Things to keep in mind when incorporating a company in Latvia

This whole process can be long or short. All of it depends on how prepared you are, and it also depends highly on commitment, but of course if you aren’t committed then how did you get here, right? 

Well since it is Latvia some things change for better and some for worse. 

Paperwork

You will want somebody to translate (sorry!) as an alternative contact an attorney to fill within the forms for you. The sample forms include directions for those who weren’t born in Baltic State, therefore if any of your Latvian-speaking friends have expertise in commerce – you’re in luck.

There are many corporations specialising in helping foreigners establish corporations – however check up on their reputation to make sure they’re business helpers, not offshoring operations.

“We need to worry that each one of the documents for registering a corporation will ought to be submitted in Latvian,” Vineta Vilistere-Lāce, voice for the Investment and Development Agency of Baltic State tells LSM.

The documents that will require a notary – there’s a public notary on site at the Enterprise Register and several others nearby (again you’ll need an interpreter) – to approve your signature on an application for registering a LLC (SIA); consent to appoint the Management Board; and the register of shareholders.

Other documents include a page stating the amount of shares within the company and their possession. 

There’s also a document that states the legal address of the company. It requires permission from the owner of the property (if it’s not you). 

You can create a corporation online by utilizing this web site by signing the documents with an electronic signature. However, in this case the application can only be signed using the eID card. To obtain one you have to be a citizen or have a residence permit, which is a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Latvia has no equivalent of Estonia’s “e-residency” scheme.

“By law, corporations with foreign capital have identical rules and obligations as native businesses. They can purchase land and immobile property,” says Vilistere-Lāce.

“Mostly foreign entrepreneurs favor to use the services of a lawyers firm, and that’s what we sometimes recommend to our clients,” she adds.

About taxes

The small enterprise tax regime – corporations that register as small enterprises (Latvian: mikrouzņēmums) pay a flat tax rate of 15% of the turnover, provided it doesn’t exceed €100,000 a year (companies turning over less than €7,000 can pay just 12% till 2018).

Micro enterprises can employ up to five people and can solely pay salaries of €720 a month or less.

You can register as a payer of the micro enterprise tax while setting up your company (more on that below). It is a tax regime only, not a separate form of doing business. 

Regular tax regime – Regular SIA enterprises pay a corporate income tax of 15% plus social security and other fees for employees. However these companies have fewer restrictions, the most important of which is probably the lack of a salary ceiling.

Startup – Baltic State recently introduced many important tax rebates and state aid for hiring staff for supposed “startup” corporations. Startups that have attracted risk capital of at least €30,000 qualify for state support for up to five years after starting up. This is a fresh initiative, thus quite how it’ll pan out remains to be seen.

VAT (Value Added Tax) – your SIA needs to be registered for VAT (Latvian: PVN). Each company gets appointed an EU-compliant VAT registration number, that is the same as its written record number, but with the prefix ’LV’.

Businesses outside Latvia don’t have to pay VAT on your services, whereas once doing business with Latvian corporations you’ve got to charge them the VAT (currently 21%).

To set up a corporation, you’ve got to fill out a number of forms, all of which are available at the Enterprise Register web site.

Setting up a bank account

Setting up a bank account for your company is very easy and fast. You can set up an account at any bank and pay in the initial share capital right away.

The bank will set up a temporary business bank account for you, together with a notification about the amount you’ve paid in.

It costs from €0 to around €15 depending on the bank. Most, if not all, banks will be happy to set up a meeting with an English-speaking business adviser, and many also provide English-language telephone and online banking services.

Compared to many other countries, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by how modern and efficient Latvian banks are — there’s no waiting three days for a check to clear because no-one uses checks!

Summary

As I said in the beginning, the time that you put into this may vary. Establishing a corporation in Latvia has it’s ups and downs. For a starting point a good place for all of the forms you have to fill is the enterprise register website.

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