7 Great Countries for Expatriate Entrepreneurs

If you are interested in relocating overseas but just can’t seem to land the job of your dreams then starting an overseas business can constitute a viable opportunity to live abroad legally while earning a decent living. We have scoured the earth to put together a list of countries that are open to the concept of expatriate entrepreneurs and have provided the lowdown on what doing business in the country is like, how you can secure the appropriate visa and how much investment you may be required to make in order to make your business dreams a reality. Here’s seven great countries for expatriate entrepreneurs:


Picture of Singapore

Singapore has a wealth of business-friendly laws that protect expatriate entrepreneurs and make doing business in the country as pain-free as possible. The country enjoys extremely low import and export costs (less than $500 per container) and there are excellent tax benefits available for small business owners.

Although taxation is low, the cost of living in Singapore is very high and you can expect to pay up for rental costs and services. In addition to this, when choosing a company name for your business you will need approval from the Singaporean government.

Estimated time to establish a business: 4 days

Visa requirements: EntrePass

Business registration fee: $300 – S$1,200 SGD

Capital required: Company to have at least $50,000 paid-up-capital.


  • Zero tax for new Singapore companies on the first 100K annual profits for the first 3 years.
  • 9% corporate tax rate for profits up to 300K.
  • Overall company tax rate is a flat 17%

New Zealand

Picture of Auckland

Businesses can be established extremely quickly in New Zealand and online procedures allow entrepreneurs to register the details of their business and their tax information at the same time.

Estimated time to establish a business: Business can be set up in as little as 24 hours.

Visa requirements: Expatriates will need to secure a work visa under the Long Term Business Category in order to relocate New Zealand and buy or establish a business. To be successful expatriates will need to submit a sound business plan, and show relevant knowledge about the New Zealand business environment as well as details of how the intended business venture will benefit New Zealand. Expatriates will need to demonstrate that, aside from the funds that they invest in the business, they have sufficient means to support themselves. This will depend on your location, living arrangements and lifestyle but you will need to allow approximately $60,000 – $100,000 per year for this.

Business registration fee: It currently costs $153.33 NZ to register a New Zealand Company and $10.22 NZ to reserve a company name.

Capital required: Investment capital required to execute the business plan in full.

Taxation: Income tax rates can vary. There are rebates available to sole traders and partners in a partnership that reduce the tax rates if their income is under NZ$38,000. Companies pay income tax at 28% on profits.

Hong Kong

Picture of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great location for entrepreneurs because it offers relatively low tax rates and straightforward tax filing. Registering a business is relatively straightforward and a large number of reputable companies are available who can assist you with the process and fulfilling your legal obligations.

However, expatriates should be aware of the fact that dismissing employees can be costly for business owners, with penalties adding up to approximately 62 weeks of an individual’s salary.

Estimated time to establish a business: Approximately four days.

Visa requirements: A Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) visa is available for people who wish to obtain a full visa for setting up a business in Hong Kong.

Business registration fee: HK$1,720 application fee + 0.1% of authorized share capital, capped at $30,000+ $2450.

Capital required: A capital investment of HK$6.5 million is required for expatriates who wish to take advantage of the CIES. Applicants must also prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their families throughout the intended duration of their stay in Hong Kong.

Taxation: 17.5%


It is completely free to set up a business in Denmark, providing that you have an appropriate visa and sufficient funds to support your business. Denmark has a relatively strong economic position and low unemployment rates. The government in Denmark places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and there are plenty of support mechanisms in place.

It is generally much easier for Europeans to obtain the relevant residence permit that is required than it is for expats who come from outside Europe.

Estimated time to establish a business: Within six days.

Visa requirements: Foreigners from outside Europe can open a business if there are Danish business interests related to the establishment of the business in Denmark. They must provide documentation that confirms that they have access to sufficient financial means to run the business. As a self-employed person you will normally be granted a residence permit for one year with a possibility for extension. After two years’ residence, you may be granted a residence permit for a longer period of time. See the Danish Immigration website for further information.

Business registration fee: Zero

Capital required: None stated

Taxation: 25%


Picture of Sydney

Australia is another country that offers a quick and simple online business registration process. The country has straightforward labor legislation and business owners can get their hands on business credit relatively easily. Setting up a business in Australia, however, isn’t without its disadvantages and paying taxes is a long and complex process that can lead to a tax bill of more than 50% of profits.

Estimated time to establish a business: Registration can be complete within as little as 10 days.

Visa requirements: Unless you already have residency under a partner’s visa you will need to attain a business visa. You can determine your eligibility for such a visa on the Live in Australia website.

Business registration fee: Costs and registration procedures vary from state to state. On average they range from $65 USD to $200 USD.

Capital required: Not stated

Taxation: Profit tax can be as high as 50% of profit


Picture of toronto

Businesses can be registered online in Canada with the full process complete within as little as five days. Canada has a solid infrastructure and was ranked as the 7th best country in the world by the World Bank in terms its “Ease of Doing Business” listing due to the fact that it is scored highly for starting a business, dealing with construction permits, protecting investors, paying taxes, and closing a business. However, at present, the Canadian federal entrepreneur program and the investment visa programs are both currently closed until July 1, 2012 so expatriates who are interested in setting up in the region will have a short wait.

Anyone interested in starting an import/export business in Canada should be aware that the import and export costs are amongst the highest in the world, with an average cost of more than $1,500 per container.

Estimated time to establish a business: Within five days.

Visa requirements: The Canadian federal entrepreneur program and the investment visa programs are both currently closed until July 1, 2012. But details of the application processes can be found here.

Business registration fee: $200 CAD

Taxation: 19.5% profits tax.



Dubai is a great place to do business because it offers a tax-free income and significant consumer wealth. In Dubai, it’s compulsory to have a local sponsor (UAE national) involved when setting up a new business. A trading company must have legal documents to show that 51% of the shares is owned by a local and therefore, as such, an expatriate may only own the remaining 49%. However, these regulations do not apply to free zone company formations. Dubai free zone companies are 100% owned by the investors/partners and offer sophisticated infrastructure, all facilities and residency visas for investors. Expatriates are warned that there are a number of limitations to a freezone business and these should be researched in full.

A further advantage for expatriates who are considering setting up shop in the region is that the labor laws are extremely straightforward and hiring and firing employees is simple.

Estimated time to establish a business: 6 days

Visa requirements: Free zone business license and visas are relatively easy to acquire but they require that you work within free zones and international regions only; you cannot trade with clients in the UAE.

Business fees: The annual fees paid to authorities range between AED 20,000 and AED 100,000 depending upon the entity registered and its associated trading activities.

Capital required: If you want to start a business in a Dubai freezone you will need share capital (RAK FZ: minimum AED 100,000/- and JAFZA: minimum AED 500,000/-).

Taxation: Zero

All efforts have been made to ensure that the information contained within this article is accurate and up to date. If you notice any discrepancies in the information provided or have any further insights to add then please do leave a comment below sharing your thoughts.

Author: ExpatInfoDesk