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Licensing

The Central Bank of the UAE's licensing function plays a fundamental role as a gatekeeper for the industry, as it sets the minimum standards for market entry and changes.

The authority for issuing the licensing Policy stems from the Central Bank Law. Under this Law, CBUAE is responsible for the licensing, governing and supervision of financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates. Official application forms and the requested supporting documents from applicants, shall be submitted to the Licensing Division.

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CBUAE Register

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CBUAE Register Insurance Entities

Entity List of 2022

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Guiding principles

The licensing division aims to provide a consistent, transparent and efficient approach that meets the following guiding principles:  
  • To develop an efficient, inclusive, and robust financial services sector to promote strong and healthy competition. This foundation aims to create quality, value, and choice, in the customers’ best interests.

  • To ensure that applicants fulfil the required levels of safety and soundness to enter the market.

  • To protect customers, empowering them with accurate, fit-for-purpose information to make decisions that best fit their needs.

  • To deliver quality customer service across the financial services sector by encouraging strong entrants with the right credentials.

  • To achieve international recognition for the CBUAE as a progressive and protective licensing regime by adopting best-in-class practices.

Applying for a License

If you are a bank, finance or an insurance company looking to apply for a licence, kindly contact:

 

Types of Licences

Firms and individuals must apply to the CBUAE for authorisation to carry out any of the activities that it regulates. Banks looking to register their operations with the CBUAE can apply for a licence through our online platform.

Insurance / How to Apply

The CBUAE registers insurance companies established in the UAE and licenses them to practice the activity. For foreign insurance companies, applications for licences to practice activities in the UAE can be made either through a branch office or an insurance agent.

Service Scope
  • This process includes the responsibilities, duties and documents necessary to register an insurance company. Input: The application and its attachments are submitted by the applicants for an insurance company registration. Output: The registration certificate.

  • Mobile apps

  • Website

  • Chatbot

  • CB premises

  • Call centre

  • Social media

  • Submit an application electronically on the CBUAE system, which requires a username and password.

  • Complete and upload the service form and accompanying documents on the electronic system.

  • The completed application is reviewed, and approved by staff to check that it meets the requirements.

  • The CBUAE interviews the company’s technical staff in the CBUAE headquarters.

  • The applicant pays the appropriate fees through e-services or via a smartphone application. Applicants applying in person can make payments through the electronic screen at the CBUAE Customer Service Centre. In case of a system breakdown, payments can be made by e-Dirham or credit card at the CBUAE.

  • The customer prints the registration certificate.

  • Electronic submission of the application

  • Payment of the service charges

  • A true copy of the company’s Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association, authenticated by the competent authorities.

  • A true copy of the licensing decision that established the company, and of the decision to publicise its establishment (in case of companies incorporated in the UAE).

  • A certified document proving that the company's paid-up capital is not less than one hundred million AED, or equivalent.

  • A true copy of the Registration Certificate of the company in the Commercial Register.

  • A statement of the insurance classes required to practise business in the UAE, along with a statement of the general insurance operations conditions in these classes.

  • A statement of the benefits, limitations and conditions included in the company’s insurance policies.

  • A statement of the technical basis for insurance of persons and fund accumulation operations, which the company is applying to practise. A note on the pricing basis of such operations and a certificate from a life insurance actuary that the basis, benefits and limitations of insurance operations in such classes are sound and implementable, must accompany the technical statement.

  • Schedules of surrender values, or reduced values for insurance of persons operations and fund accumulation operations.

  • A specimen of each type of insurance contract issued by the company.

  • A certificate from a UAE-based bank, confirming a fixed deposit in the name of the company and in favour of the Chairman of the Board of Directors in his/her official capacity. The deposit amount shall be six million AED to practise property and liability insurance classes, and four million AED to practise insurance of persons and fund accumulation operations.

  • A statement approved by the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the companies established locally (national companies), listing the names, nationalities and addresses of the members of the Board of Directors, with a written declaration from each member that they have never been sentenced of a crime of dishonour, distrust or declared bankrupt.

  • A certified document showing the names, nationalities, addresses and positions of the company directors, the limits of their powers, and proof that they are authorised to manage the company and sign insurance contracts.

  • An official certificate stating that none of the company's directors has ever been sentenced of a crime of dishonour or distrust, and a written declaration from each director stating that they have never been declared bankrupt.

  • An official document from the competent authorities in the country in which the company is registered, stating that it is incorporated and registered in that country in accordance with their applicable provisions, in addition to a statement of the licensed activity the company practices in that country, the legal form, subscribed and paid-up capital and the names of representatives of the company.

  • A true copy of the contract between the company and the local agent determining the agency territory along with a true copy of the agent's ID or family book. If the agent is a company, a true copy of the company's Memorandum of Association and certificate of registration in the Commercial Register and the ID or family book, where required.

  • A true copy of the academic qualifications of the Director-General (at least a university degree), with experience not less than ten years in the insurance field, five of which should be in executive leading position.

The estimated time from the submission of the complete application until the completion of the service is 60 days.
For insurance service fees, please refer to the section below
Insurance Companies

Obtaining Insurance Licenses Fees

The following document includes the fees imposed by the CBUAE for obtaining insurance licenses.

Download Insurance Service Fees

Pre- Phase One Requirements

New applicants and unlicensed companies can contact the CBUAE with licensing enquiries on: licensing@cbuae.gov.ae

Following the Phase One Requirements

The CBUAE may provide new applicants with ‘in-principle’ approval, if the application fulfils the necessary requirements. Before the application is considered successful, applicants must complete the requirements outlined in the CBUAE’s ‘in-principle’ approval letter within one year of the letter being issued.

Phase Two requirements and additional information

An ‘in-principle’ approval cannot be considered the final authorisation of the application. Financial institutions cannot practice activities that are subject to the CBUAE supervision until they have obtained their licence from the application. The CBUAE is not required to issue the licence if the application does not meet the necessary conditions, even after having issued an ‘in-principle’ approval. After applicants fulfil their Phase Two requirements, the CBUAE will issue the appropriate licence to the applicant. The CBUAE will also state any conditions or requirements that the licensee must fulfil.

General Licensing Enquiries

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FAQs

Insurance is a process whereby a party called “the Insurer” undertakes to another party called “The insurance company”, against a premium payable by the latter, that “the Insurer” shall compensate “The insurance company” for the loss that “the Insured” may incur when a risk is realised.

  • The insurance contract: is a contract under which the insurance company commits to pay to the Insured or the named beneficiary a sum of money, income salary or other financial indemnity in the event of an accident or the Insured risk is realised, in return for premiums or other financial payments to be made by the Insured to the insurance company.
  • The policy: is the insurance document that proves the insurance contract.

A premium is a sum of money which the insured is committed to pay in a single payment, or successive payments, to the Insurer in return for the latter's commitment to assume liability for the named risks insured.

A premium, in insurance terms, is a key element and an obligation for the Insured, that is incorporated into the contract, which makes the insurance contract commutative. The premium is as important as the risk — there is no insurance without risk and no insurance without premium. The instalment is legally the reason for the Insurer's obligation to insure the risk, and technically Insurers depend on instalments to settle disaster claims.

The portion of a loss borne by the Insured if the risk occurs.

  • Provides peace of mind.
  • Provides economic protection for members of the community.
  • Protects the national economy.
  • Creates a financially-solvent party capable of tolerating the risk, which is offset by potential compensation.
  1. Insurance of human lives, including life insurance, health insurance and fund accumulation operations.
  2. Property insurance, including motor insurance, fire insurance, marine insurance and more.
  3. Liability insurance, including Third Party Liability for vehicles, personal accident insurance, employer liability insurance, insurance of trains, insurance of cash and more.
  • Traditional Insurance: is often practised by public shareholding companies, established by shareholders’ capital, who seek to make a profit on the company’s operations. The insurance premiums which they collect are always fixed premiums. The company’s aggregate assets represent a guarantee for the rights of policyholders.
  • Co-operative Insurance: is practiced by mutual insurance associations (or associations of mutual form), where the association’s members identify the risks that they face and collect contributions. There are primarily non-profit associations without capital, with their members acting as the insurer and the insured at the same time. These entities have become a strong competitor to insurance companies.
  • Takaful (Islamic insurance): Companies engaged in this type of insurance are hybrid entities:
    • A (joint stock) company with shareholders established with the aim of making profit
    • Those who are Insured (participants) who pay contributions to from the participants’ fund.

The participants’ fund pays compensation owed to the participants and in the case of insufficient money in the fund, the shareholders’ fund is supposed to provide a Qard Hasan (i.e. interest-free loan) to the participants’ fund, to be refunded from any surplus that the participants’ fund may realise in the future.

In cases where a surplus is realised, it should be distributed to the participants, or credited to their accounts to pay future contributions. The relationship between the participants and the Takaful company is based either on Wakala, or Wakala and Mudaraba together.

The insurance function of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE - formerly the Insurance Authority, or IA) issued Takaful Insurance regulations in 2010, setting a precedent in the Arab world with one of the most comprehensive systems of Islamic insurance.

The regulations contain some rules designed to regulate the work of Takaful insurance companies. They include the following:

  • All insurance and investment transactions by the company must be compliant with the provisions of Islamic Shari’ah.
  • Risk management operations and investment business shall be conducted by the company on Wakala terms, or Wakala and Mudaraba together.
  • Family Takaful Insurance and General Insurance may not be combined in one Takaful insurance company.
  • Existing companies currently engaged in both types have a specific deadline to adjust their positions. The membership subscription document is separated from the Takaful policy.
  • The company (i.e., the shareholders fund) is committed to provide a Qard Hasan (i.e., interest-free loan) to the participants’ fund in case of a deficit in the fund’s assets.
  • The maximum amount of Qard Hasan is the sum of shareholders’ equity.
  • The amount of Wakala fees, how they are calculated, and the company's share of Mudaraba must be stated in advance.
  • A Shari’ah Supervisory Committee must be formed in each Takaful insurance company.
  • The Supreme Committee for Fatwa and Shari’ah Oversight was formed within the Insurance Authority before it merged with the CBUAE.
  • Each company must appoint a Shari’ah Controller within it.
  • The participants may be invited to attend the general assembly of shareholders’ meetings, and have the right to debate matters, even if they do not have the right to vote.

The process where an insurance company bears the risk already borne by another company, in exchange for a premium paid by the company that originally held the risk. This is called the reinsurance premium. The Insured’s legal rights are not affected by reinsurance, and the insurance company, which originally issued the insurance contract, shall remain liable for all benefits and issues arising under the insurance contract.

Regulations stipulate that the minimum capital for an insurance company operating in the UAE is AED 100 million. However, the capital of a reinsurance company operating in the UAE must be AED 250 million.

All insurance companies operating in the UAE, both foreign and domestic, must adhere to the minimum capital requirement of AED 100 million required for insurance companies. However, the minimum capital for a foreign insurance company will be required from a company licensed to operate within the UAE, and not from the branch.

Insurance policies offsetting the risk of developing the novel Coronavirus, Covid-19, include health insurance policies, travel insurance policies, labour insurance policies and life insurance policies.

In software development, sandbox is a term commonly used to describe an isolated testing environment for new apps or programmes.

Similarly, a regulatory sandbox is a framework set up by a financial sector regulator to allow small scale, live testing of innovations by private firms in a controlled environment.

  • Innovative Solutions Owners licensed and registered by the CBUAE, that wish to test technical solutions covered by their current licence
  • Innovative Solutions Owners licensed and registered by the CBUAE, that wish to test technical solutions not covered by their current licence
  • FinTech Companies registered in the UAE’s Free Zones and Financial Free Zones, which develop new FinTech solutions to be used in the country
  • National FinTech companies and branches of foreign companies registered inside the UAE, which develop new FinTech solutions to be used in the country
  • Foreign FinTech Companies registered in their home country, that develop new FinTech solutions to be used in the UAE.

The product, service, software or business model (innovation) shall meet the following criteria:

  • Be related to insurance products and / or services that fall under the jurisdiction and supervision of the CBUAE’s insurance department
  • Be innovative in terms of the technology used
  • Prove the technology’s benefit to insurance proposers, for example promoting growth, efficiency, risk management and providing wider options
  • Have a need to be tested in the experimental environment.

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Last updated on: Thursday 13 October 2022

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