The Albanian legislation related to foreign citizens is in compliance with the EU directives as related to immigration policy. The Law on Foreigners provides that the citizens of the USA, the EU and the Schengen area countries enjoy equal rights with Albanian citizens as regards employment and self-employment. Foreigners are divided into two categories – those who must secure a visa when crossing the borders of the Republic of Albania and those who are exempt from that requirement. Foreigners who wish to reside in Albania on a long-term basis (in any case more than three months within each six-month period) shall be issued a residence permit. Foreigners may work in Albania only after obtaining a work permit, unless otherwise stipulated by the law.
Albania is relatively easy to access. Foreign citizens can enter Albania after presenting valid passports or any other valid traveling document. They have to present their valid passports or other valid traveling documents at a border checkpoint and are granted a stay permit of 90 days. All foreigners who are not exempt from obtaining a visa must be issued a visa before they enter Albania at the missions of the Republic of Albania which cover the respective country of residence.
The authority empowered to issue work permits is the General Directorate of National Labor Service or the Labor Office of the relevant territory, part of the Ministry of Labor, Social Welfare and Youth. Foreigners working in the Republic of Albania, depending to the specific case, must obtain a work permit or a work registration certificate. The following categories of foreign workers are exempted from either obligation:
a) Citizens of those countries which are part of the EU and Schengen zone have the same employment rights as Albanian citizens, except where the legislation in force requires Albanian citizenship for the job position;
b) The working foreigner is only staying for one month in any one year in case of: (1) foreigners who are negotiating an agreement or supervising a trade event
stall; (2) business visitors; (3) crew members of ships or aircrafts; (4) lecturers, researchers or foreign specialists who come into Albania pursuant to agreements between governments, governments and educational institutions or private sector parties and educational institutions; (5) educators who come into Albania pursuant to bilateral governmental agreements or agreements concerning educational institutions; (6) employees of humanitarian organizations active in Albania pursuant to international programs of cooperation.
ESTABLISHING A COMPANY IN ALBANIA
To perform a business activity in Albania, a foreign investor must be first registered at the NRC-QKR. A foreign investor may choose:
- Sole Entrepreneur
- Unlimited Partnership
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- Joint stock companies
The minimum initial capital required is ALL 3.5 million for privately held companies with no public offering, and ALL 10 million for companies which are publicly listed. At least one fourth of the nominal amount of the shares for contributions in cash must be paid up before registration.
Under the Commercial Law, a foreign investor can also operate in Albania through a branch or representative office. The branch or representative office should be registered with the NRC and should have a legal representative empowered by the head office to administer the office. For tax purposes, in general, the branch is treated in the same manner as an Albanian entity. National Registration Center (QKR-CNR) and National Licensing Center (QKL – NLC)
Starting a business became easier through online publication of the relevant documents, reduction of the registration cost and consolidation of tax, health insurance and labor registration into a single application. The National Licensing Center based on the “one-stop-shop” model has facilitated the licensing process.