Foreign businessmen can register in Spain any of the business forms prescribed by the country’s national legislation; thus, they may operate as sole traders, partnerships or corporate bodies. However, the most common way to start a business in Spain is by opening a limited liability company. Investors also have the possibility of opening other types of limited companies in Spain.
As a general rule, limited companies can be used when incorporating a subsidiary, which is the most common way to expand a business on a foreign market. For example, when expanding a Spanish business as a subsidiary in Hong Kong (http://www.opencompanyhongkong.com/establish-a-subsidiary-in-hong-kong), the investors will have to select as a business form for the subsidiary the private limited company, following the legislation available in this country. While the Hong Kong regulations stipulate that the subsidiary can have 100% foreign ownership, it is legally required to appoint a company secretary who is a local resident.
On the other hand, the Spanish company can operate on a foreign market through a branch office. The branch office is considered, from a legal point of view, an extension of the parent company and in this case, the Spanish company will be responsible for the actions of the branch. Still, the branch office can enjoy a certain level of independency, this being established under the national legislation of the country where it operates. For example, a branch office in Switzerland (http://www.companyformationswitzerland.com/establish-a-branch-in-switzerland/) is entitled to sign contracts in its own name.
As a general rule, Spanish entrepreneurs prefer to set up their operations in foreign countries through subsidiaries or branch offices, but other business ventures can be selected. For example, the investment policies available in Belize (http://www.companyformationbelize.com/) welcome foreign investments in the form of joint ventures (a business set up between two companies, with the purpose of accomplishing a specific goal), but foreign companies can also expand here by registering corporate entities stipulated under the national law (they can be registered with 100% foreign ownership).
Another business destination where Spanish investors can start a company with 100% foreign ownership is Estonia. Companies set up in Estonia (http://www.companyincorporationestonia.com/) benefit from a simple incorporation procedure and numerous registration requirements can be completed online. 98% of the Estonian companies are incorporated online and the annual tax requirements are also filed using online platforms.
Full foreign ownership is also available in Montenegro, a European country where a business can be registered in a period of approximately one week. Spanish investors should know that the limited liability company is the most common way to start a local business, but businesses in Montenegro (http://www.companyformationmontenegro.com/) are also registered as joint stock companies.