Dezan Shira & Associates is a pan-Asia, multi-disciplinary professional services firm, providing legal, tax and operational advisory to international corporate investors. Operational throughout China, ASEAN and India, our mission is to guide foreign companies through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assist them with all aspects of establishing, maintaining and growing their business operations in the region. With more than two decades of on-the-ground experience and a large team of lawyers, tax experts and auditors, in addition to researchers and business analysts, we are your partner for growth in Asia.
The Sultanate of Brunei’s reign peaked between the 15th and 17th centuries when its control extended over the coastal areas of northwest Borneo and the southern Philippines. This was followed by a period of decline and internal strife. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate, and independence was achieved in 1984. The same family has ruled Brunei for over six centuries.
Located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, Brunei benefits extensively from its petroleum and natural gas fields. The economy depends heavily on revenue from the extraction of these natural resources (crude oil and natural gas production account for 60 percent of the country’s GDP and more than 90 percent of all exports), but also encompasses a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition.
Recently, the country’s government has been looking to diversify the economy’s heavy reliance on oil and gas, with policies ranging from upgrading the labor force and reducing unemployment, (currently at 2.7 percent), to strengthening the banking and tourism sectors. In aid of this strategy, the government provides free health services and education through university to all citizens.
The country’s per capita GDP is among the highest in Asia, and substantial overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. Forbes ranks Brunei as the fifth-richest nation out of 182. However, there are regulatory challenges to starting a business in the country. On average, depending on the type of business, it takes 101 days to set up a business in Brunei.
Foreign labor in Brunei is controlled by the Labor Department’s Labor Quota system. The Department of Immigration and National Registration is in charge of issuing Employment Passes. The Brunei Passport Act requires all foreign nationals to obtain a valid visa to enter the country. However, nationals of the following countries are exempted from visa requirements for social, business, or professional visits for certain periods:
Visas are required for nationals of these countries if they intend to stay longer than the above-specified period.
If a foreign national wishes to be employed in Brunei, they are required to obtain an Employment Permit issued from the Department of Immigration and National Registration – this will enable them to work and live in the country. It takes approximately five days for the work permit to be processed and it remains valid for up to two to three years, depending on the type of work involved.
Health screening, which includes a blood test and chest x-ray, is mandatory as part of the application process for a work permit
The following investment vehicles are available to investors in Brunei:
You can find extensive collection of Brunei’s tax treaties from our Knowledge Sharing Platform.