General Information Banking
Business Etiquette Tips Embassy Locations and Registration
Employment-Legal Requirements Entry and Exit Requirements
Intellectual Property Legal and Registration of a Business Entity
Safety and Crime Taxes

General Information

SyriaSyria is a uniquely situated country, once known as the Empire of Mesopotamia, whose geographical position has largely influenced its history. Syria also played a major role in the history of Christianity as the location of the home of the first established Christian church begun by the Apostle Paul. And it is believed to be one of the most ancient civilizations on earth.  The country did not come under Muslim rule until A.D. 636. 

It is the meeting point of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and it became an important stopover along the famous "Silk Road" where East Asia connected with West Europe. This position made Syria an open country toward its neighbors and Italy's favorite commercial partner, and a cross toward Europe as a whole. As a result of this position, Syria witnessed many consecutive distinct civilizations: Assyria, Byzantine, Roman, Arabic, Islamic, and European, through which there was a mutual influence between them.

Today Syria is a lower middle-income developing country with an economy based largely on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism. It is currently under economic sanctions from the United States and exports and imports of U.S. products to Syria are forbidden.

Officially, Syria is a republic. But it functions as a democracy in name only, and citizens do not truly have the right to change their government, though they go through a voting process. For the last 45 years, Syria has been under a state of emergency that grants the president and governing powers the authority to keep the country under a continuing state of martial law.

There may be political unrest and/or targeted crime against visitors to the country.  Travelers should check with the U.S. State Department Web site for current travel safety information.

Major Cities Capital:  Damascus
Major cities:  Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idleb, al-Hasakeh, Dayr al-Zur, Latakia, Dar'a, al-Raqqa, and Tartous.
Official Currency Syrian pound (SYP)
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time). Daylight Saving Time: +1hour, begins April 1, ends September 30.
Language Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood, with French and English somewhat understood

Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

The Syrian legal system is based on a combination of French and Ottoman civil law. Islamic law is used in the family court system. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.

Form of Government

Republic. It has been ruled under Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party regimes since March 1963 (an authoritarian military-dominated regime).



Syria is primarily a cash-based society. A vast majority of Syrian businesses do not accept credit cards, and those staying in hotels should be prepared to pay their statements with cash.

Exporting Syrian currency abroad is restricted in most instances. But bringing in foreign currency is permitted. Nonresident employees in Syria are allowed to send money abroad up to certain limits. Upon departing Syria, nonresidents are only permitted to take the same amount of currency they declared upon entering the country with them.

Nonresident companies registered and operating in Syria are permitted to open bank accounts in both foreign and Syrian currency. The source of such bank accounts must be currency transferred from abroad or Syrian-earned currency, respectively. There are limitations of the net profits of foreign investment that may be remitted abroad, and in some instances approval may be required from the Central Bank. 

Most banking transactions occur through the Commercial Bank of Syria, though several privately owned banks have recently entered the sector. 

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Available Banking Services

ATMs (limited access)
Online banking (limited services)
Short message service (SMS) banking (very limited)
Visa credit card services (limited acceptance)

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day
Islamic New Year
Revolution Day
The Prophet's Birthday
Mother's Day
Easter Monday
Independence Day
Orthodox Easter
Labor Day
Martyr's Day
Eid al Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Liberation War Day
Eid al Adha Day (Feast of Sacrifice)
Christmas Day
Islamic New Year

U.S. and Other Major Banks in Country

The Syrian banking system is controlled predominantly by the government, though a few private banks have begun operations within the last decade in the country. The services offered to nonresident companies by Syrian banks are limited but improving.

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Bank of Syria and Overseas
Harika - Bab Barid
Lawyer's Syndicate Building
Damascus, Syria
Phone: (963) 11-246-0560
Fax: (963) 11-246-0555

Arab Bank-Syria
Al Jmailieh
Italian Council
Aleppo, Syria
Phone: (963) 21-228-0109
Fax: (963) 21-228-0207


Business Etiquette Tips

Business Attire

Business dress, as in most predominantly Muslim countries, is conservative for both men and women. 

Business Negotiations

Syria is a social society. Permit enough time to establish a personal relationship and build trust prior to beginning business negotiations. Age is revered, and the senior person on either side must be shown proper respect. Expect negotiations to take weeks or even months to finalize. Saving face is of primary importance, so exhibiting tact and grace is necessary for a successful negotiation. 

Public and Social Behavior

A warm, friendly people, Syrians may show more emotion than Westerners are accustomed to, and it is common for same-sex individuals to hug one another in greeting. One can be expected to be treated very hospitably while visiting Syria, and much of your business negotiations may take place over lunch or dinner.

Scheduling Appointments

Appointments should be scheduled in advance and reconfirmed prior to the date. Expect meetings to be longer than anticipated and that your counterparts may be late, though your punctuality is appreciated.


Embassy Locations and Registration

Americans living or traveling in Syria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Syria. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency. 

(Note:  Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

U.S. Embassy in Syria
2 Al-Mansour St.
Abu Roumaneh
Phone: (963) (11) 3391-4444
Fax:  (963)(11) 3391-3999

Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in the U.S.
2215 Wyoming Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 232-6313


Employment-Legal Requirements

There is limited information (in English) available on employment and labor law requirements in Syria. 

The standard work week is comprised of 36 hours to a maximum of 48 hours for full-time employees completed either in five- or six-day work weeks. A reasonable amount of overtime is permissible provided it does not, in the aggregate, exceed three months in total. 

Terminating Employees

Employers are able to perform mass redundancies provided proper governmental approval is received prior to terminating a group of 25 or more employees.

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Maternity leave 4 months leave for firstborn (100 percent pay)
3 months for second born
72 days for third born and subsequent children



Entry and Exit Requirements

A valid passport and visa are required for entry into the country. Visas should be obtained prior to arrival in Syria from a Syrian diplomatic mission located in the traveler's country of residence. Any foreigner who plans to stay 15 days or more in Syria is required to register with Syrian immigration authorities by their 15th day. Any individual with a passport bearing Israeli entry or exit stamps or any item bearing evidence that they have been in Israel or a country adjacent to entry may not be permitted entry into the country.

Syrian-American men or American men of Syrian origin, even if born in the United States, may be subject to compulsory military service unless they receive a temporary or permanent exemption from a Syrian diplomatic mission abroad prior to their entry into Syria. All travelers will be charged a departure tax (except those in possession of diplomatic passports). 

All U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times to serve as proof of identity and U.S. citizenship. 


Intellectual Property

Nature of Rights and Available Protection


A patent is valid for a period of 15 years from the date of application, but an extension of its validity is possible. Renewal fees must be paid every year for the first five years and then consecutively for each five-year period thereafter. Working of a patent within two years of its grant is compulsory, and working of a patent within three years of filing the application is compulsory in order to claim priority.


Trademark protection is granted for 10 years from the registration date and is renewable in 10-year periods. The international classification of goods and services is followed in Syria for trademark registrations. Syria does not require that a trademark owner actively use the trademark to maintain trademark protection.


There is no official system of copyright protection in Syria. In the book industry, however, major political infringements do not appear to be a problem as most books are in Arabic and by Arab authors. There have been cases of individuals copying records, cassettes, and videos and reselling them.


Legal and Registration of a Business Entity

Business entities are commonly registered in Syria as a capital company (either a shareholding or a limited liability company), a general or limited partnership, a joint venture, or as a branch of a foreign company. All of these forms enjoy an independent legal personality except for the joint venture. It is wise to use a local attorney as a legal adviser to help in the process of establishing a business presence in Syria. 

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

Foreign enterprises wishing to establish a branch or to carry out work in Syria must first register with the Foreign Companies Department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. It takes an estimated 15 days and seven steps to set up an office in Syria. 

The steps required, listed in abbreviated format and provided here courtesy of the World Bank are:

  1. Apply for company name reservation & commercial registration at the Directorate of Internal Trade at the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
  2. Open a financial record for the company and register for taxes at the tax authority of the Finance Ministry.
  3. *Publish memorandum of association in the Official Gazette.
  4. *Deposit the initial capital in a bank and obtain a statement.
  5. Visit commercial registry with the signed copy of articles of incorporation.
  6. Register with the Social Security Organization.
  7. Make a company seal.

*Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.

(Source:  The World Bank, Doing Business - Syria) 

Foreign companies and those of non-Arab origin may not own real property absent a special governmental decree stating otherwise. Companies wishing to establish a branch in Syria are required to submit a request to the Foreign Companies Department of the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade. Upon receipt of authorization, registration of the company must be published in the Official Gazette. The general manager of a branch must be a Syrian national.

Below is an additional listing of resources to assist in establishing an office.

Aleppo Chamber of Commerce 
Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce
Ministry of Industry
Syrian Arab Republic-Ministry of Economy and Trade
Syrian Arab Republic-Ministry of Finance
Syrian Consulting Bureau for Development and  Investment
Visit Syria



Safety and Crime

Syria has often been included on the Department of State's List of State Sponsors of Terrorism (check the U.S. State Department Web site for current information) .  A number of the terrorist groups that have offices in Syria oppose U.S. policies in the Middle East. Americans traveling through the area should remain aware that U.S. interests and citizens might be targeted. Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. 

Additionally, Americans should be aware that conversations on the topics of political, religious, and other freedoms are not seen as merely healthy debate in Syria and could lead to arrest. Note that possession of specific-use electronic devices including GPS, short-wave or handheld radio equipment, or similar devices in Syria may be illegal.

Petty crimes of theft and burglary are not typical problems for visitors in Syria. Of greater concern are the larger crimes for which Syria has become known for, such as a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. 



There is no double-taxation treaty between Syria and the United States.  The fiscal year begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st  of the same year. All individuals are responsible for tax on all Syrian-sourced income regardless of their residence status.  Income derived from sources outside of Syria is not taxed in Syria. 

Individual and Employee Taxation

The income tax rate is progressive and varies based on income level between 5 percent and 20 percent. Monthly income below certain thresholds is tax exempt.  The specific tax break down is controlled by the Syrian government's Ministry of Finance.

Determining Tax Residence

All nationals of Syria, Arabs, or those legally residing in Syria for a year or more are automatically considered residents for tax purposes.

Nontax Resident Employees

Foreign employees working in Syria are subject to the same rules and rates as those applied to Syrian employees. Any individual or organization residing in Syria for less than one year will be deemed nonresident for tax purposes.

Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations

Double-Taxation Treaties

Syria's tax system is territorial. If a foreign company is taxed both in Syria and in its home country then tax relief should be sought in the home country.

Tax Rate for Resident Companies

For residents, the rate is progressive according to the brackets of the net profit. Nonresidents benefit from the same fiscal system.

Tax Rate on Branches

Foreign branches are taxed the same as resident companies for corporate tax.

Tax Residency for a Business

Nonresident firms are charged a withholding tax. Foreign firms are considered resident if they have concluded more than one supply or service contract in the course of one year, of if they have concluded a contract that has taken one year or more to execute.

Corporations can also expect to pay taxes for social insurance, sales and consumption, local administrative fees, and non-resident income.


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