How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in Namibia
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Namibia is located in Southern Africa. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. The official language is English and the currencies used are the Namibian Dollar (NAD) and South African Rand (ZAR).
Namibia has a modern market sector, which produces most of the country's wealth. The most developed sectors are mining and energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.
If you have an idea to start a business in Namibia, or you're simply looking for some opportunities abroad, you're in the right place. In this article, we will explain the business registration process in this country.
Disclaimer: Be aware that this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Please always check official websites or seek legal advice before you take action.
When starting a business in Namibia, first you have to decide which form your business will take. There are three business forms in Namibia:
- Defensive Name (Sole Proprietorship or Sole Trader);
- Close Corporation (CC);
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) (Private or Public).
CC and LLC can have more than one owner; however, if you're an individual and want to start a small business, a sole proprietorship is the most suitable business form.
What is a Defensive Name?
A business owned and run by one person is considered a sole proprietorship or defensive name. In Namibia, it is the most common form of business since it's the easiest to establish and run. The owner is not distinguished from the business by the law. The liability is unlimited, which means that you are personally responsible for all assets and debts of your business. This business form is flexible, and it's easy to make changes if it is needed because you are the only decision-maker. In order to operate your sole proprietorship legally, you need to register it first.
To register a sole proprietorship, you have to apply with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority of Namibia (BIPA). The application process can be completed online (guide) or by visiting a BIPA office in person.
First, you have to come up with a business name. Before the reservation, search for that name on BIPA website to make sure that it's not already taken. If your name is free, you may continue to make a reservation.
The name reservation is made by filling out a CM5 form. The reservation fee is N$ 75.00, and proof of payment should be attached to the application. The authorities will check the name validity, and if everything is in order, your name reservation will be approved, and you can register the business with BIPA. The reservation is valid for 60 days, more than enough time to finish the process.
To register a business, you need to fill out the Form CM8 and submit it to an officer, along with the following documents:
- ID card certified copy (for nationals);
- Full Birth Certificate and statement (for nationals);
- Passport certified copy (for foreigners);
- Police Declaration in respect of Nationality (for foreigners);
- Proof of approved name registration;
- Your contact information.
The Defensive Name registration fee costs N$ 300.00, and the proof of payment should also be attached to the application form.
If your application is filled correctly and documents are valid, your business will be registered. The registration is valid for two years, after which it should be renewed, submitting the form CM8A.
Now that the business is registered, your business can start operating.
Sole proprietors fall under the category of Individual taxpayers. You need to register with the Inland Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance.
All income earned from any business activities carried out in Namibia is taxable. To register as a taxpayer, you have to submit a registration form, along with the registration certificate and identification documents. The procedure can also be done online (here is a guide).
VAT (Value Added Tax) is levied at the standard rate of 15% of all goods and services. If your annual taxable turnover is above N$ 500,000, you are obliged to apply for VAT registration. A filled VAT registration form should be submitted to the Inland Revenue Department.