How to register your business in South Africa

Before starting a formal business, there are steps to take to make sure it’s legal. Every step happens at a national level except for the issuing of permits, which are issued by the City.

Register your business with the CIPC

It is not necessary for all businesses to be registered – for example, if you have an informal business or are a sole proprietor. However, new businesses that want to transact with the government and the formal sector must register with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). This is to ensure that you are legally compliant and audited for tax, as well as offering other benefits.

Search your company name

You can search for your company name on the CIPC search facility to check if the name already exists. You will still need to apply for the company name once you know it is available.

Register your trademark

A company name and a trademark are not the same thing. Your trademark is not automatically registered if you register a company name. Your trademark is the brand that you use to identify your product or service. This may also be your slogan or your symbol. It is a good idea to register your trademark if you want to avoid any legal battles over the name of your company.

You can find everything you need to know about your trademark, patent, design or copyright on the CPIC’s website.

Your new business and SARS

It is important for you to understand revenue rules and regulations, as well as ensuring your business is set up to pay business taxes including UIF (unemployment insurance). Consult the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for more information on what you need to do. If you intend to become a VAT vendor, you can register for VAT with SARS as well.

Read the vendor guide for more information.

Register a NPO or PBO

Setting up a non-profit organisation (NPO) or public benefit organisation requires the same process as setting up a commercial company. The Western Cape Government’s Department of Social Development (DSD) provides institutional support for NPOs, runs workshops on registration and achieving compliance, fundraising, and capacity building etc.

If you have an NPO and you’re looking for support, call the DSD NPO helpline on 021 481 9754. Alternatively, find out all you need to know about registering an NPO on the Western Cape Government website.

Register with the Central Suppliers Database

There are many options to do business with the City. Business owners and entrepreneurs are required to register as a supplier in order to capitalise on these options. The registration process is a two phase process.


Register as a supplier

Legal trading and business premises

If you are trading on a formal property, your business licence will only be granted if the erf/plot you are trading on has been zoned for the type of trade you are conducting.


Apply for a business licence

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