Companies Office of Jamaica pushes increased online company registration

Judith Ramlogan, chief executive officer of the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is urging Jamaican entrepreneurs to utilise its online registration platform.

Chief executive officer of the Companies Office of Jamaica, Judith Ramlogan

“The superform is online and it can be a smooth registration. The metric for online registration is two days and in some cases, persons have registered their business name in two hours. However, there is still a bit of the manual process still in existence.” Ramlogan noted that the approval of the business name is still a manual process and, “our team is working on it to improve it”.

The online superform is available to both company name registrants and limited liability companies. Currently, there are about 10,000 new business names registered each year and the COJ has indicated it wishes to migrate new company registrations online. Ramlogan said the push for online registration is part of the overall mandate to help ease the process of registering a business.

For persons interested in going into business, there are two basic structures to choose between, according to the COJ. First, there is a Company which is considered a commercial enterprise registered or incorporated under the Companies Act. A company can be either be non-profit or profit-generating. A limited liability company is issued a Tax Compliance Certificate for its first 90 days of life and thereafter must get certified by the Tax Authority of Jamaica (TAJ).

The next structure is a business, whether a sole trader or partnership registered under the Business Names Act.

Who should register?

According to the COJ, just about everyone should register in some form or the other including persons who buy and sell livestock, those occupying public market stalls and paying market fees and firms established for social or welfare purposes, religion, charity, education etc. whose income and profits are used solely for that purpose.

While acknowledging that persons may not want to become compliant, outside of the legal requirement, there are other benefits that the COJ outlines. Essentially, registration offers a business-like mantle and legal status which makes the following easier:

· Accessing loans and grants

· Obtaining Government and other contracts

· Operating bank accounts in the business’ name

· Establishing ownership of the business

· Inspiring customers’ confidence

It is also noted that once registered, your business is uploaded to the COJ’s website. This allows, for example, individuals and firms to check your company documents or business name online and make sure you are a legal business in order to offer you credit or do business with you.

As to the registration process, the COJ explains that it does require a few steps including a search to ensure the proposed name is available, a document verifying the applicant’s place of residence and tax registration numbers for all applicants.