Commercial enterprises that are located abroad, in order to consolidate their trade relations with Turkey and ensure continuity, they either open a branch or establish a Liaison Office. In accordance with the Regulation 4857 of Implementation of Foreign Direct Investment Law, the Ministry of Economics can give permission to the companies who have been established in accordance with the foreign laws; to open a Liaison Office in Turkey on a condition that no commercial activity will take place in the office. The Ministry can also specify the duration of the permit. The Liaison Office apart from any commercial activity, can act as an Office which is involved in activities such as corporate representation and hospitality, communication and information transfer, planning and technical supports as well as to act as a representative of the parent company abroad. Despite of the restriction of the Liaison Office to be involved in commercial activities; it can still represent its parent company abroad in the market and provide information to the parent company by carrying out necessary researches.
The Liaison Office may be converted into a company or a branch and then carry out commercial activities provided that the procedures for establishing the company or the branch are fulfilled.
The previous year expenditures of the Liaison Office must be documented and filed with the bank statements of the foreign exchange that has been sent to the account of the Liaison Office abroad. The Liaison Office is obliged to report to the related institution or the undersecretary about the last year activities they were involved; by submitting them with information forms until the end of May every year. In contrary, the extension requests will not be evaluated and the official authorisations will be cancelled permanently.
In order for the Liaison Office to be exempt from income tax;
- The employer of the natural person who offers services to Turkey must be a limited taxpayer institution, and this institution must not be involved in any commercial activity where it has gained any profit.
- The employees working at the Liaison Office must provide service and the service must be provided subject to a money consideration.
- The payment made to the employees of the Liaison Office must be in foreign currency.
- A payroll of the employees is required to be prepared by the Liaison Office or on behalf of the Liaison Office.
The employees working in the Liaison Office shall be exempted from salary income tax and revenue stamp, in addition; they can also be subjected to short and long-term insurances and unemployment insurance according to the Social Security and General Health İnsurance Law 5510 since they are working with the employer under a contract of employment.
However, the employees that have been assigned from abroad to temporarily work in the Liaison Office in Turkey, if there is a Social Security Agreement between the country from which they have been assigned and Turkey and the required SSİ (SGK) exemption certificate has been obtained; then those employees may be exempted from their social security obligation irrespective of their nationality.
The administrative expenses of the Liaison Office can be covered by the appropriations allocated by the Ministry of Administrative and Financial Affairs to the Liaison Office until the appropriations of the allotted budget of the office are enough to be allocated.
The Liaison Office can be closed down with the decision of the board of directors and the suggestion of the relevant association in situations where
- The activities conducted by the office are suspended due to the framework of a legislation
- Their service capacity and volume are reduced
- Not able to meet the expenses accrued
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.