Doing Business in Russia as an Expat
Published: February 18, 2014 (Issue # 1797)
Are you thinking of looking for a job or even starting a business in Russia? Expats working in Russia number among the highest paid worldwide, with one-third earning over 250,000 USD per year. There are many opportunities in the fields of human resources, business development, IT and finance. The industrial sector, especially energy, construction and metallurgy, also offers many jobs. A good number of expats also find jobs in Russia in the management tier.
A special visa category exists for highly-qualified professionals. These work visas are processed within weeks, and have no quotas, but in order to qualify for this type of visa you must earn a minimum of two million rubles (57,800 USD) per year. If your position does not qualify you for this visa category, your potential employer must apply for a corporate work permit at least one year in advance. Since there are annual quotas for the number of foreign work permits that can be issued per year, there is no guarantee that your application will be successful.
If your dream is to open your own business in Russia, it is important to do your research and know what to expect and what you are getting yourself into. The rules and regulations for companies and businesses in Russia may vary considerably from those in your home country. First of all, you need to know what kind of business you’re allowed to open as a foreigner. Generally, there are no restrictions for foreigners who wish to open a business in Russia, except if they are in the fields of insurance, air transportation or gas supply. There are also restrictions for foreign investors who wish to invest in companies active in the strategic sector.
Next you need to decide what type of legal form your company will have. Depending on different factors, you can register it as a limited liability company or a joint stock company. Foreign companies are also allowed to open branches in Russia. If you wish to register yourself as an individual entrepreneur, then you must first possess a temporary or permanent residence permit.
Before going to Russia to open your company, you should visit on a fact-finding trip. On this trip, you can learn more about the local economy and do some market research. How is business done in your branch or field? What are differences between how things are done in Russia and in your home country? Will your business be catering mostly to expats or locals as well? In the latter case, be sure to learn as much as you can about local lifestyles, attitudes and wants. Is your business addressing a local need in the community?
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