If you are interested in starting a business in Jamaica, there are a number of legal requirements that must be followed. Jamaica’s Business Name Act of 1934 makes it illegal to start a business without first registering it with Companies of Jamaica, which was formerly called the Office of the Registrar of Companies.
There are several benefits associated with registering your company or business. Your business is shown on the website of the Companies of Jamaica. It will go up on the website just a week after you’ve registered it. Also, you will have access to loans and grants, be able to get government and other contracts, and inspire the confidence of your customers when they know they are dealing with a legal, registered entity.
Before registering with Companies of Jamaica, however, you must decide upon the type of legal structure your business will have. Your options include sole trader, partnership, company, or co-operative. Once you’ve decided, you can then create a name for your business or company and request two very important numbers: the Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) reference number. The applications for both of these numbers require:
- 2 passport-size photographs that have been signed by a Justice of the Peace
- a copy of your Birth Certificate
Once you have your TRN and NIS numbers, you can take the next step, which is to register with the Inland Revenue Department to obtain permission to take various legal tax deductions, such as those for:
- Income tax
- Education tax (ED tax)
- General Consumption Tax (GCT)
If necessary, you will need to obtain the appropriate patents of copyrights from the Jamaican Intellectual Property Office. After that, you can register with the National Housing Trust (NHT) and apply for a Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC).
In order to get a TCC, you must obtain a clearance letter from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) office, the National Housing Trust (NHT) office, and provide your Business Name Certificate.
In addition, you may new to comply with other licensing and/or inspections from the appropriate government agencies, such as the Bureau of Standards. Specific industries must also provide an Environmental Impact Assessment.
There are also other legal requirements associated with each type of business structure.
If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must submit a completed BN1 form. If you are selling tangible goods, you must submit proof of residential address and a TRN , you must also submit 3 passport-size photographs signed by a Justice of the Peace. Registration as a sole trader costs JA$2,000.00.
Partnerships can legally exist with as few as 2 persons or as many as 20 persons. If you want to register your business as a partnership, you must submit:
- A completed BN2 form
- Proof of residential address and TRN are required for the applicant
- Optional 3 passport-size photographs of each partner, signed by a Justice of the Peace
- The National Identification Card of each partner
The registration fee for a partnership is JA$2,000.00
A business structured as a company must submit:
- A completed Form 1, Declaration of Compliance
- A completed Form 1A, Articles of Incorporation
- A completed Form 17, Address of Company
Form 1A must be stamped at the Stamp Office and Transfer Tax Department, which is located at 111 Harbour Street in Kingston. The cost for the stamp is $500.
Registration fee for a company is JA$12,000.
Additionally, companies must submit Form 20, which states the Board of Directors, with at the time of registration or 14 days after registration for $4,000, but forms submitted after the end of the 14-day period will cost $6,000.
All forms must be signed by a Justice