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Cost of Operating an LLC
Latest Update: September 14, 2021
This is relevant for: Foreign companies running a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Vietnam
In a hurry? 🏃♀️ to overview of costs by clicking here!
A Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) is the go-to solution for most foreign investors operating sales offices, manufacturing operations or service companies. It is the Vietnamese equivalent to a "GmbH" in Germany. This legal form can be established as a "Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise" (WFOE) for most business lines without the need for local shareholders or other boundaries.
Within this article, we will take a look at how much it costs to establish and operate an LLC. The costs below result from our experience and include 10% Vietnamese VAT. This data will probably meet the expectations of most smaller sales LLCs. More "complex" business models will probably demand other numbers and potentially different setups. A lawyer should be consulted to establish a concrete concept for an investment in Vietnam; contacts below.
🏗 LLC Establishment
First step is to register the LLC. This process should be supported by a lawyer. Typically, this partner will provide some initial consulting and send a list of to-be-provided documents to the investor. One core process will be to exactly define what the future company is planning to include into its business. This is important because the legal partner will decide which business lines to apply for. The law firm will submit these documents to the authorities and finalize the LLC establishment. This process should take three to six months.
💸 Cost: EUR 5,400 (@ an international law firm)
Most LLCs externalize their payroll processes. While this incurs monthly costs (see below) there will mostly also be a setup fee, e.g. tor register employees with the authorities.
💸 Cost: EUR 100 per employee
Not an "expense" but surely relevant for cash flow. Further information can be found here in our FAQs on establishing an LLC.
Looking for HR will typically take six weeks to two months. Further information on this process can be found here. Posting a job description online can be quite reasonable with roughly EUR 150 to 200 per position. Utilizing more extensive support from an HR consultant may cost two months gross salary or more. In our experience, most newcomers will use this more extensive service at the start and switch to online postings later.
💸 Cost: EUR 3,000 per employee (for HR consultant)
Procurement of IT equipment
Most of the laptops, cell phones and other IT tools available in Europe can also be found in Vietnam; albeit in some instances for higher prices . Typical items to be procured are laptop, screen, keyboard/mouse as well as a cellphone.
💸 Cost: EUR 2,500 per employee
Overall, the establishment of an LLC may cost up to 💸 EUR 11,000 if one staff member is employed to it.
Overview: Setup Costs for an LLC (incl. 10% VAT)
⚙️ LLC Operation
Payroll and Accounting Service
These two functions will probably be outsourced at the start of operations because for LLCs with less than ten employees it will likely be uneconomical to set up an internal accounting department. However, as companies grow they tend to internalize payroll and accounting. There are numerous providers for these services in the market. We are aware that many investors favor working with just one partner for legal and payroll/accounting. However, many lawyers do not offer payroll/accounting and many accounting firms will not offer legal counselling. So, it might be necessary to split these services between a lawyer and an accounting firm.
Lawyers: A list of German law firms can be found here
Accounting companies: European partners may be Roedl & Partner (see German lawyers list), TMF and mazars. But there are plenty other local and international firms available.
💸 Cost: EUR 350 per month (if one staff member is employed)
Nominee Director/Proxy @ Legal Partner
We have discussed this here. For many young and/or small ROs it might be necessary/wise to appoint a nominee director/proxy to act as "Legal Representative" through a legal firm.
💸 Cost: EUR 900 per month
Secure LLC Chop @ Legal Partner
Same as above, it might be necessary/wise to entrust the chop (stamp) to a lawyer.
💸 Cost: EUR 80 per month (invoiced annually)
LLCs are obligated to present an audited year-end report to relevant authorities. Many international companies will work with "Big 4" companies. But there are many other local and international choices in the market.
💸 Cost: EUR 120 per month (invoiced annually)
The expectations for remuneration vary widely depending on qualification and position as displayed here. However, most likely, in a (small) LLC there will be at least one high-skilled and experienced "Country Head" (not necessarily the legal representative, see above). Hence, if just one person is employed, planning at least the following Total Employment Costs (including PIT/SHUI and others mentioned here) might be prudent.
💸 Cost: EUR 2,700 per employee per month
Office @ Co-Working Space
Many LLCs will be "spawned" 👾 at co-working spaces. Renting a small furnished office there with the purpose of LLC registration may be a cost-effective alternative to renting a private office (which has to be fitted out). Depending on the co-working space prices may vary heavily. More info on office space here. Please note that some lawyers may be able to offer more reasonable solutions to register an LLC than a "full-fledged" office.
💸 Cost: EUR 700 per month
Calculative Cost for the "Leading Employee"
One employee will have to take over certain administrative tasks regarding planning and administration, even if a payroll, accounting and proxy provider shoulders contact to authorities. These tasks will likely be done by the highest qualified and hence most expensive person in the team. When fulfilling them, this employee will not be able to focus on her primary job, e.g. doing sales. While there will not be "concrete" costs, there will be "calculative" (or opportunity) costs incurred. We assume that for an LLC, 20% of the time of the "leading employee" depending on the external support given may be spent on such planning/admin tasks. These should be counted as costs of operating a company in Vietnam.
💸 Cost: EUR 550 per month
Operating an LLC with the above-mentioned costs may add up to EUR 6,400 per month or EUR 88k for the first year of operation (including LLC setup) if one staff member is employed to it. Some costs can be internalized (such as proxy, chop or even accounting/payroll) but would then lead to more calculative costs (if an ordinary staff member does them) or to more actual costs (e.g., if an admin assistant will be employed).
Overview: Overall costs of an LLC (incl. 10% VAT)
The numbers presented here originate from our experience. They are based on concrete quotations we have evaluated for our clients and represent rounded average prices/costs. The spread of service costs is very wide. For example, the cheapest quotation for LLC establishment was valued @ EUR 1,600 while the most expensive one had a price of over EUR 10,000. Along with the service costs, differences in quality and customer approach are also clearly visible. Hence, we advise to enquire at least three quotations from law firms, accounting firms and all other major third party agreements.
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Please consider this information without liability for any data with respect to content, completeness or up-to-datedness. For legally valid information you should turn to a lawyer. A list of German law firms can be found here.
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