How do I set up a business in Qatar Free Zone (QFZ)?

How do I set up a business in Qatar Free Zone (QFZ)?

- Connor Hayes

Why set up a business in Qatar?

Qatar is a country with some of the most exciting business projects in the world at the moment. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup coming up as well as the huge North Field Expansion gas project, it has 2 projects that are guaranteed to generate enormous investment and business opportunities for years to come.

These ventures will attract some of the leading companies and brightest minds in the world and offer numerous opportunities and incentives for business looking to expand their global operations.

In this article we look at the options for companies to set up in Qatar and give information to prospective foreign investors and foreign companies looking at the different free zones in Qatar. We outline the guidelines for setting up a Freezone company in Qatar covering steps, requirements, timelines and broad costs for the process. and the necessary steps required to establish a business entity in Qatar Free Zone (QFZ).

Qatar Free Zones

The Qatar Free Zone Authority (QFZA), created in 2018, is responsible for the development and regulation of free zones in Qatar and grants licences to foreign businesses investing within its jurisdiction. Its primary focus is on four key sectors: emerging technology, logistics, industry and maritime, although it is home to businesses from many other industries.

Qatar freezones represent an excellent option for foreign investors. They are considered separate from the domestic state ‘mainland’ area with regards to legal requirements and customs rules and as such have distinct benefits, including:

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • 0% Corporate tax
  • Full capital repatriation
  • Zero customs duties on imports
  • Modern digital infrastructure
  • Flexible structuring options
  • A transparent, business friendly legal environment
  • Access to an investment fund for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs)
  • Numerous joint venture and partnership opportunities

They are mainly focused on three key sectors: logistics, technology and chemicals, where Qatar can provide unique advantages over other foreign investment destinations.

There are currently three free zones operating under the QFZA and all are within 30 minutes of the country’s capital, Doha.

Downtown Free Zone at Msheireb

This zone is located in the heart of Downtown Doha and includes 17 commercial buildings and 10,000+ parking spaces. It is comprised of office and retail units, Civil Services and cultural and entertainment services.

Ras Bufontas

This airport free zone makes up an area of 4km² with direct access to Hamad International Airport. It has 24 pre-built industrial units, ranging from 415m² to 1500m².

It is comprised of various businesses in a number of different sectors including logistics, emerging technologies, light manufacturing, aviation and international business services.

Umm Alhoul

Umm AlHoul, which is 30km² in size, is the seaport free zone and has direct access to Hamad Port, the city’s main seaport and the world’s biggest “greenfield” port development. The plots contained within it are divided into logistics, petrochemicals, automotive, maintenance, repair and operations, food processing and maritime.

How do I set up a company in a Qatar Freezone?

There are 2 main steps involved in starting your business in a Freezone in Qatar (QFZ) – application stage and registration stage. Both stages are handled by liaison directly with QFZA (Qatar Freezone Authority). Note that Venture Partner Qatar (VPQ) can act as your agent to assist with the set up and liaison with Qatar Freezone Authority to ensure the correct and timeline set up of the freezone company in QFZ. VPQ can act as your main point of contact through the process.

Application process to set up in QFZ

This process includes obtaining general information on the company, financial and employment forecasts and a business plan detailing proposed operations and activities.

The documents that you will be required to submit at this stage are:

  • A copy of your company registration (If the company is already registered in Qatar)
  • Audited financial statements or a shareholder’s financial statement from the last 3 years
  • Copies of ID documents for all the directors of the proposed company
  • Proof of payment of the 300 QAR necessary for the application

Registration process to set up in QFZ

The documents that will be submitted at this stage depend on the proposed business activity and structure.

Setting up an LLC in the Qatar Freezone (QFZ)

For incorporation of an LLC, you will require all the documents relating to the free zone entity. These are:

  • Articles of Associations (AoA), which must be signed by shareholders or authorised representatives of the shareholders on every page
  • Documents pertaining to the incorporation of the free zone entity and appointment of an authorised representative (shareholder’s resolution)
  • All governmental documents that relate to the company shareholders

Note that where shareholders may be corporate entities then the relevant Board Resolution and Power of Attorney must be obtain from the country of origin and Notarised Legalised and Attested through the Qatar embassy in that country. VPQcan assist with this process as needed.

Setting up a Foreign Branch in the Qatar Freezone (QFZ)

In order to register a branch office in the Qatar Freezone, you must provide the following:

  • All documents that relate to the authorisation for incorporation of a free zone branch
  • Any documents that are connected with the appointment of a manager
  • Any other constitutional documents that are related to the originating parent company

With setting up Branch office in QFZ the relevant Board Resolution and Power of Attorney must be drafted from the parent company and obtained from the country of origin and Notarised, Legalised and Attested through the Qatar embassy in that country. VPQ can assist with this process as needed.

What are the fees to set up in the Qatar Freezone (QFZ)

The initial government fees to set up in QFZ are QAR11,000 for an LLC.

This is comprised of QAR 300 freezone application fee, QAR 5,700 freezone registration fee and QAR 5,000 annual licence fee.

How can Venture Partner Qatar help?

We understand that entering and developing in new markets is challenging. We can help you identify the correct legal entity for your business 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 free zone company in Qatar, and for further information on any other related company setup, local partner or PRO service matter in Qatar, do get in touch with us on +974 4478 8765, email us at info@vpqatar.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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