Digital nomads around the globe are understanding the advantages of registering their business overseas. As most of their work can be done online in a location independent manner, these smart working nomads are getting increasingly aware of the benefits of not being bound to the laws of their home countries and utilizing their freedom to find a safer, more transparent, and hassle free jurisdiction to operate their business from.
Factors affecting the location for registering your company
Saving taxes is one of the biggest motivating factors in registering an overseas company. The idea of registering your company in a zero tax or low tax country seems lucrative. There are many such countries considered to be ‘Tax Havens’ which are apparently tax free. But you will need to make sure that such countries have a good reputation and preferably a Double Tax Agreement (DTA) with your home country, otherwise you might be taxed in your home country for the taxes saved outside.
Not only this, but there are other factors that need to be considered before deciding which country will be the best option for your business. Some of these factors consist of incorporation and compliance, ease of doing business, quality of banking services etc. Sometimes the taxes saved by registering your company in low tax countries is not worth the expenses in other areas of business.
Even for an online business, the country of registration may affect their clients. A company registered in an untrustworthy territory will have a hard time convincing clients. This will be even more applicable if you need to attract investors in the future. The political stability of a country should be taken into account as well as future changes in the law that may harm your business.
But, deciding the country you want to incorporate your company in is only the beginning. The procedure of registering a company can often be complex and time consuming. You will need professional help in decision making as well as in implementing the process. There are many business service providers that help in registration, maintenance and compliance requirements necessary to keep your company up and running… but choosing one of them also requires deliberation.
So, here’s how you should proceed in the process.
Do Your Research
It is imperative to do extensive research of the needs of your business and the options available to you. As we discussed above, there are a lot of things to be considered. Those factors should be considered with respect to your business requirements and your vision for the future of your business. A professional international strategist can be of much use here.
However, research should not just be related to the incorporation process. A registered company is a legal entity in itself, and required to follow the corporate laws of that country, and often the laws tend to be complex with regards to corporate entities. Not only this, but there are a lot of amendments and changes which can happen to the laws of that country which could require changes for your business. There are a lot of time constraints in following those rules too, especially in annual compliance requirements. You as a business owner may begin to feel overwhelmed in following these processes. Therefore, it is advisable to find a reliable service provider to keep on top of the laws and changes for you.
Narrow Down Your Options
While doing your research, you will find a plethora of options to choose from. There are over 40 countries which experts suggest are ideal for opening an offshore company, and of course each of them has their own pros and cons.
In the example of Hong Kong, which used to be a common hub for offshore companies due to its low corporate tax rate of 16.5%, which can be effectively brought down to zero because it follows a territorial tax system. It also used to have a very strong financial system. However, there are a lot of regulations to be followed in the formation of a company in Hong Kong. Banking requirements are also very complex in Hong Kong. With the recent political situation with China, these norms are getting stricter and stricter, meaning in a long term view, Hong Kong might not be a good choice to establish your overseas business in.
Keep in Mind Your Business Needs
Every business has its own unique requirements and challenges. A strategy which might be attractive to an e-commerce business will not be applicable to a digital marketing company. The size and structure of the organisation will also have a lot of impact on the international strategy. An organisation that relies on human resources will also need to check on the availability of skilled labour and labour laws of the country.
Countries require you to have a resident nominee director, so you need overseas providers who can also act as a nominee director.
It is advisable to find a professional who can create a tailor-made service, keeping in mind your needs and incorporating your company accordingly.
Compare Different Overseas Providers
There are a lot of overseas providers available who provide registration and management services. Be sure to check out their qualifications, experience and reviews, and of course having a discussion about your expectations and what services they can provide is important.
The packages provided by these overseas providers often include registration, tax filing, and annual compliances. The details of the package needs to be seen for name availability check, document preparation, providing residential registered agent and whether government fees are included in the package being offered. In most cases, banking and accounting services require an add-on package.
Check What Is Included In The Fees
The registration process requires payment of fees at various government offices. Overseas providers include those fees in their charges, and if not, this should be checked beforehand while comparing the packages. Some packages include the charges of registered agents and registered addresses, while some don’t. Every fee charged should be scrutinized well.
Don’t Forget Ongoing Annual Fees and Compliance
The packages of overseas providers are generally divided into two categories. First, the one-time charges of incorporation and its related expenses, and second, the annual charges for compliance requirements and annual renewal fees to the government. These fees have time-limits for payment. Make sure you pay these fees in time and if they are a part of your package, then be sure your provider pays them in time.
Prepare Your Documentation
Basic documentation required for a company incorporation initially includes Memorandum and Articles of Association. Personal details of the shareholders, directors and registered agents are required to be filed. Resolutions of appointment of directors and other important office holders are some of the important documentation to be prepared at the beginning of the registration. Passport copies and address proofs of all directors and shareholders will be required to be submitted as well. Keep in mind, there are various other registers to be maintained as well.
Usually, your overseas provider will prepare these documentation after you give them the details and proofs, as there are a lot of legal and technical language required in them.
Lodge Your Documents for Incorporation
After filing the required documents and proofs with the company registrar, the documents will be processed and verified. After this, you will be given the Certificate of Incorporation. Depending on the rules of the country and the nature of your business, you might also need to obtain other licenses to do business in that country.
Be Aware of Annual Filing Requirements
Filing doesn’t end with the registration period! There are a lot of annual legal requirements for a company, such as annual returns, and minutes of Annual General Meetings. Such compliances require the services of a secretary, and usually the overseas provider also provides these services, included in their annual packages.
The takeaway from this article is that it is not always a simple or straightforward process to incorporate your business in another country. Although it may seem like taxes in another country are much simpler than in your home country, this may not always be the case, especially when you are a foreigner coming into a country for the first time. We would always advise you to seek the help of a skilled professional when looking to set up your overseas company, especially if it is your first time doing so. But, the good news is that we have you covered!
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NOTICE: The content of this article is not to be considered as a legal opinion or tax advice. Wanderers Wealth does not hold itself out as a legal or tax advisor. If you want to receive a legal opinion or tax advice on the matter in this article please contact us directly and we will refer you to a legal practitioner.