How to start a new business in South Africa


In order to open a business there are a number of stages to be completed after the type of business structure has been established.

The first stages involve the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). The CIPC is responsible for the registration of companies, cooperatives and intellectual property rights.

Actions to take concerning the CIPC are outlined below.

Check to see if the name is unique/available

Checks on existing company names are carried out through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. We make it easy and inexpensive, see here.

Register the business name

In order to register a business name with CIPC, form Application to Reserve a Name (CoR 9.1) must be completed and submitted.

An applicant can submit up to four name alternatives. ID is required and revenue stamps payable.

It is strongly advisable to pay the extra bit and find out if a trademark similar or identical to your proposed company name already exists. The companies database and the trademarks database aren’t linked at CIPC and therefor two separate searches are required.

The existence of a previously filed trademark can oppose the use of your proposed company name in the future – queue the sound of money, time and investment gurgling down the proverbial drain…

Register the business

A business is registered on completion and submission of two forms that must be lodged together:

  • Notice of Incorporation (CoR 14.1)
  • Memorandum of Incorporation (CoR 15.1 A-E)

There is a fee for submitting the above documents. Ask us to help!

Open a bank account

A business account must be opened and if applicable, the applicant must provide proof of three company directors and present the original company documents. Some accounts may require an income tax number. If this is the case, tax registration must be applied for first.

Register for tax

Following company registration with CIPC, the business must be registered with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This must take place at the SARS office that is local to the business registration address. There are SARS branches all over the country.

  • To find a local office and for contact details: Click here
  • National contact centre, Tel: 0800 00 7277 / 011 602 2093

All relevant forms can be downloaded online.

Register with South African Department of Labour

An employer must register with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) at the Department of Labour in addition to registering with SARS.

In addition to UIF, employers must register with the Compensation Fund so that employees are able to claim compensation for accidents or diseases at work.

  • To download the application form (COID – W.As.2): Click here

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