How to Register a Sole Trader Business in Jamaica

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Jamaica is not just the land of clear blue waters, white sand beaches and sunshine. It is also home to many thriving small businesses and sole traders. Quite often, a sole trader is a self-employed person such as an accountant, plumber or consultant. In order to receive benefits such as a business banking accounts or income tax relief, businesses in Jamaica, including sole traders, must formally register with the Office of the Registrar of Companies.

Things You'll Need

  • Taxpayer Registration Number
  • National Insurance Scheme Card
  • Passport-size photos
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of residence
  • Local accountant and lawyer

Decide whether a sole trader, also known as a sole proprietorship, is right for you. According to the Office of the Registrar of Companies, advantages to a sole proprietorship include the freedom to make all of the decisions and enjoy all the financial rewards. Disadvantages include the owner faces unlimited responsibility for the debts incurred by the business. Other business structures include partnership and corporation.

If you do not already have a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) or a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) card, you must apply for them. You will need to include two passport-size photos, validated by the Justice of Peace, and a copy of your birth certificate, as part of both applications. You can apply for a TRN at the local tax office. Applications for the NIS card are accepted through the Ministry of Labour & Social Security.

Make sure your company name is available by performing a name search with the Office of the Registrar of Companies. An initial search may be conducted online through the Office of the Registrar of Companies website. This will cost JA$500 (approximately US$6).

Fill out the BN1 business name application form from the Office of the Registrar of Companies. As of February 2010, the application fee is JA$2,000 (approximately US$25). To complete the form, you will need a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), documents to prove your identity (driver’s license, passport or national ID), and proof of current residence. It can take up to two visits to complete the application process.

If your sole proprietorship is an import/export business, you will need to register with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and complete their exporter registration form.

Register with the Inland Revenue Department. If you are eligible, they will give you permission to receive tax benefits and deductions, including income tax, education tax and general consumption tax.

Tips & Warnings

  • Business name certificates must be renewed every three years.
  • A business can formally cease operations by completing a BN6 form and providing written notification to the Office of the Registrar of Companies.
  • Hire an accountant and an attorney to guide you through the legal forms to start and maintain your business in Jamaica.
  • Jamaica is still a member of the British Commonwealth, and any business name that suggests a relationship to the British Crown, such as "Royal" or "Prince," must provide written justification for the name selection.
  • Non-Jamaican nationals may be asked to present a valid work permit from the Ministry of Labour.

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