When it comes to starting a business, a virtual office nearly always ticks the right boxes. A real business address, a local phone number, and a live receptionist service help new businesses create that all-important local presence quickly and cost-efficiently.
That’s why virtual offices are so popular in the US, as well as many other places including Australia, the UK and parts of Europe.
Try it in Qatar however, and you’ll be sent packing.
That’s because some places – Qatar included – have strict business set-up rules and a ‘virtual’ presence isn’t enough. One of the requirements imposed by authorities is a minimum 12-month physical office agreement, which rules out the virtual office.
However, it’s not the end of the road for startups in Qatar.
Alliance Virtual Offices is part of the Alliance Business Centers Network, and our team in the Middle East has established important partnerships to help smooth the path for startups, and businesses looking to expand into Qatar. One of them is company formation expert PRO-Partnership, which specializes in helping new businesses get up and running in Qatar.
We spoke to Liam Trump of PRO-Partnership and James Townsend of PRO-Property to discover the ins-and-outs of the company formation process:
- The first stage of the company formation is to reserve the company name and activities, outlining what your company will be doing in Qatar.
- Thereafter, we submit the Articles of Association (AOA) of the business and obtain the Commercial Registration. Share capital is then deposited into a temporary bank account (equivalent to the amount outlined in the AOA).
- At this stage, once the Commercial Registration is obtained, the company must locate and obtain a 12-month lease on a real office space (Virtual Offices aren’t permitted) to obtain the company Trade License, which allows you to legally trade in Qatar.
- Once the Trade License has been obtained, the company can obtain its Computer Card (immigration card) which allows you to bring employees into Qatar.
- Next, we apply for a Labour Quota. This provides full details of the individuals you intend to hire, including job positions, nationalities and gender. Once approved, you can begin the residence permit process for employees.
As you may imagine, the process doesn’t stop here. For instance, when the time comes to find an office in Qatar, Liam draws on the experience of James Townsend’s team at PRO-Property. James works with a number of workspace operators in the state – including Alliance Business Centers in Doha – which speeds up the office search process.
This brings its own specific requirements, as James explains: “There are many requirements that the office space must meet in order to be designated fit for purpose,” he says.
“For instance,it must have Civil Defense approval (Fire Safety approval) and provide the necessary documentation. Therefore, professional serviced office providers like Alliance Business Centers are recommended, as they are able to efficiently and effectively provide the correct documentation required to obtain the Trade License.”
A serviced officecomes ready equipped with furnished offices and all necessary business amenities. This move-in ready environment helps accelerate the acquisition of the Trade License — often the “bottleneck” of the process.
Workspace aside, there are plenty of other sub-tasks to complete before a business is ready to go. Indeed, the end-to-end company formation process can take just a few weeks or many months to complete. During that time, you still have a business to run, which is why good relationships and carefully chosen partner services such as these are enormously important.
So if the Middle East is on your (or your clients’) radar, be sure to add this to your business set-up checklist!
Got something to add? Let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. We’ll be zoning in on business startup processes in more global locations over the coming weeks, so watch this space.