AdvicesBlogConsultationEstablishing a branch or a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia

February 9, 2024by admin0

Establishing a Branch or Subsidiary in Saudi Arabia


Expanding your business to a new market, such as Saudi Arabia, is a strategic move that requires careful consideration of the corporate structure. In this guide, we will delve into the differences between establishing a branch and a subsidiary, focusing on the specific requirements in Saudi Arabia. Choosing the proper structure is crucial, as it impacts your business activities, taxation, liability, and overall growth strategy.


Establishing a branch or a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia


Understanding Branches:


A branch is essentially an extension of the parent company, physically present in multiple locations. It serves to access diverse markets and cater to a large customer base. However, it lacks a distinct legal identity and is considered an integral part of the parent company. The company is liable for the branch’s actions, making it a structure where risks are shared.


Branches typically engage in the same business activities as the head office, sharing marketing materials but adapting strategies to suit the foreign market. Setting up a branch in Saudi Arabia can be beneficial for increasing customer reach and market diversity.


Insights into Subsidiaries:


On the other hand, a subsidiary is a legally independent entity, with its shares owned by a larger company known as the holding company. The holding company and its subsidiaries form a corporate group, offering a broader expansion strategy. A subsidiary has a separate legal identity, and the parent company is not liable for its activities.


Critical differences between branches and subsidiaries include:


Business Activities: A branch conducts the same activities as its parent, while a subsidiary may engage in different business activities.


Branding: Branches share branding with the parent, while subsidiaries may have unique branding.


Legal Status: Branches have the same legal standing as the parent, whereas subsidiaries have separate legal standing.


Liability: A branch’s liability extends to the parent, but a subsidiary has no liability for the holding company.


Account Maintenance: Branch accounts may or may not be joint, while subsidiary financials are separate.


Ownership: A branch is wholly owned by the parent, while a subsidiary is 50%-100% owned by the holding company.


Financial Loss: The parent is responsible for a branch’s financial loss, whereas a subsidiary is accountable for its losses.


Advantages and Disadvantages:


Branch Office:



  • Simple incorporation.
  • Cheaper than establishing a subsidiary.
  • Complete managerial control from the head office.
  • Simple liquidation procedures with staff and asset transfers.


  • The head office can be sued for branch actions.
  • Complex taxation with uncertainties.
  • Complex visa and immigration procedures.
  • It is not subject to capital requirements, but compliance may vary.





  • Clear and straightforward taxation.
  • Easier hiring of local staff.
  • Local liability protection for holding company.
  • Compliance with capital requirements and financial reporting.




  • Complex incorporation procedures.
  • More expensive than a branch.
  • Limited control for the holding company.
  • Complex liquidation and de-registration procedures.




Establishing a branch or a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia depends on your business goals, risk tolerance, and expansion strategy. Helpline Group, as your trusted business setup partner, provides valuable insights into the specific requirements of the Saudi Arabian market. With a clear understanding of the differences and nuances between branches and subsidiaries, you can confidently navigate the complexities of expanding your business, ensuring compliance and strategic success in the vibrant Saudi market. Contact us to learn more about the specific requirements in Saudi Arabia and embark on a successful expansion journey.


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