Ever wanted to start a business in Monaco? We spoke to the Monaco Welcome Office and the business advisory firm vk*p about the tricks of the trade.
Half a million euros in your bank account, Monegasque residency or a compulsory Monegasque national as a business partner… As with most things in Monaco, setting up a business in the Principality comes with its fair share of myths. While the process is heavily regulated by the government, it is by no means as mysterious as it seems. Here’s what you need to know.
To start a business in the Principality of Monaco, you need a specific license, which is issued by the government. To apply for the license, you have to submit your business plan to the Monaco Welcome Office, the government body which helps individuals and businesses relocate to the Principality.
Once you have submitted your dossier, the Monaco Welcome Office has three months to review it. “On average, we will get back to you within 34 days,” explains the Monaco Welcome Office. Only once the project has been approved and the license issued you can register your business in the Principality.
Not all sectors are equal
However, not all sectors are equal when it comes to requesting a business license. For instance, some sectors are regulated by law. “A very simple example is real estate,” explains Aymeric Pazzaglia, co-head of vk*p, a Monaco-based business advisory firm. “There are legal requirements that limit who can open a real estate agency in Monaco.” Other sectors regulated by Monegasque law include building and construction services, as well as banking.
The sectors deemed to be sufficiently represented are restricted in order to preserve the economic balance of the Principality
There is also a second rule that affects whether or not a business project is approved: Monaco restricts licenses for any sector that is heavily present in the Principality. “The sectors deemed to be sufficiently represented are [restricted] in order to preserve the economic balance in the Principality,” explains the Monaco Welcome Office.
“Once again, we can mention real estate,” says Aymeric Pazzaglia. “As Monaco does not need any more real estate agencies, the government no longer wants to issue authorisations for that specific sector.”
I often have clients who tell me: “I’d like to set up my business in Monaco, but for that I need a Monegasque business partner”
Debunking some myths
There are all sorts of myths about opening a business in Monaco. One of them is that all businesses must employ a Monegasque national. “I often have clients who tell me: “I’d like to set up my business in Monaco, but for that I need a Monegasque business partner” – that’s simply not true.”
Another myth is that to open a business in Monaco, you need 500,000 euros in your bank account. “That’s also a rumour. Creating a company in Monaco is not necessarily very expensive. What is expensive is managing the company and settling down in Monaco.”
That being said, you do not need to have resident status to start a business in the Principality. This is an unspoken rule, explains Aymeric Pazzaglia. “The government says you can have a business in Monaco if you live in Monaco or the surrounding area. Of course, it would be better to have Monegasque residency, but it’s not necessary. One can very well live in Nice and have a business in Monaco.”
One last piece of advice?
“The state prefers activities with high added value that require very little space, as Monaco is tight on space.” So, keep in mind that whatever business you want to start, it must also be of economic interest for Monaco.
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