agreements
  • special tax regime for most Holding Companies and Special Purpose Companies.

Strong regulatory framework

The QFC operates a regulatory environment operated in accordance with best international standards for financial centres of a similar kind. The QFC Regulatory Authority is responsible for developing, managing and enforcing the regulatory environment based on the principles of efficiency, transparency and integrity.