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 

AfganistanAfghanistan is a country working hard to reestablish itself, encourage investment, and improve its gross domestic income level following a quarter of a century of continuous war and strife. The constant conflict has had a significant impact upon every aspect of daily life, business, and the landscape. 

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



Major Cities Capital:  Kabul (1,780,000; 1999/2000 U.N. est.)
Major cities:  Kandahar, Heart, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Konduz.
Official Currency Afghanistan's official currency is the Afghani (AFN). 
Time Zone Standard Time: UTC  +0430 (Coordinated Universal Time) or 9.5 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time.
Language Pashto (35%) and Dari (50%) are the official languages of Afghanistan. Turkic languages (11%) and numerous other languages (Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, etc.) are spoken throughout the country. Bilingualism is very common.


Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

Afghanistan is a civil code jurisdiction whose constitution became the official law in 2004. Due to the political change expected over the next several years, there may be significant reform to the existing laws. Schools are encouraged to contact local professional assistance if they are planning on legal activity of any kind in the country.

Form of Government

Islamic Republic (government branches include executive, legislative, and judicial).

Alternative Resolution or Mediation Programs

Arbitration and mediation laws are subject to rapid change. Hiring an Afghan attorney early in the process of any significant commercial disputes is highly recommended. 



More than 12 foreign and domestic commercial banks are operational in the country and more are expected in the next few years. Caution should be undertaken, however, before banking with Afghan banks as the legal and regulatory framework is still under development and locally there is widespread distrust of the banking system. 

Available Banking Services

Internet banking and e-statement
Mobile banking
Western Union money orders
Loans, letters of credit
Standard bank services: Savings and checking accounts

Bank Holidays

El am Hejir / New Year 
Liberation day 
Navruz (Persian New Year) 
Victory Day
Labor Day
Vesak (Hinduist community only)
Independence Day 
Pachtuns' Day
End of Ramadan
Mount Arafat Day
Eid-ul-Adha-Feast of the Sacrifice 

U.S. and Other Major Banks in Country

Afghanistan International Bank (AIB) is a local commercial bank in Afghanistan with its head office in Kabul. The bank has branch offices in the major cities of the country.

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

Kabul Bank
10-42, Torbazkhan, Shar-e-Naw,
Kabul, Afghanistan
Phone:  +93 (0) 700 22 26 66 / +93 (0) 799 22 26 66
+93 (0) 797 22 26 66 / (0) 798 22 26 66

Afghanistan International Bank
AIB House, 1608 Behind Amani High School,
Wazer Akbar Khan
Kabul, Afghanistan
Phone: +93 (0) 20 210 3567
+93 (0) 799 08 98 98
Fax: +93 (0) 799 79 89 89

Asian Development Bank
Afghanistan Resident Mission
126, Street 2, Haji Yaqoub Round About
Shahar-e-Now, P. O. Box 3070
Kabul, Afghanistan
Phone: +93 202 10 36 02


Business Etiquette Tips

Business Attire

Men typically wear conservative suits and shoes. If working in the country in a noncommercial capacity then wearing the traditional Afghan dress (long shirt and trousers) is best. Women dress modestly and conservatively, covering themselves from the neck downward. Women working in business typically wear knee-length, loose-fitting business skirts with loose-fitting professional trousers underneath. Covering of the hair with a headscarf is a part of everyday dress.

Business Negotiations

Business cards carry a sense of importance and prestige as they are not widely used in Afghanistan and should be studied and handled respectfully. Translating your business card into Dari or Pashtu will convey respect. Business relationships are very personal in Afghanistan, and quality time should first be spent getting to know your counterparts and establish trust. Meetings are often casual affairs, and people may walk in and out of a room or even accept phone calls. Always negotiate with the most senior person possible as they are the decision makers. As a rule Afghans are born negotiators and negotiate with a win-lose mentality. 

Proper Greetings

It is inappropriate to initiate social conversation with a woman, and one should not ask specifically about an individual's wife or female relatives. Free mixing between genders only takes places within families. In professional situations such as at businesses or universities, males and females may be co-workers. But they are always cautious to maintain each other's honor. Direct eye contact and speaking directly to the opposite sex is generally avoided between men and women.

Public and Social Behavior

When meeting someone a handshake between men is the most common form of greeting. You will also see people place their hands over their hearts and nod slightly. One should always enquire about things such as a person's health, business, and family. Women and men will never shake hands, touch one another, speak directly to one another, or be left in a room alone together. 

Hospitality is an essential aspect of Afghan culture. When visiting a home you will be given the best the family has to offer. If you are eating at someone's home you will be seated on the floor, usually on cushions. Food is served on plastic or vinyl tablecloths spread on the floor. Wait to be shown where to sit. Do not sit with legs outstretched or your feet facing people. Food is generally served communally, and everyone shares from the same dish. Food is generally eaten with the right hand.


Embassy Locations and Registration

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

Embassy of Afghanistan
Trade and Investment Department
2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: (202) 483-6410 Fax: (202) 483-6487

U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan
Great Massoud Road
Wazir Akbar Khan (neighborhood)
Kabul, Afghanistan
Phone:  +93 700 10 83 77


Employment-Legal Requirements

Employment contracts are required with a minimum fixed period of one year, which can be extended or terminated within one month of its conclusion. If nothing is done by either party the contract is automatically extended. All employees are provided with a three-month maximum probationary period. The maximum number of work days per week is six, with restrictions placed on night and holiday work. A typical work week is 40 hours for a full-time employee. But if an employer is responding to a seasonal production increase the work week may extend up to a reasonable increase as dictated by that industry (typically not beyond 50 hours per week for a reasonable period of time). 

Terminating Employees

A minimum one-month's written notice is required for termination unless termination takes place within the probationary period. Employers must receive approval from the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) prior to any group layoffs or redundancies. 

Special note: Women and youth (ages 14 to 18) are not permitted to work in physically arduous positions, nights, jobs that are harmful to their health, or underground.  Organizations are required to establish on site nurseries and kindergartens. All organizations working inside the country must obey Afghan laws and customs. A law exists that prohibits employers from hiring foreign workers for a job for which an equivalently qualified Afghan is available. For additional information regarding employment practices in Afghanistan, please check with the embassy and/or Labor High Council of Afghan for specific policy. 

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Essential leave - 10 days
Holidays (employer discretion) - 15 days
Maternity (add 15 days for unusual circumstances) - 90 days
Sick (three days at one time requires doctor's note) - 20 days
Urgent (i.e., marriage, birth of new baby, - 3 days
or death in immediate family - 10 days
Vacation - 20 days
Haj (or Mecca) - 45 days*

*Granted only once during entire length of service


Entry and Exit Requirements

All visitors to Afghanistan must posses a valid passport and an Afghan visa. The basic tourist visa entitles a traveler to a 30-day stay in Afghanistan. It is recommended that this one-month visa be obtained prior to traveling to Afghanistan. Visas may be obtained at any Afghan consulate or embassy around the world. Long-term visas may be obtained with a maximum validity up to 180 days. A passport and valid visa are required to enter and exit Afghanistan. 

Processing time is typically one to two days for long-term, single-entry visas, though fees vary for a one-month stay based upon the preferred processing time. Visit the Embassy of Afghanistan's Web site for the most current visa information.


Intellectual Property

Afghanistan currently has no legislation that addresses intellectual property rights. But as noted previously, laws and regulations are in a period of rapid change, so obtaining local legal advice in this area is highly recommended. Afghanistan is not a member of the World Trade Organization Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement or the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties. Pirated DVDs and software are sold throughout the country. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and building materials are common.


Legal and Registration of a Business Entity

Specific Information for NGOs in Afghanistan

If you are registered officially in the United States as a nonprofit organization submit your articles of incorporation and IRS tax number to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and request a letter of introduction from the U.S. Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. There are two main categories under which a nonprofit organization can be registered: as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) or a social organization (SO). Afghanistan's tax law closely resembles U.S. tax law with regard to nonprofit organizations:  "To qualify as an exempt organization, an organization must be: (1) established under the laws of Afghanistan; (2) organized and operated exclusively for educational, cultural, literary, scientific, or charitable purposes; and (3) contributors, shareholders, members or employees either during the operation or upon dissolution of the organization must not benefit from the organization. The contributions and income received for the necessary operations of a qualifying organization are exempt from taxation."

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

Obtaining a business license is conducted through the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) that acts as a one-stop shop. The timeframe from start to finish in registering a business is typically six to nine days. The AISA staff will ensure that the proper steps are followed prior to registering a business. AISA will: (1) cross-check for existing company names; (2) conduct background checks on the founders' outstanding financial obligations; (3) obtain the director's criminal record from the Ministry of Interior; (4) obtain the company tax identification number (TIN) from the Ministry of Finance; (5) register the company with the Commercial Court of the Ministry of Justice; and (6) publish an announcement in a reputable Afghan newspaper as required.

It is strongly recommend that foreign entities retain local counsel to assist in the process of establishing an office or obtaining a license in Afghanistan. The World Bank lists four basic steps for establishing an office in Afghanistan and estimates that it takes less than two weeks to complete the process.

In some instances a foreign entity may be required to provide an introduction letter from its embassy. The U.S. Embassy can provide this letter upon provision of the company's Articles of Incorporation and evidence of an IRS tax ID number. 

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

Below are additional resources to assist in establishing an office.

Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (One-stop shop for business registration and licensing)

Business Resource Guide

Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Listing of governmental offices and business resources)

Ministry of Finance

U.S. International Grantmaking (Legal forms, local laws, tax laws, and general information)



Safety and Crime

Security remains at critically high levels in Afghanistan, and all travel to the country is currently advised against. Terrorist organizations maintain a strong presence in various parts of Afghanistan, as well as narcotics traffickers and other groups that oppose the strengthening of a democratic government. These groups will not hesitate to use violence or terrorist actions. If travel is necessary, security advice should be sought prior to embarking upon the trip, and all Americans should register with their embassy upon arrival in Kabul.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Travel Warning for Afghanistan and the Worldwide Caution, can be found.



The "taxation year" is defined as the solar year (January 1st through December 31st) except as otherwise provided by law. The taxable income is the sum remaining after all the deductions and exclusions authorized by law are deducted from the total of all receipts of the person, corporation, a limited liability company, or organization.

U.S. citizens should note that no tax treaty exists between the United States and Afghanistan. Nonresident natural persons, companies, and other organizations engaged in economic, service, or business activities in Afghanistan are subject to income tax on all taxable income from sources within Afghanistan. 

Individual and Employee Taxation

Determining Tax Residence

A person is deemed a "tax resident" of Afghanistan if they have a principal home in Afghanistan at any time during the year; are present in Afghanistan for a period or periods amounting to 183 days in the taxation year; or are an employee or official of the Government of Afghanistan posted abroad at any time during the year.

Every natural person who is a resident of Afghanistan is subject to the annual income tax on his taxable income including income from sources outside Afghanistan. Any income tax paid to the government of a foreign country by a resident natural person may be taken as credit only against that part of his annual income tax attributable to his foreign income. 

Nontax Resident Employees

Nonresidents are responsible for tax only on income sourced in Afghanistan. 

Corporate and Employer Obligations

An entity is resident in Afghanistan for a taxation year if it was incorporated, created, or formed in Afghanistan or has the center of its administrative management in Afghanistan at any time during the year. If conducting business within the country as a branch office, however, the organization is not considered a resident and a tax may apply.

Organizations exempt from taxation: An organization must be formally and legally organized under the laws of Afghanistan and operated exclusively for educational, cultural, literary, scientific, or charitable purposes. There must be no profit or gain for the organization or any contributor, shareholder, member, or officer either during its operation or upon its dissolution.

Such income becomes exempt only upon approval of an application for exemption. Such application shall be made by the organization in the form and manner stated in the Income Tax Manual prescribed by the Ministry of Finance. The application shall be filed with the Ministry of Finance within six months of the formation of a new business. Rejection by the Ministry of Finance of an application for exemption may be appealed by the organization to the appropriate court as provided in Chapter XII of this law. In the event that the application is rejected by the Ministry of Finance, and by the appropriate court if appealed, all income of the organization is subject to taxation as provided by this law.

Income from any commercial activity not in keeping with the purposes of the organization according to its charter cannot be exempted from taxation.  Afghanistan Income Tax Law Information can be retrieved from the Afghan Ministry of Finance.


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