The foreign companies who find South Korea an interesting place of investment have the opportunity to open a branch in this country. Two of the main reasons for which investors decide to extend their business activity in this state are the simple company registration procedure as well as the welcoming Korean market. One of our experts in company formation in Korea can explain to you the characteristics of a branch in Korea and they can guide you through the process of establishing one in this country. We can also advise on immigration to Korea.
Steps to open a branch office in Korea
Foreign companies expanding their activities in South Korea through branch offices must complete 3 steps:
- file a notification on the opening of the branch with the Ministry of Finance and Strategy for certain operations;
- register the branch with the Court Registry;
- file the application for a business number and tax identification number.
If you want to open a company in Korea in the form of a branch, you can rely on our local specialists who can explain in detail what each step consists of. We also have lawyers who can help with immigration to South Korea.
What are the main characteristics of branch offices in Korea?
Article 181 of the Commercial Act of Korea regulates several aspects of the formation of branches in this country. According to the Korean legal system, a branch is not considered a separate legal entity. If a foreign company establishes a branch on Korean territory, the branch is considered as well a foreign company.
The profits which are obtained by a Korean branch of an enterprise are only taxed if they were generated in this country. Revenues coming from other markets are going to be taxed in the country where the parent company has its offices or according to the tax agreements in force.
A branch in South Korea does not have autonomy from its parent company, because the branch does not have legal responsibility. The actions of the branch must be therefore approved by the parent company before implementation. Our Korean company formation consultants can give you more details concerning the Korean regulations which affect the establishment and functioning of a branch in this country.
Our immigration lawyers in South Korea will be your guide in relocation to this country.
How to register a branch in Korea
Branches in Korea are established through Court Registration with the Supreme Court of Korea. The president of the branch office needs to provide several data and documents regarding the organization and identity of the parent company. Such data include the type of legal structure and the domain of the parent company, its name, and date of establishment, as well as the name and address of the CEO. One of our specialists in company registration in Korea can help you elaborate on the documentation and speed up the formation process in this country.
Filing the notification for the opening of the Korean branch
While in Western countries, the notification may or may not be required, setting up a branch office in Korea implies obtaining authorization from the Ministry of Finance before starting the actual registration for certain types of businesses. Among these:
- banks that want to open branches in Korea;
- companies that deal in securities and insurance;
- companies that cannot obtain their licenses under the Foreign Promotions Law or other laws.
Here are the documents that need to be filed as part of the branch opening notification:
- the application form;
- a certificate of appointment of a company representative who must be a Korean resident;
- information about the parent company;
- the Articles of Association of the mother company;
- the minutes of a foreign company’s board meeting during which the establishment of the branch and appointment of the local representative were settled;
- information on the types of activities the branch will undertake.
In case special licenses are required, the branch representative must also submit information about obtaining them. This may be the case for banks and other financial institutions seeking to enter the Korean market.
It is possible to appoint a proxy to handle the notification and registration procedures. A power of attorney needs to be issued in this sense. You can rely on our Korean company formation officers for representation.
What information is the parent company required to file for branch creation in Korea?
A foreign company seeking to establish a branch office in Korea must provide specific information that attests to its existence, such as:
- a certificate of existence of the parent company’s head office in the country of origin (such a certificate is usually issued by the Trade Register in the respective country or the Ministry of External Affairs);
- the Articles of Association or other documents that can be used as proof of registration.
Then, for the creation of the branch, the parent company will need to provide a trading name reservation (the name of the Korean office must be the same as the mother company’s), proof of a legal address in South Korea, and details of the local representative.
If you need to have a legal address as soon as possible, you can rely on a virtual office during the early stages of the registration.
Taxation of branches in Korea
In Korea, branch offices are taxed as local enterprises. However, if a double tax treaty is in place, the tax paid in Korea may be deducted or exempted in the parent company’s home country.
Here are the main aspects to consider about the corporate tax in Korea:
- it applies at progressive rates ranging from 10% to 25% based on the income generated by a business;
- branch offices may also be subject to an additional 20% profits tax in certain sectors (the rate may be lower if a double tax agreement is in place);
- the financial year in Korea cannot exceed 12 months, and annual tax returns must be filed within 3 months from the end of the fiscal year;
- branch offices may be granted a one-month extension to this deadline.
Feel free to contact our Korea company registration agents for professional help with the establishment of a branch office in this country. You can also rely on our immigration lawyers in Korea for support in moving here.