Online Startup in 2021: the Top 8 Countries for Online Business Registration

Where should you register your online startup? Can you register it remotely?  Our experts recommend 8 countries for online business incorporation this year. What makes them so popular? How can you capitalize on our experts’ insights and help? We hope this article will cut your road to success shorter.

No doubt, when you are choosing a jurisdiction for your online company formation, you do not take other people’s advice for granted. By which parameters do you compare all the possible options? 

Internet companies - opening

Our experts have detected the following most common criteria used by entrepreneurs selecting jurisdictions

1

Opportunities for remote opening/control

2

Reputation of the Jurisdiction

3

Opportunities for a business account set-up (in the country of registration / in third countries)

4

Access to payment providers, banking and merchant account

5

Tax benefits

6

The scope of bureaucratic and reporting requirements

Why should you use the above-mentioned criteria with some reservations in 2021? 

First, an online startup’s access to banks and payment providers and merchant accounts depends not only on the reputation of the company’s jurisdiction – but also on the professionalism and experience of its managers. That is why many company owners and CEOs choose our professional experts’ services for a smooth, successful and fast bank account set-up.

Second, tax rates (that used to be a decisive criterion for selecting a jurisdiction of incorporation) are no longer as important. Though lean management principles are gaining more recognition across all fields of business, they have little to do with tax optimization. If some country featuring other virtues happens to be a zero- or low-tax jurisdiction, just accept this as a nice bonus! Other strengths (and weaknesses) can be much more important and need to be explored in advance.  

Third, the friendliness and safety of the business environment (e.g., advanced infrastructure, minimum bureaucracy), and the ease of doing business (e.g., remote solutions, minimum burdensome compliance requirements) – come to the forefront. 

Our experienced offshore consultants can share with you meaningful facts relevant to this or that criterion if you send your question about a particular destination or destinations. Alternatively, book a free one-on-one online consultation by writing to our e-mail address given above this article.   

Why is it a great decision to launch an online startup in 2021?

Online startups are destined to be successful this year if the founder: 

  • offers and can provide services remotely (e.g., consulting services)
  • designs some mobile apps and other online solutions 
  • runs online stores
  • facilitates launching their clients’ startups
  • expands the market presence / goes international with their company 
  • protects assets.

Internet business has the potential to operate worldwide. But this puts additional requirements on the company:

  • to accept funds from any or almost any part of the world
  • to render some service/sell some product
  • to comply with the legal requirements (e.g., to charge VAT when selling to EU countries, to obtain a license or licenses for running online entertainment, etc.)

What are the recommended countries for online business registration? 

1. THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Almost all rating agencies and experts put the classic offshore jurisdiction of British Virgin Islands (BVI) on the top lists of countries for online business registration and development. There are several reasons for this:

  • flexible legislation;
  • advanced infrastructure specifically suitable for Internet-based projects and activities;
  • low taxes;
  • positive reputation compliance with the basic international requirements;
  • extensive experience in rendering services to international business.

It is possible to open an online startup remotely and manage it from elsewhere in the world. Companies that do not generate income in BVI are not taxed. The U.S. dollar is the official currency. 

Corporate tax0%
VAT0%
Reporting requirementsReports are required but there are no requirements to submit them
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Not rated, providers offer package services starting from 50 Mbps
Local bank account set-upNo
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible, if the application is prepared and filed successfully (accounts with banks/payment systems)

2. CANADA

A diverse economy, a large domestic market, an excellent reputation, and a large number of online companies and IT business providers – this is Canada. 

Canada also offers foreign investors 0% corporate tax via the passthrough taxation principle if a limited partnership in Canada (LP) is registered in Canada and does not generate income in its territory. 

The infrastructure is suitable for online companies – plus the proximity to the USA allows them to have access to the US facilities and generate income in US marketplaces etc.

Corporate taxfrom 0% for  LP
VAT5-15%
Reporting requirementsReporting is required, and audits may be required (depending on the company profile)
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 10th  (94,55 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 19th (155,7 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upPossible
Bank account set-up outside CanadaPossible (accounts with banks/payment systems)

3. THE USA

The United States is a huge country with unlimited opportunities for business, especially online and IT companies. Its vibrant domestic market, access to international markets, and a huge number of optional services for every level of business make it a perfect springboard for entrepreneurs.

Moreover, if you register an online startup in an “offshore” state like Delaware or Wyoming, you can benefit from zero state and federal taxes based on the passthrough taxation principle.

Corporate taxFrom  0%, depending on specific terms 
VATVAT depending on the state
Reporting requirementsReporting, audit may be required (depending on the company profile and the state)
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 20th  (69,23 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 12th (179,06 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upPossible on an in-person visit, remotely – via InternationalWealth service 
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible (accounts with banks/payment systems), in-person or remotely

4. ESTONIA

Estonia’s peculiarity is that it has purposefully turned itself into a digital hub for business. Estonia’s infrastructure is meant to facilitate online and IT businesses and manage online companies: remote registration, e-government, convenient filing of reports. 

Besides, the country offers 0% corporate tax on reinvested profits and issues licenses for crypto payment systems. 

On top of all the advantages, it remains relatively cheap to run a business.

Corporate tax0% for investors
VAT20%
Reporting requirementsRoutine accounting
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 32nd (51,67 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 46th (85,50 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upPossible, if the company/business is connected with Estonia – partners/clients/contractors
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible (accounts with banks/payment systems), in-person or remotely

5. HONG KONG

The Hong Kong SAR is an example of a modern economy that combines flexibility and transparency with a focus on results. It is possible to register a new online startup completely remotely within a couple of working days.

Hong Kong offers many initiatives to support businesses: from small to large, local, regional, and international.

For many years, Hong Kong has been the gateway to China, but today it is the hub for many online companies’ trading, training, financial services in Asia and around the world.

It would be a serious challenge these days for a business, especially young and small/medium-sized ones, to open a bank account in Hong Kong, if they do not have a professional consultant. It is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to explore the opportunities and act on your own. Our professional experts recommend advice and facilitation of our experts. Please contact our experts for information on how this plan can work during the pandemic.

Corporate tax16,5%, with discounts, allowances, and incentives (initial HKD 2 mln at 8,25%) – for local income earned in Hong Kong (territorial system)
VATNo
Reporting requirementsAccounting, annual audit
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 10th (94,55 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 2nd (155,7 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upWith a bank – a challenging task, with a payment system – possible
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible in-person or remotely

6. SINGAPORE

Singapore has gone from a fishing community of a rocky island to a powerful international financial and business center – within just 50 years. This has been possible thanks to many factors – including opportunities for online companies. Singapore has been at the top of ratings by the ease of doing business, quality of life and standards of living, security, and many other parameters.

Registration of the online startup can be performed completely remotely, thanks to the advanced infrastructure, including the highest speed fixed Internet lines. 

Business is supported at all levels: legislative, government, in the form of specific initiatives. Tax benefits and incentives are available.

Corporate tax17% for the local income (territorial system)
VAT7% for goods and services
Reporting requirementsAccounting, annual audit
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 22nd (66,44 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 1st (247,54 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upChallenging
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible (accounts with banks/payment systems), in-person or remotely

7. THE UNITED KINGDOM

For many years, the U.K. has been a popular hub for online companies, particularly fintech projects. Brexit has impacted that though. Fintech companies that preferred to operate in the EU moved en masse to Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and other countries. 

At the same time, the UK is still a favorite place for companies developing trade and offering services of different sorts. 

Registration of an online startup is possible remotely. If all documents are prepared correctly, you will open and kick-start the company within one day. 

It is possible to set up an account in the UK, but banks are reluctant to open them for non-residents (foreigners), so entrepreneurs often choose payment systems or accounts in EU countries.

Corporate tax19%
VAT20%
Reporting requirementsAccounting, annual audit – if certain requirements are met
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranks 31st (53,69 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 47 место (82,36 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upWith a bank – a challenging task, with a payment system – possible
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible

8. GEORGIA

Georgia has created special conditions for online companies (IT-sphere). For example, the 0% corporate tax. Taxes on dividends, interest, and royalties are at 5%. 

The speed of the Internet is not fast enough, compared to competitors – but quite sufficient for operational purposes if you put your servers elsewhere. 

You do not have to move employees to Georgia, there is a legal opportunity to save a lot on the director’s salary and the wages of local staff. 

Registration (if the documents are correctly prepared) takes 2-3 business days, is performed remotely.

Local banks willingly open accounts for an IT business. Foreign accounts and payment systems are also an alternative.

Corporate tax15% (0% for IT-companies)
VAT18%
Reporting requirementsAccounting
Internet connection: Speedtest Global Index (February 2021)Mobile: ranked 55th (36,86 Mbps)
Fixed-line broadband: ranks 110th (25,99 Mbps)
Local bank account set-upPossible
Bank account set-up outside BVIPossible

Prompts for online startup registration and accounts set-up

The bottom line? Choose any country and any form of company… but make well-informed decisions! Some countries that are not on the above-given list may also work for you. Other close runners up include our old favourites like Nevis and Panama, and modern contenders on the old continent like Serbia and North Macedonia. You can refer your questions about a particular country to our experts during a free on-line consultation.

Why is consultation with an expert important before you register a business? You need to make sure that

  • the country is fit for your purpose,
  • the legal form of the online startup suits the business,
  • you can open a corporate account where you need it.

The last point is extremely important. That’s why we offer a FREE consultation on the selection of accounts. And it is better to book it before the final decision on company registration – you will save money, time, and nerves. 

To learn more about online startup registration and the countries for online business that may best fit your plans, please write to our e-mail address given at the top of this page.

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