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Starting and Registering a Business in Sierra Leone
Starting a business, or company, in Sierra Leone takes approximately 12 days as compared to about 46 days for the Sub-Saharan Africa region. This piece outlines the general technical procedures for starting a company in Sierra Leone, according to the Doingbusiness.org database by the World Bank. It includes details and requirements to be in good standing with all relevant agencies beyond the company registrar like social security agencies.
The steps involved in registering a company (Limited Liability Company) in Sierra Leone are:
- Check the uniqueness of the company name and pick up a company registration form.
- Register with the Registrar of Companies at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG).
- Obtain tax clearance with the National Revenue Authority.
- Request a business license with the municipality.
- Register with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
- Create your company seal
Why business people should give Sierra Leone a second look
Sierra Leone has come a long way since the civil war it experienced between 1991 and 2002. However, while the violence did negatively affect the economy and business environment in terms of the development of physical infrastructure, Sierra Leone’s reputation as a war torn economy remains one of the greatest hurdles for business today.
The Practical Process for setting up a business and ensuing cost implications
- Check the uniqueness of the company name and pick up a company registration form -Agency: Administrator and Registrar General
The company name search is conducted by the applicant and with the assistance of an officer from the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG).
The company must have a Memorandum and Articles of Association. Standard articles are available at OARG. If the standard documents are considered insufficient, a solicitor can be consulted to prepare one. Duration: 1 day Cost: SLL 20,000
- Register with the Registrar of Companies and Obtain Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the single window at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG) – Agency: Office of the Administrator and Registrar General
Submission of the company’s documents to the OARG officer starts the incorporation process. The officer examines the documents and issues a payment slip to settle incorporation fees. Registering an LLC costs no more than SLL 60,000 (onetime fee) + stamp duty ranging from SLL 75,000.00 to SLL 495,000 depending on the share capital which does not have to be paid up. In addition, a written statement fee of 50,000 for new business registration was enforced by the Finance Act 2015. The TIN number can be obtained from the same single window. The officer issues the Certificate of Incorporation upon submission of the payment receipt. Duration: 2 days on average
- Pay the fees and obtain the certificate of incorporation from OARG – Agency: National Revenue Authority at OARG
The company submits the payment slip and pays for the incorporation and stamp duty fees. With the receipt of payment, the Certificate of Incorporation is issued to the new company. Duration: 1 day, no charge
- Request a business license from the Municipality of Freetown – Agency: Municipality of Freetown
Once a TIN number is assigned, the business license and registration certificate is obtained from the desk of the Freetown City Council located at the one-stop shop within the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG). Duration: 2 days Cost: SLL 750,000
- Register with the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) – Agency: Ministry of Labor and Social Security at OARG
It is required to register native workers with the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT). Duration 2 days, no charge
- Make a company seal – Agency: Seal maker
According to the Companies Act, the company must make a formal seal and a common seal. For documents used outside Sierra Leone, the formal seal is used for sealing company documents. This seal is usually embossed on documents with a metal device on which the company’s name, crest, and the like are engraved. For documents to be used in Sierra Leone, an impression is made with a common seal, which is usually made in ink with a wooden (or rubber) block.