Doing Business

Setting up a company and starting a business activity in Marshall Islands is a simple and straightforward process. A foreign investor can be operational in just 7 working days by following the simple process, with ready assistance from OCI.

The country offers a business environment, which is conducive to investment and business growth. A step-by-step guide provides comprehensive information on doing business in Marshall Islands.

Setting Up Business in RMI

Entering RMI for business

Citizens of United States, Palau, and FSM are exempted from visa requirements and don’t need a visa to enter the country. They are issued visas upon arrival and may remain in the country for the duration of time indicated on their visas, which may be extended upon application.

The same applies to diplomats, members of international organizations, members of a visiting force, including civilian component and others.

Increased investments will be achieved through public-private partnership ‐ a cornerstone of strategies and measures that are being pursued to shore up investment.

Citizens of Pacific Islands Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, European Union, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines who intend to visit Marshall Islands as tourists may be issued with visitor’s visas upon arrival. However, they are not exempted from applying and providing Immigration with required documents to support their visa application and from paying visa fees.

A tourist visa is valid for only 30 days. However, a person may apply for an extension of up to 60 days, to the Director of the Immigration Division, for a fee of $10.00.

All other visitors are required to apply for a visa before coming and applications together with supporting documents and fees should be sent to:

Director of Immigration
P.O. Box 890
Majuro,MH 96960
Tel: (692)-626-8633/4572
Fax: (692)-625-4246
Email: rmiimmig@ntamar.net

Fully completed applications normally up to 14 days to process.

Government requires all non-citizen investors and non-resident workers, along with their immediate families, to obtain entry permits and alien registration cards. Entry permits and alien registration cards are issued for a period up to one year and should be renewed at the end of each calendar year.

Non-citizen investors may enter Marshall Islands under a 30-day visitors entry permit. They can then convert to a non-resident work permit and obtain an alien registration card once in the country.

Entry permits, non-resident work permits and alien registration cards are obtained by applying to the Chief of Immigration in the Office of the Attorney General using the prescribed form. Applications should include identification pages of the applicant’s passport, and proof the applicant is free of AIDS, is medically fit and does not have an adverse police record.

Applications are normally decided within 7 days.

Marshall Islands Embassies & Consulates:

Suva, Fiji
RMI Embassy
41 Borron Road
P.O. Box 2038
Suva, Fiji Islands
Tel: (679) 338-7899/7821
Fax: (679) 338-7115
Email: rmisuva@sopacsun.sopac.org.fj

Tokyo, Japan
RMI Embassy
Meiji Park Heights, Rm # 101
9-9, Minamimoto-machi
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: (813) 5379-1701/1702
Fax: (813) 5378-1810Tel: (813) 5379-1701/1702
Fax: (813) 5378-1810
Email: rmito@din.org.jp

Taipei Taiwan, ROC
RMI Embassy
4 Fl. No. 9-1 Lane 62 Tienmou West Road
Shihlin Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: (886) 2-2873-4884
Fax: (886) 2-2873-4904
Tel: (886) 2-2873-4884
Fax: (886) 2-2873-4904
Email: rmiembtp@ms41.hinet.net

Washington DC, USA
RMI Embassy
2433 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 234-5414
Fax: (202) 232-3236
Email: info@rmiembassyus.org
Website: http://www.rmiembassyus.org

New York, USA
RMI Permanent Mission
800 Second Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 983-3040
Fax: (212) 983-3202Email: marshallislands@un.int
Website: http://www.un.int/marshallislands

Honolulu, Hawaii
RMI Consulate General
1888 Lusitana Street, Suite#301
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Tel: (808) 545-7767
Fax: (808) 545-7211
Email: rmi.consulate@hawaiiantel.net
Website: http://www.rmiembassyus.org

Starting a business

Foreigners need a foreign investment business license (FIBL) to start a business in Marshall Islands. And they may invest in most areas of investments except for a few reserved for locals. Application for a FIBL from the Registrar of Foreign Investment is a simple process, which usually takes less than 7 days.

To start a business in Marshall Islands foreigners need to either incorporate as a domestic limited company, or register as a foreign entity.

Incorporating a domestic limited company can be completed at the same time as obtaining a FIBL. Details of the process are included in the FIBL application to the Registrar of Companies.

Investors that do not wish to incorporate domestically are required to register their enterprise as a foreign entity also with the Registrar of Companies. They can be limited company, partnership or sole proprietorship.

Applications are made in a simple form available from the Registrar of Companies. Registration is required for monitoring, planning and statistical purposes only.

Links to business legislation:

Business Corporation Act:
Read the online document

Associations Law:
Read the online document

Choosing the location

Investors may choose to rent unfurnished office space or build their own premises or work from home.

Read the online document

Recruiting staff

One of the nation᾿s top priorities is to create employment for its citizens. Thus Government encourages all investments to employ citizens whenever possible. However Government is aware that the country needs foreign workers to supplement local skills. Consequently Government will grant work permits to non-resident workers to fill highly skilled professional and technical positions.

Non-residentwork permit

To apply for work permits investors are required to follow these 3 simple steps:

  • First, notify the Chief of Labor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by letter of your desire to employ a non-resident worker for a particular position.
  • Second, you should make an effort to hire a citizen for the position, including advertising the position in a local newspaper and on the radio.
  • Third, if your efforts to hire a citizen worker are unsuccessful, you can then apply, using a prescribed form, to the Chief of Labor requesting a non-resident worker to fill the position.

Applications should be lodged 30 days after the initial advertisement for the position. In the application, the investor must show evidence of efforts to hire a citizen. He should also demonstrate that the non-resident worker has the skills and experience to fill the position, does not possess any communicable diseases and does not have a blemished police record.

The application is normally decided within 14 days. A work permit is issued for one year initially and is renewable.

Conditions

Government requires all investors employing non-resident workers to agree to:

  • Cover the cost of repatriating non-resident workers to the place of hired,
  • Train one or more citizen workers to perform the work for which the non-resident worker is employed,
  • Pay a levy of US$ 0.25 per hour for every hour of work performed by non-resident worker, to be paid to the Resident Workers Training Account for the purposes of training citizen workers, and repatriating non-resident workers should the need arise.
Exemptions

Non-citizen investors issued with a foreign investment business license are exempted from obtaining a work permit for themselves.

Also, citizens of the United States, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau do not require work permits to work in the Marshall Islands. Investors and nationals of these countries, however, are required to register with the Labor Office.

Government may also issue investors work permit exemptions if investors can demonstrate that their investments will provide substantial economic benefits to the country. Such exemptions are limited to export-oriented investments. Applications for such exemptions should be submitted to the Chief of Labor.

Business development

Government has introduced a number of business development programs to assist entrepreneurs to grow their business including tax incentives.

Tax incentives

Government offers selected sectors exemptions from paying taxes and duties to encourage investment in these key sectors. The exemptions are equally available to both non–citizen and citizen investors and can be applied for to the Ministry of Finance.

Gross revenue tax exemption:

Investors intending to establish in the following export–oriented sectors can be exempted from paying gross revenue tax for a five-year period:

  • Off–shore or deep sea fishing
  • Manufacturing for export, or for both export and local use
  • Agriculture
  • Hotel and resort facilities

In order to qualify for the exemption, the investor must make an investment of at least US$ 1.0 million, or provide employment and wages in excess of US$150,000 per annum to citizen workers.

Tax exemptions for seabed mining:

The government also offers investments in seabed hard mineral mining in the country’s EEZ an exemption from paying all taxes, duties and other charges except taxes on wages and salaries, individual income tax and social security contributions.

In order to qualify for the exemption investors should pay the Government a royalty, production charge or combination of production charge and a share of net proceeds accruing from the mining activity.

Investment borrowing:

Government does not impose any restrictions on non–citizen investors borrowing domestically, or on citizen investors borrowing from abroad.

Foreign exchange availability

Marshall Islands uses the US dollar as its currency. Government does not impose any restrictions on domestically based banks making foreign exchange available to their customers.

Repatriation funds:

Government encourages all investors to reinvest capital and profits in the country. It recognizes, however, that some investors may need to repatriate profits and capital to meet corporate goals. All investors, therefore, are free to repatriate profits, dividends and investment capital acquired through the operation or disposal of their investment.

Government requires all banks in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to report transfers of funds from the country over a 24–hour period that are in excess of US$10,000. This requirement is a result of the Government’s international money laundering commitments. The Banking Commission monitors this information and has the authority to investigate the financial records of individuals or businesses, as it considers necessary.

Paying taxes

Marshall Islands offers a low tax jurisdiction with an investor-friendly environment to encourage both local and foreign companies to set up a business.

Businesses don’t pay income tax, only business gross revenue tax (BGRT). The tax is assessed at the rate of $80 for the first $10,000 of annual gross revenue and 3% on amounts over $10,000. Local Governments also levy taxes and is different from atoll to atoll e.g. the Majuro Atoll sales tax is 4% on goods and 3% on services.

The fiscal regime also includes:

  • No capital gains tax
  • No withholding tax on interest and dividends
  • Exemption from customs duty on equipment
  • Free repatriation of profits, dividends and capital

Cost of doing business

Understanding the cost of doing business is essential to starting any business activity. This section presents the cost of doing business in Marshall Islands in terms of salaries, rent and other overheads.

FIBL Regulation & Application:
Read the online document

Checklist for Agencies:
Read the online document