UAE ESR Economic Substance Regulation - Update - Deadline Extended
The UAE has recently issued Updated ESR Economic Substance Regulations which repeal and replace those announced in April 2019. The updated regulations introduce important changes to the economic substance regime that businesses operating in the UAE should be aware of.
Background- UAE ESR Economic Substance Regulation
Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) were introduced in the UAE with effect from 30 April 2019. The UAE Cabinet of Ministers has now issued updated Economic Substance Regulations (Updated ESR) which repeal and replace the ESR. The UAE Ministry of Finance has also issued updated guidance (New Guidance) and clarifying the Updated ESR.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
The Updated ESR overrides the UAE ESR Economic Substance Regulation.
In accordance with the Updated UAE ESR Economic Substance Regulations, the following entities are now considered exempt from the economic substance regime:
Under the former economic substance regime, entities with at least 51% UAE government ownership were exempt. Under the Updated ESR, this exemption no longer applies.
Amendments to definition of “Connected Person”
A “Connected Person” is now defined as an entity which is part of the same Group as the Licensee. A “Group” is defined as “two or more entities related through ownership or control such that they are required to prepare consolidated financial statements for financial reporting purposes under the accounting standards applicable thereto“.
Changes to Relevant Activities: Distribution and Service Centre Business
Previously, for an entity to be considered within scope of the Relevant Activity of “Distribution and Service Centre Business” imported goods had to be stored in the UAE. This requirement no longer applies.
Separately, services provided by entities are no longer required to be provided in connection with a business outside of the UAE. This implies any services provided to a foreign related party would fall within the remit of the “Service Centre” limb of this Relevant Activity.
Notification and Reporting
Article 4 of the Updated UAE ESR Economic Substance Regulation provides a list of the relevant Regulatory Authorities. It further provides that the Regulatory Authorities are tasked with receiving the economic substance notifications, Economic Substance Reports and all other relevant supporting documents. In accordance with Article 8 of the Updated ESR, every Licensee is required to submit an annual economic substance notification to the applicable Regulatory Authority (in the form stipulated by the Regulatory Authority) to notify whether or not it has carried out (i) a Relevant Activity and (ii) whether it has generated an income from that Relevant Activity.
Separately, however, the New Guidance stipulates that notifications must be filed directly via an online portal to be launched by the UAE Ministry of Finance within six months from the end of the Financial Year of the Licensee. The portal is yet to be launched.
We anticipate that further clarity will emerge as to how notifications will be processed between the Regulatory Authorities and the online portal launched by the UAE Ministry of Finance.
Licensees and Exempted Licensees who have already submitted notifications for the financial year 2019 are required to re-submit their notifications through the UAE Ministry of Finance portal. At the time of writing that portal has not yet been launched (UPDATE: the portal was recently launched). You can read more about this on the Ministry of Finance UAE Website.
Filing Deadlines (update)
Penalties for non-compliance have increased and include, among other things:
Servcrest DMCC is here to assist you to define at which extend Economic Substance Regulations apply to your business, provide expert advice on UAE ESR Economic Substance Notification Filing to help you comply with all ESR requirements and avoid non-submission and penalties.