We don't seem to have a clear guide to doing this anywhere obvious yet. I saw a post recently with the outline, but can't find it. [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/setting-up-a-limited-company-in-taiwan/50375/1 also some chat here[/url], but no procedure. Company formation is outlined here, but not the foreigner-specific rules.
Am I right in the following? Can someone fill in the blanks? I talked to an accountant a few days ago, so this is up-to-date but by no means reliable.
My situation: I have won a small grant (NT$350k) from the government, with a Taiwanese partner. We don't need to form a company to get the money, but if we do then we're in the running for a larger (up to NT$1m) prize in six months. The money hasn't been paid yet, and my partner has no capital. So we can't put money down, but we do have capital/income in the pipeline - if the government ever gets it's act together. (They're three months late making payment, with no clear date yet.) Just to make things more fun, I'm supposed to give up my offical job to start this company. So I need the company to provide a work permit.
First, if you're a foreigner, you need permission to start.
- I've not heard of anyone having trouble getting this. Is it just a rubber stamp?
- MOEA told me to go to the Immigration agency for this. Immigration looked at me blankly and told me to go somewhere else. My accountant said (uncertainly) that I should talk to MOFA.
- According to my accountant, you need to have the cash in the bank before applying for permission. ie you apply for permission to invest the money you have here, you don't apply for permission in principle and then produce the money.
- You have to either transfer the money in from overseas, or explain how you earned it in Taiwan. I assume this means tax records. (see below)
Then you go to MOEA and check that the name you want to use is available. They have computers in their offices you can use to do a search, and I guess it can also be done online. You fill in a form to reserve your company name (NTD300). I think you have to wait ~24hrs to get the name certificate and then you are able to open a company-in-formation bank account.
NB Banks (at least in Taipei, especially Chinatrust) seem to have a new policy of telling you to go to the branch closest to your home/office instead of the one that is most convenient for you. They can be persuaded to stfu if you try hard.
Then you can begin the process of forming the company. They have now removed the minimum capital requirement, which means you can form a company with just NT$1 - which means if you just need a paper entity then you don't have to worry about explaining where your cash came from or transferring it out of/back into the country.
- NT$1 is not enough to get you a work permit, which is a different matter (see below)
- The accountant I met kept insisting that you need to show enough capital to pay the company's costs during the start-up phase. Her estimate was NT$200,000 as a minimum or run the risk of having your application rejected. I dug into this, and it seems that the MOEA will ask questions about the viability of your company if it seems 'odd'. This doesn't worry me, but she didn't seem to want to deal with it. She was also worrried that she would have to sign her name during the process. According to this source, although the minimum capital requirement was removed, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in place of the minimum capital requirement there will now be a requirement to submit a CPA audit report showing that the amount of capital invested would be sufficient to cover the costs of establishing the company.
You also have to state which categories (from a list) your business activities will come under. As far as I know this is crucial to get right because you can't do anything later that is not covered under your business license. I believe you can choose as many categories as you want, but presumably you can't just tick everything. Does anyone know more about this? c/an you discuss with the MOEA when you register?
** Someone else, a government official who should know what they're talking about, told me that small-cap companies are regulated at local level. In Taipei you should go to Taipei City government, not the MOEA. I'll let you know as I find out more.**
You also need a place to register your company. Apparently the rules have just been relaxed and any residential address is now OK for service businesses that don't have lots of customers coming in and out. In theory, freelance designers, translators, teachers, import/export agents, programmers, and the like can now register their own companies at their homes. Obviously, you may need your landlord's permission for this.
The process should take about four weeks, so I'm told.
I got a quote, I think it was for NT$25K to take care of all this, from Jusregal a while ago when I first started toying with the idea. If they're more pro-active about getting the registration done than the lady I spoke to last week, it might be worth it. Llary reported getting done for NT$6,000 in Taizhong. Maoman reports paying NT$25K in Taipei.
If you also need a work permit, then it's a bit messier. Based on llary's experience getting an investor visa, it seems to be a dance between MOEA and MOFA. You need to convince both of them that your company needs to employ you.
I keep seeing differing figures for the minimum capital (and turnover) required to employ a foreigner, ie yourself. I know it used to be in the millions, but I've also been told that it's now NT$250K - in fact, Jusregal seemed confident they could get me a work permit on the basis of the gov't money I'm waiting for. Has anyone ever actually done this for real? I believe the going rate for having an acocuntant take care of this is NT$15K.
Has anyone done this for anything other than a buxiban?