Starting a Business in Gibraltar

Find out about the various business structures available in Gibraltar and how to get a venture started...

The process of starting a business in Gibraltar can be relatively straightforward, depending on the type of business entity that is being set up.

Types of Business Structure

The most common forms of business entities in Gibraltar are as follows:

  • Sole Traders
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Companies

Sole Trader

The easiest type of business to set up is as a sole trader, which involves registering as self-employed at the Income Tax office and the Employment service. It is also possible to set up with a business name, which needs to be registered with Companies House before registering as self-employed. Once the formalities have been carried out the person can begin work immediately as long as any required licenses have been obtained. A sole trader is taxed as an individual and pays personal income tax rates. Business income and any losses are declared on the personal tax return form.

Partnerships

Partnerships are for two or more people or entities that are each self-employed. Each partner receives a set portion of the business's profits and are personally responsible for any debts the business may have. The partnership must be dissolved if a partner leave, dies or is bankrupt.

A partnership provides a relatively simple and flexible option for people that want to set up a business together. It should be noted though, that in a partnership there is little protection in the event that the business fails.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Although similar to a partnership, the main differences are that there are a number of people that share the costs and the risks of the business, and partners in an LLP do not have responsibility for another partner's negligence. Liability is limited to the amount that each partner invested in the business. Set up procedures involve registering with the Employment Service, Income Tax office and Companies House.

It is advisable to hire a professional in Gibraltar to help with the procedures when setting up an LLP. Annual accounts need to be submitted for both the business and the partners.

Companies

There are a number of costs involved when incorporating a limited company and the help of a professional in Gibraltar is advisable, although not compulsory. To incorporate a company it must be a company limited by shares, limited by guarantee with or without a share capital, or an unlimited company with or without share capital. For private companies, the minimum number of shareholders is one, and for public companies, seven.

Gibraltar companies must have a registered office in Gibraltar. There are many benefits to having a company in Gibraltar, which are unique in the EU; these include fiscal advantages and swift incorporation.

There are many regulations that govern the administration of a company, which can be found on the Gibraltar Laws website.

Other forms of business structure in Gibraltar are trusts, non-profit making organisations and protected cell companies. Information about these entities and all of the above can be found on the Gibraltar government website.

Business Name Certificate

Anyone trading with a name other than their own name must register the business name with Companies House. This name must be approved before registration. The name must be unique and cannot be used by anyone else. Once the name is registered and a fee paid, a Certificate of Registration of a Business Name is issued.

Useful contacts when setting up a business