Dateline: Tivat, Montenegro
Traveling around the world full-time, I begin to sound like a broken record when I proclaim that another emerging market is booming like you wouldn’t believe.
To be honest, parts of Europe have been downright disappointing. Countries that should be growing faster have stagnated. Even here in southern Europe’s Balkan region, countries like Albania are a total basket case.
That, however, is not the case for Montenegro.
I explained two days ago how Montenegro has caught the eye of many wealthy Russians who are gobbling up properties here. Some of them buy apartments, fly back to Moscow, and let them sit for years on end. Talk about having no competition in the rental market.
And here in Tivat, home to the gorgeous coastal region’s airport, one of Europe’s largest marinas is opening for business. I’m not joking when I say the coast in Montenegro is one of the most charming you’ll ever see.
I’ve spent time in Italy’s fabulous Cinque Terre and Montenegro’s resort towns like Budva and Kotor put much of bankrupt Italy to shame.
However, Montenegro has also attracted a lot of attention for another reason: it is one of the easiest places to do business in Europe.
Starting a company in Montenegro takes an average of about a week and requires no paid-up capital. The process is relatively simple, although it seems you would want to work with a local lawyer. (They’re not that expensive.)
To form a Montenegro corporation, you must follow six procedures, most of which are simple.
In fact, the only documents you have to submit to the government are the articles of incorporation, corporate statutes, and list of directors.
Total cost: 22 euros. A 10 euro registration fee and 12 euros to publish the articles.
There is no such thing as anonymous ownership of a company in Montenegro (or almost anywhere these days, really), as you have to disclose your name, any former names, and your citizenship.
However, if you’re looking for a solid company to do regional business, Montenegro is hard to beat. Being a director of a company could even qualify you for Montenegrin residency with a little bit of cash running through the till.
There are several other steps to form a company here, but the total cost for all steps, including those involving private companies to help you, is about $100. By one estimate, it is 76 euros all in, which these days is about $80. [Updated for March 2015]
While an Estonian corporation offers the prospect of indefinite deferred taxation and access to the European Union, Montenegro offers global entrepreneurs a low-tax haven where they can pay a little tax and gain access to a network of treaties (more on that in a moment).
While countries like Monaco have become less attractive as holding vehicles for patents or royalties, a Montenegrin corporation is suitable for a number of business activities.
In addition, Montenegro has some of the lowest tax rates in Europe and even the world. Corporate taxes in Montenegro are a flat 9%. As beautiful as Montenegro is, the local authorities have decided that nine percent is enough to take from corporate profits.
While royalties and capital gains are also subject to the 9% rate, there are no surtaxes or minimum taxes for companies doing business in Montenegro. There are also no stamp duties, although real property is subject to a 3% tax payable by the buyer at transfer. (Property taxes are quite low, though.)
I’m working on information on how to obtain second residency in Montenegro for Members of The Nomad Society, and you’ll be happy to know that even resident individuals in the country pay a maximum 15% tax on salary earnings (9% to about $1,000 per month, 15% on the balance).
Montenegro also offers relief from taxes on foreign source income under an extensive network of tax treaties, although the United Kingdom and most countries in Europe dominate the list, along with China, Korea, India, and Malaysia, and some African countries. The United States, Canada, and Australia are not on the list.