Documentation for living and working abroad

In 2005, almost 200,000 Britons headed overseas permanently and many of these people are leaving the UK to start up their own business abroad. A major hurdle they will have to clear, however, is gaining permission to start a business in a new country – applying for a visa or work permit can be a lengthy process, which varies from country to country.

In 2005, almost 200,000 Britons headed overseas permanently and many of these people are leaving the UK to start up their own business abroad. A major hurdle they will have to clear, however, is gaining permission to start a business in a new country – applying for a visa or work permit can be a lengthy process, which varies from country to country.

In 2005, almost 200,000 Britons headed overseas permanently and many of these people are leaving the UK to start up their own business abroad. A major hurdle they will have to clear, however, is gaining permission to start a business in a new country – applying for a visa or work permit can be a lengthy process, which varies from country to country.

Obviously, within the European Union you’re free to move anywhere you like, but other countries have quotas to limit the number of immigrants. Many applicants are turned away each year simply because they applied at the wrong time! Immigration legislation can be baffling and all the paperwork involved is hugely time-consuming. It is easy to make mistakes, which will be seized upon by Embassy officials who are usually looking for reasons to reject your application.

Expert guidance is essential if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. All countries require you to obtain special permission for entry and residency where you plan to emigrate. This permission is called a visa or work permit and there are several different types, depending on your destination and planned duration of your stay. In the US, for example, those planning to open a business may be eligible for an Investment Visa and, in Australia business owners can apply for a Business Skills Visa. Residency permits give a non-national the right to live in a foreign country but some countries are more difficult to enter on a resident’s visa than others. There are many other categories of visa that can be considered if that’s the case.

Only the country concerned can provide you with definitive and official information on entry requirements. You must obtain the required visa or work permit from that country’s embassy before you go there, so make sure you initiate the process well in advance of your departure date, as it can take several months. And if you plan to travel around while working overseas, enquire about the process of obtaining a multiple-entry visa to avoid future difficulties.

Working without an appropriate visa or overstaying a visa is illegal; if caught, you may be subject to imprisonment, a fine or even deportation. You may also be barred from re-entry to that country.

Register your business

In addition to visa requirements for your destination country, you may also need to licence your business with the municipality within that country and register your company name with the local authority.

For instance, in Singapore all businesses, whether it’s a sole trader business or a multinational company, must register with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), though you may find certain individuals, professionals and organisations are exempted from registration (such as private fish and prawn pond-keepers!).

In some countries, companies can’t purchase a URL or launch a corporate website unless the company is registered. Also, check whether you are required to be legally resident in the location in which you wish to start your business, as that applies in many cases.

If necessary, you will also need to register for local and national taxes (click here for more details on tax registration).

Related Topics

Doing Business Abroad

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