What is a free zone? Here's all you need to know | twofour54

All you need to know to understand what a free zone is

As you’ve been perusing through our website, you may have come across several references to the fact that twofour54 is an Abu Dhabi free zone. However, we know that many of you will be wondering what exactly this means. Keep reading to find out more about what exactly a free zone is, and why you should consider setting up your business in the twofour54 Abu Dhabi media free zone.

What is a free zone?

A free zone, also known as a free trade zone, is a defined geographical area where goods and services can be legally traded. The UAE free zones cover various industries, including finance education, retail, hospitality, media and many more.

twofour54 is a thriving media free zone in Abu Dhabi that offers infrastructure and services to worldwide, regional, and local media companies.

Do you have to pay taxes in free zones?

There are no payable taxes in free zones. Even when UAE corporate tax is introduced on June 1, 2023, ‘qualifying free zone persons’ can still benefit from a preferential corporate tax rate of 0% on their ‘qualifying income’.

In order to be considered a ‘qualifying free zone person’, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Maintain adequate substance in the UAE
  • Generate ‘qualifying income’
  • Comply with the Corporate Tax Law stipulations for transfer pricing

Each emirate may also prescribe additional conditions for qualifying free zone persons. If you fail to meet any of the above conditions, or you register to pay regular corporate tax, then you will have to pay standard corporate taxes from the beginning of the current tax period.

What are the benefits of setting up in a free zone?

Alongside the tax exemptions, launching a business in the twofour54 Abu Dhabi media free zone also comes with a whole array of different benefits.

This includes:

  1. 100 percent business ownership.
  2. Fast and easy business set-up procedures – Tawasol, twofour54’s dedicated business support team, offers assistance with gaining business licenses, visas and permits and more. It also assists with other logistical matters such as travel, accommodation, catering and transportation.
  3. Fully waived license and registration fees for the first two years for new investors and freelancers
  4. Invitations to networking events – These vibrant gatherings are attended by twofour54’s community of over 600 international and local companies.


What kinds of companies operate in the twofour54 free zone?

Global and homegrown businesses of all sizes and specifications operate from twofour54. Our ever-growing creative community is made up of over 600 prosperous media companies, spanning everything from promising, innovative and dynamic start-ups, to huge global brands like CNN, Sky News Arabia, Image Nation, Bidaya Media and Flash Entertainment. twofour54 is also proud to boast a pool of over 1,000 talented freelancers, and an enthusiastic youth community.

What does an Abu Dhabi free zone license cost?

As mentioned above, the twofour54 offers fully waived license and registration fees for the first two years. However, there are still a few additional costs involved with obtaining an Abu Dhabi free zone business license. This includes:

Partner and company services:

  • General Manager pre-approval – AED 500
  • New Establishment Card/renewal – AED 854.55
  • New company electronic channel registration at Abu Dhabi immigration office/ renewal – AED 2,180
  • Visit Visa Open File – AED 5,650

Individual services:

  • Employed visa – Regular AED 900/Urgent AED 1,200
  • Change of status – Regular AED 960/Urgent AED 1,100
  • Employment residence visa permit (1 year) – Regular AED 1,270/Urgent AED 1,620
  • Employment residence visa permit (2 years) – Regular AED 1,370/Urgent AED 1,720
  • New Emirates ID (1 year) – AED 280
  • New Emirates ID (2 year) – 400
  • Health insurance – Admin fee of AED 200, plus the cost of the chosen plan. This varies according to the age and gender of the applicant, and the coverage required

How do you set up a business with twofour54?

Applying to launch a business in the twofour54 free zone is a quick and easy process, and our dedicated Tawasol business service team will be there to support you every step of the way.

All you have to do is follow a few simple steps:

1. Submit your business form or plan

A business plan is an essential document that describes all you want to achieve with your business, and how you intend to do it.

It should include the following:

  • Mission statement
  • Business description
  • Details of services and products
  • Your USP
  • Bios for every key decision maker in the company
  • Financial plans – including anticipated income
  • Brief analysis of your target industry or market

Or, if you’re applying for a freelance license, you can submit a ‘letter of intent’ from a partner at twofour54 instead of a business plan. You will also need to provide two references for each category of work that you are applying for.

2. Submit all the regulatory/legal documents

Once the Tawasol team have checked over your business plan or other supporting documents, we will send you several commercial, legal and regulatory forms to fill in. These will be used to help you apply for your business license, Emirates ID, visa, and health insurance.

3. Complete the process of gaining your General Manager’s visa

The Tawasol team will help you with the visa and Emirates ID applications for your General Manager.

4. Receive your business license and establishment card

The Tawasol team will inform you when it has been issued.

5. Access the self-service portal

You will be provided with all the login details you need.

6. Finalise the visa application through the ICA portal

At this stage will be asked to pay the visa application fees. These will vary according to whether you want a ‘Regular’ service (between 7 and 10 business days, or a ‘Urgent’ service (takes between 3 and 5 business days).

7. Start the process of obtaining visas for your employees

You will also need to arrange visas for the rest of your employees.

Then, as soon as you receive your new business license, visa and Emirates ID, you are free to start growing and developing your exciting new business in the twofour54 Abu Dhabi media free zone. 

For more information about how to set up a business with twofour54, please visit our business setup page.