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How to start a business in Uganda

Monday, March 14th, 2022

Starting a business in Uganda

If the last three years have taught us anything, it is that we cannot survive on the basic 9 to 5. As you came to this realisation, you have dabbled with the idea of starting a business. If you have, then this is for you. Starting a business in Uganda is easier said than it is done, and while most Ugandans are quick to venture into business, they are oblivious to what they need to get their business off the ground.

Business law is the section of the law that will guide you on how to form and run your business. This guide includes all of the laws that govern how to start, buy, manage and close or sell any type of business in Uganda. Here are a few steps to help:

“A big business starts small.”

Richard Branson

1. Reserving a business name

To start a business, you will need one thing, a business name. It is not enough to name your business after your firstborn daughter, getting a name for your business involves action more than it does speech. Registering a business is the most important step to starting your business. To do this, one must reserve their name with the Office of the Registrar.

The reason this is done is to make sure that your company/business name is available. It is important to reserve a minimum of three names just in case a name that you choose is unavailable. The Registrar will then review the application and, if the application is approved, returns it with the assessment, which the business owner takes to the bank.

Upon paying the fee, the founder receives a receipt that is used to complete the name reservation. The public body responsible for this process is the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB).

2. Register to receive a Certificate of Incorporation

Once one has reserved a name, one is required to register to receive a Certificate of Incorporation, this is still done through the URSB. The requirements for this include company books, memorandum and articles of association, declaration of companies using forms S18, A1, Form 20 and Form 18 in addition to the company resolutions. There is a stamp duty awarded on most of these documents.

3. Register for a Tax Identification Number

Contrary to what one may think, there are no charges included when applying for a TIN, the application for a TIN is done through the Uganda Revenue authority, and can be done online through Uganda Revenue Authority.

4. Get yourself a trading licence

It is no secret that there are thousands of businesses located in various districts of Uganda. A trading licence gives businesses the green light to trade within their respective municipal authorities. The perfect example is businesses located in Kampala are required to register with Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to obtain trading licences. 

The charges here will depend on the nature and grade of business one is operating. For a company to be fully registered and qualify for a trading licence, a memorandum and articles of association, Form 7 showing the names of the directors, a certificate of incorporation and a lease or tenancy agreement are required.

5. Register with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)

If you are planning on having more than 5 employees, this is a step that is not wise to ignore. A business is obliged to pay NSSF of 10% to their employees through their various social security accounts. 

As you may have noticed, there is a lot of paperwork involved in starting your business, sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. Do not be discouraged, there’s an option of reaching out to a lawyer for help. That is where we come in, contact us on +256 0393 228 339 for any questions and guidance on how to start your business.