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In terms of the Investment Policy of the Government of Pakistan, there are three (03) ways, whereby, a foreign company may have its presence in Pakistan.
- Liaison Office;
- Branch Office; and
- Locally incorporated subsidiary
1 Liaison Office
Foreign companies are allowed to explore Pakistani business market through their liaison offices in Pakistan. A liaison office is not allowed to engage itself into business activities directly. Accordingly, there cannot be any local receipts attributed to a liaison office. Expenses of a liaison office are required to be met by the head office of the foreign company abroad for which foreign currency is remitted to Pakistan. Procedure for setting up a liaison office is similar to that of a branch
2 Branch Office
A foreign company having a valid contract with a public or private sector organization in Pakistan is allowed to set up a branch office in Pakistan for fulfilling its contractual obligations.
A foreign company intending to set up a branch office in Pakistan is required to make an application to the Board of Investment [BoI]. BoI is a one-window operation organization which grants permission for establishing a branch office or a liaison office after getting clearance from the State Bank of Pakistan (on matters relating to profit repatriation) and the security agencies of the Government of Pakistan.
Permission is generally allowed for a period of three (3) to five (5) years, renewable on expiry. Permission is contract specific and expires on completion of contract and with reference to the contract, defines scope of the branch activities in Pakistan. A branch office cannot carry out business outside the scope defined in the permission letter. The BoI is to be notified for any additional work for necessary amendment in the permission letter regarding scope of activities.
It normally takes up to eight (8) working weeks to receive final approval for opening a branch office. A branch may get functional upon receipt of provisional approval from the BoI, which normally takes three working weeks. Renewal of foregoing permission is normally processed within a period of fifteen (15) to twenty (20) working days.
3 Locally incorporates Subsidiary