Lower operational costs, business-friendly laws and regulations, government incentives and low taxes are only a few of the many advantages when starting a business abroad. Starting a business is also one of the few ways to become a resident in some countries. And, as inviting as it is, becoming a resident by engaging in business initiatives imposes oftentimes strict requirements in many of them.
In Singapore, for instance, which may be one of the most attractive countries to start a business, you may apply for permanent residency by starting one with a minimum investment of SGD2.5 million ($1.8 million), having a good business track record, an entrepreneurial background and a business proposal or investment plan. The German law stipulates that temporary residence can be granted only if the activity involves an economic interest, it is expected to have a positive impact on the economy, and the foreigner has personal capital or an approved loan to realize the business idea. If we convert those points into numbers, the total investment requirement would be €350,000. To get the French long-stay visa (the Passport Talent) you will need to prove at least five years of professional experience in the same field, possessing sufficient income to create a start-up and investing at least €30,000 in it, having financial resources, etc.
Like many other countries, Armenia grants residency to foreigners wishing to engage in business activities, and the comparatively easy procedure along with the minimum formalities make it a business destination worth considering on a par with the developed countries.
Types of residencies in Armenia
The Armenian law on Foreigners (hereinafter referred to as Law) recognizes two types of residency status for foreign citizens based on engaging in a business activity: temporary and permanent. These two differ in their time. The temporary residence is granted for up to 1 year, while the period for the permanent residency is up to 5 years, both with a prolongment option for the same period.
According to Armenian legislation, it is required to pay 105,000 AMD (approximately $216) to get a temporary residency status, a residence card and registration. For the permanent residency status, card, and registration a fee of 140,000 AMD (approximately $288) is stipulated.
It is interesting that the Law does not distinguish between any types of business activities. Therefore, you can get residency for any activity, starting from sole proprietorship to large-scale companies (LLC, JSC, cooperative).
Before getting into detail, it is also important to note that foreigners have the same rights as Armenian citizens and legal entities when establishing a company and investing in a legal entity.
Registering your business activity
Now, to apply for residency on the aforementioned basis you will need to register the undertaken business activity. To do so you will need to apply along with other necessary documents to the State Register of Legal Entities (hereinafter Agency).
The person registering as a sole proprietor needs to submit to the Agency the following documents:
The advantages of registering as a sole proprietor are fast execution of the registration process, minimum formalities, no minimum balance requirements, taxation with annual income tax, etc.
As for the state registration of legal persons, the following persons have the right to apply for state registration:
Any person authorized by the persons having the right to apply may also apply for state registration.
The necessary documents submitted by the applicant are:
If the founder of the legal entity is a foreign natural person, for state registration, in addition to the documents mentioned above, s/he shall submit a copy of the passport or other identity document, translated into Armenian, notarized and apostilled.
Another common way to do business is to register an LLC. The expediency of doing business through the registration of an LLC is primarily due to the legal possibility of bearing limited liability. The founder of the company, as opposed to sole proprietorship, does not put his personal property at risk in case of losses.
Furthermore, as opposed to many other countries, the Armenian legislation does not require a specific nature of business, minimum capital or size of shares, number of employees, minimum investments, etc. The only thing to keep in mind is that upon applying for residency your business should be operational.
At the same time, your physical appearance in Armenia is not mandatory to be registered in the Agency. The applications and documents attached to the application can be presented electronically if the person has an electronic signature.
The Agency must carry out the state registration not later than within two working days following the submission of all required documents to the Agency. State registration based on the standard documents of a limited liability company is carried out immediately. A legal person is considered established from the moment of its state registration.
Naturally, one of the primary concerns of the person planning to start a business in a foreign country is the tax system.
Therefore, in Armenia businesses are generally taxed under two major pipelines: general and special.
While within the general taxation system the companies, sole proprietors are taxed, in particular, with VAT (currently at 20%) and profit/income tax, in the special system those two are replaced with the turnover tax. Commercial organizations and sole proprietors, whose turnover of the previous year did not exceed 115 million AMD (Approx. $236,500), are entitled to pay this tax. It is also worth mentioning that organizations within the framework of the micro-enterprise system are generally exempt from taxation.
Profit tax is currently 18% and income tax is 22 % but will be reduced to 20%. Finally, the turnover tax can vary from 1.5% to 25% depending on the type of the income.
IT in Armenia
Information technology is one of the most prioritized fields in Armenia. Certain IT companies van claim state support if they meet the set standards. First, state support is provided to the following activities:
In order be qualified to benefit from state support programs, it is necessary for business to be a startup, the number of employees should not exceed 30, during the three years prior to the time of the application, the shareholders should not have operated as sole proprietors or members of any other organization operating in the field, etc.
To enjoy the benefits the company shall acquire a certificate from the Ministry of High Technologies, which is granted based on compliance to all the criteria. Upon certification, income tax is calculated at the rate of 10% (instead of 22%) from the salary paid to the employees, and profit tax at 0%.
To sum up, Armenia is not just a country of beautiful architecture and landscapes, but also a great place for business initiatives. So, whether you seek a place to explore marvelous culture, a place to realize your most ambitious business ideas, or a place to do both, this is exactly the place to be.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
We have extensive experience in advising clients of both Armenian and non-Armenian origin in establishing businesses and obtaining Armenian residency status.
 The state duty for acceptance of the paper form application is 3000 AMD (Approximately $6). For registration of commercial organizations, the payment of a state duty is not required.
 Please note that this requirement is not mandatory in cases where the head of the executive body is a foreign citizen and does not have a social security number of Armenia.
 Tax Code, article 8
 Tax Code, article 150.1