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Basic requirements for registering a company in South Africa

A registered company is a firm authorized and registered by the appropriate statutory authority of the country as a corporation or a company.

A registered company is entitled to abide by all the country’s laws. It has to report to the government’s higher authorities regarding the organization’s state affairs.

What is a private company?

A private company is a profit company that is not a public, personal liability, or state-owned company, and its Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) prohibits it from offering any of its securities to the public and restricts the transferability of its securities.

A company incorporated for the purpose of financial gain for its shareholders is a profit company.

When registering a private company, what information will I need to supply?

1. Company name

To register a private company, you will need a unique name. This name may not be the same or similar to another registered company. You may register a similar name if you have permission from the entity. An example of this would be when a holding company wants to register a subsidiary with a similar name.

CIPC does not accept special characters in a company name, despite the applicable legislation making provisions for them. So aim for a company name without any special characters.

We always recommend supplying three alternative names. We will lodge these three alternative names with your application. Should CIPC reject one of your preferred names, they will assess the alternates. If CIPC rejects all the proposed names, they will notify you accordingly.

2. Company address

Your company will need a registered address in South Africa. This address does not have to reflect the location where the business will take place at all times. Rather, it should reflect a location where you will receive any documents delivered thereto or can at least assist in locating the company. For young start-ups headed by single, mobile, individuals, a parent’s house would be a good example. Should the sheriff serve a notice on this address, it is quite likely to reach you, and you can therefore act accordingly.

3. Authorised share capital

Before lodging your application, you will need to decide on the authorised share capital. If you have a shareholders’ agreement, your authorised share capital may be stipulated therein.

Remember, if you have an odd number of shareholders, and you want the share capital divided equally, make sure the authorised share capital is divisible by the number of shareholders. This is on account of CIPC not accepting partial shares. A common example would be 100 shares to be divided equally across three shareholders. CIPC would not accept this, so we usually recommend issuing 120 shares, since this amount would be divisible across three people equally at 40 shares per shareholder.

4. Incorporators, public officers, Directors, and shareholders

What is an incorporator?

An incorporator is one or more directors who are the founders of the company. There are no major legal effects of who you nominate as the incorporator other than being listed on the incorporation documents.

What is a public officer?

A public officer is one Director who is nominated as the representative to the South African Revenue Service.

What is a director?

A director is a member of the board of your company. The business and affairs of a company must be managed by or under the direction of its board, which has the authority to exercise all of the powers and perform any of the functions of the company, except to the extent that the Companies Act or the company’s MOI provides otherwise.

You would need to have decided who your Directors will be before lodging your company registration. You will need at least one Director to register a company. Once registered, it is fairly straightforward to amend the Directors.


A shareholder is the holder of a share issued by a company and who is entered as such in the certificated or uncertificated securities register.

Juristic persons as shareholders

If one of your shareholders is a juristic person, such as another company, ensure you have that company’s documents on hand, as well as the details of the shareholding company’s representative, including the representative’s identity document.

5. Required Documents

In addition to any documents stipulated above, the incorporators and each Director will need to supply a clear, colour copy of an identity document. The only acceptable identity document for South Africans are a green barcoded identity book or both sides of the new identity cards. Non-South Africans require a passport.

What supporting documents does a company need?

To register a company, you need to go through some of the processes to get it done. We will discuss some basic requirements for a registered company in South Africa.

1. Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI)(Required)

By default, your new company will have a standard MOI. If you intend on deviating from this standard MOI, you will need to file an amended MOI with your company application. An example of a deviation would be where you need different share classes from those in the standard MOI. Legalese can assist with drafting your custom MOI.

2. Tax Verification (Required)

For tax verification, companies should register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for income tax verification. Once you get your income tax reference number you can file taxes online.

3. Tax clearance certificate (Required)

A tax clearance certificate ensures your company is clear of undue taxes, and you can proceed with the other registration process.

4. A BEE certificate or Affidavit

Broad-based black economic empowerment certificate (BEE) empowers black people to participate in the country’s economy. It verifies all your company’s data, including name, address, category, and issuance date.

5. UIF registration

UIF is an unemployment insurance fund, and you must register with the UIF if you have employed people for more than a day in a month.

6. COID registration

If you have more than one employee, you have to register with the compensation for occupational injuries and diseases (COID) from the first day of hire.

7. A business bank account

You must open a business bank account to register your company with the state affairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still looking for more info? We’ve compiled a list of FAQs – Check them out!

1. Why do you need to register your company?

If you want to legalize your company, you have to register it with the state authority. It will be your brand, and you can create a professional relationship with your customers.

2. How much time does it take to register a company in South Africa?

The company registration process takes up to 15 working days with all the processes of legalizing the organization and tax verification and clearance.

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