How to Register a Business in South Africa

How to register your South African business.
How to register your South African business. (Image: South Africa image by bluefern from

South Africa understands the importance of businesses to its economy. As a result, the government makes it easy for entrepreneurs to establish companies. The first step is to pick a name and then register the business. Doing so is straightforward and will require the business owner to primarily deal with the Registrar of Companies, also known as CIPRO.

Decide on a business name and check to see whether it is available. To do this, visit the CIPRO website and then fill and submit the Application For Name form or Form CK7. As of May 2010, the cost is 50 ZAR ($6.40), and the wait period is three to five days. If for some reason you cannot use the CIPRO website, simply visit the CIPRO office in Pretoria. Unfortunately, submitting the form in person will result in a longer wait. But once the proposed business name is approved, it will be automatically reserved for two months, and no one else can use the name during that time. The reserved name can be extended at a cost of 20 ZAR ($2.56) per month.

Fill out and submit a Certificate to Commence Business form or Form CM46 to CIPRO. This form is required for all businesses to begin raising capital. In addition to Form CM46, also include the following completed documents: a CIPRO letter indicating that the company name was approved, a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation, a copy of the Memorandum and one copy of Articles of Association, which must include a signature page. The minimum fee for this transaction can be 415 ZAR ($53). However, the total cost will ultimately depend on the authorized share capital of the company. Additionally, the following forms must be submitted: Form CM22, CM27, CM29, CM31, CM46, CM49. All forms are available at the CIPRO website and can be submitted online. CIPRO will take five to seven days to complete incorporation.

Submit the business's information for tax purposes. Once the company is incorporated with CIPRO, submit the appropriate form to obtain a tax number for the business from the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The type of form will depend on the type of business, but all forms are available at the SARS website. The business must then register as an employer using the EMP101e Form, which is also available at the SARS website. For VAT (value-added tax) purposes, the business must submit the name of its public officer to SARS, and this person must be a resident of South Africa. The entire tax registration process will take approximately 12 days.

Register with the South African Department of Labour for unemployment insurance purposes. Submit completed copies of Forms U18 and U19 and wait approximately four days for the department to approve the registration. The forms are available at the Department of Labour website. Once the application is approved, a reference number will be issued and the business can commence operations.

Open a business bank account at a bank of your choice. To do this, submit evidence of the business's directors and original copies of the company's incorporation documents. The forms will ask for the business's formal name, contact information and income tax number. Opening an account is free and takes about one to two days.

Tips & Warnings

  • A lawyer is not necessary for incorporation. However, hiring a lawyer to draft the Memorandum and the Articles of Association and navigate through the various registration processes could be handy.

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