Many foreign investors worldwide aim at setting up a business in Qatar. If you are one of them, here is how to proceed.
Are you tempted by a new professional adventure in Qatar? Setting up a business in Qatar is possible for foreigners, provided they comply with certain regulations and fill in necessary formalities. Note that the Qatari economy is more open to foreign investment. In fact, it has been nicknamed the New Eldorado. Over the years, many international firms, as well as small and medium enterprises have successfully set up there despite the restrictions. The secret is to have a knowledge of the Qatari business culture and to be in conformity with procedures and regulations.
Types of companies
First of all, you should be aware of the different types of companies which are allowed in Qatar, namely the Limited Liability Company, the Rule 68 Company and the Single Shareholder or Owner Company.
In the case of the Limited Liability Company, a minimum capital of QR 200,000 is required. You will also need a Qatari partner who will own 51% of the company's shares, without involving any state-owned company. Furthermore, the company is not authorized to undertake banking, insurance or other investment related activities. As regards taxes, the company will have to pay a 10% rate based on its profits during the fiscal year.
To open a Section 68 Company, you will require a partnership with a state company or a company whose majority of shares are owned by the state. Know that you can hold more than 51% of the shares in the event of approval by the Council of Ministers of Qatar will also determine the legal and tax obligations of the company.
The Single Shareholder or Owner Company does not require a local partner. However, tourism, agriculture and health related activities must be justified to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce of Qatar. A minimum capital of QR 200,000 is also needed. As regards its obligations, these are the same as those of the Limited Liability Company.
Good to know:
Before proceeding, you must determine in which zone you want to operate your company, whether in the free zone or outside the free zone. In fact, regulations differ for these two zones. In the free zone, foreigners are allowed to hold 100% of the company's shares. It can import duty-free goods and services and is authorized to repatriate capital and profits without any restriction. Regarding the staff, the company is also allowed to sponsor foreign employees.
Once you understand the conditions and regulations related to the setting up of a business, you can tackle the procedures with the assistance of a lawyer. First of all, you will have to register your company's name with the Ministry of Economy and Trade's business inspection department. Note that fees apply. Thereafter, you will have to submit the company's statutes to the same department for validation.
Once you are done with this step, a bank authorization certificate will be issued. You can then open a bank account so as to deposit the minimum capital. The bank will then give you a receipt which you will have to produce to the Ministry of Justice for authentication, together with your partners' identity documents, authenticated copies of the company's articles, among others. The company's documents must also be signed by the partners before their validation by the ministry.
You must then return the complete file to the Ministry of Economy and Trade which will handle the trade registration. Note that fees applied vary according to the amount of capital invested. Once all these formalities have been completed, a Commercial Registration Certificate will be issued within 7 working days.
You also have to apply for a Trade License at the nearest municipal counter to your company's premises. Documents to be produced are your company's trade registration certificate and its lease documents.
Finally, you are required to request for a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Ministry of Finance.
Ministry of Economy and Commerce of Qatar www.mbt.gov.qa
Ministry of Finance of Qatar www.mof.gov.qa
Qatar Chamber of Commerce qatarchamber.com
Doing Business – Starting a business in Qatar www.doingbusiness.org