15 Questions to ask when planning a business at an overseas mission

Business-PlanOften EFMs who do not have a business background are interested in starting a small or medium-sized business. However, they are almost always uncertain about what questions to ask before initiating a business. Below you will find a list of questions that will help you in obtaining the information you need to create a legal enterprise in your host country. The Management Officer may not know the answers to all of these questions, but s/he will know which staff member will have the answers.

  1. What are the relevant local laws, concerning a small-business startup and operation?
  2. What are the steps necessary for establishing a home-based business in host country?
  3. Can a family member operating a business hire other people? Does s/he have to pay local taxes on employees? Are there different rules if those hired are diplomats, expatriates, or locals?
  4. If a family member serves only diplomats, does s/he have to register the business locally?
  5. Have you had to restrict the types of businesses to be operated from a USG-owned or leased home? Please explain.
  6. Are legal requirements for home-based or small businesses for diplomats’ family members different from those of other third-country nationals? How do the requirements change for a family member who is also a host-country national?
  7. What are the specific insurance requirements for home-based businesses?
  8. Do family members starting their own businesses need work permits?
  9. How is immunity restricted for a family member who is freelancing or operating a home business? If the immunity is restricted, is this done officially?
  10. Does a family member have to register his/her business with a local trade office or government agency?
  11. If a family member has a telecommuting position with a U.S. or foreign firm and does all the work online, does s/he have to receive host country Foreign Affairs permission?
  12. Who is the point of contact in your mission for family members wishing to start a business?
  13. What fees are charged to family members of diplomats in registering and opening a local home-based business?
  14. What restrictions would be applied to a diplomatic family member selling locally made products to international customers via an Internet business?
  15. Generally, what are the insurance requirements for operating a home-based business in USG leased property?

This information was excerpted from the Home-Based Business Guide: The Family Liaison Office Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business