From an oil and gas perspective most activity is centered round the Gulf of Mexico and indeed the shallow shelf is a mature area. As we have seen with the North Sea the major companies are selling off their shallow water assets and turning to explore and produce in the deepwater area. Several significant deepwater discoveries have been in the past several years, and more are expected in the years to come.
Onshore, the largest growth potential in the future for the USA will be in unconventional gas. Significant shale gas discoveries exist across the country, with some significant reserves near the major demand areas of the eastern portion of the country. Other areas a reserves stretch across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama and Arkansas. Due to the permeability of shale and the fracturing required to increase flow rates, higher drilling and production costs are associated with shale gas.
Power generation in the USA has traditionally been majority coal based due to the large reserves of coal found in easily accessible areas. However, nuclear, hydroelectric and renewables also play a role in the power generation mix and their importance will continue to grow in the future. For example, Texas generates over 4300 MW of wind power making it the largest producing state in the US with the World’s largest wind farm located in Roscoe, Texas. Also, 17 new licenses have been issued in the US for new nuclear reactors and a possible 4-8 new units are scheduled to be online by 2018.
Establishing a Legal Entity
Once a company has decided to establish operations in the US market, the first step in the process will be to determine and set up the proper type of legal entity for this market. The legal entity process is handled at the state and local government level; however, one legal entity set up in Texas will allow a company to operate across the entire US.
In Texas there are several entity types that can be used to establish your business. In order to make the best determination as to the type of entity used it is recommended that you consult local legal and tax professionals to assist you in the process. The basic entity types are:
- Sole Proprietorship
- General Partnership
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Partnership
For more information on each type of entity see the Texas Secretary of State website at www.texasonline.com
The attorneys Douglas Paisley and James Prappas of Jackson Walker LLP have provided the EIC and EIC members with legal services for several years. They are very familiar with working with UK subsidiaries in the Texas market.
Douglas A. Paisley II
Jackson Walker L.L.P.
1401 McKinney Street, Suite 1900
Houston, Texas 77010
(713) 752 4316
(713) 308 4144 (fax)
(713) 824 4849 (cell)
James D. Prappas
Jackson Walker L.L.P.
1401 McKinney, Suite 1900
Houston, Texas 77010
(713) 752 4298
(713) 308 4151 (fax)
Employer Identification Number
The Employer Identification Number is the federal (national) tax identification number used to identify corporations and not-for-profits at the federal level. The number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS. Follow this link to read about the EIN and apply for your number online:
Other Tax and Permit Information
Businesses operating in the state of Texas will also be subject to other state and local level taxes and permit requirements. Those include, but are not limited to; a sales tax permit and a franchise tax. These can be obtained from the state of Texas and are necessary for most businesses operating in the state. The following link covers these requirements in depth: www.texasonline.com
Your legal representatives will be able to assist in this effort and ensure that your business has all the necessary permits and tax numbers required to start doing business in Texas.
Employer/Employee Requirements in Texas
Although the US does not have the same level of labour rules and regulations as most European nations, there are several requirements that must be fulfilled when employing people in the state of Texas. This link will explain what those requirements are and show you how to register online:
If a company wishes to transfer non-US citizen employees to the US there are several options by which visas can be granted.
First, it is possible to enter the United States on a Visa Waiver program. This however is a temporary (green) document designed for holiday visitors, which is filled in prior to entry in the USA and should be presented with a valid passport.
Entering the USA with a work visa requires a white form (I-94) to be completed and presented with a valid passport.
In the case of the visa waiver and the I-94 form ensure the “rip off” portion is retained until departure, when it must be handed back at check in.
A blue customs declaration form is also required to enter the USA, regardless of passenger’s status.
Relevant forms are issued by the airlines at the check-in counter, and are also distributed during the flight.
When landing in the USA, it is necessary to collect baggage and clear customs at the point of entry. Bags will need to be re-checked before boarding any internal flight within the USA.
To work in the USA it is essential to obtain a work visa. There are several visa options to suit specific requirements. The EIC strongly recommends that companies research the different options best suited to their needs and seek advice from immigration specialists’ best prepared to handle your specific situation.
A visa is necessary to obtain a Social Security number, which is the vital element to get every process started once you arrive. Bank accounts, cell phone accounts, driver license, etc. all require a valid Social Security number before the process can begin.
For immigration issues, you can contact Mr. Ken Harder of Dunbar, Harder & Benson LLP. Ken is board-certified in immigration and nationalization by the Texas Board of Specialization. Alternatively, Maureen Donovan of Donavon Law Office has also worked with the EIC and our members in the past on immigration issues.
Dunbar, Harder & Benson
Dunbar Harder, PLLC
One Riverway, Suite 1800
Houston, Texas 77057
(713) 782 4646
Donovan Law Office
4801 Woodway, Suite 300E
Houston, Texas 77056
(713) 964 2660
Social Security Number
Obtaining a Social Security card is the first and most important step in personal set up and hence doing business in the USA. A Social Security number is a legal requirement to work in the United States and is required in many other situations like setting up bank accounts, credit cards, etc.
Anyone lawfully admitted to the United States with Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) permission to work is eligible for a Social Security number.
Complete an application form. (Available online www.socialsecurity.gov,
Call 1-800-722-1213, or visit local office.)
Social Security Administration
16200 Dillard Dr
Houston, TX 77074
Office hours are Monday – Friday 9.00 AM to 4.00 PM. Social Security office is closed on Federal Holidays.
Provide at least two original supporting documents to show age, identity and lawful alien status.
- Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport);
- I-94 with your unexpired foreign passport; or
- Work permit card (I-766 or I-688B).
Take completed application form and supporting documentation to the Social Security office (the above is nearest to the EIC office). There is no appointment system so be prepared to wait.
A Texas Driver License is required to drive in Texas after 30 days of residency. The license is not only for driving, it is also used as a photo ID that may be requested in shops, restaurants, airports and other security checkpoints, such as office buildings.
Public transport in Houston is rather limited; choices include the Metro bus service (www.ridemetro.org) or the light rail in downtown Houston. Thus, in Houston, driving is the most convenient option, and is in fact essential. To obtain a driver license, a two-part test needs to be taken.
- Part 1 is a written test.
This part will include knowledge of roads, signs and Texas driving laws, including those concerning drugs and alcohol. Information can be found in the Texas Driver Handbook issued by the Department of Public Safety or online at www.txdps.state.tx.us.
- Part 2 is an actual driving test, carried out on the roadways with an instructor.
- Both tests are taken at the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office.
Proof of ID requires a passport with valid US Visa.
Also bring Social Security card (see page 3).
- The DPS office nearest to the EIC:
Houston, TX 77043-3226
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 8.00 AM – 5.00 PM
Thursday: 8.00 AM – 7.00 PM
Whilst resident and working in the United States, it is essential for individuals to have adequate health insurance. Policies which include full health, dental and eye coverage are recommended as these services can become costly. Although changes are being made to the current healthcare system, there is not a national system of coverage like in the UK and most people rely on private health insurance policies that are provided by employers or purchased individually.
Most employees in professional positions will expect health care coverage as part of their compensation package. These can be purchased from insurance brokers with prices determined by level of coverage, average age of plan participant and claims against the plan
Long-term residents will become eligible for Medicare at the age of 62, providing they have paid into the system for 40 quarters (10 years). Medicare contributions are deducted automatically during the payroll process.
For health insurance issues you can contact Mr. Cliff Caldwell of Ascende Human Capital Consulting, who has worked with numerous companies based in the UK and is very familiar with their needs and issues that arise from the US system.
Cliff Caldwell, GPHR, Director, Global Solutions
Ascende Human Capital Consulting
2700 Post Oak Blvd,
Tel: 713 629 9666
Although there is a national pension plan system, Social Security, most employers will offer separate pension plans offered by private service providers. The most common of these pension plans is a pre-tax deduction scheme known as a 401k. A 401k allows for the employer to make a contribution each month to the plan on behalf of the employee. It also allows the employee to make a pre-tax contribution to the plan as well. The Kent Group also deals with 401K pension plans.
While Social Security payments are mandated by the federal government, some other type of pension plan payment will be expected as part of an overall compensation package for most positions.
Setting up a bank account is essential for doing business in the USA. JP Morgan Chase bank has a branch next door to our Westheimer office and offers personal as well as commercial banking services. We will be happy to provide contact details. Numerous other national banking groups such as Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo are also options.
Chase Business Banker, VP Royal Oaks Brance
11560 Westheimer Rd,
Houston, TX 7707
Companies will choose the payroll method best suited to them. For people selecting automated payroll, the EIC can suggest Insperity, one of the largest providers of this type in the US. They are able to process payrolls over the phone and provide relevant documents via courier the following day.
Paul Dunphy, Business Performance Advisor
20329 SH 249
Houston, TX 77070
(281) 379 7618
333 Clay Street,
Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, P.C.
5847 San Felipe, Ste 2400
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 860 5412
Janet Long, Owner, Peerless CFO Services,
25703 White Springs Ct, Spring,
Tel: 281 684 3664
Service providers Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T are all available with plans to suit every requirement. All have nationwide coverage and local stores. For travel outside the USA, it will be necessary to have a phone which has Tri-Band capabilities. Identification and Social Security numbers are required to set up telephone plans.
Printing & Office Supplies
Professional printing services are located close to the EIC office. It is possible to have catalogues made up from a CD. Also passport photographs can be taken there. The EIC is happy to advise the options available.
Tel. 281 564 7000
Tel. 281 821 4400
Office supplies can be obtained from Office Depot or Office Max. Computers and other electrical appliances can also be purchased at these stores, along with Best Buy, Comp USA and Frys or direct from Dell.
Houston caters extremely well to long - and short-term residents.
Apartments for lease are available in various sizes: studio (a single large room with cooking & bathroom facilities), one-, two- and three-bedroom units. All apartment units are equipped with a cooker, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator and in some cases (always check) washer and dryer. The lessee is responsible for insuring home’s contents and flood damage (if chosen). Some properties even offer fully furnished apartments providing beds, furniture, TVs, etc.
Apartments are usually leased for 6 or 12 month periods, although some properties offer month-to-month (at a higher rate) agreements. Rent normally covers everything except electricity, and, in some cases, water, gas, and garbage collection. Most apartment complexes require 30 days’ written notice prior to leaving and then may still charge a fee for leaving the lease early.
Deposits are usually required and most apartment complexes demand rent to be paid by check on the first day of each month. Late payments face per-day penalties.
Generally when buying a house, prices vary according to location. Compared to the UK, housing is considerably cheaper. Construction is different: all houses have wooden frames built upon a concrete slab; the outsides are clad with brick tiles, wood paneling or other siding material.
Houston property taxes are based on square footage. It is advisable to take flood insurance coverage as well on building and contents if the home is in a flood plain area. Flood plain areas can be viewed online at http://maps2.tsarp.org/tsarp.
Houston, like all major cities, has convenient hotels downtown and in the surroundings areas. The EIC has negotiated rates with the La Quinta and Hilton Westchase local to the office, and can reserve accommodation for visiting members. Again, make sure to review the area you will be visiting, i.e. client offices, to ensure the hotel is close to the location. Houston is very spread out and you do not want to stay downtown if your clients are in the Energy Corridor.
Another popular housing option is corporate housing. Fully furnished apartments can be leased anywhere from a week to several months.
The EIC can advise service providers for both houses and apartments. HomeCorp Relocation can help with real estate agents to show housing or corporate apartment options available. Numerous other real estate agents are located across the city to assist in this effort as well.
For home relocation, either international or domestic, Armstrong Relocation can provide services to assist families and individuals moving to or from the Houston area.
10400 Westoffice Drive, Suite 112
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 334 2677
(713) 334 3466, fax
Armstrong Relocation & Companies
(800) 365 0103
Car Rental, Lease & Purchase
The main method of transport in Houston is by car. Consequently, cars are easy to hire, lease and buy.
Car rental in Houston is very simple. All the major companies have locations at the airport and satellite locations all over the city and surrounding areas. If you are not coming in via the airport and need to rent a car, it is advised that you rent your car at a satellite location in order to avoid special airport taxes on car rental.
A UK driver license is acceptable to drive in Texas, simply present a passport ID and credit card to drive away. There are several options for car insurance; as a visitor it is advisable to take full coverage. You will be asked when hiring the car if you would like to take the insurance coverage and the fee will be added to the total rental price.
Purchase of vehicles is again very straightforward. You can pay cash or finance direct through a dealer. There are many options for purchasing vehicles, both new and used. However, in order to protect against fraud and disreputable businesses, dealing with the well established new car dealers is sometimes best. They normally sale used cars as well and can help to finance the vehicle if needed.
Without credit history a bank loan may not be possible. Some local credit unions have set up “ex-pat” services to deal with this specific issue.
Long-term lease arrangements are also available. With this option there is a charge per mile for miles over an agreed limit and a balloon payment at the end of the lease.
Most schools in Houston are organized in three levels - Kindergarten through 5th grade (elementary), 6th - 8th grade (middle) and 9th - 12th grade (senior high). Instruction at all levels is largely regulated by state requirements. State law restricts class sizes for grades 4 and under to a maximum of 22 students per teacher. Several standardized aptitude and achievement tests are administered to students at different ages.
The Harris County area includes 24 school districts that offer public education to many incorporated and unincorporated communities. The Harris County Dept. of Education (713-694-6300 or 713-242-8036) maintains a library of specific information about each of these districts.
It should be noted that better areas have better standards as they receive greater resources for their schools. When selecting an area of residence it is sensible to discuss school options with your estate agent.
There is a British school and several private school options to look at as well. Private schools can be expensive but are more on par with UK and other European standards.
Houston has strip centers in almost every locality, and large shopping malls scattered throughout the city. The malls closest to the EIC office are West Oaks & Memorial City. Also nearby is The Galleria, which is Houston’s number one shopping and tourist destination.
The Galleria houses Houston’s finest shops: Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Sharper Image, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Betsy Johnson and Kenneth Cole, to name a few. The Galleria is especially unique as some of the shops surround an indoor ice-skating rink. There are also several restaurants housed in The Galleria. The Galleria neighborhood also hosts some of the fine dining spots in the city as well as the offices of large operators and contractors.
Restaurants & Pubs
Houston is an “Eat Out” city. It has more restaurants and pubs than most other cities around the world. The availability covers almost every type of cuisine in the world. From fine dining establishments down to fast food chains, there is pricing to suit all pockets.
Most pubs and sports bars are equipped with satellite television and like British pubs they serve good food at a sensible price. British themed pubs located near the EIC office are the Fox and Hound, Big John’s Bar, Richmond Arms and the Bull and Bear to name a few.
Houston has professional baseball, basketball, American football, soccer, and ice hockey teams. Other national level events include tennis, horse back riding, golf and motor racing. You can even find cricket and rugby if you look hard enough.
Houston is a golfer’s paradise, with an abundance of municipal courses and a climate which allows you to play year-round. Golf is a very good vehicle for networking and business entertaining.
There is a wide choice for exercise facilities. Lifetime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness & LA Fitness centers can be found all over town. The new Lifetime Fitness centers are also equipped with racquetball and squash courts.
Houston also has several private clubs. The Houstonian, Metropolitan, Greenspoint, City Club and Westlake (close to the EIC office) that have fitness centers, racquetball, squash, and tennis as well as meeting rooms and restaurants for lunchtime entertaining.
Houston has a variety of cycling and running clubs. The annual Houston Marathon starts and finishes downtown. For the cycling road warriors, there is the annual MS150 charity ride from Houston to Austin. This ride is sponsored by major operators like BP and is also a vehicle for networking and meeting others in the industry.
For walkers, joggers and the not-so-serious cyclists, there are plenty of parks to enjoy. The Terry Hershey Park and George H. W. Bush Park are located very close to the EIC offices. Memorial Park near downtown is great for runners, walkers, cyclist and even mountain bikers.
Theatre & Films
Downtown Houston’s Theatre District boasts world-class venues for theatre, opera, ballet and symphony. Also located downtown is an abundance of restaurants to visit for a meal before or after a performance.
For film-goers, huge cinema complexes can be found throughout Houston. There is always a large choice of the latest movies. A few movie theatres show international and independent films.
Places to Visit
The Museum District is home to 19 museums, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum, and the Children’s Museum.
The Menil Collection is a renowned art gallery, free to all visitors.
For a traditional Texan experience there is George Ranch Historical Park, a 20,000 acre working ranch where you can see period houses, cowboys working cattle, eat
biscuits at the “chuck wagon,” visit the blacksmith, and watch a demonstration on loading and firing a rifle.
Close to Houston is the Johnson Space Center which is a “must see”. Standing next to a real rocket, climbing aboard a Shuttle, visiting mission control, looking into
the early space capsules and touching a piece of moon rock is a childhood dream fulfilled.
Nearby we have Kemah Board Walk, which is a neat marina development with restaurants, shops, fun fair and a miniature railway. Half an hour away is the seaside town
of Galveston, which was destroyed by a massive flood some hundred years ago. Galveston was re-built and has most its houses erected on stilts. There is an aircraft museum, some fine old Victorian houses and a modern facility called Moody Gardens. You can also
visit the beach and the Strand. There is also the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum. Newly added is the Historic Pleasure Pier, situated entirely over the water and holds midway games, eclectic shops, a collection of restaurants, and 16 rides. From
Galveston you can take a cruise to the Caribbean or Mexico.
The San Jacinto monument marks the spot where the Texans defeated the Mexicans to take back Texas only three days after it was lost at the Alamo in San Antonio. There
is also the Battleship Texas, which served in two World wars, you can check out its firepower and see how life aboard must have been.
San Antonio is a three hour drive from Houston. There you can find Sea World, the River Walk, the Tower of Americas, the famous Alamo Mission, and a fine Mexican Market.
Austin is a three hour drive from Houston & the capital of Texas. Dallas is five hours away, and New Orleans six hours by road