Uganda has a market-based economy and is generally considered as one of the fastest growing economies in East Africa. This might in part, be due to its young population; growing at a rate of 3% yearly while nearly half of the population is younger than 15 years old. With the most expansive and dynamic industrial base in East Africa. Uganda has been successful in attracting venture capital investments. In fact, in 2021 a very notable search engine (hey, we're not naming names) launched a $50m 'African Investment Fund', to target startups in the early growth stages; with their first touch-point being the Ugandan startup SafeBoda. More and more foreign companies and investors are setting up local and regional operations to take advantage of Uganda's strategic location, comprehensive air routes, and status as a rapidly growing consumer market. Uganda Business registration is also straightforward.
Can a Foreigner do Business in Uganda?
Absolutely, a foreigner looking to start business in Uganda must first register a company and follow due process. This registration will be carried out through the URSB e-services platform and upon registration. The appropriate company registration documents will be issued.
URSB Online Company Registration in Uganda
The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) lo is the regulatory body in charge of business registrations in Uganda. It recently updated its service charter to improve business delivery timelines required to register a business in Uganda.
How do I register my business in Uganda?
There are two business forms open to foreigners for their Uganda Business registration. These are registering a local company or registering a foreign branch. Most individuals and groups prefer to register a local company for obvious reasons - including limitation of liability and tax purposes.
Now let's look at the process for registering these entities in more detail.
- Local Company/Subsidiary
The procedure of incorporating a local company by a foreigner is essentially identical to the registration of local company by a citizen. There are different types of companies, but most foreign individuals or entities opt for a private company limited by shares.
- Branch Offices
This can be open for companies with a reduced level of activity. These don't generally require incorporation in Uganda, but to register one, certain financial disclosures are required by the parent company.
What is required to register a company in Uganda?
The requirements for Registering a Company inUganda include the following:
- Proposed Company/Business name
The proposed business name search is conducted to ensure it is not similar to an existing registered business. This is done by URSB online name reservation. If approved, it is reserved for 30 days. URSB requires a minimum of 3 names to be submitted.
- Objectives of the Business
This is essentially the business that the company is being set up to carry out. This business must be entirely legal and not against public policy.
- Names of the Directors, contact details and email
For transparency and accountability purposes, URA requires that the director's information be indicated on the application for registration.
- Proof of Identification
A valid and unexpired proof of identification must be provided for each director during the registration process. For foreigners who are legally residing in Uganda, a foreign national registration certificate – Alien card and for non-resident aliens, an international passport is required.
- Passport Photo
A clear and recent passport photograph must be provided for each director and officer of the company.
- URA TIN
All directors whether resident or non-resident are required to provide a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Tax Identification Number (TIN) certificate copy to prove registration with the tax authority.
In addition, the relevant forms must be signed by all directors and submitted during registration.
The Certificate of Incorporation is received from the Ugandan Registrar of Companies after submitting all required documents. If a branch was registered; a certificate of registration will be issued.
Investment License for Foreigners in Uganda
A foreigner must obtain an investment license to be allowed to run a company in Uganda. There are also some requirements for trade licenses to further ease doing business. You can go through the complete guide here.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.