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QFCA Non-Regulated Permitted Activities

By: Ribal Fattal – Senior Associate

The Qatar Financial Centre Authority (“QFCA”) has enacted the new Non-Regulated Activities Rules (“NRA Rules”) which recently came into effect. The QFCA stated that the purpose of the NRA Rules is to provide details of the Non-Regulated Activities for which an entity may be licensed by the QFCA. In particular, the NRA Rules set out the categories of Non-Regulated Activities which may be carried out by a QFC licensed firm, and the conditions and restrictions applicable to the Non-Regulated Activities.

The NRA Rules apply to limited liability companies (including companies limited by guarantee) and branches of non-QFC companies. The NRA Rules do not apply to QFC holding companies, special purpose companies, single family offices, and foundations.

The QFCA redefined its non-regulated permitted activities to align with the United Nation’s initiative, “International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities” (ISIC) and other international standards, thereby ensuring the non-regulated permitted activities conducted by firms in the QFC are clear and consistent. As a result of this, existing firms to which the NRA Rules apply will have their licenses amended to reflect the updated activities.

The activities in the NRA Rules are categorised into activity clusters, and some clusters are divided into subclusters. Each cluster or subcluster is made up of one or more business activities and is assigned a unique code.

While the base annual fee of USD 5,000 remains the same, this annual fee now covers only the first business activity for which a firm is licensed. Any additional activities will carry an additional fee of USD 50 per activity.

Although the NRA Rules recently came into effect, the additional business activity fee of USD 50 for each extra activity will be collected beginning from January 1, 2024, unless a firm renews or amends its license before this date.

As a courtesy, the QFCA has prepared draft scopes of licenses for all firms to which the NRA Rules apply so that firms can review and compare their current scope of license against their proposed new scope of license. The firms should have submitted a form with confirmation of acceptance or with their feedback (in case of disagreement) regarding the activities proposed by the QFCA. The deadline for submitting the form is 30 days from receipt of the form by email correspondence sent by the QFCA. The submission of the form is free of charge. Failure to submit the form within the prescribed period would entitle the QFCA to presume that the firm agrees to all of the activities proposed by the QFCA in the form (i.e., implicit consent).

If a firm continues to disagree with the licensed activities proposed by the QFCA and its concerns were not resolved despite carrying out discussions with the QFCA in this regard, the matter will be forwarded to QFCA management for further review.