Branch Office vs Rep Office?

Hey all,

New to Forumosa but not new to Taiwan (left for many years but back now). I’m interested in opening a business here but as I’m sure most of you know, searching for information from the Taiwan government is often…well vague and frustrating.

I have a couple ‘hobbies’ that I’m working on and know that I’ll need to formalize a company to host them soon, and as I’ve always loved living in Taiwan, I wanted to do that here.

I’ve been researching slowly for the past couple of months on how to open a business and get a proper ARC here (I’m not teaching English–even though I did many years ago). I’ve asked around to friends and former colleagues that have set up their businesses but my situation is a bit unique from theirs.

They’re often married, had an APRC, and/or set up the main company here. I haven’t run into anyone in person that has opened up a rep office or a branch office.

The commonality they do all say though is that at some point I’ll need to go to a local CPA or similar expert to help set up the business here–whatever form it takes.

Seeing as how my income is very small right now (but I have decent savings), I’m trying to delay any big expenditure as long as possible, and paying a CPA to set everything up is something I’d rather do after gaining more knowledge of the trajectory I need to take.

So, I would love any advice from all you wonderful Formosans here that have experience in this area! Here are my current questions/directions, please, please, please send some feedback for me to go research some more!

  1. I’m thinking of opening the headquarter branch in Singapore (was considering HongKong but, you know), I’m still open to other countries as well if anyone has a suggestion (I’d like to avoid my home country due to the high tax it charges and to maintain my non-residency, not USA FYI)

  2. I’m hoping I can use 1 business entity to pursue 2 to 3 different activities, all of which are online eCommerce-type work, except 1 might be acting as an agent to help certain foreign countries gain some business leads here

  3. I’d love to have an ARC again to gain all the benefits from that (and pay taxes here to support the economy etc). Right now I’m just hopping in and out without an official address, it’s getting tiring after all these months.

  4. From what I’ve read, I should be looking at either a Brand Office or a Representative Office (feel free to propose otherwise). My main goal for having a subsidiary here is to: 1) ARC 2) bank account 3) proper address 4) residency

  5. I’m trying to minimize costs to set up administratively, most of my work will be with very minimal expenses (I can work on my laptop anywhere) and I don’t require a physical office nor want one.

I’ll be grateful if anyone can give me their 2 cents for this post! Thanks so much, cheers!

Hi, You need to contact a CPA. They will help you with opening a business and getting your ARC and work permit for that business and help you with fufilling the requirements.

Welcome to Forumosa; Welcome Back to Taiwan.

I currently run a Branch Office & have looked into these kind of things.

Given your goal is to get an ARC and do so with minimal expense and (currently) income, a branch office may not be the best structure for you. To set up a branch office that can hire you, you will have to make an capital investment of around 500,000 TWD. The branch office should make yearly revenue of more than 3,000,000 TWD in order to retain the ability to hire you.

It is possible to set up a company without a CPA, and in recent years the government has put effort into English-language websites that explain the process. Using a CPA will typically cost you 20k-30k TWD for the initial setup, and then their monthly fees.

One new visa that you may not have heard about yet is the Employment Gold Card. It’s an ARC with open work permit that you can apply for directly, online, without sponsorship from any company. If you qualify, it could take away the association between a corporate structure and your ability to reside in Taiwan. There’s an extensive thread.

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if you have not read yet, this thread might have some info.

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I ran a rep office (with HK HQ) before the rules got a little more relaxed. If you just want an ARC, check the Employment Gold card first: https://foreigntalentact.ndc.gov.tw/en/Content_List.aspx?n=6DCC0F9D13EC0AF0

Exactly this. If you can get it it is much less hassle.

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I’m under the belief that the government just cares about tax. So, if you can pay the tax on that amount of revenue, then, technically, you have met your obligations to be a manager of that branch office. Is this accurate?

Also, I think that 3M can consist of revenue anywhere in the world - not just Taiwan, correct?

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The revenue of a Taiwan branch office is booked using official receipts in Taiwan (統一發票). It’s declared to the government every two months using the “401” form. The accrual accounting method is used, so actual cash flows are decoupled from the declarations.

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Wow, everyone is very helpful here! Thanks

I’ve looked at the golden employment pass and get pretty confused each time with the vagueness. The only area I might be eligible for (after reading one of the links) is the Economic one…but I thought I disproved myself before when reading into that.

My last job I made pretty decent money and fulfill the $160,000 NTD part, I also have an MBA from a Taiwan university. But not sure if those two things alone qualify me.

Any thoughts?

Thanks again all!!!

Thanks for the comment and link! I suppose a Representative office would then be the better choice. I’ve read that the ‘economic activity’ of a representative office is supposed to be pretty limited though, any thoughts on that?

If it helps, I’m not planning on selling anything in Taiwan (although might want to in the future), so most of my ‘activity’ consists of online work where I get paid in other countries.

You are not allowed to collect any money with a representative office setup. You can only facilitate (represent) transactions, such as contracts, negotiations, technology cooperation agreements, between your foreign company and Taiwan companies. If there is money involved, the Taiwan company and foreign company must exchange money directly with each other (you cannot facilitate the exchange of the money or other consideration).

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Welcome to Forumosa! I have had many similar questions to you, but mine were better dealt with through the Gold Visa.

I looked into the Rep office, and if I’m not wrong, it is about the only way to have a smaller online company that might do several “gig” type jobs that have a smaller overall revenue, but perhaps add up to a liveable income. The key is for all revenue to be outside of Taiwan, in whatever country the company is set up in, (and taxes payable to that country) and to merely pay yourself an income for your expenses living in Taiwan (remember you will have to pay taxes in Taiwan on this income, and to be sure it is a high enough income to qualify for an APRC if that is your goal in 5 years). You still have to have some sort of business activities to maintain the Rep office, but I am not sure what that entails exactly.

By the way - have you looked into Estonia as a place to set up your company? They are pretty cutting edge with these things, and I don’t think you really need any “physical” presence there. Have a look into “e-residency” based visa.

Feel free to PM me.

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Oddly I went into a rabbit hole of Estonia yesterday when I was researching for this, interesting concept but seems there’s potential problems with banking.

I was considering Singapore as they have plenty of services to setup business headquarters etc but it’s not on the cheap side (as I have no income for the moment).

The Gold Employment Pass seems like the way to go for now so I’ll pursue that! Thanks for all the help everyone, cheers!