Back in January, when I moved my business to Uruguay, I know I made many mistakes. However, I got one thing right: looking for and finding the right support. When foreign SMEs ask me about doing business IN Latin America (as opposed to “with” Latin America), not just Uruguay, I always say: “get a good accountant/administrator and a good notary public”. I would also add, get a good “gestor”, we will get to that a bit later.
When I helped organised the agenda for a group of Spanish companies targeting Uruguay last year, I set up meetings with lawyers/notaries and with accountants. When a foreign couple visited Uruguay with a view to relocating here and starting a business, I organised the same meetings. When I arrived myself, those were the two first meetings I had. Why?
An accountant (or an administrator if you are a sole trader with less complex needs) will help you 1) navigate the complex tax system that usually requires the equivalent of a PhD in Nuclear Physics to understand and keep up with 2) interpret the system and use it to your advantage (we are talking within the law here) and 3) save you an awful lot of time and hassle and do the accounts and tax returns themselves (for some enterprises, you can go for the DIY approach, which, unless you have nothing else to do like run a business, I would NOT recommend).
A notary public or “escribano” is a key figure and a wonderful partner. Whether you need to set up a legal entity, employ someone, draft a confidentiality agreement or go through immigration procedures, they can also save you precious time – and, believe me, many, many headaches and frustrations (and tears if you’re the emotional type – and Latin America’s public sector will test you to the limit!). A lawyer might not be needed at the start, but the notary public will usually be linked to a lawyer and can provide this support when needed.
As to a “gestor”, well, this is a life saviour. A “gestor” is a person who can do a lot of paperwork for you and act on your behalf in front of public offices. Yes, they will charge you for it, but isn’t your time precious? A product of Latin America bureaucracy, possibly, but don’t underestimate the power of one.
So get your team ready. Latin America is complex but with a solid network you can get off the ground a lot faster and with fewer mistakes. Nurture these relationships and value them, let them growth with you as your operations in the region grow, too. If you need any contacts, do let us know, we can put you in touch with the right people not only in Uruguay but in other countries, through our very own support network!
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