No matter if you are a multinational corporation looking to open a branch in Taiwan, or a foreign resident with an ingenious business idea; there comes a point in time when the need to register a company in Taiwan arises.

Doing business in Taiwan can be attractive due to the countries open and educated society, it’s strategic location in Asia and convenient logistics. Moreover, incorporating a business or starting as sole proprietor is fairly straight forward.

A foreigner can own his or her company but it is important to note, that starting a business or registering a company doesn’t guarantee that you can obtain a residence permit or work visa through that company. In this post we don’t cover the additional company formation requirements such as – for instance – higher minimum capital rules that apply if working visas should be sponsored though your business in the future.

Disclaimer: This post should not be considered legal advice by any means. Please consult a CPA or specialized service if you want most up-to-date information about the topic.

Business Structures

First things first: before starting the process of setting up a company in Taiwan, you need to decide which company structure fits your business best.

There are several possible types of business entities in Taiwan:

Representative Office

  • In Chinese: 外商辦事處, Wàishāng bànshì chù
  • Functions as liaison office of a foreign company, not as legal entity
  • Cannot import, export or sell products, or engage in other profit-seeking activities in Taiwan
  • Can function as sales or purchasing agent, to provide technical support or conduct market research or quality control of production in Taiwan
  • Does not have to pay VAT or corporate income tax
  • No minimum capital requirement
  • Not a good entity for trademark registrations

Branch Office

  • In Chinese: 外商分公司, Wàishāng fēn gōngsī
  • 100% owned by head company overseas
  • Not a limited liability entity; home company is legally liable
  • No minimum capital requirement
  • Not eligible for government grants
  • After-tax profit can be legally remitted to the home company without incurring withholding taxes
  • Not a good entity for trademark registrations

Limited Liability Company

  • In Chinese: 有限公司, Yǒuxiàn gōngsī
  • Organized by one or more members
  • No minimum paid-up capital requirement, but at least NTD 10,000 recommended to increase chances of approval
  • Authorities may set a higher capital requirement if business entity engages in activities that require a special permit or approval
  • Tax rate of about 17% of net income
  • Recommended for foreign companies looking to establish a legally distinct subsidiary in Taiwan, especially if it is to be wholly-owned

Company Limited by Shares

  • In Chinese: 股份有限公司, Gǔfèn yǒuxiàn gōngsī
  • No minimum paid-up capital requirement, but at least NTD 10,000 recommended to increase chances of approval
  • Authorities may set a higher capital requirement if business entity engages in activities that require a special permit or approval
  • Must have at least two individual shareholders, or one juridical person shareholder
  • Must have at least three directors and one supervisor
  • Tax rate of about 17% of net income
  • Can go public in Taiwan and receive more outside investment

Free Trade Zone Company

  • In Chinese: 自由貿易港區事業 Zìyóu màoyì gǎng qū shìyè
  • For export-oriented businesses with physical premises in a Taiwanese free trade zone
  • No capital requirement but significant investment necessary for physical premises, licenses, etc. (usually at least NTD 3-6 million)
  • Business plan must be submitted to Special Economic Zone (SEZ) authorities
  • More information at Taiwan FTZ

Sole Proprietorship

  • In Chinese: 獨資Dúzī
  • Suitable for small businesses or self-employment
  • No need to register a company
  • No legal difference between the owner and the enterprise
  • No corporate tax return but business income to be declared in income tax return
  • The owner of the business has full personal liability for all debts of the business

General Partnership

  • In Chinese: 合夥組織Héhuǒ zǔzhī
  • Similar to sole proprietorship but with two or more owners
  • No need to register a company
  • No corporate tax return but business income to be declared in income tax return
  • All partners are personally liable for all debts of the business
  • Mutual rights and duties are governed by the partnership agreement

Limited Partnership

  • In Chinese: 有限合夥組織 Yǒuxiàn héhuǒ zǔzhī
  • Requires at least two partners, of which one general partner who is liable for any debt or taxes due by the partnership
  • Not subject to corporate income tax but must still file financial statements
  • All partners must submit personal income tax returns including business income
  • A company may be a partner of a Limited Partnership
  • Not allowed to hire foreigners

Process of Establishing a Company in Taiwan

Once you have decided on the company structure, you can begin the incorporation process. As a rule of thumb, this process usually takes around 4-6 weeks if everything goes smoothly.

If you choose to become a Sole Proprietor or establish a General Partnership, the following information won’t apply to you because those types of businesses are not companies and thus don’t have to be incorporated.

The incorporation process can be broken down into four phases:

  1. Preliminary Preparations
  2. Incorporation and Permits
  3. Opening Business Bank Account
  4. Taxation
  5. Further Registrations

Preliminary Preparations

Before you can apply for business registration, you will have to prepare a number of documents and make some important decisions.

1. Choose Company Structure

First of all, you should decide which company structure, or if you want to start your business. Note that this process does not apply to sole proprietorships or partnerships as those are not legal entities.

2. Chinese Company Name Approval

Next, you need to choose and reserve a Chinese company name. It has to be approved by the local city or county government and should be different enough from existing companies’ names. The reservation process also requires you to state the scope of the business as well as the ID number of the applicant.
You can download name reservation form from the Department of Commerce of Taiwan.
To check existing company names, check the Company Registry (make sure to check all the category boxes).

3. Carving of Company Chop

Once your company name has been approved, you can order a company chop which you will need to open a business bank account.

4. Office Lease Contract

A lease of your business premises is also required. While P.O. boxes are not accepted, it may be a virtual office or your even your home address, as long as the property is approved for business use by the city or county. In case of residential building, additional documentation such as written consent of the landlord and their last tax statement might be necessary.

5. Approval of Foreign Investment

If the new company will be set up with foreign capital, this has to be approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Investment Commission. You can then open a preparatory bank account for the sole purpose of receiving the foreign investment funds. Once the bank confirms the deposit, it will issue a remittance confirmation. A certified accountant has to issue a capital verification report which is required when registering the company. This is, of course, not necessary if you are starting your business exclusively with funds obtained in Taiwan.

6. Various Additional Documents

Depending on the company structure and whether it will be established with foreign investment, additional documents will have to be prepared.
This could include:

  • Written Resolution and Appointment of Directors
  • Certificate of Incorporation of the Parent Company
  • Power of Attorney (POA; 代理人授權書)
  • Address proof of director(s)/managers
  • Identity document copies of director(s)/ managers

Other documents might be also required and some might need to be legalized. Since specific requirements differ case by case and can have changed recently, we recommend checking with a qualified CPA or directly with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) which is usually very helpful.
For registering a Limited Liability Company or a Company Limited by Shares, you can also find the necessary forms and templates on the website of the Taipei City Office of Commerce.

Incorporation and Permit

Once the above documents are in hand, you can register your company by submitting your application to:

  1. Department of Commerce, MOEA, if paid-in capital is more than 500 million NTD
  2. City Government if capital is lower than 500 million NTD, and the company will be located in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung
  3. Central Region Office, MOEA, if capital is lower than 500 million NTD, and the company location will be in another place in Taiwan.

Online Application

If you are able to read and write Chinese, you can also submit most of the necessary applications one a One Stop Service Website set up by the Taiwanese government to facilitate the process. On that website you can fill out various agencies’ forms and submit them online, including for company name reservation, company setup registration, tax registration, and more.

Fees

The fee for the company registration itself is NTD 1,000, or NTD 1 for every NTD 4,000 of paid-in capital. Online applications receive a NTD 300 discount.

Licenses and Permits

Some types of businesses need specific permits or licenses. This includes for example telecommunication businesses, media ventures, travel agencies, civil engineers and architects, just to name a few.

Tax Registration

Tax Account Registration

Once your business is registered, you need to take your documents to the local national tax office and apply for a tax account. Note that you might also need the tax ID of your office location in this process. At the tax office, you will also be able to purchase the first set of Government Unified Invoice (GUI) books.

File Property Tax

If your landlord does not issue a Uniform Invoice for your rental payments you may need to report your rental payments.

Opening a Bank Account

After you have obtained your tax account registration, you are able to open a Taiwanese business bank account. If you already have a preparatory bank account, you can convert it into a regular one with your incorporation documents.
To open a new account, just visit one of the numerous banks in Taiwan but note that their offers can differ. For instance, if your business is to receive online payments through Paypal, you will find that you can only withdraw money to an account at E.SUN Commercial Bank (玉山銀行), opened with the same name.

Further Obligations

English Company Name and Import/Export Registration

If your company has any import and/or export operations, it will need to register its English company name with the Bureau of Foreign Trade, MOEA. Additionally, it has to register as importer/exporter at that same agency. Both can also be completed online on their website (English available).

Labor Health Insurance Coverage

Once the company has employees, it is required to register for Labor Health Insurance Coverage.

Approval of Company’s Internal Work Regulation

Companies with 30 or more employees have to submit their internal work regulations to their local labor administrative authorities for approval.

Sources and Further Readings*

* Note that in some information in the following resources can be outdated due to new laws.

Conclusion

As you probably know by now, registering a company in Taiwan is not a trivial undertaking. However, there are many countries where the process would be much more complicated and difficult.

If you are missing anything in this post, or have any questions, just drop us a message or write a comment below and we’ll get back to you.