Important information about how to start up a business in Belarus, what your options are and how long the process takes
The Belarusian government welcomes responsible foreign companies looking to set up in the country.
If you want to trade as a foreign or international company in Belarus, you need to set up in one of two ways:
Traditionally representative offices in Belarus were just that – organisations operating as ambassadors for foreign companies, but without a taxable presence in the country.
Today you can have a taxable presence with a RO, and can sign contracts and carry out negotiations.
However, if you want to carry out long-term commercial activity within Belarus, setting up a legal entity may be a better option.
Belarusian laws provide for various organizational-legal forms of commercial organisations. Most legal entities choose the following types as the most convenient for business:
Joint Stock companies are companies whose capital is divided into a definite number of shares. They fall into two categories:
A Limited Liability Company (Obshchestvo s Ogranichennoy Otvetstvennostyu or OOO) is the most flexible type of company structure.
As it does not technically have shares, it is not liable to Belarusian securities legislation.
Unitary enterprises are a popular choice among foreign companies trading in the Belarus economy. With this structure, the company founder retains ownership of the assets.
Representative offices have the simplest set-up procedure. You must provide the following set of documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus:
The documents in foreign languages should be translated into Belarusian or Russian and notarised, or legalized (apostilled).
Representative offices must:
A new application-based registration procedure for legal entities has been in place since 1 February, 2009. The process involves:
Commercial organizations can decide on the size of their authorized fund independently, which should be announced in the Belarusian rubles.
The minimum authorized fund is set only for joint stock companies. It is denominated in the Belarusian currency proceeding from the size of the base amount (on the day of submitting the documents to the registration body):
Each case is different, but for general guidance the timescales are as follows:
Representative offices: once all documents are ready, the process should not take more than 10 days
The process is longer for joint stock companies, which need to register their share issue with the State Securities Register.
Remember that it can take some time to get the necessary documents together, and you should also allow time for notarization of official papers.