Includes steps involved in establishing a local office.
Last Published: 4/17/2016
Afghanistan ranks an impressive 23 out of 185 countries in ease of starting a business, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index 2015. The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency is a “one-stop shop for investors,” foreign and domestic, for registering and establishing a business in Afghanistan.  AISA is mandated to carry out the legal processes (i.e., license) for all private businesses and investments in Afghanistan as well as to provide investors with assistance and the most up-to-date information on Afghanistan business and investment opportunities.
 
To operate a business legally in Afghanistan requires a business license.  This license is awarded through AISA and is to be renewed annually. The process, however, is streamlined for companies operating under the U.S.-Afghanistan Security and Cooperation Agreement (BSA) or NATO-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).  
 
Certain industries, e.g. the health sector, require an additional license from the responsible ministry.  Both need to be obtained prior to starting business operations. AISA’s website provides detailed information on both the AISA license as well as all other additional licenses.


For investors not associated with the BSA and/or SOFA, AISA’s Investor Support Department will assist the investor in determining whether or not a business requires an additional license and with the following procedures, which are necessary to obtain a business license:
  1. Completion of the Investment Application Form and Application Form for Tax ID Number.
  2. Registration of the Investment Application Form. 
  3. Provision of guidance on the requirements for submission of a business plan and review of the project documents to ensure it is within the country’s legal framework.
  4. Registration of investment documents in commercial court and announcement of investors’ business/investment details in a reputable Afghan newspaper.
  5. Payment of License Fee and Issuance of Investment License. (Fees are based on the type of business and are commensurate with the amount invested.)
Once the AISA forms are completed, information on the organization is also sent to the Afghanistan Central Business Registry (ACBR) for registration.  The ACBR facilitates the registration of businesses, combining all of the functions previously performed by the Commercial Court, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF).  The ACBR issues the partner a tax identification number (TIN), registers the business and publishes the information in the Official Gazette of the MoJ.  The partner receives a registration number from the ACBR which then allows AISA to issue the license.
 
The entire process takes about one to two weeks.  Licensing fees range from $100 to $1000, depending on the size of initial investment.
 
If a business intends to engage in import/export, additional steps are required. In addition to the Investment License, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) will also issue an Export License.  Although, MoCI is currently looking at revising this process, to obtain an Export License, the Ministry requests businesses to provide a bank statement and police verification from their country of domicile.
 
Other types of licenses may require police verification (sometimes referred to as a “criminal background check”) of a criminal records check confirming there are no records that an individual has been charged or convicted of a crime.
 
These are common and most police agencies in the United States are familiar with these requests.  You should contact your local police department where you reside or last resided in the United States, request the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record.
 
For more information on criminal records checks, please look at the following website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/legal-matters/criminal-record-check.html.
 
Non-profit/non-governmental organizations must also register with the Government of Afghanistan. To register, a non-profit must first proceed to the MoFA with an introductory letter from its embassy.  The U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Section can provide this letter upon provision of the following:
  • Federal Tax ID Number on IRS Letterhead;
  • Articles of Incorporation from the U.S. State the non-profit is registered with;
  • Short (one sentence) description of the organization;
  • Copy of Passport ID Page of President; Vice-President; and/or Country Representative.
That letter is then taken to the Ministry of Economy (MoEC) for registration of the non-profit/non-governmental organization.
 
There are no separate licensing procedures for joint ventures.
 
While AISA has the mandate to host business, trade, and investment events and conferences, as well as refer companies to potential partners, its services for sources of financing and opportunities in industrial parks are inadequate.
 
Establishing a physical office in Afghanistan can be challenging. Potential investors face an overheated real estate market with rents comparable to large U.S. or European cities.  Renters are also required to pay a 20 percent renters tax, which they must personally withhold from their monthly rent payment and remit to the Afghan Government.  Foreign investors are not permitted to purchase real estate in Afghanistan.  Basic infrastructure, such as electricity, remains a constant challenge.
 
The Industrial Parks Development Department within the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) continues to support the development of Industrial parks throughout the country that offer clear land title, reliable power and water supply, and security.  USAID has supported the development of 5 industrial parks in the past and is currently providing funding for the electrification of the Hisare-i-shahi (HIP) Industrial Park near Jalalabad.  HIP will provide over 200 industrial sites when completed.
 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Afghanistan Business Registration