Qatar, as a sovereign country with its own jurisdiction has its own specific guidelines and requirements about foreign nations operating in the country. The information available out there can sometimes be ambiguous and perplexing, and to make things worse, one often gets conflicting pieces of advice from different people.
But don’t worry, there are adequate professional services in Qatar for legal, taxation & financial matters, business counselling, company background checks and feasibility studies to help you with that.
Let’s get started with the type of companies. You’ll need to choose the type of company you’d want to form. Limited Liability Company LLC or WLL is the most common form of company in Qatar. In an LLC, the majority of the company has to be owned by Qatari nationals, with their share being around to 51%. It doesn’t matter if it’s just one or more Qatari shareholders but the majority ( at least 51%) needs to be Qatari nationals.
The generally accepted types of companies that are allowed to operate in Qatar are:
- Joint Company / Partnership Company
- Limited Partnership Company
- Equities Partnership Company
- Shareholding Company
- Limited Liability Company
Let’s get to know these terms better.
But if you’ve already fixed the type of company you would want to start, skip ahead and head to Local Sponsor.
Commercial partnership arrangements are common in Qatar. A partnership company comprises two or more partners responsible for the liabilities of the company. But, in such cases, all joint partners should be Qataris, and every partner has the power to hold commercial meetings and businesses under the name of the company. But, it is mandatory to first get approval before proceeding with any investment.
Limited Partnership Company
They are only liable to debts incurred by the company, or to the extent of their registered investment. They have no management authority.
Equities Partnership Company
An equities partnership company comprises two teams , with one or more partners jointly responsible for debts of the company in all their assets, while the other includes shareholders.
This company is formed through a shareholding arrangement, approved by Ministry of Economy and Commerce, prior to establishment of the company. The capital of the company is distributed to negotiable shares of equal value. The number of shareholders should be at least five in number, with all of them being Qataris.
Limited Liability Company
This is the most commonly used legal structure in Qatar and provides that the company must be owned 51% by a Qatari partner or partners. On formation, the LLC can trade freely in the State of Qatar.
To start a business in Qatar, foreign companies will have to appoint a service agent / sponsor first. That’s the first and the most important step because it could open up lot of opportunities for someone starting fresh. However, this requirement for service agent / sponsor in Qatar is better off left to professional experts as they’d help you with finding reliable partnerships.
To start things off, you need to get the following three pieces of documents to be fully incorporated and perform all the necessary activities to run and grow your business in Qatar.
- Commercial Residence or CR.
- Trade License, which refers to a legal office space under your CR.
- Computer Card (also known as Signature Card or Khaid Munshiah), which is to issue Residence Permits (RP) for your employees.
Commercial Residence (CR)
The CR is the first piece of document you need to acquire. It’s issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), and it’s usually the quickest one to get. A CR is nothing but a piece of document that states that here is “a legal entity with name x that is owned by these shareholders.”
After receiving your CR, you need to get a Trade License, in order to have an office space that’s approved by the MEC for conducting your business activities. Getting a Trade License is usually the hardest part of this process- it can take some time to get this done, so plan your time accordingly.
By now, you must be making a killing at your business and chilling at your badass office with an ocean view- or so we hope. But your office must be empty, since you cannot yet hire anyone full-time under your company, as you can’t issue them a Residence Permit. For that, you need to get a Computer Card. Note here that while CR and Trade License are issued by the MEC, Computer Card is issued by Immigration.
A Computer Card is basically a document that says who is the signing authority on behalf of your company. While the Qatari partner in your enterprise needs to be listed on the Computer Card, the non-Qatari member is not required to do so, but can be included all the same. Before you apply for your Computer Card, you will need to get an official company stamp that will be used on all your official paperwork. For this, you can go to any major printing press and order a official company stamp. They will ask a copy of your CR, Trade License and ID copies of the shareholders. This usually takes a day to get done, and it should cost you less than QAR200.
QATAR TAX SYSTEM
Personal Tax: There is no tax on personal per capita income. This implies that employees can take home their wages and salaries without deduction of tax. But, an individual who gets into any types of commercial activity with an interest to gain income will have to pay tax, as per Companies Tax Law.
The income of Qatari and GCC nationals, residing in Qatar, is exempt from tax. The rate of tax is 10 percent of the company’s Total State Income, paid annually. This fixed rate is however applicable only on businesses, and not on individual income or Personal Tax.
Typical business costs are deductible, and losses can be rolled over for a period not more than three years from the original accounting declaration. The term ‘commercial activity’ could imply any vocation, service, profession, industry, trade, speculation, contractual work, or any profit and income making business. The rental income is subject to a fixed rate of 10 percent.
A profound guide to setting up a business in Qatar wouldn’t be complete without thanking the Ministry of foreign affairs in Qatar and the super friendly staffs for working closely with us throughout our service in Qatar.Contact Us
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