So You Want To Go Into Business
Each person who intends to go into business must decide on the legal
structure best suited to his or her needs. The legal structure of a commercial enterprise defines the legal relationships within the enterprise as well
as its relationship to its environment. In choosing the best structure, you should consider your personality, the purpose of the enterprise, its intended
size, management capability and statutory requirements for the several types of commercial enterprises there are.
There are two basic structures to choose between:
- A Company - a commercial enterprise registered or incorporated under the Companies Act.
(A company can be either be Non Profit (Charity, Club, NGO etc) or Profit Generating)
- A Business - a sole trader, partnership or trade name registered under the
Registration of Business Names Act.
Overseas Company Registration
Not less than three documents are required for the Registration of an
Local Company Registration
(Either Non Profit and Profit Generating Companies)
Before registering a company, it is important to decide whether it is
necessary to avail oneself of corporate status or whether to seek registration under the Registration of Business Names Act, which is a much cheaper and
simpler form of registration appropriate to small low risk business enterprises.
Business Name Registration
Patrons of our site can now register their business name by completing some simple steps within our business registration category
Company Name Reservation
One of the new features of the Website is company name reservation. A company name may be reserved for a period of ninety (90) days.
Particulars Of Directors
The Registrar of Companies must be notified of the appointment of the Directors at the time of incorporation. Notification to the Registrar will be by
way of the Business Registration Form. This service is not presently available online.
Change Of Directors
The Registrar of Companies must be notified of any modification in the particulars of directors within fourteen (14) days of the change. This service
is not presently available online.
Registered Office Notice
The Registrar of Companies must be notified of the registered office address at the time of incorporation. Notification to the Registrar will be by
way of the Business Registration Form. This service is not presently available online.
Registering an Overseas Company
Overseas companies may operate in Jamaica but must be registered at the Companies Office of Jamaica. Any changes in the documents at the time of
registration must be filed with the Companies Office of Jamaica. The registration fee is $25,000.00. Once registered, an overseas company must file
a Balance Sheet, Profit and loss account in accordance with the Companies Act 2004.
Certification for Registering an Overseas Company
A company incorporated outside of Jamaica which establishes a place of business within the island shall within one month of the establishment of
the place of business deliver to the Registrar for registration a Form 31 together with a certified copy of the Charter, Statute or Articles of the
company or other instrument constituting or defining the constitution and name of the company. The copy of the Charter, Statutes or Articles aforesaid
is to be certified to be a true copy of the original by an official of the Government body responsible for custody of the original.
Notification of Changes for an Overseas Company
- Notification of changes to the directors of the company or the particulars contained in the list of directors is to be given to the Registrar by means of a Form 5.
- Notification of a change in the names or addresses of persons authorized to accept service on behalf of the company is to be communicated using the Form 31.
- Notification of changes made to the name of the company is to be communicated via a Form 5 together with a certified copy of the certificate of change of name or
other document constituting the change in the company's name. The copy of the certificate is to be certified to be a true copy of the original by an official of the Government body responsible for custody of the original.
A translation can be certified in the following ways.
If made outside of Jamaica in a country having a Jamaican embassy or consulate, by –
- the Ambassador, Consul-General or any person designated by that representative; or
- A minister of Government or Government official of equivalent authority or a person designated by him, who certifies that the translator is known to him as competent to translate it into the English language;
If made outside of Jamaica in a country not having a Jamaican embassy or consulate,
- by any minister of Government or Government official of equivalent authority in that country or a person designated by him, who certifies that the translator is known to him as competent to translate it into the English language;
- If made in Jamaica, by the minister responsible for foreign affairs or any person designated by him, who certifies that the translator is known to him as competent to translate it into the English language.
Registering a Local Company
Under the Companies Act 2004, it became possible for a company to reserve a name for up 90 days before it is actually registered. The advantages of name reservation include
- Establishing that the name is appropriate and available for use
- Protecting the name from use by others for the reservation period
- Allowing the company to use the name for pre-incorporation contracts with certainty
Procedure ( Will the procedure below still apply with the new DPMIS Name Reservation System)
In order to access this service, you will need to complete and submit a COMPANIES NAME SEARCH AND NAME RESERVATION FORM (form 6) at the Companies Office
of Jamaica. The fee is $ 500.00 for the Name Search and $3000.00 for the Name Reservation. Total Reservation Cost is $3500.00. Upon completion of the process,
you will be issued with a letter advising that the name is reserved for a period of Ninety days. Name reservation may also be done online through this Website.
Pointers for choosing a name
- The Companies Office of Jamaica has the right to refuse any name which is likely to cause confusion with another name already on the Register of Companies.
- Names containing obscene language or indicating an illegal activity will also be refused
- Names implying connection with Royalty, or a Political Party must be justified
- Certain names e.g. containing “Engineering”, “Pharmacy”, “ Medical”e.t.c. must also be justified and may necessitate the provision
of professional certification
(More information can be found in the Companies Rules 2006 on the COJ's website)
The following documents must be submitted:
- The Articles of Incorporation (Form 1A or 1B) which will contains the following information:
Form 1A is used for Companies Making Profit. • Form 1B for Non-Profit Companies (Churches, Charities, Foundations. Service Clubs, NGO's etc.)
- The Name of the Company, which must include “Limited” as the last word of the name in the case of a Company limited by shares or by guarantee.
- The registered address of the company which must be situated in Jamaica;
- In the case of a Company having a share capital, the classes of shares, and the maximum number of shares the Company is authorized to issue;
if any; (If the Company has more than 1 class of share (For eg. Ordinary and Preference Shares) and is issuing more than one class at the time of
incorporation, then a Form 3 must be submitted)
- Restrictions, if any, on share transfers
- Minimum and/or maximum number of Directors;
- Any restrictions on the business that the Company may carry on.
The stamping of Articles may be done at the Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax Department however this is no longer a mandatory requirement as this service is
now provided in house at the Companies Office of Jamaica
- The Business Registration Form (BRF1) a.k.a. “Super Form”
This form captures the required information on the directors, secretary, registered office and the relevant information for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS),
Tax Office (TRN, TCC and GCT), Heart Trust and National Housing Trust. The provision of the directors and company secretary details are now mandatory at incorporation.
The form must be signed by
- All Director(s)
- The person declaring the accuracy of the information submitted on the form.
- An Original Valid government issued identification of the principal director and the person declaring the accuracy of the form must be presented to the Companies Office.
These documents are then examined to ensure that they are fully and accurately completed. If the documents are in order, then a Certificate of Incorporation is issued within four working days.
The Cost to Register the Company is $24,000.00 (There is an additional charge of at least $500.00 if the documents are stamped at the Companies Office.)
Removal of a Company
A company may be removed from the Register of Companies where the Registrar has reasonable cause to believe that the Company is not operating. If the company has ceased
to operate and has no assets or liabilities the directors or a majority of them may request in writing that the company be removed from the Companies’ Register. The fact
that the company has no assets nor liabilities must be confirmed in writing by the Auditors of the Company
In the event that a company is removed while it is still in business or owns property, it may seek restoration to the Register within Twenty (20) years of being removed
Business Name Registration
Who Should Register?
The following categories need not register:
- Any company trading in a name other than its true corporate name
- Any individual or firm buying or selling goods from an established address.
- Any individual or firm offering services from an established address in a name other than that individual's own name or the names of all the partners in the firm, for example
- John Brown offering services in his name need not be registered.
- John Brown operating as John’s Accounting or John Brown & Associates must register.
Benefits of Registration
- Persons who buy and sell livestock.
- Persons occupying public market stalls and paying market fees.
- Firms established for social or welfare purposes, public service,
religion, charity, education, art, science etc. whose income and
profits are used solely for that purpose
Registration offers a businesslike mantle and legal status which makes the following easier:
- Accessing loans and grants
- Obtaining contracts
- Operating bank accounts in the business’ name
- Establishing ownership of the business' name
- Inspiring customers’ confidence
Businesses operating without registering at the Companies Office of Jamaica are operating illegally. Once registered, your business information is
uploaded to the COJ’s website. This allows, for example, individuals and firms to check your business name online and make sure you are a legal
business in order to offer you credit or do business with you.
Consequences of Failing to Register:
Sole Proprietorship Vs Partnership
- Unlawful to advertise
- Subject to Law Suit
- Business may be closed
- Business may be unable to obtain legal remedy
Business Names are usually registered in one of two forms
Advantages of Partnership
- Sole Trader or Sole Proprietorship where there is one owner.
- A Partnership where there are between 2 and 20 partners (except for Attorneys, Accountants or any other profession prescribed by the Minister)
Disadvantages of Partnership
- Shared workload
- Shared risks and responsibilities
- A range of experience, knowledge and competence available in the business
- Shared costs
What to look for in a partner
- Limited freedom to make decisions
- All partners are responsible for the mistakes of one partner
- Decisions tend to take longer
Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship or Sole Trader
- Sound finances and stable background
- Aptitude for business or business sense
- Skills in the business you will be undertaking
Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship or Sole Trader
- Owner reaps all rewards
- Freedom to make all decisions
- Quick decision making
WHAT YOU NOW NEED WHEN REGISTERING A BUSINESS NAME.
- Owner takes all risks
- Unlimited responsibility/liability - all personal assets at risk for the debts of the business.
- The Business Registration Form (BRF 1) "Super Form". The "Super form" replaces the BN1 /BN2/BN3 for new applications ONLY.
- A document verifying the proprietor/s' current place of address (verification can be made by way of a driver’s license, passport or utility bill)
- For all transactions a TRN for the proprietor/s must be supplied.
- An original valid government issued identification of the Principal Proprietor.
- Professional Certification where applicable
- Work permit or Exemption letter, where applicable
If the registrant is unable to produce any of the above documents to verify his or her address then the registrant may submit a statutory declaration.
Please note that changes to all three listed above (a, b or c.) at the same time require a new Business Name registration.
- Changes made to up to 2 of the following items on the same date
attract a fee of $2,500.
- Name of Business
- Nature of Business
- Address of Business
- Registration of an individual on behalf of another individual or a
corporation as an agent for a foreign firm. The forms required are the BN 4 plus BN1 & BN2.
Application for changes must be made on the BN5 form and a certificate confirming the change is issued by the COJ.
- All other changes made on a given date attract a fee of $2,500.
Business Name certificates are valid for 3 years. Business Names must be renewed every three years. Late renewal carries a late charge of $1,000.
- Sole Traders must submit a BN1 form. The registration fee is $2,500.
- Partners must submit a BN2 form. Where a company is one of the partners the registration fee is $3000.
(If there are more than 5 partners BN2=$5000.00)
- A Corporation registering a business names must submit a BN3 the registration fee is $3000.
A Business may be closed and removed from the Register by a notice in writing to the Companies Office of Jamaica. The BN6 form is used for this.
Where a partnership is being closed and all partners have not signed the BN6 a BN8 must be submitted.
Know Your Forms
BRF1 The Business Registration Form (New Registration only)
BN 1 Registration of a Sole Trader (Renewal only)
BN 2 Registration of a Partnership (Renewal Only)
BN 3 A corporation registering a Business Name (Renewal Only)
BN 4 Registration of an individual on behalf of another individual or a corporation as an agent for a foreign firm. The BN1 & BN2 forms (In the case or renewal)
and BRF1 (In the case of a new application) form must also be submitted.
BN 5 Changes to a business
BN 6 Closing a business
BN 7 Appealing a decision made by the Registrar under the Act.
BN 8 Statutory declaration form to be used where a partner signs on behalf of other partners, or a director or secretary signs on behalf of a corporation.
Subscriber Account Creation
Name Search and Reservation
A user will be able to reserve a name which they will then be able to use as a name for registration purposes. This name may be the name of
a business, company, or of a branch of a business. The name search will indicate the correctness of the name selected for reservation.
Letter of Good Standing
A user will be able to request a Letter of Good Standing for a company via the website. The user will be informed of whether the company in question
is in good standing before they pay for the letter. The Letter will be printed on security paper and either couriered to an address specified by the
user or made available for pick up at the COJ’s office.
Letter of Confirmation
A user will be able to request a Letter of confirmation for the Titles Office for a company via the website. The user will be informed of whether the
company in question is still on the register before they pay for the letter. The Letter will be printed on security paper and either couriered to an
address specified by the user or made available for pick up at the COJ’s office.
A user will be able to access a list of current directors, the name and registration number, the secretary, address, as well as other details if they are available
Business Name Details
A user will be able to access a list of the proprietors, their addresses, the name and registration number of the business name as well as other details if they are available.
View Documents and Print Documents
A user will be able to print publicly viewable company and business name documents.
Request Certified Documents
A user will be able to request a certified copy of a document on security paper. These documents will be printed on security paper and either couriered to an address
specified by the user or made available for pick up at the COJ’s office
The user will be able to request delivery of documents by courier. The user will be provided with the courier company’s tracking number where that is available. The
documents will be packaged at the COJ in batches for pickup by the courier.
A user will be able to verify any certified document whether printed and collected in-house or received via courier once that document is an actual copy of a document
on file at the COJ. Certified copies will have a barcode which will allow the holder of the document to see a true copy of the document (which cannot be printed) at the
COJ’s website so that they can verify that it is a reproduction of the one in their possession
Document Filing Tracking
A user will be able to track the progress of a filing at the COJ. The user would also be able to set up an event notification to alert them when a document filing is completed
Company and Business Name Search
A user will be able to search the company register and the business name register to find an entity if they know the name of the entity or the registration number or the name
of a director or proprietor. Having found the company or business in question the user would then be able to undertake the other features, e.g. view details, request a status
letter, and request certified copies
Document Filing Watch
Notification will be sent to a user to inform them of the acceptance or rejection of their filing. The customer will be able to request an alert notification when a specified
document is filed at the COJ. The notification will be sent via e-mail.
This facility allows the customer to find documents directly without going through the list of filed documents. This would allow them to avoid paying for the list of documents
since they know the document that they want.