Any individual or company that wants to par-take in any form of business activity for the sole purpose of making profit is required to get a business licence.
The business licence is administered under the Business Licence Act [CAP 249].
- Director of Customs and Inland Revenue
The approval of business licences within the municipal areas in Port-Vila is given by the Director of Customs and Inland Revenue.
- Provincial Governments
The Provincial Government is in charge of issuing business licences outside the municipal areas. For municipal areas outside Port-Vila, the Shefa Province office issues business licences.
The Shefa Province office is located off Lini Highway, opposite Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) staff parking lot.
- Minister of Finance
The Minister of Finance and Economic Management is responsible for issuing licences that fall under Section 13(3).
Any Foreign Investor wishing to invest in Vanuatu must obtain the following documents before applying for Business Licence.
- Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) Certificate.
For any foreign investor who would like to take part in any business venture; an approval certificate from the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority is required.
VIPA is located at the Tamarama Building, Kumul Hwy in the hub of Port-Vila town.
- Certificate of Business Name or Certificate of Incorporation from Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC).
Every business trading name has to be registered at VFSC unless the business is registered under the name of the owner, then there wouldn’t be a need to do so.
Business Licence fees are charged according to the type of business activity carried out and the category it may fall under.
The fees vary depending on the turnover of each business activities under each category.
Under the Business Licence Act, business licences are valid for one year and are subject to renewal on or before 31 January of the New licensing Year. This also applies to new applications being submitted during the year.
Calculation of Business Licence Fees for New Businesses.
As already mentioned, the fees are charged according to the annual business turnover shown in the business licence schedule.
- For every new business, the fee would fall under the first class of
< VT10m turnover.
If a citizen were to apply for a business licence to open a retail shop then the business activity would fall under the category D2, whereby the annual fee is VT 20,000/yr.
- For any business commencing later during the year, the business licence fee will be charged on a pro-rata basis.
Business Licence Fee
= Category fee x no. of
= D2 x 6/12
= 20,000 x 6/12
= VT 10, 000.
Requesting a refund of the Business Licence Fee can apply for the following reasons:
- Business closure;
- Change of ownership;
- Or for any other reasons ;
Refund fee: VT 5,000.
VARIATION IN BUSINESS LICENCE
Variation in business licence applies to the following:
- Existing businesses venturing into another business activity APART from the current business activity.
Those applying for a variation in business licences have to re-apply by completing another business licence form.
- The fee paid would be the cost of the additional category.
- The fee can also be charged on a pro-rata basis IF the application is submitted during the year.
= Category x no. of months/12
= D2 x 6/12
= 20, 000 x 6/12
= VT 10, 000.
Non-citizens applying for a variation in the business licence would have to get another VIPA approval certificate for a variation.
- Current businesses that wants to extend its’ business activity in another location.
- Businesses setting up a branch in another location would have to re-apply for a new business licence.
- Business licence fees would be charged on a pro-rata basis.
Non-citizens applying for a new business licence to open a branch in a separate location require a VIPA approval certificate.
- Any business re-locating to another place.
- Any business that moves to a different location has to write a letter regarding the change in location and surrender the existing business licence in order for the new business licence certificate to be issued.
- Fee: VT 1,500.
Non-citizens moving business to a new location must get a VIPA variation approval certificate before any changes can be made to the business licence certificate.
- Change in the type of ownership (sole trader; partnership; and company).
- A change in the type of ownership can mean various changes in the type of ownership.
- For example, from sole trader to partnership/company; or change in partnership (i.e. either bringing in a new partner/shareholder or withdrawal of an existing partner).
- A change in the type of ownership would require the licensee to re-apply for business licence and surrender the existing business licence in order for the new business licence certificate to be issued.
- Fee: Fee charges won’t apply in this case as the remaining fees from the previous business licence would be transferred to the new business licence application.
A VIPA approval is required before lodging a new business licence application.
- Transfer of ownership.
This applies to a business that is sold to a new owner(s).
The required documents needed out before the transfer of ownership can be carried out are:
- New completed business licence application form;
- The existing business licence for the previous owner;
- Letter of confirmation from the previous owner confirming the sale of business;
- Letter from the previous owner authorizing the transfer of business licence fees or requesting refund of fees for the remaining period;
- VIPA approval certificate for the new foreign owner.
- Change in the business trading name or company name.
- Any business wanting to change its’ trading name or company name must provide a Change of Business Name Certificate or Certificate of Incorporation from VFSC.
- The existing business licence certificate must also be submitted.
- Fee: VT 1,500.
RENEWAL OF BUSINESS LICENCE
Any business that fails to renew its’ licence on/ before the 31st of January will be penalized at a growing rate of 10% of every month that the fee was due until it is settled.
Renewal of VIPA approval certificate is required for non-citizens.
BUSINESS LICENCE SCHEDULE 2 – EXEMPTION FROM LICENCE
Those exempted from business licence fees include:
- Artists and sculptors,
- Planters; farmers; dairy farmers; market and other gardeners; stock-breeders; vegetable and fruit hawkers;
The above shall only be exempted if the business gross turnover is LESS THAN VT 10 million.
N.B. The exemption will continue to apply for the following:
- credit unions registered under the Credit Union Act;
- religious missions;
- teachers and professors in schools and institutions not conducted for profits;
- non-profit clubs;
- charitable organizations.