How to start a business in Qatar
Mr.Asil is a successful businessman in India who is looking to expand his company to other countries. After careful consideration, he has set his sights on Qatar. However, the flood of articles and information on the internet has quite overwhelmed him. To help him remember all that he had read over the last week of research, he made detailed notes on his laptop.
Let’s take a sneak peek at them, shall we?
To set up a LLC in Qatar, the majority of the company has to be owned by one or a group of Qatari nationals who collectively hold 51% of the shares.
To fully set up and run the business, one must obtain these three documents in the exact order below:-
I. Commercial Registration, also known as CR.
II. Trade License/Baladiya License, which mentions a legal office space.
III. Establishment Card (also known as Computer Card or Khaid Munshiah), which is to issue Residence Permits (RP) for your employees.
Commercial Registration (CR)
The CR is the first document issued when registering a company.
It’s issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI)
A CR is a document which certifies that your entity is a legal entity of name 'X' that is owned by 'these' shareholders with share capital of 'y'
You need to do the following steps to get a CR:
Step 1- Trade Name
Decide on the name of your business.
Companies whose names cannot be translated to Arabic will have to pay QAR1,000 extra for registration in English.
Step 2- Articles of Association
After deciding on the trade name, get the Articles of Association ready, mentioning your shareholders and their ownership stakes.
It is a standard document which lists all the shareholders, their ownership, rights etc. You can use the primary government-issued template if you choose or you can get a consultant like BBMS who would be able to draft an AOA which would be registered by the Government. Please note that the official language used is Arabic and this would be the only language accepted in a court of law.
Step 3- Issue the CR
After the above two steps, submit the two documents so that your start-up can get a CR.
After choosing your trade name and filing articles of Association, you can then submit them so that a CR can be issued.
They will ask about your business activities, as each type has its charges. The prices may range from QAR 500/year to QAR 10,000/year.
Specify what it is that the firm does. If the exact description is not found on the form, pick the one closest to it. The firm can conduct more than one type of business.
Check if your business activity type requires any pre-approvals. Check for these requirements and conditions with the MEC directly.
Choose your business activities, pay the respective fees for each of them, the processing fees and ensure your shareholders are present for identity verification.
The CR issued will be valid only for one year and will have to be renewed annually. This can be done online.
There are some things one can and cannot do with the CR. They are:-
Open a corporate bank account
Hire an office space
Buy and own assets under the company name
Accept invoices and payments from customers
Hire anyone or issue them a Residence Permit.
After getting the CR, you need a Trade License to invoice. To get it, fill out the required application form from the MoIC website and submit to the MoIC with the following documents:-
A copy of the ID of each of the authorized signatories and shareholders in your business as per CR.
A copy of your CR.
A copy of your Articles of Association.
A photo of your office building from the outside, which shows the blue plate that has the address information.
A photo of your office inside the above building, showing signage with the name of your business on the door to your office.
The building completion certificate and a copy of the ID of the building owner.
Rental acknowledgement, ownership instrument and Civil Defence approval.
Authorization letter in real estate rents (in case of subcontracts).
After the submission, you will get an SMS confirming that the application is received.
A representative of the MoCI may choose to come for an inspection to the office anytime within the next month. They will call before arriving.
After the inspection is done and you have been approved, another SMS will be sent within the next 24 hours, saying that the trade license is ready to be collected.
Go to the Govt Services counter, pay the trade license fees and get your printed Trade License.
A Establishment card is essential to be able to issue your employees a Residence Permit (RP) Immigration issues it.
A Establishment Card is a document which states who the signing authority of the company is with respect to recruitment and holding RP's under the company.
The Qatari partner(s) have to be listed on the Establishment Card, while the non-Qataris don’t.
Before applying for it, you need to get an official company stamp to use on all official paperwork.
For this, go to a printing press and order an official company stamp.
They will require a copy of your CR, Trade License and ID copies of the shareholders. This process takes a day to get done.
Next, you will have to go to the Immigration and Passport control office to apply for the Establishment Card.
You will need the following:
The filled out application form with your company stamp, which will ask for the names of the individuals who want to appear on the Computer Card as signing authorities.
A copy of your CR.
A copy of your Trade License.
ID copies of all the company shareholders
ID copies of individuals who need to be on the computer card.
Once you have all of the above, you then pay the fees, and you will be issued your Computer Card. Now, you can hire employees and issue them RPs..
Tips for a smooth set-up process
The charges for set-up processes may fluctuate, so plan your budget accordingly.
Keep a folder with several ID copies of all the shareholders, copies of the non-Qatari partners’ passports and copies of the CR as well. Carry both card and cash while going for these activities.
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