Moving Your Small Business Overseas? What Should You Know?

If you're a military spouse, you may be used to packing up your belongings and relocating to a new state (or even country) at what seems like a moment's notice. In fact, the frequent moves that seem to be inherent in military life may often make it difficult for you to advance in your own career. If this is the case, starting a small, low-overhead business or engaging in direct sales can be a way to supplement your household's income without leaving coworkers and bosses in the lurch each time your spouse gets his or her transfer orders. However, moving your small business -- low overhead or not -- to another country can be a challenge, and you may not know where to begin the process. Read on to learn more about the logistics of transporting a small business to another country, as well as what you can do to make this transition as seamless as possible.

Will your business need to be re-incorporated in your new country of residence?

Whether you have an incorporated business like a limited liability corporation (LLC) or are a sole proprietor directly selling merchandise to clients or customers, you should be able to transition from doing business in the U.S. to doing business in the U.S. from overseas without changing much paperwork or tax information. In fact, many businesses that are incorporated (and pay taxes in) the United States actually have their principal headquarters in another country, whether for logistical or financial reasons. 

However, if you plan for your business to serve U.S.-based customers as well as customers in your new location, you may need to investigate temporary licensing options. For example, many countries require U.S. corporations doing business in these countries to put certain information on file with this country's Secretary of State equivalent and pay a small licensing fee in order to sell your products to local patrons. You may also be required to collect sales tax or pay income taxes to both the U.S. and the country in which you're living. 

Unless your business is small enough to be run out of your home and you plan to sell only to customers based in the U.S., it's often wise to consult an attorney or tax specialist with experience in the business laws and practices of your destination country to ensure you don't inadvertently cost yourself money by moving your business.

How should you handle the logistics of this move?

Although the military may take care of your household move, it's unlikely to help you ship and store your business inventory (unless this inventory is unobtrusively mixed in with your other household possessions). Even if you are able to bundle these items in with your personal possessions, it can be a good idea for you to handle your business move separately from your household move. Not only can these moving expenses be deducted from your business income for tax purposes, but having these items shipped and stored separately can help you quickly access them (or ascertain their location) when needed to fulfill an order. 

Because of the deductibility of most business moving expenses and the often complex logistics of transporting merchandise overseas, particularly anything that may need to be declared (or quarantined) at customs, hiring an international moving company to handle this part of the process for you should be money well spent. These movers can pack, inventory, and load your items for shipping by air or sea. On the receiving end, local movers can load these boxes onto a truck for delivery to your new location and may even help you unpack. 

For more information and tips, contact a local international moving company like Hollander Storage & Moving