Going international? If you are planning a business expansion to the international level, it makes sense to set up a company in Europe. After all, this gives you access to the EU market, and you can go on from there. But where to go in Europe? See the most prominent advantages of the best countries for business expansion.
When shopping for your new European headquarters, you can start by finding out more about the following topics:
To get the big picture, you might also review the data regularly collected and updated by the World Bank. Their “Ease of doing business” chart can give you an overview of what to expect.
Germany is one of the leading nations of the European Union, thanks to its large economy and great wealth. Over its history, several financial hubs formed, such as in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, and they offer plenty of opportunities to both SMEs (small and medium-sized companies) and big corporations.
While Germany is an ideal place for business, bureaucracy is as complicated as you can expect from stereotypical German precision, which makes the process a bit easier to get on your nerves unless you get professional help.
Hungary attracts investors with its corporate tax rate which is the lowest in the EU at just 9%, both for SMEs and big corporations. Company setup and registration in Hungary
takes just a few business days, and it is available to anyone regardless of their nationality.
Hungary also offers the same advanced infrastructure you can find in Western Europe meaning digital accessibility as well as physical, while your costs will be significantly lower here. If you are planning to bring in workers from abroad, the process to obtain a work permit in Hungary is quite straightforward while you can also find a skilled workforce locally.
Denmark ranks highest for ease of doing business in Europe according to the data of the World Bank, and 4th compared to every other country in the world. It is home to several world-class corporations, and it is a cleantech hotspot in Europe.
The local labor market offers a generous pool of multilingual, well-qualified professionals with very little litigation. Immigration is supported by clean and easy-to-use online tools, whether it concerns the CEO or the employees.
Finland is considered a highly attractive location for its technology and innovation. It's capital Helsinki offers an ecosystem favoring startups. The economy is very stable and predictable, reducing your initial risks. All while the industrialized nation and the commitment to research and development create an environment where it is easy to thrive.
In line with their dedication to innovation and digitalization, online information about immigration to Finland is readily available, while processing a residency application takes just a few months.
Sweden can boast one of the highest-performing economies in the world. In fact, they house a number of billion-dollar firms comparable to Silicon Valley. The environment is favorable for new businesses. This is thanks to an open economy supporting competition and a business-friendly government that invests in several industries.
Online platforms let you meet legal obligations both during business expansion setup and company operation, and automated processes make your operation easier. The same applies to the immigration of both you (the manager of your business) and your employees.
While Norway is not a member state of the European Union, thanks to its agreements with the EU it can take advantage of most of the privileges, like access to the EU market and the Schengen visa zone. Norway also has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world thanks to its commitment to renewable energy and innovation in general.
Norway is stable both economically and politically, while it also offers highly advanced infrastructure and highly skilled, competitive workforce. Residency and work permit application takes around 4 months, which is pretty much the standard in the EU as well.
Consider not only your business but also yourself. Since business setup normally comes with an option for residency in Europe, you can easily become an EU resident. This gives you the advantage of visa-free access to every member state and some partners of the Schengen zone. Thus, access to simplified application procedures with many other countries.
However, if you spend a significant portion of your time in your new European home (typically more than half your time), you will probably become a tax resident. This means it is worth considering double taxation treaties with your original home country as well as local rules for personal income. For example, there is a wide range of tax benefits in Hungary available to tax residents. Especially, as the country has double taxation agreements with many countries around the world.
If you are planning for the long run, think about the requirements for permanent residency and citizenship. Both offer added benefits compared to simple residency, while a passport of your European home can give you visa-free access to even more travel destinations than your residency. Some countries also offer citizenship to the descendants of former citizens; for example, if just one of your parents, grandparents, or other ancestors was Hungarian, you are already eligible for Hungarian citizenship by ancestry, which can be granted to you in just a year, as opposed to regular naturalization, which becomes available in 5-10 years, depending on the country.
Europe is not a uniform block, so make sure you learn more about your target country before you commit to a business expansion. Administration is very similar in each country, with online support and a processing time of 3-4 months. The Nordic countries in our list have a reputation for being specifically startup-friendly with a history of supporting research and development. Whereas, Hungary attracts due to comparatively low taxes and low costs in a likewise advanced infrastructure. Choose what makes the most sense for your business.