How to start a business 

A Government authorisation is required for any kind of business activity in the territory of the Principality of Monaco. The approval process takes usually between three to six months, but it can be very lengthy, complex, and time consuming. It is recommended to look for administrative assistance.

The most common legal structure is a sole trader (société en nom personnel), which involves a bit easier process compared to the other possibilities. 

Under Law no. 1144 of July 26, 1991, any economic activity pursued in the Principality of Monaco, regardless of its nature (i.e., whether commercial, industrial, crafts, or services, professional and non-professional alike) must have prior Government authorisation. 

Business and economic activity in Monaco is promoted by the Chamber of Economic Development (CDE), which can help start-ups with advice, contacts and administrative procedures. Its website is in both French and English, and it can supply English language guides on request. 

The other way for start-ups is to contact the Direction Expansion Economique (Economic Expansion Department), the administrative agency that examines applications for permission to establish an economic activity in the Principality. 

If a business operational permit is granted, the authorisation is usually very detailed about what is authorised, and the duration of the authorisation – usually for several years – is normally renewable for similar periods. Renewal is not automatic and must be sought. 

For many years, the business permit renewal requirement was one of the biggest fear factors for investors and companies. The process raised a big question. What if you bring your assets and relocate your business venture in the Principality of Monaco and after a few years the Government does not renew your business operation permit? 

The introduced risk is still real, however, typically if you have a good conduct and a flowering business, you will successfully apply for the renewal of your permits. 

Typically, the authorisation sets out the limits of the activities that may be performed. The authorisation also specifies the premises where those activities may take place as well as any special conditions applicable to the performance of those activities. 

The authorisation is personal and non-transferable, except for the “leasing” of an entire business described below. Any material change in the authorised activities, the nature of holder of the authorisation, or address or premises where the activity is conducted must be approved in advance. Any authorisation may be suspended or revoked for misconduct as well as for the failure to maintain appropriate premises for conducting the activity, the absence of real activity, activities not in conformity with the authorisation, etc. 

Foreign companies that wish to set up an administrative office or branch in Monaco also require authorisation. 

Monaco in Key Figures

Surface area
GDP per capita (2021)
.3 bn
Nominal GDP (2021)

Source: IMSEE

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