Find, in this article, all that you need to know about how to set up a business in Tunisia.
Located in North Africa, close to Europe and the Middle East, Tunisia attracts many foreign investors worldwide. Thanks to the government's endeavor to liberalize its economy, it is more open towards foreign investment since a few years. So if you are planning to set up a business there, you should not have much trouble in handling relating formalities.
First of all, you should contact the Agence de Promotion de l'Industrie (API) which is a public institution whose aim is to implement and enforce the government's policy for the promotion of the industrial sector as a support structure for companies and promoters. Indeed, the State has started to simplify and accelerate administrative procedures so as to attract more foreign investors by providing a transparent legal framework along with tax benefits and investment guarantees.
Besides being part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Tunisia is also the first South Mediterranean country to have signed a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union (EU). The country has also signed several other international conventions and agreements, namely:
- Agreement with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
- Protection of investment and double taxation agreements with most countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Convention on the establishment of the Arab Organization for Investment Guarantee
- Inter Arab Convention
- Inter Islamic Convention
- Inter Maghreb Convention
- Membership with the International Center for Investment Disputes of the Regulation.
To set up your business in Tunisia, you should proceed as follows:
- start by making a market study
- technical and financial provision to find funding
- choosing the type of company you would like to set up: Individual Company, Limited Liability Company, Single-member Limited Liability Company, Public Limited Company.
However, foreign nationals who wish to invest in the following sectors have to obtain an adequate authorization first:
- road transport (including railway)
- air transport
- education and teaching
- professional training
- production and cultural industry (cinema)
- entertainment for the youth and child mentoring
- health care
- property development
- publishing and advertising
- organizing sports and youth events
- collection, transportation, treatment, recycling and recovery of waste and refuse in the textile sector (Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- Internet public center
- advertising and sponsorship of leisure projects
- tobacco cultivation
- manufacture of weapons and ammunition, parts and components (authorization from the Ministry of the Interior and Local Development)
- mechanical weaving carpets and rugs (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- recycling and processing of waste and refuse (authorization from the Ministry of the Environment)
- running well drilling and water (authorization from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources)
- wine preparation (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- brewing and malting (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- tobacco industries (authorization from the Ministry of Finance)
- semolina and flour mill (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- refining of edible oils (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- manufacturing of bars and profiled re-bars (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- fraying (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- lime and cement manufacturing (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology)
- flat glass (authorization from the Ministry of Industry and Technology).
Services which do not only induce export
According to decree 94-492, the participation of foreign investors, residents or non-residents, in service activities that do not induce only export is itself subject to the approval of the High Commission for investments if it exceeds 50% of their capital.
This applies to the following sectors:
- tourism (tourist travel agency)
- education, teaching and training
- film and theater production
- entertainment for the youth and child mentoring
- public works
- property development
- topographical services
- electricity buildings
- laying of tiles and mosaics
- installation of suspended ceilings
- plaster molding and installation of plaster work
- roof tightening
- translation and language services
- organization of conferences, seminars, fairs and exhibitions
- publishing and advertising.
You are required to submit a draft or online declaration to the API. In case you have made it online, your declaration will be processed within 24 hours. Note that the API has several branches, so you can access to it even if you are not in Tunis.
You will then have to open a blocked account in a Tunisian bank in the name of the company. You will deposit the company's capital in this blocked account. The sum will then be transferred to a current account once the company has been set up.
Thereafter, you have to register your company's statutes (10 copies) at the Finance Registry. Note that you will require two copies of the statement of deposit certificate of the investment project. You will also need a 15 dinars stamp and two 5 dinars stamps to be used later on.
- You will then have to apply for a tax identification card at the tax office by producing the following: a copy of your passport or identity card (depending on what has been specified in the statutes)
- a copy of the company's statutes
- a copy or the company's lease documents or a certificate of residence (for those who choose to operate the company from their home). In this case, the certificate of residence has to be authenticated with a municipal branch.
You also have to go to the court office with the following:
- two application forms to be filled in Arabic and French (these are available on the spot)
- two copies of the declaration of project deposit certificate
- two copies of the company's statutes
- two copies of the company's tax identification card
- two copies of your passport or identity card
- a 15 dinars stamp.
You will then have to report to the JORT official printing for the publishing of a notice in the newspaper, typed in French and Arabic. The following documents have to be produced:
- your tax identification card
- a copy of your passport or identity card
- the texts to be published (with your signatures at the back)
- fees of 55 dinars.
Finally, you have to go back to court with the document issued by JORT. You will then receive two extracts from the Registry of Commerce by producing a 5 dinars stamps.
Note that these procedures and documents required may differ from one type of company to another.
API Tunisie – Agency for the Promotion of Industry www.tunisieindustrie.nat.tn
Online project declaration www.tunisieindustrie.nat.tn/en/doc.asp
Investment Incentive Laws www.finances.gov.tn
Advantages by sector www.tunisieindustrie.nat.tn/fr/download
APCE – Agence pour la création d’entreprises www.apce.com
Tunisian Industry Portal www.tunisieindustrie.nat.tn
National Statistics Institute www.ins.nat.tn