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by Zsolt Szemerszky

Zsolt Szemerszky

Opening a business in Monaco

Opening a business in Monaco

Operating a business in the Principality of Monaco always involved extraordinary benefits and clear reasons, motivations. However in every case a Government authorization is required for any kind of business activity in the territory of the Principality of Monaco.

A Government authorization is required for any kind of business activity in the territory of the Principality of Monaco. The approval process takes usually between three to six months but it can be very lengthy, complex, and time consuming. The most common legal structure is a sole trader (société en nom personnel), which involves a bit easier process compared to the other possibilities.

Under Law no. 1144 of July 26, 1991, any economic activity pursued in the Principality of Monaco, regardless of its nature (i.e., whether commercial, industrial, crafts, or services, professional and non-professional alike) must have prior Government authorization.

Business and economic activity in Monaco is promoted by the Chamber of Economic Development (CDE), which can help start-ups with advice, contacts and administrative procedures. Its website is in both French and English, and it can supply English-language guides on request.

The other way for start-ups is to contact directly the Direction Expansion Economique (Economic Expansion Department), which is also called as Monaco Welcome & Business Office (MWBO).

The Direction Expansion Economique is normally the administrative agency that examines applications for permission to establish an economic activity in the Principality.

The Monaco Welcome & Business Office is the entry point to the privileged circle of Monégasque residents and businesses. With dedicated and attractive premises, the Office welcomes and assists individuals and entrepreneurs wishing to relocate to the Principality. It is a single contact point, providing support with administrative affairs and introductions to the key players in Monaco, whether public or private, to facilitate the relocation of individuals, their families and/or their businesses.

Any future resident and/or entrepreneur wishing to relocate to the Principality will find a range of tools, key contacts and useful information at the Monaco Welcome & Business Office to plan their new initiative within lead times that are compatible with the economic realities of our era.

If a business operational permit is granted, the authorization is usually very detailed about what is authorized, and the duration of the authorization – usually for several years – is normally renewable for similar periods. Renewal is not automatic and must be sought.

For many years the business permit renewal requirement was one of the biggest fear factor for investors and companies. The process raised a big question. What if you bring your assets and relocate your business venture in the Principality of Monaco and after a few years the Government does not renew your business operation permit?

The introduced risk is still real, however typically if you have a good conduct and a flowering business you will successfully apply for the renewal of your permits.

Typically, the authorization sets out the limits of the activities that may be performed. The authorization also specifies the premises where those activities may take place as well as any special conditions applicable to the performance of those activities.

The authorization is personal and non-transferable, except for the “leasing” of an entire business described below. Any material change in the authorized activities, the nature of holder of the authorization, or address or premises where the activity is conducted must be approved in advance. Any authorization may be suspended or revoked for misconduct as well as for the failure to maintain appropriate premises for conducting the activity, the absence of real activity, activities not in conformity with the authorization, etc.

Foreign companies that wish to set up an administrative office or branch in Monaco also require authorization.

The Monaco Government website provides information in English on the different company structures.

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