An archipelago composed of 33 islands, Bahrain is an Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf, located between the Qatar peninsula and the north-eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. Since its independence, the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain has maintained an investment-friendly environment.
Export and manufacturing establishments are strongly supported by the government of Bahrain, especially in terms of land acquisition for setting up a factory. Corporate law in Bahrain is not unlike that in the western countries, in that businesses can be run as limited liability operations, private companies or other types of incorporations. There are sundry free trade zones in the region, setting up a business where brings along with it a supplementary exemption from commercial taxes, import and export duties, land tax, building and property license fees, and limits on the transfer of capital invested there.
Setting Up an Office in Bahrain
As per the Ministry of Industry and Commerce commercial registration law, a company must register at Bahrain Investors’ Center (BIC), located at the Seef Mall in the Seef District, before starting a business in Bahrain. The BIC is a hub which houses representatives from sundry ministries involved in the registration of a business, and also has representatives from financial institutions and telecommunication companies.
The Domestic Trade Affairs Directorate in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce regulates all commercial licenses and operations in Bahrain. The Commercial Registration Department issues commercial licenses, processes Commercial Registration (CR) applications, collects registration fees, publishes announcements in the official gazette, and extends counseling services to prospective investors.
Applicants may obtain a Commercial License Application Form from the Bahrain Investors’ Center (BIC), or from the website of Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Registration Agents: The Ministry of Industry and Commerce appoints Registration Agents to provide commercial registration services for applicants. These agents include law firms, industrial property registration agents, auditing firms, and consulting companies. Applicants may choose to operate via such expert consultants, who often provide legal, financial, and other services. Registration agents usually ensure the best legal protection available in Bahrain in accordance with the applicant’s portfolio.
Company Registration in Bahrain
For company registration in Bahrain, the following steps may be followed.
- Find out what approvals are required for your specific business activity. We can aid you with any information you might need
- Visit the Investors Services Center (BIC), and fill out a Commerce Registration application form
- A BIC representative will direct you to the appropriate Ministry if prior approval is required for your business activity
- Subsequent to receiving the requisite approvals, you must provide a fee of BD 2, and a copy of the following documents:
- CPR (Central Population Registration card)
- Résumé including educational credentials
- Certificates corroborating training and experience
- Statement of assets
- It would generally take 1 to 5 business days for the company to get registered
- Bahrain Business Incubator Centre (BBIC): Incubation provides a conducive environment for a business to commence operations in Bahrain. Via this, aspiring entrepreneurs have the opportunity to concretize their business ideas in a favorable and supportive milieu. In an incubator, budding businessmen find themselves in the presence of expert staff for direction and guidance. Salient facilities and services of the incubator include:
- Flexible short-term contracts, including business advisory services
- Inexpensive office spaces
- Cooperative and supportive administrative staff
- Online real estate on BBIC website
- Reprographic facilities
- On-site parking for tenants and clients
- An exhibition to showcase the products of the company
- Bahrain Development Bank (BDB): BDB helps in financing and development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), along with uplifting & assisting entrepreneurship activities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The mission of BDB is to promote entrepreneurship & innovation in the Kingdom, by encouraging Bahraini professionals, enterprising women & ambitious youth, who demonstrate strong business acumen & leadership qualities in promoting the growth & prosperity of Small and Medium Enterprises through financial support and advisory services.
Advantages of Opening a Business in Bahrain
Bahrain offers several advantages as a business destination.
- The Government of Bahrain has liberalized Bahrain's economy sizably. In recent years, Bahrain has passed laws liberalizing foreign property ownership and tightening its anti-money laundering laws.
- The Government of Bahrain has eased out trade and commerce with the US. The US-Bahrain Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) entered into force in May 2001. It provides benefits and protection to US investors in Bahrain, such as most-favored-nation treatment and national treatment, the right to make financial transfers freely and without delay, international law standards for expropriation and compensation cases, and access to international arbitration.
- The Government has a liberal approach to foreign investment and is all set to enhance Bahrain’s attractiveness to international investors and businesses. New private firms, particularly in information and communications technology, education and training services, tourism, financial services, business services, healthcare services, and downstream industries, are welcome in Bahrain.
- The country has hassle-free visa policies. Entry visas for American citizens can be obtained upon arrival at the Bahrain International Airport. Also, The General Directorate for Immigration and Passports has developed a user-friendly electronic visa website which aims to expedite the visa processing system of the airport.