General Business Information
The rules of commerce are in general similar to West European practice.
Any Kuwaiti or GCC national over 21 years of age may carry on commerce in Kuwait provided he or she is not affected by a personal legal restriction. But a foreigner (non-GCC national) may not carry on a trade unless he or she more Kuwaiti partners and the capital owned by the Kuwaiti partners(s) in the joint business is not less than 51 % of the total capital (60 % in the case of banks, investments houses and insurance companies). A foreign firm (including a partnership) may not set up a branch and may not perform any commercial activities in the country except through a Kuwait agent. Foreign individuals and firms may not acquire commercial licences in there own name nor may they own real estate locally.
The main laws regulating business in Kuwait, which have been amended several times since they were issued, are (a) The civil code (Law 67 of 1980), (b) The commercial code (Law 68 of 1980), and (c) The commercial companies law (Law 15 of 1960).
Business enterprises can take several forms, viz. Kuwait shareholding company (KSC), company with limited liability (WLL), and general partnership, The time and cost of establishing and registering these entities ranges from one month and at least KD500 for a general partnership to about three months and KD3.000 for a KSC.
To do business, lisences is necessary. General trading, contracting, importing and industrial licences are issued by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MCI). For particular commercial activities, specific licences are requierd and these are often issued by the ministry that controls that activity, eg publishing licences are granted by the Ministry of Information.
Business licences are only issued to Kuwaiti nationals and Kuwait companies and. In some cases, to GCC nationals and companies. Costs are usually KD100 per licences, All licences require period renewal, normally even two years.