Starting a business
You've got a business proposition, or a profession that allows you to work freelance, or simply your hobby has now turned into a full-blown commercial opportunity – what do you do next?
Starting a business in Luxembourg requires careful planning, says the government website, but there is help and guidance, much of it available in English.
Government business portal
The business portal on guichet.lu is probably the best place to start for guidance on the administration process for setting up a business including business permit applications.
It provides advice on which legal form of business is suitable for your particular project or activity, how to register with the Trade and Companies Register, registration for VAT and social security, legal forms and applying for a business permit.
It also lists the ways to gain financial aid, including financing tools, banks and non-banking finance, crowd funding and equity or loan options.
If you need premises there is also guidance here, in addition to advice on tax, accounting and legal obligations, and international trade.
However, part of the problem is that not all forms are available in English, and accompanying documents for business permit applications must be translated into French or German.
Help & support in Luxembourg
Start-up is supported by the Ministry of Economy and has information on institutional start-up support that is available from Nyuko, House of Start-ups, House of Entrepreneurship and LuxInnovation, in addition to incubators and hubs such as 1535⁰ Creative Hub (home to more than 60 start-ups), 6zero1 an incubator for social entrepreneurs, Neobuild the technological innovation hub for the sustainable construction industry, and Luxembourg City Incubator in Gare, which supports start-ups via the House of Start-up. There are plenty more listed on the Start-up website.
It also has links to a number of free programmes to help you get your idea off the ground.
Nyuko runs four free programmes including the Impuls one to start a business with a social impact, and the Idea Launcher programme to create a sustainable business from your idea. Each programme provides help with mapping out the finance, commercial and communication requirements, and gives you access to mentors and workshops to help you realise your idea. Previous start-ups from this programme include Creches Barbara and eco-agricultural producer, Terra.
The House of Entrepreneurship initiative for new and established businesses also gives guidance on creating a new business, or taking over an existing one (such as a restaurant) – this time in English.
The House of Start-ups powered by the Chamber of Commerce gives you access to IT and an incubator environment plus a programme of events and the chance to network with business contacts that will be useful as you grow your business.
Luxinnovation has also been credited as being helpful by start-ups.
Setting up for €1
S.à.r.l. – s was launched in January 2017 and means you can set up a simplified limited liability company for as little as €1 (up to a maximum of €12,000) as a private deed that dissociates business assets from your own assets (so different from a sole proprietor). You can find more information in English here. You can also find more information on applying for a business permit here.
Useful articles and websites
The Expatica website advises that overall costs of obtaining a permit are more likely to be around €1,000 once you've taken into account notary fees, certified copies, registration and legal fees.
You can apply to the Society Nationale de Credit et d'Investissement – a bank that specialises in financing investments and start-up loans.
There is also more information on the government portal on how to start your own business, including starting a craft activity.
The Sleeves Up website also provides a step-by-step guide for starting a business in Luxembourg and holds workshops and events, as does the British Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg has made an open commitment to supporting the growth of the small business economy and to innovative new start-ups. Possibly the only issue is that there is too much information available to would-be entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Working out how to get all the right forms in the right format to the right place can be a trial.
One good way to prepare is to ask other people who've been through the process. Advice from those who have, is that you will need to call the RCS (Registre de Commerce et des Societies) if things aren't moving and expect to wait a few months for your VAT number.
Also expect a long interview to get your business bank account, and have all your documents ready, including bank account details. The House of Entrepreneurship is cited as being pretty helpful if you hit a stumbling block.
Other relevant articles from the Luxembourg Times
Applying for a business permit
Tax and social security for the self-employed
Want to expand your professional network?
11 co-working spaces in Luxembourg
Getting your qualifications recognised
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