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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Start-up procedures: progress in 2010

In 2010 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company is 7 days and cost is € 399.

In 2009 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company is 8 days and cost is € 417.
In 2008 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company was 9 days and cost is € 463.
In 2007 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company was 12 days and cost is € 485.

In Italy it is possible to register a company in one day as from April 2010. The procedure requires a single form ("communicazione unica") which is sent electronically to the Companies Register which uses it for the registration and also re-submits it to the other relevant bodies (tax and social security offices). The system delivers a protocol number to the petitioner which allows him/her to start activities or request the necessary licenses if so required. 

In 2010 Spain has considerably reduced both times -from 28/29 days to 17.5- and costs -from € 617 to € 115- via a new Royal Decree (RDL 13/2010 - December 2010). The Decree reduces the applicable notaries' fees, the registration fees and eliminates the tax on the company's capital.  Also the amount of time required to register a company for those private limited companies founded using the newly approved "standard company bylaws" is reduced. Spain's sole problem to comply with the required time limits rests completely on the Municipal License ("licencia de funcionamiento de las actividades") which takes 15 days on average.

From 2009 target time to start-up a company: 3 days

The December 2008 Competitiveness Council adopted "The Council's Action Plan for a Small Business Act for Europe" which included a number of concrete measures to support SMEs. Amongst these it asked Member States to bring down start-up times to 3 working days. The previous benchmark was 1 week (5 working days).

Despite improvements in times required to start-up a company in a number of countries, this new 3 day benchmark means that only 10 countries comply on this count (10 in 2009 and 13 in 2008 when the benchmark was 5 days).


Number of Member States



Not accomplished










Number of countries that comply with Cost and One-stop-shops remain equal to those of 2009 and 2008.

Member States that fully comply with all three objectives (one-stop-shop, time and cost) are BE, DK, EE, HU, PT, RO, and SI.

Country by country information

For a more detailed, country by country information:

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