This guide provides a structured approach to starting various types of businesses, such as a branch office, a representative office, a private limited liability company or a company limited by shares as a subsidiary, a general partnership, a limited partnership, or a sole proprietorship for registration in Taiwan.
Step 1: Decide on a Business Structure
Step 2: Get Chinese and English Company Name Approval
Step 3: Find Premises
Step 4: Obtain Registration, Incorporation and Permit
Step 5: Taxation
Step 6: A case study: Registering a Private Limited Liability Company
Step 1: Decide on a Business Structure
The body monitoring the requirements of the Company Act is the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
In general, foreign investment is fairly unrestricted and funds can be freely remitted in and out of the country.
Follow the registration and incorporation steps according to the selected business type.
Check if your country of origin has concluded an investment protection treaty with Taiwan for protection from expropriation and similar interference with private property.
Depending on your status, there are various ways to set up a business in Taiwan:
A representative office is usually set up when a foreign company wishes to establish a presence in Taiwan, but does not intend to actually carry on any sales activity. It has limited legal status; it is merely an administrative arrangement and primarily designed for non-commercial activities. Legally, a RO is not a business entity per se and is not allowed to perform any activity with the purpose of generating profits.Permitted Activities
If a foreign corporation does not want to actually incorporate a company in Taiwan, it can first be registered as a branch in order to carry on business under its corporate title. Legally a branch of a foreign company is only an extension of its Head Office and not a subsidiary company owned by the foreign parent company.
The shareholders, structure of the company, and its activities are directly governed by the foreign company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA). There is no separate MAA for the branch office.
A branch is not a separate legal entity in that its debts and liabilities are part and parcel of the debts and liabilities of the head office of the foreign corporation, and its activities are limited to those stipulated in the constitution of the head office. A claimant can approach the Taiwan courts of law to initiate legal proceeding against the headquarters, by virtue of its branch being located in the Taiwan.
A branch needs a legal representative and a branch manager to act on behalf of the company and to accept service of process and any notice required to be served on the corporation. Said representative and branch manager can be:
An Incorporated Company
In Taiwan, the two main types of incorporated companies are:
A Private Limited Liability Company is the most common type of company in Taiwan; it may be registered with only one shareholder, who can be an individual or a corporation. There is no requirement for shareholder(s) to be residents in Taiwan.
The liability of the shareholders is limited to the amount, if any, paid on the shares issued to them. However, there is no minimum capital requirement. The company can be formed with an issued capital of TWD 10,000 that can subsequently be increased to the required amount. The par value of shares is not fixed.Representatives
One-man companies with a single (individual or corporate) shareholder are admissible and such a company can only have one director. A Company Limited by Shares must set up a board of directors and elect at least three directors. to No working permit is required to be a director. Any person, including a foreign national, at least 20 years old may be appointed as a director.
Every foreign investor, a natural person or a legal entity, who plans to register a company under the Taiwan Companies Act, must engage one agent acting on its, his or her behalf in Taiwan. The agent must be a Taiwan Certified Public Accountant or a Lawyer.
Directors of Taiwan companies bear a host of duties and responsibilities. The Companies Act requires directors to act honestly at all times and exercise reasonable diligence in discharging their duties. Directors’ duties fall under three main categories:
A company Limited by Shares must appoint at least one person to be the supervisor whose responsibility is to supervise the Board of Directors and the company’s administrative activities as prescribed by law. The supervisor shall be a natural person, and can be a foreigner.
An Auditor must be appointed if the registered capital is more than TWD30,000,000; the company must make available the annual financial statement audit report to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
A General Partnership
In Taiwan, a General Partnership has two or more partners that are registered as a partnership entity; said partners are not legally separate; each partnership has unlimited liability in the event of willful misconduct or gross negligence of one partner or a group of partners. All of its partners are personally liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership except in situations where those debts and obligations arise as a result of their distinct individual negligence or fraudulence. The mutual rights and duties of the Taiwan partnership and its partners are governed by the partnership agreement. A General Partnership is not qualified to hire foreign employees, and its owner is not by virtue of this office qualified to have a working permit.
A Limited Partnership
The Taiwan Limited Partnership Act has been effective since Nov 30, 2015. A Limited partnership is a for-profit juridical person organized and registered under the Limited Partnership Act. A limited partnership shall be composed of at least one general partner and one limited partner who agrees to make capital contribution to the partnership. A juridical person may be a General Partner provided that it shall designate a natural person as its representative to exercise, on its behalf, the duties of a general partner. The General Partner shall be directly or indirectly responsible for actual business operations of a limited partnership and shall be jointly and severally liable when the assets of the limited partnership are not sufficient to meet its liabilities. A Limited Partner is a partner with liability limited to the amount of his or her capital contribution under a limited partnership agreement. The responsible person of a limited partnership must be one of the general partners of that limited partnership. Any managerial officer or liquidator of the limited partnership who acts within the scope of such duties is also a responsible person. A Limited Partnership is not qualified to hire foreign employees, and its owner is not by virtue of office qualified to have a working permit.
A Sole Proprietorship
Sole proprietorship is the simplest and most flexible form of business structure in Taiwan. The sole proprietorship meets the statutory requirement to register all profiteering activities carried out on a continuous basis. However, it does not constitute a separate legal entity and therefore it is not distinct from the owner/proprietor. The business owner is personally accountable for all liabilities incurred during the course of doing business.The owner himself/herself will act in the capacity of the manager, and can be a foreigner of at least 20 years of age.
A Sole proprietorship is not qualified to hire foreign employees, and its owner is not qualified by virtue of office to have a working permit.