Complete Guide To Registering Your Business In Malawi
Formalizing and recognizing the existence of a business/ company in Malawi comes along with very many benefits. These include opening a bank account, getting an export license, getting bank loans, eligibility for government programs, business registration certificate, getting business land, and aiding the government knows about the business's existence.
Before you register a business in Malawi, you have first to identify a business idea to start and then register a business name and then launch. Then, to have your company formally recognized in Malawi, you have to register. Most of the businesses done in Malawi are either informal or formal businesses.
According to Enterprise survey Malawi 2009, most businesses operating in Malawi operate illegally and are not registered. Doing business illegally in Malawi affects the firm’s ability to source finances and access markets, affects business efficiency, and depletes capital resources. In addition, the business will grow slowly, with limited access to credit and loans, few employees, which limits the advantage of leverage in terms of labor and technology, among others. Therefore deciding to register your business formally in Malawi would be of great importance and would add value to the growth of your business.
Business registration process, requirements and the steps to follow (offline)
The first step is downloading (website) or getting a copy of the Malawi business registration form(s) at the Registrar General's office and completing the form by filling in the required details.
The second is reserving a company name. Any other business must not have used the business name of your choice, and a search should be conducted to ensure that there is no other existing business with the same name. The company name search must be done at the registrar’s general office.
Registering the business to obtain a business registration certificate. This has to be done in line with the registrar general department.
Applying for a certificate of incorporation and registering for income tax with the Malawi Revenue Authority to obtain the company seal.
Obtaining a taxpayer identification number. This requires you to register with the Malawi revenue authority.
Acquiring a license from the city assembly. Licenses can be obtained from Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu city assemblies, and you also have to first register with the city council.
Ensure workplace registration from the occupational safety, health and welfare departments. Authorized officials visit the workplace to inspect and see whether the workplace meets the minimum requirements to be given a certificate or advised where to improve.
Register for Pay As you earn and Fringe benefits tax. This can be done with the Malawi Revenue Authority.
Nationality of the company owner
Number of employees
Post office and physical address of the business entity
Consent from shareholders
Memorandum of understanding and articles of association
Share capital contacts, i.e., phone contacts and email addresses
on-premisesfillsubmitNames of directors with at least one of whom must be a citizen of Malawi
Business registration can be done offline (on-premises) with the registrar general’s offices in Blantyre, Lilongwe or Mzuzu. All you need is to fill out and submit the application form and the relevant documents.
Registering a business online in Malawi
One of the simplest ways of registering a business in Malawi and getting things done so fast is by initiating online business registration through the Malawi online business registration with the department of registrar general (in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs).
The government and authorized bodies have transitioned to an online-based electronic business registration system under a project known as BESTAP. This helps to reduce the time to register businesses and is expected to improve the number of registered businesses in Malawi. More so, online registration is safer, faster and user-friendly. To register a business online in Malawi, all you need to do is;
Sign-up on the Malawi registrar website and follow the outlined registration procedures;
To conduct online business registration in Malawi, you must create a user account first.
You must then have an active email account, internet browser and printer to print your reference number.
Then visit the registrar general’s website (www.registrargeneral.gov.mw) and select the Malawi business registration system link, which takes you to the user registration form after selecting the register link.
Then you can complete the process by pressing the submit button.
And finally, you can log into the system using your user account and follow the procedures of the registration process. You can as well make the registration payments online.
Registering a private or a public company in Malawi
Investors can register a private or public company if they meet the requirements. This is according to the Malawi companies’ act of 2013.
Registering a private company; to register a private company in Malawi, there must be a minimum of two associated people for lawful purposes. The association of two or more people can either be intellectual property or sharing capital.
Registering a public company; to register a public company in Malawi, you must have a minimum of seven people. This is according to the companies’ act of Malawi.
Registering a local company in Malawi;
A local company is a company that is incorporated under the Malawi Companies Act.
Registration requirements include;
Memorandum of association with at least two subscribers (shareholders/ members) with registration fees and share capital value.
Articles of association with company postal address, company full name, residential and postal address and occupation of first directors and company secretary.
Registering a foreign company in Malawi
The registration act defines a foreign company as a corporate body formed outside Malawi which maintains an established place of business in Malawi.
Requirements for registering a foreign company include;
Power of attorney by an agent to represent the company for registration
Authenticated copy of Memorandum and Articles of Association authorizing the opening of a branch or a subsidiary in Malawi
Incorporation certificate issued by the registration authority of the country of origin
Shareholder resolution authorizing the opening of a branch in Malawi
Passport copies of shareholders
List of resident directors in Malawi
Registration fees are MK100 for the first MK1000 share capital value, then MK10 for each additional MK2000 share capital value.
Business forms that can be registered with the office of the Registrar General in Malawi include;
A sole proprietorship; is a business owned by one person and renewable after every three years. This form of business can be registered under the business registration act 2012 of Malawi.
Partnership; this can be owned by more than one person. Registration can be done under the registration act of 2012, and registration is renewable after every three years.
Limited liability company; this includes; a public limited liability company, a private limited liability company, a company limited by guarantee and a state-owned company. This can be registered under the companies’ act of 2013.
Depending on the sector, the business will need to be registered with these additional entities:
Department of Environmental Affairs for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate
A hospitality business entity must register with the Tourism and Hotels Board to get a Tourism Development Certificate;
An agriculture seed production investment entity must register with the Seed Services Unit of the Department of Agricultural Research Services under Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development;
A medical/clinical entity must register with the Medical Council of Malawi, while a pharmacy entity must register with the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board.
An education business entity must register with the Ministry of Education or National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) for a tertiary education institution;
A telecommunications entity must register with the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA);
A transport business entity must register with the Ministry of Transport and Public Works as follows: road transport business to register with Road Traffic Directorate, Air transport to register with Department of Civil Aviation, and marine services must register with Department of Marine Services;
A construction business entity must register with National Construction Industry Council;
An energy-related investment must register with the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA);
An irrigation investment must contact the Department of Irrigation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation Water and Development and National Water Resources Authority on water issues.