Incblog for Entrepreneurs

Covering entrepreneurship and business start up questions for non-residents and US citizens.


Aug 20 2018

Lesser-Known Requirement for non-residents: Form BE-13

by John Gordon | 18:08 GMT

Do you worry that there is something important that you need to do but don’t know what it is? When setting up a company in a different country, you can be sure there are things that are required but not well publicized. Since most information available on the subject is meant for locals, they always ignore it. Setting up a US company involves many choices, and these choices have consequences later.

This is the case for US companies that are owned by non-residents, or have non-resident partners. Among the least-known requirement that carries a heavy penalty, the BE-13 Questionnaire from the Bureau of Economic Statistics stands out. Any new US company with 10 percent or more non-US ownership must complete this survey. The minimum penalty for failure to file is USD $2,500; the maximum penalty for willful failure to file is $32,500 plus imprisonment. While a jail sentence is unlikely, it is best to get the form filed and not worry about the penalties.

The process of setting up a company usually means planning out a company name, who will own and manage it, what exactly it will do, getting it filed with a state government, getting a federal tax number, opening a bank account then getting down to business. The BE-13 form is an extra federal requirement after formation, and best dealt with before getting distracted with the other details of getting started. A federal tax number is NOT required to file this form.

The appropriate BE-13 form is due no later than 45 calendar days after a new US business enterprises is established, the acquisition of an existing US business is completed,  or an expansion of an already reported company has begun. The BEA may pursue civil penalties up to $25,000 and seek injunctive relief, and willful violations may result in criminal penalties of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

Here is the US government video about the BE-13 Questionnaire. The information you  provide is not shared with US law enforcement or other governments. There is no filing fee if you go to the BEA Website.

So how does it work? There are a range of questionnaires, depending on industry and revenue. For small and medium size enterprises, most likely you will most likely just need to complete the BE-13 Claim for Exemption, but to know for sure you will need to read through the instructions and see which ones fits. Only you know your situation, so until you discuss your situation with someone who knows the requirements do not assume this is correct.

The BEA website is not very user-friendly, so you may have to download the form in order to read the instructions and find out which BE-13 form you need to file. To save time and headaches, you can use our BE-13 service to help out. Having completed hundreds of these forms on behalf of existing clients, you will receive clear instructions and fast turnaround.

Just starting your search for information about setting up a US company as a non-resident? Check out our free eBook: 7 Mistakes Non-Residents Make When Setting Up a US Company.

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