THE licensing of Businesses Registration Bill was recently released but due to an outcry from the small business community is set to be redrafted and then re-released for public comment. Below is all you need to know about the Bill as it currently stands.
What is the Licensing of Businesses Registration Bill?
The Licensing of Businesses Registration Bill is a draft law which requires all businesses to register and, if enacted, will replace the Licensing of Businesses Act of 1991 that only require certain businesses which may impact on public health to register. The aim of the Bill is to ensure compliance and to eradicate illicit business activities such as the trading of counterfeit goods and employment of illegal immigrants.
According to Sidwell Medupe, spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Bill also aims to set norms and standards that will be applicable nationally, provincially and in all the municipalities relating to the licensing of businesses.
Is the Bill only aimed at hawkers?
No. The Bill is aimed at all persons wanting to start or run a business whether informal or formal.
My business is already registered. Am I still required to register?
Yes. Irrespective of whether your business is registered with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) or the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), all business owners are required to register with their local municipality in order to comply with the Bill. All businesses from tuckshops to lawyers to big manufacturers will be required to register.
Where do I have to register?
Business owners will need to register with a licensing authority which is defined in the Bill as being “any local or metropolitan municipality as defined in section 1 of the Municipal Structures Act (Act No. 117 of 1998)”. This information will be held on a database which will be known as a Business Registry. The Business Registry will hold the following information: full names, particulars and residential and postal addresses of the owner(s) of the registered business, the number of the certificate of licensing, the registered name of the business, the date of registration of the business, the address where the business is being conducted, the nature of the business, the expiry date of the license and compliance reports.
If I operate at premises which fall under two different municipalities, am I required to register at both?
Yes, you will be required to register at both municipalities so that the Business Registry indicates registration at both and also that you have a license to do business in both areas.
How much does registration cost?
The registration fee has not yet been agreed upon but it could range between R10 to R50.
What documentation do I need for registration?
You will need an application form, identity document and if you are a foreign national you will need a visa as well.
Do I have to pay this monthly?
No. The fee is once-off and licenses are valid for a period of five years from the date of issue unless revoked by the licensing authority if the business is found to be in contravention of the law.
Do I receive a certificate or proof of registration?
Each business will receive a license within 30 days of application where the necessary requirements have been met.
Can I use someone else’s license or have someone register in their name on my behalf if I do not meet the criteria for registration?
No. This is referred to as “fronting” which is defined in the Bill as “conduct that directly or indirectly undermines or frustrates the achievement of the objectives of this Act”. In terms of the Bill a person may not apply for a license on behalf of any other person.
What are the advantages of registration?
Government will know where those businesses are, who the owners are and which sector they are operating in and in that way be able to support them.
What are the penalties and fines for non-compliance with the Bill?
You could face up to ten years imprisonment or have an administrative fine imposed, if found guilty of non-compliance.