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 license.
The business license is administered under the Business License Act No.19 of 1998.
- Director of Customs and Inland Revenue
The approval of business licenses within the municipal areas in Port Vila, is given by the Director of Customs and
- Provincial Governments
The Provincial Government is in charge of issuing business licenses outside the municipal areas. For municipal
areas outside Port Vila, the Shefa Province office issues business licenses. 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 licenses that fall under Section 13(3).
Any Foreign Investor wishing to invest in Vanuatu must obtain the following documents before applying for Business
1. Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) Certificate
For any foreign investor who’d like to take part in any business venture; an approval certificate from the Vanuatu
Investment Promotion Authority is required. VIPA is located at the top floor of Laguna Building in the hub of Port
2. 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 License 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 License Act, business licenses 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 License Fees for New Businesses
- As already mentioned, the fees are charged according to the annual business turnover shown in the business license schedule. For every new business, the fee would fall under the first class of <VT10m turnover.
- For example, if a citizen were to apply for a business license 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 license fee will be charged on a pro-rata basis.
- For example, Business License Fee = Category fee x no. of months/12
= D2 x 6/12
= 20,000 x 6/12
= VT 10, 000.
- Requesting a refund of the Business License 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 License:
Variation in business license applies to the following;
(1) Existing businesses venturing into another business activity APART from the current business activity
Those applying for a variation in business licenses have to re-apply by completing another business license 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.
- Variation fee = 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 license would have to get another VIPA approval certificate for a variation.
(2) 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 license.
- Business license fees would be charged on a pro-rata basis.
- Non-citizens applying for a new business license to open a branch in a separate location require a VIPA approval certificate.
(3) 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 license in order for the new business license 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 license certificate.
(4) 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 license and surrender the existing business license in order for the new business license certificate to be issued.
- Fee: Fee charges won’t apply in this case as the remaining fees from the previous business license would be transferred to the new business license application.
- A VIPA approval is required before lodging a new business license application.
(5) 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 license application form
- The existing business license 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 license fees or requesting refund of fees for
the remaining period
- VIPA approval certificate for the new foreign owner.
(6) 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 license certificate must also be submitted.
- Fee: VT 1,500.
Renewal of Business License:
- Any business that fails to renew its’ license 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 License Schedule 2 - Exemption from License
Those exempted from business license 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