Entering the U.S. Market FAQs

International companies interested in establishing in Virginia Beach will have access to the International Advisory Committee. This Committee is comprised of business service providers that can answer preliminary questions related to establishing a business location in Virginia Beach.

​​​​Below is an overview of the major legal, economic, financial, and cost of leaving questions, to be considered by foreign companies when establishing business operations, and their families, here in the United States. ​

​A company can choose to operate as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability corporation, or an incorporated company in Virginia. As long as major state and local tax, labor, occupational and environmental regulations are observed, there are no restrictions. Legal, financial and other professional advice is strongly recommended when establishing or enlarging a business.

​Contact​ the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development (VBDED) for comprehensive information on available sites and buildings.

Virginia Beach has a wide variety of office space options available to an international company. We are ready to help you with the process of finding your best location. We will coordinate with the local real estate representatives to provide you a list of locations suitable to meet your specific requirements for the type and size of office space needed.

Yes. Executive/Shared Office packages provide you with fully equipped, customizable office space fitted with the latest technology, and ready to accommodate all your business needs for a fraction of the cost of the traditional office space. These offices are suitable especially for small and/or international companies.

Registration depends upon how a company chooses to do business in Virginia. Corporations, limited liability corporations, and certain partnerships require registration with the State Corporation Commission. Sole proprietorships do not require registration. Legal, financial, and other professional advice is strongly recommended when establishing or enlarging a business. VBDED can introduce you to legal resources that can assist with this process.

Registration is an administrative process that can be as short as hours or days. For more information, visit the State Corporation Commission website.

The fees for this could be as little as $50 but it depends on the sophistication of the company and the nature of the business identity (LLC, partnership, Corp., S-Corp, and so on). We can introduce the company to legal resources that can assist with this process. Also, for more information, visit the State Corporation Commission website.

Starting a business in the USA is easy, inexpensive, and can normally be achieved in your lawyer's office. Commercial lawyers are more than legal advisors, they are also business experts and can provide a wide range of advice if needed. We can introduce you to legal resources that can assist with this process.​

A qualified lawyer can explain the three basic forms of intellectual property protection (copyright, patent, and trademark) available in the U.S.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program of the United States Government that allows citizens of specific countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. Currently, 37 countries participate in the VWP.

The type of visa that you will need to come to Virginia Beach to establish a company or venture depends on several factors, including your nationality, the proposed duration of your stay and the purpose of your visit. As long as the purpose of the visit is to explore opportunities and attend to the logistics of establishing the venture, then it is possible for you to enter in B-1 business visitor nonimmigrant status (either under the Visa Waiver Program or pursuant to a B visa) for short periods of time to accomplish such objectives. When entering in B status, you are precluded from engaging in employment but are otherwise permitted to engage in a wide variety of activities to see that your venture is established. Such activities can include site acquisition and leasing, meeting with prospective customers or clients, entity formation, and entering into agreements. As the company or venture is established and the duration of your stay needs to be longer, then you will need to consider more involved visas in the E, L or H categories and be mindful of their inherent requirements and limitations.

Yes, you may hire staff from outside of the United States for your business, provided that each person you seek to hire qualifies for and obtains the requisite visa and/or nonimmigrant visa status. Staff who have specialized knowledge and who share the 'nationality' of the investing company may qualify for the E visa.

Dependent family members (i.e., spouses and unmarried dependent children under the age of 21) can accompany staff, but each such person must obtain his or her own nonimmigrant status/visa. Spouses who accompany staff in the E or L nonimmigrant categories are also permitted to be employed either with or independently of the venture. In regards to dependent children, those who high-school age or less are permitted to attend local schools. College-bound children are typically required to obtained separate student visa status.​

There are a variety of options available to companies for establishing their workforce, including the Virginia Talent Accelerator program, Virginia Employment Commission, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and numerous staffing firms. We will help you determine which resources are best for your needs. Also, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance​​ will assist you with all of your recruitment needs as well as with all aspects of recruiting, training, and ongoing workforce development.

Labor costs in Virginia are competitive and in some cases lower than the rest of the United States. Due to Virginia’s diverse economy, labor costs will vary depending on the location selected. We will be glad to assist you in identifying labor costs in a specific location. Visit the Virginia Labor Market Information center to see average wage rates for select positions.

The major employment taxes in Virginia are Unemployment Insurance and Worker’s Compensation. These taxes are approximately 40% lower in Virginia than in the rest of the U.S. In addition to state taxes there are federal taxes, your attorney and/or accountant can be a great help in setting up your human resources system.

No. Virginia has Right-to-Work legislation in place. This allows an employee to work for a company without joining a union even if one is present in the company.

As an individual establishing a presence in the United States, you will need a bank account. This is an easy and quick process requiring identification, mailing address, and a small amount of money. A bank account for an individual can be opened within a day. When you are ready to open your business bank account, you will need a U.S. federal tax identification number. This is obtained easily by visiting a local U.S. government office and completing a simple form. We can provide you a list of local accounting or legal firms that can provide assistance in this process if needed.

Taxes vary by state and locality. Generally, a company will pay federal income taxes (paid on the profit of the company), Virginia corporate income taxes (paid on the profit of the company), state sales tax (paid on certain purchases), and the required employment taxes (discussed above). At the local level, the real estate tax is the major tax, followed by personal property, business tangible property, and business professional and occupation (BPOL). Virginia Beach has eliminated its tax on machinery and tool equipment.

In Virginia, most local incentives come in the form of performance-based cash grants. The most significant local tax incentive limits a company's business license fee to a maximum of $50 per year for each of its first two years of operations in Virginia Beach. A variety of other incentives are available from the Commonwealth of Virginia and are described in the Virginia Guide to Business Incentives​. ​

The Virginia Port Authority holds the Grant of Authority for Foreign Trade Zone #20​, which primarily serves southeastern Virginia and includes all of Virginia Beach. Foreign trade zones allow businesses to defer paying U.S. customs duties on imported goods held within the zones until the goods enter the United States for domestic consumption. No duties are paid if goods are re-exported. Businesses are allowed to store goods within foreign trade zones for an unlimited period of time. They are also allowed to manufacture products within zones and pay duties on either the foreign parts used or on the finished product, whichever is most advantageous to the company. Companies may also request the establishment of a subzone on company property that provides all the benefits just described.

The Port of Virginia is the third-busiest port and the largest intermodal rail port on the United States East Coast. It is 2.5 hours to open sea with direct service to 45+ countries worldwide with 30 global port calls. The Port handled over 2 million TEUs during Fiscal Year 2019. For more information, visit www.portofvirginia.com.

We will continue to assist you after your company locates in Virginia Beach. Our Business Development team can provide assistance to you from the many resources we have available or we can refer you to the appropriate organization.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) has a nationally recognized International Trade Program that provides export assistance to Virginia companies. With international professionals in five offices in Virginia, the VEDP is available to assist Virginia exporters with the complex issues and obstacles facing companies in the global marketplace. Please visit Export Virginia for additional information on the many programs and services available to Virginia exporters.

Virginia residents pay state income tax and federal income tax. There is no local income tax. Residents pay a state rate of 5.75 percent on taxable income over $17,000. Your taxable income is determined based on your Federal Adjusted Gross Income, minus certain exemptions. For instance, if you and your spouse both earned taxable income during the calendar year, and are filing your state and federal tax returns jointly, you are entitled to a standard deduction of $9,000 on your Virginia state taxable income. You may also be able to deduct certain child care & medical expenses. As a basic example, without considering any other deductions than a spouse, with an annual joint income of $120,000 subtract $9,000 (spousal deduction). Assuming no other deductions, your state taxable income would be $111,000. You would pay a state tax rate of 5.75% on taxable income in excess of $17,000 ($111,000 - $17,000 = $94,000 x 0.0575 = $5,405 VA State Income Tax.

Source: Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Taxation

In the US, the amount of interest you pay each year on your mortgage may be taken as an itemized deduction when calculating your federal adjusted gross income (your federal taxable income). The amount of your deduction would depend on the interest rate you obtain for your mortgage, how much of the purchase price you finance, and the length of your mortgage. Your real estate agent may be able to provide more information.

Medical care is provided by private institutions in Virginia. Most businesses buy health insurance for their employees and pay a portion of the cost (called premiums). Individual employees pay a portion of the premiums and also pay a small amount each time they visit a doctor.

This depends on the health insurance coverage your company is going to offer for its employees, and whether you will be able to (or want to) include your family members under this coverage.

According to the United States Social Security Administration​ website, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2 % on income under $137,700 for the calendar year 2020 and employers must match this amount. The threshold is $142,800 in 2021. Earnings over this wage base are tax-free for the remainder of the year. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% of all income.

There are two ways you can apply for a Social Security card: You can apply in your home country before you come to the United States when filing an application for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State. You can visit a Social Security office in person. If you are not an immigrant or did not apply for a Social Security number on your immigrant visa application, you must have your papers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showing your U.S. immigration status and authorization to work in the United States. Applying for a Social Security number and the card is free. To apply:

  • Complete the application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
  • Show at least two original documents proving your: Identity;
  • Work-authorized immigration status;
  • Age; and
  • Take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office.
  • The real estate tax rate in Virginia Beach is $0.99 per $100 of assessed value. Normally, a portion of your monthly mortgage payment is placed into an escrow account; in this account, your lender or mortgage holder keeps enough money to cover your property taxes and homeowners insurance. When taxes are due, the lender pays them for you.
  • Electric and/or gas utility costs depend on the size and age of the house, quality of the appliances and heating/cooling unit, etc. I recommend that you ask your real estate agent to provide you with a copy of the previous homeowner’s past utility bills (electric, gas, water). Your electric service will be provided by Dominion Power; their basic residential rates are: Basic Customer Charge:$7.00 per billing month distribution kWh Charge:2.269 cents per kWh (first 800 kWh)1.296 cents per kWh (over 800 kWh)
  • Water service is provided by the City of Virginia Beach. Establishing your account costs $20.00, and the monthly fee is charged at a rate of $4.41 per 1,000 gallons of water usage. Sanitary sewer charges include a one-time $20.00 account activation fee, plus a monthly charge of $24.86.
  • Your monthly waste collection fee of $21.36 is paid to the City and covers the full cost of waste collection. Services provided by this fee include weekly trash can collection, weekly yard debris collection, every other week curbside recycling collection, and bulk item collection (by request).

The composite cost of living index for the Virginia Beach MSA​, according to a quarterly national survey, is about 93.8 percent (2019) of the US national average cost of living. The survey compares the cost of about 37 different “staple” items, including different types of foods, health care items, and clothing for communities around the country to compile a fairly comprehensive comparison. ​​​