Expanding your business to a new country can be daunting, but the rewards are often huge: you can begin selling to a global market, grow your customer base, and in turn increase your profits. But before you move into your new territory, there are a few legal issues you need to consider. Here, we’ll run through the biggest concerns you could come across when launching your business abroad, and how to overcome them.
Ensure you have a trained legal translator
With any business, you need to have the right legal cover. This varies depending on the country you’re trading in, so you must ensure all contracts are iron-clad and contain the necessary information to protect your business. Even if you can speak your new territory’s native language fluently, it’s best to have a trained legal expert translate important documents. As translation experts, Global Voices explain, legal translation crucially requires a “deep understanding of relevant legal terminology”, which can be just as helpful as the language skills themselves in certain situations.
Trained legal translators can also provide specialist information that may not be available from a generic translation service. For example, they will have knowledge of the specific laws in the country you’re expanding into and can offer advice on how you should run your business most effectively in accordance with these laws.
Take note of tax legislation
How much tax you pay as a business varies from country to country. Since most governments rely heavily on corporation tax revenue to fund public spending, so expect rates to be significant. Find out exactly how much tax you will need to pay, and keep up to date with any changes in tax laws that may arise over time. It could be worth working with a tax consultancy firm, who can help you to minimize how much tax you pay on international profits. These firms will also have knowledge of both local and international laws, ensuring your business conforms to legal obligations.
Advice on tax structuring can help you minimize the tax you pay on international profits. This can even guide how you price your goods and services overseas. You will also need to pay tax on your payroll, for things like social security and national insurance. Having a tax structure in place keeps this in order, whether this is with an accountant or you physically make a note in a diary. This also makes it easier for you to see where you are paying tax, and how much.
Research local employee laws
When expanding into a new country, you’ll likely have to hire new employees to oversee and manage your business when you’re not there. This will require learning about the local employment laws, and ensuring you enforce the rules with new employees and contracts. Things like maximum working hours and paid/unpaid break rules should be taken into consideration when planning employee shifts.
In some cases, countries can have some strange laws surrounding employment and employee behaviour. In Portugal, for example, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee. Employers have to instead offer a good resignation package and hope the employee accepts. In Japan, employers are legally allowed to measure employee’s waists and offer compulsory diet classes if the measurement is more than 33.5 inches for men or 35.4 inches for women. In some cases, employees can even wind up paying more for healthcare if they’re considered too overweight.
If you’re considering expanding your business, you should ensure you begin planning well in advance. Take the time to research the laws in the countries you’re thinking of growing into, and seek legal advice to make an informed decision about where is best for you to move to.