What Do Foreign Owners of Companies in the USA Need to Know About the Corporate Transparency Act?

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), a new regulatory framework set to take effect in 2024, is poised to introduce significant changes in the U.S. business environment. Aimed at promoting transparency and combating the use of shell companies for money laundering, its impact extends beyond U.S. domestic companies to encompass foreign entities operating within the United States. This blog aims to shed light on what foreign entities need to know about the CTA, offering insights into navigating this upcoming legislative landscape.

Defining a Foreign Entity Under the Corporate Transparency Act

A foreign company, in the context of the Corporate Transparency Act, refers to any business entity that is formed and governed under the laws of a foreign country but is registered to conduct business in a state of the United States. This classification brings them under the same transparency and reporting requirements as companies formed in the United States.

Qualification of Foreign Companies as Reporting Companies Under the CTA

The CTA defines reporting companies primarily as corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). Additionally, the definition encompasses other similar entities that operate with structures akin to corporations or LLCs, as outlined in the regulations set forth by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Therefore, if a foreign company aligns with these criteria — functioning as a corporation, LLC, or a similar company — it falls under the purview of the CTA and must adhere to its reporting requirements.

However, there are exemptions to consider under the Corporate Transparency Act. Not all foreign entities fall within its scope. For instance, a publicly traded company is exempt from the CTA's reporting requirements. Additionally, entities operating under government oversight, such as banks and credit unions are also excluded.

Reporting Requirements for Foreign Companies Under the CTA

Foreign companies that fall under the purview of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) are obligated to report the identity of their beneficial owners. A beneficial owner is defined as anyone who has a direct or indirect substantial controlling stake in the company, or an individual with a specific ownership interest, as outlined in the CTA. The details that these foreign entities must report include:

  • Full Legal Name: The complete legal name of each beneficial owner.
  • Date of Birth: The date of birth of the beneficial owner.
  • Current Business Street Address: The primary business street address of the beneficial owner.
  • Unique Identification Number: An identification number from a document such as a passport or driver’s license, as specified by the CTA.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) can result in both criminal and civil penalties. Here is a breakdown of these penalties:

  • Entities that fail to provide the required information may incur a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day the violation continues. This fine accumulates daily until the necessary compliance is achieved.
  • The consequences are more severe in cases of willful non-compliance. This includes situations where an entity fails to file a required report or submits false or incomplete beneficial ownership information.
  • Individuals responsible for such willful violations may face criminal charges. These charges could lead to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.
  • In addition to potential imprisonment, there can also be a financial fine of up to $10,000.


We hope this article has been informative and useful for your business. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at info@wilkinsonlawllc.com or 732-410-7595. If you need legal advice specific to your situation, please ask to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your company’s goals.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as tax or legal advice. Please consult professionals for advice tailored to your specific situation. The author and publisher assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions or for any actions taken based on the information presented.