Is it Necessary to Register a Foreign Entity to Pay Workers in Other Countries?


In today’s interconnected world, American corporations hiring on the multinational scale has become the norm. As such, there is a growing need for businesses to both employ and pay workers in different countries to expand their operations, acquire top talent, and retain them for the long haul. The challenge with this is, how do you pay workers in foreign countries? Is it necessary to register a foreign entity to pay workers in other countries? What tools or other resources can get this done both seamlessly and compliantly?

Many companies are missing out on the advantages of engaging international talent due to concerns about paying foreign workers. But hiring foreign workers comes with numerous plus points, including access to global talent, cost-savings, improved productivity, and diversity in the workforce.

Don’t let the complexities of differing labor laws and tax regulations deter you from building a global team. By staying up to date with foreign employment requirements in the US and enlisting professional contract management services, you can ensure full compliance and unlock the benefits of international talent. This article will dive into the complexities of paying workers in different countries and answer these important questions.

Complying with Local Labor Laws and Regulations

Foreign countries have their own specific laws and regulations regarding employee compensation and benefits. While businesses may be familiar with their home country’s laws, they may not have the same knowledge of other countries. By registering a foreign entity, businesses will gain the practical knowledge necessary to comply with foreign countries’ labor laws. Moreover, they will be able to avoid hefty fines and penalties that come with non-compliance.

Generally, remaining compliant requires outside expertise, or considerable internal resources and thus, it can be beneficial to work with a Global EOR to simplify or outsource the process entirely, while mitigating risk through indemnification.

The Risks of Not Registering a Foreign Entity

While some countries may allow you to hire employees without a legal entity, it’s not always recommended. Not registering a foreign entity means that you’re not considered a legal entity and can’t own property, enter into contracts or protect your business from liabilities. Therefore, if something goes wrong, the company and its directors could be held responsible leading to lawsuits, fines, and other legal issues that could hurt your reputation and your bottom line.

In addition, setting up these structures in various other countries can take quite a bit of time, and again, considerable internal resources/external law firms to execute. The opportunity cost of doing this can make or break a company’s hiring and financial goals and thus, the right partner will already have entities set up in other countries. We at GreenLight proudly represent EOR services in 30+ countries around the world.

Proper Worker Classification in Foreign Countries

In foreign countries, it’s essential to understand how both full-time and freelance workers are classified. For example, in the US, an independent contractor is someone who works for a company as a freelancer or consultant without being legally considered an employee. In other countries, though, the distinction between employees and contractors might not be as clear. This could lead to a misclassification of workers and hefty fines. For more reading on proper worker classification laws and practices in the US, refer to our guide to the ABC Test (updated for 2023).

By engaging an expert who knows the local labor laws, businesses can ensure their workers are classified properly. And for US-based companies that hire independent contractors overseas, registering a foreign entity is especially important since it provides extra protection from liabilities as the employer of record (EOR).


Expanding your business to other countries can be an excellent opportunity for growth and profitability, but it’s essential to understand the local laws, regulations, and taxation policies. Whether you need to register a foreign entity to pay workers in other countries depends on the laws and regulations in the destination country. However, it’s essential to consider the risks of not having a legal entity and the alternatives available to you to ensure your business is compliant and protected. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to consult with legal and financial experts who can guide you through the process.

At GreenLight, We offer fully compliant, global EOR & AOR solutions fit for enterprise-scale — Managing your global contingent workforce has never been easier. Book a demo today and let us show you how it works.

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Jason Posel

Jason Posel

Founder and CEO of, Jason Posel is a sought-after expert in issues related to technology innovation in contingent workforce management, the gig economy, and the Future of Work. London > Atlanta > Miami > Palo Alto > Miami

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