In 2019, Armenia's GDP grew by 7.6% - the highest rate in all of Europe. Foreign business owners and investors appreciate the pace of the economic reforms, Armenia's safety, freedom and openness. Many prefer to visit Armenia in person and register a business as a first step to enter the market.
A knowledgeable local lawyer can help you to minimize risks by ensuring compliance with tax, labor, immigration and other regulations, avoid pitfalls and take advantage of tax benefits and other government assistance programs, especially if you do not speak Armenian or plan to run your business remotely.
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Legal Guide to Armenian Visas
#1. Visa-Free Travel
Nationals of almost all European countries as well as certain Asian and American countries (see the full list below) do not need a visa to enter Armenia. Normally they can stay in Armenia visa-free for up to 180 days in a year. A longer stay is possible for holders of residence permits (check this page for more information on residence permits).
In practice, the 180-day rule is currently not enforced on returning visitors (e.g. those who cross the border with Georgia/Iran and come back); only uninterrupted stays of over 180 days are punishable by a fine of up to $209, payable upon exiting the country.
Countries the Citizens of Which Can Travel to Armenia Visa-Free (Click to Expand)
Americas & Pacific
#2. E-Visa (Online Visa) & Visa on Arrival
Nationals of most other countries (see the full list below) can get a visa upon their arrival to Armenia at the airport or at the border with Georgia or Iran. The visa has a maximum validity of 120 days (extendable by another 60 days). It is also possible to get an e-visa by applying online at https://evisa.mfa.am/. A longer stay is possible for holders of residence permits (check this page for more information on residence permits).
Countries the Citizens of Which Can Get an E-Visa or Visa on Arrival (Click to Expand)
Asia & Africa
#3. Embassy-Issued Sticker Visa
Nationals of certain African and Asian countries (see the full list below) generally do not qualify for visa on arrival and cannot get an online visa (e-visa). They must obtain a visa before coming to Armenia at any embassy abroad. Normally an invitation letter from Armenia is required to get a visa. However, the invitation letter requirement is waived for ethnic Armenians and their family members.
Countries the Citizens of Which Can Get a Sticker Visa at Embassy (Click to Expand)
#4. Visas for Indian National
- Registration Process. Company formation and corporate amendments are registered with the State Registry of Legal Entities of the Armenian Ministry of Justice. You do not have to personally appear before the Registry as lawyers can complete the formalities (file the registration documents) with a power of attorney. Typically company registration is followed by ordering a corporate rubber stamp and filing statements with the tax office.
- Timeline. Remote registration can take as little as one business day if fast-track service fees are paid or three business days if no such fee are paid. Certain registrations related to branch offices and non-profits can take longer.
- Documents. Document requirements may vary form case to case but, in general, individual shareholders and directors are required to provide original or legalized copies (i.e. Apostille or consular legalization) of their passports. Corporate shareholders and directors are required to provide legalized copies of their corporate documents - certificate of registration and articles of incorporation or equivalent documents. Originals or legalized copies are necessary in order to have them translated into Armenian language and notarized.
- Cost. Incorporation costs consist of government fees, legal fees and other expenses, such as fees for translation, corporate stamps, mailing etc.
#5. Visas for Nationals of Certain Other Countries
A company registered in Armenia must have a business name (firm name) to which it has exclusive rights. The business name shall consist of a distinguishing word or expression (common or proper name, fictitious name or sequence of letters) and the corporate form of the company (e.g. ACME LLC). A business name can be changed but it cannot be assigned to another person unless the company reorganizes.
The use of words "Armenia," "Armenian," "Arm," the names of Armenian regions, cities, villages can only be used with the approval of the national or local authorities. The annual government fee for using the words "Armenia" or "Armenian" is AMD 600,000 (US$1,233). Moreover, a business name cannot contain names the use of which requires a special license or permit (e.g. "bank," "insurance," "notary" etc).
A business name cannot be identical or confusingly similar to a business name or trademark previously registered in Armenia. Name searches can be conducted in advance of registration at the websites of the State Registry and the Intellectual Property Agency. While a firm name grants its holder exclusive rights to use it, you should also consider registering a trademark as it generally offers a better protection.
#6. Invitation Letter
To be registered in Armenia the company must have a legal address to which official letters and notifications will be sent. You are not required to own or lease business premises in Armenia and you can use your residential address for company registration purposes. If you do not have an address in Armenia it can be provided to you by your lawyer.
The legal address is used for official correspondence and it may be different from the actual place of business. The legal address must be shown in the articles of organization of the company. If the address is changed the articles have to be amended accordingly.
Having a local phone number is also important as the tax office and other government agencies will primarily use the phone for urgent communication with the company.
#7. Visa Classes
- Shareholders. There are generally no restrictions on shareholding in Armenia. Foreign individuals and legal entities are allowed to be 100% owners of Armenian companies without having to involve local partners, directors, employees etc.
- Dividends. If dividends are formally declared and distributed to shareholders they may be subject to taxation. Individual shareholders pay income tax of 5%. Dividends paid to non-resident corporate shareholders are subject to 10% withholding tax, while dividends received by Armenian companies are exempt from taxation. The rates of 5% and 10% applicable to non-resident shareholders can be reduced by a double tax treaty.
- Limited Liability. Shareholders generally enjoy limited liability, which means that they cannot lose more than the amount invested and they are not personally responsible for the debts of the company. However, shareholders may be held liable if they knowingly (intentionally) caused the bankruptcy of the company.
- Managers. In Armenia companies are normally managed by a single director (chief executive officer) who acts on behalf of the company by virtue of law and can issue powers of attorney to other managers. It is possible, but uncommon, to have an upper-level board of directors. Creation of a board is legally required for companies with more than 49 shareholders. Directors can be individuals or legal entities. Directors and other managers may be held liable for damages caused to the company if they act unreasonably or in bad faith. Directors may also be held liable for administrative and criminal offenses resulting from mismanagement (including tax evasion, money laundering, currency control, immigration offenses etc). Managers may also be held liable for intentional bankruptcy of the company. Having an internal auditor (audit committee) is required for all JSCs and for LLCs with more than 20 shareholders.
#8. Visa Fees & Extension
As of 2020, there are seventeen banks in Armenia offering banking services to individual and corporate clients, both resident and non-resident. All the banks are privately owned and regulated by the Central Bank. In addition to the well-known HSBC international bank, many local banks are with foreign capital from Russia (VTB Bank), France (ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank), Lebanon (Byblos Bank, Anelik Bank), Argentina (Converse Bank), Iran (Mellat Bank) and other countries.
Armenian banks offer excellent customer service, low charges, enhanced privacy and a wide range of modern banking services, including:
- Online and mobile banking, phone banking;
- Debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx);
- International bank transfers and money remittance services;
- Accounts in USD, EUR, CHF, GBP, CAD, AED, RUR, JPY;
- Gold accounts;
- Wealth management and private banking;
- Deposit boxes, etc.
- Opening a Bank Account. Opening a corporate bank account in Armenia typically takes 1-3 business days, depending on the length of background checks conducted by the bank. It may also be possible to open a bank account in Armenia remotely, with a power of attorney. Armenian banks generally do not have minimum deposit requirements and charge only minimum fees for maintaining a bank account. A corporate applicant would be required to present the company registration papers and passport copies of directors, shareholders and beneficiaries (UBO). The bank may request additional documents, such as proof of address, source of income, police clearance certificate, etc.
- Secrecy. Bank secrecy is strictly protected by law. Disclosing bank secrets is a crime punishable by imprisonment and monetary fines. Normally a court order is required for a bank to release information on bank accounts. Under anti-money laundering (AML) regulations banks are required to report suspicious activity to the Central Bank. Armenia does not participate in AEOI/CRS but has a FATCA agreement with the U.S.
- Interest rates and taxes. As of February 2020, banks offer interest rates of up to 10% for deposits in local currency and 4.5% for deposits in U.S. dollars. Corporate bonds listed on the Armenian stock exchange generally offer higher rates. Investment services are provided by banks and investment companies, also licensed by the Central Bank. Interest income is generally taxed at 10%.
- Safety. All banks are licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Armenia. Bank deposits and bank account balances of up to AMD 10 million in local currency (approx. $21,000) and AMD 5 million in foreign currency (approx. $10,500) are insured by the Deposit Guarantee Fund of Armenia. The deposit insurance system has never been used as there have been no bank runs in the recent history.
- Merchant accounts and payment gateways. Merchant account and Internet acquiring services are available. They allow merchants to accept online payments made with VISA and MasterCard cards through their websites. Generally banks provide the required software free of charge and the merchant does not have to incur additional expenses on programming, certification procedures etc. Payment gateways such as 2checkout work with Armenian bank accounts.
Because of AML requirements it may be difficult or even impossible to open corporate bank accounts for companies that have limited ties to Armenia, e.g. no actual place of business in Armenia. Not all banks work with clients from countries under international or U.S. sanctions (e.g. Iran, Syria, etc). If the company is owned or managed by a national of one of these countries it is recommended to check the possibility of opening a bank account in advance.
#9. Documents Required
The general business license is generally sufficient to start your business in Armenia. However, certain businesses require additional licenses at the national or local level. In certain cases only a formal notification is required.
Annual License Fee
Weapons & Security
Manufacturing of and trade in explosives, blasting operations
Manufacturing of and trade in weapons; import, export or transit transportation of military products, intermediary activities in trade in military products
50,000 -500,000 ($105-1,050)
Medicine & Drugs
Manufacturing of and trade in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or their precursors
Production of drugs
Pharmacies; wholesale trade in drugs
50,000 -100,000 ($105-210)
Foreign currency dealers/brokers; foreign currency trading; foreign currency trading auctions
Investment services; central depository, operator of a regulated market
Banks; credit organizations
Investment fund management
Life insurance and non-life insurance; reinsurance; insurance brokerage
Money remittance services
Processing and clearing of payment instruments
Energy & Water
Natural gas import/export, distribution, transportation
10M - 15M
Electricity production, transmission, distribution, import/export; thermal energy production, transportation, distribution
Electricity and gas supply operator services; services provided to the energy market
100,000 - 5M
Drinking water and wastewater services
Education programs (preschool, elementary, general, vocational, bachelor and master)
Public electronic communications network
Broadcasting of TV or radio programs; multiplexing
Lotteries; Internet gambling
Gambling & casinos
35M - 5,5B
Technical inspection of vehicles
Public transportation; taxi cab services
Construction, including document development and inspections
Hazardous waste utilization
Nuclear energy-related activities
License Fees in Yerevan
Restaurants and other food services
578-87,500 ($1.2-183), depending on structure, size and location
Sale of alcoholic beverages
4,200-175,000 ($9-366), depending on size and location
Sale of tobacco products
4,200-175,000 ($9-366), depending on size and location
Operating food services, entertainment, trade, gambling and lottery facilities, saunas after 24:00
120,000-3M ($251-6,277), depending on type of business
Organizing open-air trade
500 ($1.05) per sq. m.
Retail sale of jewelry items
Sale of liquid fuels, compressed natural or liquefied petroleum gases
600,000 ($1,255) - annually; 87,500 ($183) if sold in retails stores or kiosks
Sale of technical fluids in vehicle repair or inspection shops
Taxi cab services
10,000 ($21) per vehicle
Karaoke bars, discotheques, baths, or saunas
Weapons & Security
Manufacturing or trade in pyrotechnic products
Medicine & Drugs
Production of biological substances used in veterinary medicine
Production or sale of chemical or biological substances for plant protection
Energy & Water
Drilling operations for the use of freshwater
Public electronic communication services, with the exception of services requiring ownership or operation of a public electronic communications network
Hallmarking of items made of precious metals
Trade, import, export, transportation of natural loose diamonds
Import of Cement
14,000 ($29) per ton
#10. Visa Overstay
There are no requirements for a newly registered business to become a member of a chamber of commerce or any other other professional association. However, you may join such associations on a voluntary basis. Below is a list of the most popular associations:
Corporate Amendments. Amendments in the articles of the company must be registered with the State Registry. In particular, changes in the name of the company, its statutory capital, address, executive directorship require making amendments to the articles. In case of a limited liability company (LLC) changes in shareholding also must be registered. Documents submitted are checked and registered within two business days, unless the applicant pays the fast-track service fees for urgent registration (see the table below).
Dissolution. Dissolution of a company requires posting an announcement on the official website www.azdarar.am to notify the creditors of the company. The creditors have two months to file their claims. The tax office has 20 days to submit its claims for unpaid taxes. Normally this is preceded by a tax audit in the company. The dissolution of the company also involves working with the National Archive and the Police in order to archive the corporate documents and to hand over the company's stamp, respectively.
The alternative to dissolution can be filing a declaration with the tax office stating that the company is inactive. The inactive (dormant) company will remain on the register but will not be required to file tax returns or pay taxes.
Reorganization. Reorganization of the company can take the form of a merger, spin-off, split-off, or change in the corporate structure (e.g. LLC turns into a JSC or vice versa). Reorganization also requires posting a public announcement to notify potential creditors.
Dissolution or corporate amendments can be registered remotely by your lawyer or other representative having the necessary power of attorney.
#12. Residence Permit
Number of Countries
#13. Work Permit
9 Reasons for a Company in Armenia
1. Ultra-Fast and Easy Registration
Company registration can be done in a single day if you are physically present in Armenia and choose to use sample registration documents. If the documents are customized or in case of remote registration (with a power of attorney) the process takes one to three business days. Setting up a corporate bank account normally takes one day. Only minimum documents are required, such as the passports of the shareholders and directors. You will get a registration certificate with a taxpayer ID number, ready to start operating immediately.
2. Low Cost of Registration and Maintenance
There are no minimum capital requirements. The company's paid-up capital can be as low as $1. There are no government fees for registering or renewing the registration of a company. The company can be in good standing without paying recurring fees of filing reports. Inactive (dormant) companies do not pay taxes and do not file tax returns. There are no requirements to rent an office, hire local people (directors, officers, secretaries, accountants, etc.), open a bank account, etc.
3. No Restrictions on Foreign Ownership
Foreigners can own 100% of an Armenian company. No local partners or agents are required. No restrictions apply to the citizenship or residency of the shareholders. All the directors and employees of an Armenian company can be foreigners. They are not required to reside in Armenia or have a local address. A foreigner can be the only director and the 100% owner of a company.
4. Residence and Path to Citizenship
Owning or managing an operational company in Armenia can qualify you and your family members for a residence status (temporary, permanent, or special). Foreign business owners and investors can directly petition the Prime Minister for citizenship by exception. Under general naturalization rules, a foreigner may become eligible for Armenian citizenship after three years of residency.
5. Low Taxes
Zero-tax status is available to micro-businesses, IT start-ups, companies operating in free economic zones, industrial zones, certain border towns and villages. Other small businesses with annual sales of less than $240,000 are subject to sales (turnover) tax of only 1.5-5%. Dividends are generally taxed at 5% but this rate can be lower due to multiple double-tax treaties Armenia has signed. Armenia generally does not tax capital gains on the sale of securities, real estate or other assets. Insurance and pension payment are also exempt from taxes. There are no taxes on gifts, inheritance, net worth, etc.
6. Privacy and Reputation
It is possible to ensure the privacy of company ownership by selecting the right corporate structure or by using nominee services. Bank secrecy is strictly protected by law and it is a crime to disclose it. As of 2020, Armenia does not participate in CRS automatic exchange of information (AEOI). Armenia does not appear on any list of offshore jurisdictions, lending to its positive image and credibility. The country has an up to date anti-money laundering legislation, and the Central Bank has ensured the safety, stability and good reputation of the banking system.
7. Educated and Low-Cost Labor
It is possible to find highly educated and skilled workforce in Armenia. The adult literacy rate is 99.7%. Universities in Russian, English and French operate in Yerevan. The minimum monthly salary for full-time employment is $140, while the average monthly salary in the country is around $380.
8. Economic Growth and Integration; Diaspora
In 2019, Armenia's GDP grew by 7.6% - the highest rate in all of Europe. Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a Russia-led economic block, with a single market of 180 million people. Armenia is also a member of the WTO, has free-trade agreements with ex-Soviet (CIS) countries and benefits from preferential status (GSP) with the EU, Canada, Japan, Norway and Switzerland. Armenia benefits from the human and financial resources of the Armenian diaspora - Armenian communities around the world numbering an estimated 7 million people.
9. Investment-Friendly Environment
Armenia guarantees free repatriation of invested capital and profit. Foreigners are allowed to own land. Investment projects are encouraged with tax benefits and government assistance programs. Armenia has a wide network of agreements on double taxation and protection of foreign investment.
Area: 29,700 SQ.KM.
Capital: YEREVAN (1,075,000)
LITERACY RATE: 99.6%
KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLISH: 40%
climate: summer 35c; winter 0c
Currency: Dram ($1 = 475 AMD)
average salary: $378
gdp growth: 7.6%
gdp per capita: $4,212
WB DB rank: 41
inflation (2018): 2.5%
LL.M. Georgetown University
New York Bar | Armenian Chamber of Advocates
We are a team of licensed lawyers based in Armenia and Georgia. Our primary commitment is to provide quality service to clients at a compelling value that helps manage risk, overcome regulatory issues and advance their personal and business goals.
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LL.M. Georgetown University
New York Bar | Armenia Chamber of Advocates
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