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3 Steps To Registering a Small Business in South Africa

Registering a business in South Africa is easy, but there are still some steps to follow. 

This blog post will outline the 3 steps that you need to take to register your small business in South Africa and give you a general idea of what you can expect. 

We hope this information helps!

Step 1: Register at CIPC

The first step in starting a business in South Africa is to have a name and have it registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa.

And before you get the name registered, you first need to be a customer of CIPC.

Here, you will register your details as the owner of the business or director of the company.

After that, you will get a CIPC code which you will use along this process of registering a business in South Africa.

Step 2: Pick and reserve a business/company name

Once you are registered at CIPC, your next step is to perform a business name search.

This is done to ensure that your preferred company name is unique and isn’t being used by other companies.

To do that, you will have to search through CIPC databases.

The name search process is free, as long as you have registered through the CIPC portal.

If the name you want is not yet taken, your next step is a company name reservation.

CIPC will charge you for the manual registration of the business name in South Africa, but you can also do it online right there on the CIPC portal.

What follows is CIPC checking your application for any discrepancies, after which the application process commences.

This will take you up to 3 days.

Once done, the name registration will be valid for 6 months.

Step 3: Register the company 

Once you have the name reserved, you may proceed with the process of registering a business in South Africa.

To ensure that your new company is accepted with ease, you need to deposit your funds for company registration without a name reservation or the full amount for company registration with a name reservation into the CIPC bank account. 

A CIPC representative will need to confirm that your funds have been deposited. 

You need to be 18 years or older to register a company, so make sure you are ready to register with us. 

Once your funds are cleared, you can proceed with the process of registering a business in South Africa.

What documents are needed to register a company in South Africa?

To register a company in South Africa, you will need the following documents;

  • A certified copy of the applicant’s ID.
  • A certified copy of the ID of all the Directors and Incorporators of the company.
  • Non- South African applicants need passport copies as proof.
  • The name confirmation certificate (COR9.4), which is an application form downloaded at CIPC.
  • Power of attorney (if required).

Here are the steps;

Steps to register a business with CIPC

  1. Go to the CIPC website.
  2. Click on private Company Registrations.
  3. Click on Customer Login.
  4. Complete the required fields and log in.
  5. Click on ‘Register A New Company’.
  6. Enter ID numbers of the director(s) and the required field.
  7. Click ‘Save’.

On the next screen click ‘Continue’.

Complete the company’s required fields (financial year-end, email address, physical address, website, postal code, and authorized shares).

On the next window, you will encounter the following regarding the business name reservation;

  • Apply for a name as part of this process: enter one or up to four names
  • Use a business name that has already been approved: use a company name that has already been approved
  • Register a company using an enterprise number like the name: Register using an enterprise number.

What types of companies can register with the CIPC?

Here are the types of companies you can register with CIPC;

  1. Non-profit companies: A company incorporated for public benefit or other object relating to one or more cultural or social activities, or communal or group interests.
  2. Profit companies: A business/organization whose primary goal is making money, this includes anything from retail stores to restaurants to insurance companies to real estate companies.
  3. Personal liability companies: Company directors and past directors are jointly liable for any debts and liabilities arising during their periods in office. The company name ends with the word ‘incorporated’.
  4. Public companies: A public company is one that has issued securities through an initial public offering (IPO) and is traded on at least one stock exchange. It has more than 50 shareholders and its shares are offered to the public.
  5. Private companies: These are similar to what was previously known as close corporations. Some of the changes made to private companies include fewer disclosure and transparency requirements, no longer being limited to 50 shareholders, and a board that must comprise at least one director. The name of a private company must end with the expression ‘Proprietary Limited’ or ‘(Pty) Ltd’.

How to pick the best business name in South Africa

As we have seen, the first step of registering a business in South Africa is picking a name.

Here are some tips on how to pick the best;

  • Come up with a list of names you find interesting.
  • Pick the best one and keep it simple! It should be easy to spell, pronounce and remember. Use your name or initials as well as something that describes what you do in an appealing way. 

You want customers to instantly know what your business is about when they hear/read it!

If you have two words try combining them so people can figure out what type of service(s) you offer without having to ask questions (i.e., “the meeting room”).

Be sure to check if someone else has already trademarked the name too!

One other thing: Don’t let anyone talk you into changing your mind once been made up; if it is meant to be, people will call you anyway!

What next?

After registering a business in South Africa, the next step is to reserve your online presence.

This involves registering your business name as a website name. And then getting a hosting space.

I hope this guide was helpful, if you have any other questions, let us know in the comments.


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