This article discusses the best European countries to start a business and the benefits of starting a business in Europe.
When they think of Europe, most people only consider Western European countries like France, Germany, Austria, or the UK. Although economically powerful and well regarded globally, these countries don’t necessarily offer the best of Europe.
Europe is a vast continent with the broadest range of lucrative options for residency, citizenship, banking, and business we’ve ever seen.
Most European countries boast an excellent quality of life, stable infrastructure, and an educated workforce – all the things an entrepreneur would want in a country before planting a business flag there.
Whether you want a European residency, citizenship, or a business, Nomad Capitalist can help you. The Nomad Capitalist Action Plan is a flagship service that allows entrepreneurs and investors to create their own holistic, bespoke plan for legal offshore tax reduction, offshore company formation, financial diversification, global investing and lifestyles, and Plan B residence and citizenship – all under one roof.
How would you like to have all your investments, offshoring, banking, real estate and tax matters sorted and simplified in one fell swoop? Contact us today, and we’ll show you how.
Benefits of Starting a Business in Europe
Path To Permanent Residency or Citizenship
One of the most significant benefits of starting a business in Europe is that you may qualify to acquire European permanent residency or citizenship in a few years. European PR or citizenship comes with a ton of benefits, like immense travel freedom (Europe has some of the best passports in the world), lucrative business opportunities, and excellent quality of life. If you get EU citizenship, you’d become an EU citizen and be free to live, work, and study anywhere in the EU. For a non-EU foreigner, an EU citizenship or PR can be the best business opportunity they’ll ever get.
Multilingual, educated workforce, developed infrastructure, diverse communities, and more – most European countries boast a very friendly business environment. Many European countries have certain advantages for foreign entrepreneurs looking to invest or plant a business flag there – some offer same-day company formation, while others may forego minimum foreign investment requirements. It all depends on which country you choose. Moreover, the EU is the world’s largest single market area and can offer numerous benefits to entrepreneurs looking to set up shop there.
Quality of Life
Most European entrepreneurs’ visas will allow you to bring your family along. By doing so, you will introduce them to one of the world’s best healthcare and education systems. If you choose an EU country, the personal and lifestyle benefits will be tenfold.
Surprised to read this? Don’t be. Most people think of Europe as a high-tax zone. Although many European countries can be considered high-tax, this doesn’t apply to all of Europe. In fact, there are European countries with single-digit corporate taxes. Moreover, many European countries offer excellent tax advantages to foreigners looking to plant a business flag there or invest in the country’s economy.
The best way to live and work in a European country for legal tax reduction is by employing a multi-layered holistic strategy that addresses all your needs – not just the business part or the tax part. That’s where we come in.
The Nomad Capitalist Action Plan is our all-in-one service that helps entrepreneurs and investors create their own holistic, bespoke plan for legal offshore tax reduction, offshore company formation, financial diversification, global investing and lifestyles, and Plan B residence and citizenship – all under one roof. Set up a call with us today to get the wheels in motion.
Best Countries to Start a Business in Europe
Let’s start with one of our favourites and one of the most underrated Eastern European countries – Georgia.
We’re starting here because, unlike the other countries on this list, it’s not an EU member but rather an EU candidate country. But if you’re looking for an affordable, tax-efficient and business-friendly country to incorporate, it’s still well worth investigating.
Georgia also ticks plenty of other boxes too. It’s a picturesque country famous for its exquisite cuisine, delicious wines, ancient monasteries, and majestic mountains. Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is also one of the most charming European capitals, featuring a brilliant blend of ancient and contemporary.
Ranking 24th on the Safety Perception Index (SPI) owing to its low crime rate, Georgia boasts an economically and politically stable environment.
Georgia is an ideal European base for business activities, opening an offshore bank account, or even for a second home. The country has ranked 7th among 190 countries in the latest Doing Business Index by the World Bank, preceding states like the UK, Norway, and Sweden.
Georgia’s thriving real estate market, lucrative tax incentives, favourable business environment, and strategic location at the Euro-Asia intersection make it an excellent option for establishing a European corporate base.
The corporate tax rate in Georgia is 15%. However, commercial banks, credit unions, microfinance organizations, and loan providers are subjected to a corporate tax rate of 20%. The country also offers several tax-friendly programs to investors and entrepreneurs.
You can entirely forgo your tax liabilities in Georgia tax liabilities by registering as a micro business. Individual Entrepreneurs with no employees and less than GEL 30,000 annual turnover can apply for the Micro Business status and pay 0% tax on their business income.
Moreover, an Individual Entrepreneur with an annual turnover of less than GEL 500,000 may register as a small business and pay a 1% tax. The rate increases to 3% if the annual turnover exceeds GEL 500,000.
Portugal is a southwestern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, sharing its only land border with Spain. Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken in larger cities and tourist destinations.
The country is famous for its diverse terrain and climate, rich culture, excellent cuisine, delicious wines, and miles of stunning coastline.
The country ranks sixth on the Global Peace Index and is also among the top tourist destinations in the world. Lisbon, the capital, is a well-renowned digital nomad hub with remote workers from all around the world visiting the city for its vibrant culture, diverse community, and abundance of co-working spaces.
Portugal has a range of entrepreneur-friendly visas for foreigners looking to establish an EU corporate base. The most well-known among them is the Portugal D2 Visa.
Portugal’s D2 visa, also known as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa, offers foreign entrepreneurs a chance to start a business in Portugal, relocate their business or invest in an existing business in Portugal. Moreover, the D2 visa has no minimum investment requirement or conditions for creating jobs or yearly profitability.
At five years, Portugal has the shortest naturalization period in the EU, making it an excellent option for business people who want to acquire an EU residency or citizenship.
Cyprus is rather appealing to foreign investors and entrepreneurs due to its attractive residency by investment program, comparatively low corporate tax rate, and entrepreneur-friendly residency routes.
The Mediterranean island also offers one of the cheapest ways to gain EU residence, with an investment of just €300,000.
Cyprus’ economy is set to be one of the more resilient in Europe, with a predicted growth rate of 3% in the short term, supported by public and private investments, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Tourism, financial services, oil exports, agriculture, and shipping dominate
are all big drivers of the Cyprus economy.
In addition to the favourable business climate and skilled workforce, Cyprus is one of Europe’s less expensive places to live.
Among the benefits of launching a business in Cyprus is the corporate income tax rate, which is 12.5%, one of the lowest in the EU. It doesn’t stop here, and you can also profit from 0% tax for all profits from the sale of real estate abroad, dividends, stamp duty, and 0% tax on any income from selling its shares.
Cypriot businesses must maintain proper accounting records and follow the International Financial Reporting Standards, and registering a new company will cost you around €1,300.
One of the most beautiful European countries, Greece is a tourist magnet and well-known worldwide. However, the country has tons to offer besides natural beauty and stunning beaches.
Greece has one of the fastest EU Golden Visa options. It will take you approximately five months to receive your Greece Golden Visa.
You can gain five-year Greek residency (renewable) through the Golden Visa program if you invest €250,000 in the country. However, the government has recently doubled the minimum investment amount (making it €500,000) for urban real estate investment.
Greek residence can also lead to citizenship if you spend at least seven consecutive years in the country. The lump-sum tax arrangement makes this even more enticing.
Greece’s lump sump program offers wealthy foreigners to become Greece tax residents and pay €100,000 annually for up to fifteen years to enjoy tax relief on their foreign-sourced income. Italy also has a similar lump-sum tax program.
Under the Greek lump sum tax program, applicants will be exempt from reporting requirements on their foreign-sourced income. Any foreign-held assets will also be exempt from donation and inheritance tax. However, all income sourced from Greece will be taxed per standard rates.
If you have a multi-million business and want to live in Greece, you can consider both options. Or, you can consult Nomad Capitalist to let us help you create a bespoke holistic Plan that will enable you to achieve your tax, corporate, and personal vision.
Starting a company in Malta is one of the most straightforward routes to obtaining Malta residency. However, Malta has a stringent approval process for foreign entrepreneurs looking to incorporate there. Companies must be registered or resident in Malta, among other requirements, and keep up with tax liabilities.
Setting up a company in Malta comes with numerous tax benefits for entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners. However, non-resident shareholders are entitled to a refund of most of this tax in the future distribution of dividends, reducing the tax burden to 0 and 10%.
There are nuances to company incorporation in Malta, which need to be explored on a case-by-case basis. Our team at Nomad Capitalist client can advise not just Malt tax and residency but an entire holistic strategy that puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Some Other Business-Friendly European Countries
The following are some other European countries where you can start a business:
- Ireland: Due to the attractive 12.5% corporate tax set by the Irish government, Ireland is home to many mass-scale tech and pharmaceutical companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, Pfizer, etc. Ireland recently cancelled its golden visa program but is still keen to attract investors with government support, developed infrastructure, tax incentives, etc.
- UK: Company formation in the UK is quick, streamlined, and cheap. The taxes are high, but that factor is compensated by the British tax structure and the support it provides to new business owners. The country is also stable and well-regarded globally.
- Bulgaria: Located at the confluence of the West and the East, Bulgaria is an interesting option for foreign investors seeking an EU business status and affordable labor. The easiest business structure to form in Bulgaria is a limited liability company. It’s also far more cost-effective than options like Portugal and Greece.
What is the Best Country to Start a Business in Europe?
The best country to start a business in Europe is the one that equips you with the tools and opportunities to expand your business and where you pay the tax amount you want. The best country should also work with your future vision, i.e., do you want a European residency or citizenship in the future or not.
There isn’t a country in the entire world that will work for everyone. There are many options to plant a business flag in Europe, but you have to carefully choose the one that best aligns with your wants and needs.
You don’t want the most famous program – what you want is the program that helps you acquire wealth, freedom, and peace of mind. Nomad Capitalist can help you with that.
We’re the only firm of its kind with the world’s largest database of up-to-date information on tax, residence/citizenship, banking, and corporate structures in over a hundred countries. Moreover, we’ve helped over 1000 clients move to 31 tax-friendly jurisdictions where they’re now thriving.
If you want the same holistic approach to your life, set up a call with us today, and let us help you go where you’re treated best.