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

PakistanConsidered the "gateway to the Middle East and Central Asia," Pakistan came to prominence in the international community following the events of September 11, 2001. Pakistan was two separate territories known as East and West Pakistan with India in the middle prior to 1971. East Pakistan is known as Bangladesh today. Former West Pakistan, now simply known as Pakistan, suffers from high levels of poverty and unequal income distribution. With a population of nearly 170 million people, Pakistan is regarded as the sixth-largest population in the world. Unfortunately it has suffered from decades of internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighboring India.

Pakistan also has strong ties with China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf, and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries. A stable Afghanistan is another crucial component to the country's continuing struggle to rebuild a stable economy and provide safety for its residents.

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:  Islamabad and adjacent Rawalpindi comprise the national capital area.
Major cities:  Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, and Hyderabad.
Official Currency Pakistan rupee (PKR)
Time Zone UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time)
Language Urdu (national and official), but it is spoken by only 8 percent of the population. English is recognized as the official language of business. Other languages include Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Pushtu, Baloch, and others.

Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

The Pakistani legal system is based on English common law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as an Islamic state. It accepts compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction with reservations.

Form of Government

Parliamentary democracy



Available Banking Services

Online banking 
Banking in English
Overdraft protection

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day
Public Holiday (general elections)
The Prophet's Birthday (Eid Milad un Nabi) 
Labor Day 
Bank Holiday 
Independence Day
Start of Ramadan 
End of Ramadan Holiday (Eid ul Fitr)
Feast of Sacrifice (Eid ul Adha) 
Quaid-e-Azam's Birthday/Christmas Day

U.S. and Other Major Banks in Country

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

Dawood Center
Ground Floor, Dawood Center, Near 
PIDC, M.T. Khan Road,
Karachi, Pakistan 
Phone: 9221 (111-225-587)

National Bank of Pakistan
NBP Building - Head Office
I.I. Chundrigar Road
Karachi, Pakistan
Phone: 92 (21) 921 2100
(International locations and over 1,200 branches in Pakistan)


Business Etiquette Tips

Business Negotiations

Establishing a personal relationship is a necessity as are third-party introductions prior to developing a professional relationship. Expect to spend the first couple of meetings establishing rapport. Negotiating is an art form in Pakistan, so be prepared for prolonged business discussions with decisions made only by senior members. To avoid disruptions to the business process it is important to maintain the same business team throughout.

Proper Greetings

Men typically shake hands with one another. Women will hug one another, but greetings between members of the opposite sex should be initiated by the woman to avoid making any faux pas. It is standard to use a person's more formal name and wait until invited before using their first name. 

Scheduling Appointments

Appointments should be scheduled three to four weeks in advance (all attempts should be made to avoid scheduling during Ramadan).  Punctuality is expected of Western counterparts though you may be kept waiting.


Embassy Locations and Registration

Americans living or traveling in Pakistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Pakistan.  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. All U.S. citizens traveling to Pakistan for any purpose are required to have valid U.S. passports and Pakistani-issued visas.

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

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
3517 International Court Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202-243-6500

U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone: (92) 51-208-0000
Fax:  (92) 51-227-6427


Employment-Legal Requirements

A typical work week is 48 hours for a full-time employee, six days a week, eight hours a day. No employee can be required to work more than nine hours a day without payment of overtime (double wages) and no more than 624 hours total during a one-year period. U.S. companies and government offices tend to follow a shortened five-day work week of 42 to 45 hours. Seasonal (or outdoor) businesses serve as the exception to this rule. There are no restrictions on hiring foreign employees, though prior to doing so a company needs to obtain permission from the Board of Investment (BOI).

All businesses employing 20 or more workers are required to issue formal employment letters at the time of employment of each worker. Each employment contract should contain the terms and conditions of employment, length of employment, remuneration, and other fringe benefits. In the case of domestic, farm, or casual workers or contractors, labor contracts are generally unwritten, but they can be enforced through the courts on the basis of oral evidence or past practice.

Terminating Employees

The services of a permanent worker cannot be terminated for any reason other than misconduct unless a one-month notice or severance in lieu of notice is provided by the employer or by the worker if he or she so chooses to leave his or her service. One-month wages are calculated on the basis of the average wage earned during the last three months of service. Employees who are laid off are entitled to a minimum two- week notice or two weeks of wages.

All terminations should be provided in writing stating the reasons for terminating employment. If an employee disputes the termination, he or she must submit their grievance in writing either to the attention of the employer, the shop steward, or through the respective trade union within three months of termination.

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Annual Holiday and Vacation 14 days (after 12 months employment): 100 percent pay
Maternity Leave 6  weeks (after 4 months employment): 100 percent pay
Casual Leave 10 days (up to 10 days -urgent leave): 100 percent pay
Sick and Medical Leave 16 days: 50 percent pay
Recognized Holidays 13 days: 100 percent pay


Entry and Exit Requirements

There are a variety of visas available, depending upon the specific requirements of an individual. This section focuses on the business and work visa. For more information please review the visa policy of the Pakistan government or the Embassy of Pakistan. 

Visas on arrival are permissible for U.S. citizens and allow a stay of up to 30 days. Basic minimum requirements for all forms of a visa include a completed application form, an original passport with six months of remaining validity, two passport-size photos, and other supporting documents depending on the type of visa being requested. In cases where a work or student visa is required, a letter from the employer or school of choice on their letterhead is required. 

Business Visa

A business visa is valid for five years, but it can only be utilized for stays of three months each. Additional documents are required prior to approval. Business visas can be converted into work visas. The process is overseen by the BOI, and it takes approximately four weeks.  If one is required, the application should be made as soon as possible upon arrival to allow enough time. 

Work Visa

A work visa is typically valid for a one-year period, includes multiple entries, and can be extended annually upon approval.


Intellectual Property 

The laws in Pakistan strive to provide for protection of intellectual property rights, and the government is in the process of rewriting legislation in the areas of copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Unfortunately intellectual property piracy is a widespread concern throughout the country.

The U.S. Pakistan Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation guarantees national treatment for patent, trademark, and industrial property rights. Pakistan is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the Bern Copyright Union, but not of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Industrial Design Patents

The Industrial Designs Law provides for the registration of designs for a period of 10 years, with the possibility of extending the registration for two additional 10-year periods.

Layout Designs

The Law for Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits provides for protection of layout designs for 10 years starting from the design's first commercial exploitation anywhere in the world. Penalties and legal remedies are also available in case of infringement on industrial designs, layout designs, and trademarks. Implementing rules to enforce these ordinances remains incomplete.


A patent is granted for a 20-year period. The patent grant excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention. Patent protection starts upon the actual grant of a patent. In the absence of any specific agreement between an employer and an employee the question of ownership of any invention made by an employee would be decided in each case according to the facts of that particular case.


Initially a trademark is registered for 10 years from the filing date. The trademarks registration can be renewed every 10 years. A search should be made prior to registering a trademark to ensure similar or identical marks do not already exist and that your mark is not infringing upon another filed trademark.


Pakistan has in the past been placed on the Special 301 "Watch List" (prepared by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative) due to widespread piracy and continued intellectual property violations.  Pakistan is considered to be among the world's leading producers of pirated optical discs and other copyrighted material. The Pakistani government has reacted by forcefully closing illegitimate optical disc production and exports over the last two years and established the Federal Investigation Agency  to further enforce intellectual property protection. They are also working hard to improve copyright infringement though there is still much work to be done. The Trade Marks Registry works much like a Civil Court, and cases brought before it are heard by the registrar of trade marks, who then decides the cases relating to registration, post registration, opposition, and rectification matters.


 Legal and Registration of a Business

A business in Pakistan may be organized as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or as a public or private limited company. Foreign investors generally establish limited companies. They must register with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan Company registration offices are located in each of the provincial capitals and also in Islamabad and Multan. 

Foreign and domestic investors are free to establish and own business enterprises in all sectors of the economy with the exception of five restricted sectors: arms and munitions, high explosives, currency/mint operations, nonindustrial alcohol, and radioactive substances. Private entities are similarly free to acquire and dispose of their interests in business enterprises.

Companies that wish to open a branch/liaison or representative office in Pakistan will need to apply to the BOI for permission. The BOI will process and decide such cases within a period of six to eight weeks. Permission for opening a branch/liaison office may be granted by the BOI for a period of three to five years. 

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

The information included herein applies specifically to the recommended steps for opening a limited liability company as outlined on the World Bank's Web site. There are 10 steps listed with an estimated amount of time ranging from three to four weeks to open an office.

The steps are:

  1. Obtain approval of company name through the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) E-service website.
  2. Pay the fees for name registration and company incorporation using bank challans at the designated bank (MCB).
  3. Register the company with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) through online E-services.
  4. Obtain digital signatures from the National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) through the SECP e-services.
  5. Apply for a national tax number (NTN) and register for income tax.
  6. Register for sales tax by applying for a Sales Tax Number (STN) at the tax facilitation center of the Regional Tax Office (RTO) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in Karachi.
  7. *Register for Professional Tax with the Excise & Taxation Department of the District.
  8. * Register with the Sind Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI).
  9. * Register with Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).
  10. * Register under the West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance 1969 with the Labour Department of the District.

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

 Below is a listing of additional resources to assist in establishing an office and employing workers in Pakistan.

American Business Council of Pakistan
Board of Investment
Federal Board of Revenue
Government of Pakistan  Government Forms
India Pakistan Trade Unit
Ministry of Finance 
Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry
World Bank


Safety and Crime

There are a number of extremist and terrorist groups still operating within Pakistan.  Travelers are advised to be especially aware of their surroundings, avoid public transportation, and avoid public gatherings. Kidnappings for ransom are particularly common in some parts of Pakistan such as the Northwest Frontier Province and Sindh Province. Women are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to travel with company or in small groups as much as possible.

It is unwise for anyone to travel on the streets late at night. Visitors to Pakistan should attempt to maintain a low profile, blend in, be aware of their surroundings, and seek security with their family or sponsoring organization. Crime is a serious concern for foreigners throughout Pakistan. Carjacking, armed robberies, house invasions, and other violent crimes occur in many major urban areas.



Pakistan has entered into agreements for avoidance of double taxation with a number of countries, including the United States. The tax year coincides with the calendar year and ends on December 31.  A resident taxpayer is entitled to tax credits on foreign-sourced income in cases where foreign income tax was paid. There are specific rules regarding the amount due (if any) and the time frame in which an individual can benefit from the credit. Consult with a tax professional if this applies.

Individual and Employee Taxation

If an individual becomes resident in Pakistan due to his employment, and his presence in Pakistan is for a period or periods not exceeding three years, his foreign income will not be taxed unless this income is derived from a business established in Pakistan or it is brought or received in Pakistan. 

Foreign-sourced income of a resident (who is a citizen of Pakistan but was not resident in any of the four tax years preceding the year he became resident) shall be exempt from tax for two years. This refers to the tax year in which an individual became resident and the next following tax year. Any foreign-sourced income received by a resident individual is exempt from tax if the individual has already paid foreign income tax on the income.

Foreign-sourced income earned by a citizen of Pakistan during the tax year in which he leaves Pakistan and remains abroad is exempt from tax.

Resident Employees

An individual is considered to be a resident if his aggregate stay in Pakistan is 182 days or more during that tax year or he is a federal government or provincial government employee or official. An association of persons is considered resident for a tax year if the control and management of its affairs are situated wholly or partly in Pakistan at any time in the year. A resident person is responsible for tax in Pakistan for both Pakistan-sourced income and foreign-sourced income.

Nonresident Employee

A nonresident person or employee is only responsible for Pakistan-sourced income. (The term "association of persons" includes a firm, a Hindu undivided family, any artificial juridical person, and any body of persons formed under a foreign law.)

Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations

Tax Residency for a Business

A company is considered resident for a tax year if it is incorporated or formed by or under any law in force in Pakistan, the control and management of its affairs is situated wholly in Pakistan at any time in the year, or if it is a provincial government or a local authority in Pakistan.

Corporate Taxes

Corporate income tax, social security tax, corporate pension contribution, and value-added tax may all apply.

For more information on specific tax rates, both corporate and individual, visit the Pakistan Tax Rates page on the tax Web site.


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