Time – and lack of it – is one of the biggest constraints for international companies looking to obtain public registry documents from the Benelux region.
It’s not impossible to get the information you need to prove for example, a company’s existence in the Netherlands; its ability to conduct business in Belgium or compliance credentials in Luxembourg. The challenge lies in obtaining this information quickly.
TMF Netherlands Legal Supervisor Priscilla Schraal says in her country international companies regularly experience hold-ups, as they mistakenly go through multiple intermediaries for documentation. “Often companies are not familiar with which service provider to engage to obtain the required documents, and there is a risk they may not be adhering to international standards (for example anti-bribery).”
She explains that it can be a challenge to make sure you are dealing with a trustworthy party; and it commonly sees a company’s’ key employees diverted from higher value tasks.
The Dutch are known for their excellent English, but language remains a barrier in the country when it comes to documentation. “For example an Articles of Association is usually not available in English,” explains Ms Schraal, “when you try to look for this document in the Netherlands you will often end up on a Dutch website.”
It’s a hurdle that also exists in Belgium and Luxembourg; official Belgian documents are only available in Dutch or French (and to a limited extent, in German). And obtaining the correct apostilles and certifications on a document is difficult to accomplish quickly. TMF Belgium Managing Director Mathieu Loquet says this is where they can be a value-add partner, “we’re extremely efficient and experienced in obtaining all of these.”
He also says that companies should be aware of local variations to the records they are looking for, “some certificates do not exist in Belgium, such as a Certificate of Good Standing and a Certificate of Incorporation but we can assist to find an alternative solution that is acceptable in the jurisdiction. For example instead of the Certificate of Incorporation we would obtain an Extract from the Commercial Registry, which includes the essential company details such as the name, legal form, date of incorporation, board members etc.”
TMF Commercial Director Joost Knabben says it’s the same situation in the Grand Duchy, “in the USA you can obtain a Certificate of Good Standing. Such a document could certainly be formatted in a similar way in Luxembourg, but that would need to be prepared by a notary public.”
Similarly, he says that foreign companies looking for documents in Luxembourg often hit a road block when faced with German and French paperwork. And, to access documents from the local chambers of commerce, an account must be created – even for ‘one-off’ requirements.
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TMF QuickDocs is an online service that allows you to retrieve official corporate documents from public government registries around the world, including the Benelux region. Companies and individuals can order more than 200 types of official corporate documents, through one website, and have them delivered directly to your office using TMF QuickDocs.
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