DOING BUSINESS IN TUNISIA IN 2020
Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC has assisted our Clients with business registration in Tunisia. Our services include i) Tunisia company incorporation services ii) government license registration iii) corporate bank account opening services in Tunisia and abroad iv) employee recruitment v) visa strategies and vi) office rental solutions in Tunisia.
Summary table of Tunisia company registration
|Summary||LLC||Agribusiness company||Regional Development Zone company||Export LLC||Tourism company||Representative Office|
|Also known as||SARL||Entreprise agroalimentaire||Société de développement régional||Société à responsabilité limitée à l'exportation||Entreprise de tourisme||Bureau de liaison|
|Best use of company?||All products and services||Agriculture and related activities||Industrial activities, crafts and other services||Wholly engaged in export-oriented activities||Nature tourism and related activities||Marketing and research|
|How soon can you invoice Clients/sign sales contracts?||5 weeks||5 weeks||6 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||Cannot invoice|
|How soon can you hire staff?||5 weeks||5 weeks||6 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||4 weeks|
|How soon can you sign a lease agreement?||1 week||1 week||1 week||1 week||1 week||4 weeks|
|How long to supply corporate bank account numbers?||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks|
|How long to supply company registration/tax numbers?||5 weeks||5 weeks||6 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||4 weeks|
|Corporate tax rate on annual net profits?||25%||0% for 1st 10 years, 10% thereafter||0% for 5-10 yrs, 10% thereafter||10%||25%||N/A|
|Limited liability entity?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Government grants available?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Government approval required for foreign owners?||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Resident director/partner/manager/legal representative required?||No||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Minimum paid up share capital?||US$500||US$500||US$500||US$500||US$500||N/A|
|Can bid for Government contracts?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Corporate bank account location?||International Tunisia Arab Bank||Atijari Bank||Tunis International Bank||Arab Tunisian Bank||Banque Franco Tunisienne||Banque de Tunisie|
|Can secure trade finance?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|VAT payable on sales to local customers?||19%||19%||19%||N/A||19%||N/A|
|Average total business set up engagement costs?||US$12,200||Request a proposal||Request a proposal||Request a proposal||Request a proposal||US$14,200|
|Average total engagement period?||3 months||3 months||3 months||3 months||3 months||2 months|
Tunisia company registration summary
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Advantages and disadvantages
Advantages of Tunisia company registration
- Tunisia has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1996, and thus, enjoys all the benefits provided by membership;
- Foreigners can start a company in Tunisia with a paid up capital of only US$500 (TND1,000). Directors and shareholders can live outside of Tunisia and Healy Consultants can complete the engagement without them travelling;
- Tunisia’s standard corporate income tax rate is 25%. New Tunisian startups can also be eligible to up to eight years of corporate tax holidays;
- When its political situation stabilizes, Tunisia will once again be the preferred hub for foreign investment in Northern Africa because:
- Unless they plan to do retail trade, Foreigners are allowed to form branches and wholly-foreign owned companies in Tunisia, unlike most other Northern African and Middle Eastern countries like i) Algeria ii) Libya iii) Saudi Arabia and iv) the United Arab Emirates, where they have to form a joint venture;
- The Tunisian Government has signed several investment treaties with countries including i) China ii) South Korea iii) UAE iv) Indonesia v) European Union Member States vi) the United States of America and vii) Canada, giving legal protection to investments made by these countries’ citizens and corporations;
- There are no foreign exchange controls in Tunisia;
- It is possible to remit earnings abroad without restrictions after payment of a withholding tax of only 5%. Tunisian companies also benefit from a large network of double taxation avoidance treaties with more than fifty countries including: i) Canada ii) China iii) France iv) Germany v) Indonesia vi) Lebanon vii) the United Kingdom and viii) the United States;
- Businesses exporting their products and services can benefit from a reduced corporate income tax rate of only 10%;
- Tunisia is also a hub for corporate finance, thanks to the presence of several local, regional and international including: i) Citibank ii) the Arab Banking Corporation iii) Arab Tunisian Bank and iv) Habitat Bank.
- Tunisia is a good place to start a call center and other businesses requiring manpower because:
- While official statistics on salaries in Tunisia are scarce, the average monthly salary is estimated to be around US$500. Minimum salary is only US$130 (TND274). It is also easy to find workers as the current unemployment rate exceeds 15% and reaches twice that proportion amongst younger generations;
- Tunisian workers, including women, are more skilled than their northern African neighbors. The population’s literacy rate is close to 80% and reaches almost 100% amongst people between 18 and 24 years old;
- All Tunisians can speak Tunisian Arabic and a significant minority of them (around 30%) are also completely fluent in French. University graduates are additionally usually fluent in English.
- Tunisia is an excellent jurisdiction for manufacturing and export-oriented companies. This is mainly due to the presence of 152 industrial zones in the country along with 2 operational free zones namely the Bizerte and Zarzis parks which provide numerous incentives to the companies including i) close access to oil and gas resources; ii) locational advantage and iii) freedom to carry out foreign trade;
Disadvantages of Tunisia company registration
- Trading companies can be subject to a joint venture requirement: in accordance with Tunisia Commercial Code No 129, it is likely your Firm will need i) a local, Tunisian national 51% shareholder and ii) a Tunisian resident director who will be the legal registered officer when dealing with the Government. Such requirements are related to the need to get a commercial card (carte de commercant). We can however assist by providing nominee services (click link);
- While Tunisia is the only democratic Northern African country, it is still politically unstable due to i) frequent changes of Governments (five since 2011) and ii) several terrorist attacks conducted by groups with ISIS links;
- All Tunisian businesses are required to register for VAT.
- The Tunisian economy is still heavily state-owned for majority of the industries such as finance, hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals and utilities. Further, there are major regulatory barriers for foreign investment in the Tunis market including prohibitive customs and tax regime. The government is yet to officially publish the 8-sector negative investment list for the country.
Best uses for a Tunisian company
- Labor intensive services and manufacturing: Like Morocco, Tunisia is often chosen by European companies, notably French ones, as the location their call centers, garments factories and other manpower intensive manufacturing activities.
- Time to incorporate: Four weeks
- Cost to set up: US$12,200
- Minimum capital: US$500
- Physical office required: No
- Shareholders: 2
- Directors: 1
- Company secretary: Yes
- Resident director: Yes
- Corporate tax rate: 25%
- Corporate tax base: Territorial
- Shelf companies: No
- Main company type: LLC
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Useful links for Tunisia
Government and public authority websites:
- Doing Business -Economy profile of Tunisia
- Tunisia – Country Profile
- Invest in Tunisia
- Commercial Laws of Tunisia
- Tunisia Overview