Last Updated:

5 Legal Requirements of a Business in South Africa

Before starting a business in South Africa, you must ensure that you comply with all legal requirements. Depending on the type of business and legal structure, there are certain tax obligations and financial regulations that a business must comply with. As such, we are going to look at the 5 legal requirements of a business in South Africa.

What are The Legal Requirements of a Business in South Africa?

There are several legal requirements that every business must meet in South Africa. They include:

1. Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Registration

The first legal requirement of every business in South Africa is to be registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Businesses that have a separate legal entity from their owners should register on CIPC. The following is a business legal structure you need to register with CIPC in South Africa:

  • Limited company. A company is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners.

2. South African Revenue Service (SARS) Registration

If your business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you need to register it with South Africa Revenue Service (SARS). If you had registered your business with CIPC, it is automatically registered with SARS and you don’t need to register again. The following are business structures you need to register with SARS.

  • Sole proprietorship. This is a single trader business you can register with SARS.
  • Partnership. This is a business structure with at least 2 partners.

All businesses must register with SARS and failure to do so will, they risk fines and penalties. When you register on SARS, you get an income tax reference number within 60 days.

3. Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights

If you have innovative and amazing ideas in your business, then you may need to protect them from being stolen or used by other corporates. You can register your trademarks, patents, designs, and copyright with CIPC. When you do so, no other business can use your ideas or work without your permission.

4. Comply with Legal Requirements for Employees

If your company or business has employees, then you need to register and comply with employees’ legal requirements. These include:

  • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This is an insurance cover for employees during a long-term illness, maternity leave, or any unprecedented event that prevents them from working.
  • Skills Development Levy (SDL). If your payroll exceeds R500, 000 annually, you must apply for SDL. This is a levy imposed to encourage learning and development among employees in South Arica.
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE). If your employees earn more than R40,000 annually, you need to apply for PAYE. It is used by the government to collect income tax from employees.
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases. It is meant to ensure your business complies with the health and safety rights of your employees.

5. Open a Bank Account

If your business is a separate legal entity, then you need to open a business account in South Africa. You need to present the following documents to open a bank account in South Africa:

  • Valid ID. Business owners and other signatories of the account need to provide their valid ID.
  • Proof of address. A business needs to provide a business address that can be used to send utility bills.
  • Proof of CIPC registration. All banks require businesses to register on CIPC before they can open a business account.

6. Insure Your Business

Although not a legal requirement, you may need to protect your business with an insurance cover. For instance, you can insure your business against fire and theft. In case of any of these events, you will be compensated. You can also insure your business against legal liability in case someone sues your business.

Summary of Legal Requirements of a Business in South Africa

You need to register your business with CIPC or SARS and failure to do so can attract fines and penalties. After that, you need to protect your business’s work and ideas like designs, trademarks, and patents from being used by other companies. You also need to comply with legal requirements for employees, open a bank account and then insure your business. 

Read More