Want to start your own business?
Business names are governed by The Registration of Business Names Act No. 16 of 2011. The Act does not allow a registered Business Name to be used by any one else.
Names that cannot be registered in Zambia
When a name forwarded to the Registrar is very much like the name of an already existing company, Section 41 (1) of the Companies Act prohibits the Registrar to register such a name. The Business Names Act also provides that no name shall be registered which tends to show that the company enjoys patronage of the President of Zambia.
Other considerations for approving business names
The Registrar follows some guidelines when registering business names:
- A company may adopt descriptive titles, but only if the title describes the main objective of the company, as set out in the application form for registration.
- The use of “Zambia” as the first word in a name can only be allowed for companies who show State participation. The use of the word ‘(Zambia)’ in brackets should be permitted only if the company were a subsidiary of a foreign company having the same name; otherwise ‘Zambia’ without brackets should be used.
- Use of the term “Sons” in the name should not be allowed unless the sons are actively participating in the affairs of the company.
- A company whose main objects include tuition, running of schools, etc, should register with the Ministry of Education as required by the Education Act, Cap.134.
Who can register a business name in Zambia?
To be safe in your business operations, you must adhere to the laws of the country. Act No. 16 of 2011 requires that you must register your business name and other particulars with the Registrar of Business Names if, in summary:-
1. you have a place of business in Zambia and are carrying on business
2. your Business Name does not consist of your own name (or names of all partners, or corporate names of all partners who are corporations)
For an incorporated company, two or more persons associated for any legal business may form an incorporated company by subscribing their names to an application for incorporation and lodging it with the Registrar.
Application for approval of a name
With a list of proposed business names, you will need a Name Clearance Form from the Patents & Company Registration Agency (PACRA). To submit the form back to PACRA, you will need to pay ZMW10. Submit your choice of three names. Why three names instead of one? Because you may be told the name you have forwarded is deemed unsuitable. Therefore, to increase the chances of getting a business name approved, it is better to submit at least three names.
You can also just apply to the Registrar for name reservation in writing. Upon making a payment of ZMW50 your preferred name will be reserved for 90 days.
The sealing and issuing of the Certificate of Registration marks the end of the process for registration of business names. When this process is done, you have legal support to do business, but you still need additional documents from other statutory institutions like Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and others.
You should not do any business transactions before you have applied for TPIN (Tax Payer Identification Number), TAX Clearance Certificate and Income Tax Number. These can only be given with proof that you have a sealed Certificate from PACRA.
With a good Business Name, a legally registered company, and ZRA and NAPSA compliance, you are now good to go!* This preparation work is a good start to taking you through to having a large and successful business.