Starting a Business in

Bahamas, The

Below is a detailed summary of the bureaucratic and legal hurdles faced by entrepreneurs wishing to incorporate and register a new firm in Bahamas, The. It examines the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a commercial or industrial firm with between 10 and 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Bahamas, The to 189 other economies.

No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs

Search for a company name and reserve the proposed name online

Agency: Registrar General's Department

The online name search system has been in place since 2004. The name reservation expires after 90 days.
Less than one day (online procedure) BSD 25

A lawyer prepares and notarizes the company documents (memorandum and articles of association)

Agency: Lawyer or corporate service provider

Legally, only the memorandum has to be filed at the moment of the incorporation. Standard articles of association are available and the memorandum has to be a statutory declaration. Therefore, the most common scenario is to prepare both. Since 2001, the Bahamas has issued many provisions on anti-money laundering and since then the information requested from the client has increased. Usually, a client has to provide the law firm with a financial and a character reference. In addition to financial and character references and a notarised copy of the client's passport, a client is also required to provide evidence of his or her current address, usually a notarised copy of a utility bill and a notarised copy of the passport and evidence of a current address for each of the directors.

The Affidavit, which records the oath of the subscribing witness, must be signed by said witnesses in the presence of a Notary Public. The Statutory Declaration is not mandatory under the Companies Act. However section 3(3) thereof states that if the Memorandum of Association is filed along with the Statutory Declaration, the Statutory Declaration shall be conclusive evidence of the capacity of the subscribers to the Memorandum. The Statutory declaration is not required to be executed by a Notary Public but instead by an attorney.
1 day on average Usually about BSD 650 (BSD 100 to public treasury + BSD 550 register of company)

Stamp duty on the memorandum paid to the Public Treasury

Agency: Public Treasury

The fees includes BSD 100 stamp duty is payable on the first BSD 5,000 authorized capital of the company and BSD 5 for every additional BSD 1,000 authorized capital.
1 day BSD100 stamp duty is payable on the first BSD 5,000 authorized capital of the company and BSD 5 for every additional BSD 1,000 authorized capital

File the company documents at the Companies Registry

Agency: Companies Registry

The registration is usually done by a lawyer or a corporate service provider. If submitted online, the fees are:BSD 1,000 for the incorporation and BSD 50 for Certified copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Entrepreneurs and certified providers have the option to submit in person, which will take roughly 10 days to receive the incorporation documents.
3 days BSD 1,000 for the incorporation and BSD 50 for Certified copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Obtain the National Insurance Number from the National Insurance Board

Agency: National Insurance Board

The National Insurance Number is a requirement to obtain business license. According to the National Insurance Act, every employer has to have a national insurance employer’s number. This could be obtained at no cost and it can be done in a day (by mail or in person). The document required for registration is a certificate of incorporation.

Employer also registers the employees if they have not been registered already. Where an employee is being registered with the National Insurance Board they must provide a copy of a document that verifies their birth, i.e. a birth certificate, passport or affidavit.
1 day no charge

Register the company for a business license at the Department of Inland Revenue - Central Revenue Administration of the Ministry of Finance

Agency: Department of Inland Revenue - Central Revenue Administration of the Ministry of Finance

Under the Business License Act all persons carrying on business in The Bahamas must have a business license before operations commence, whether or not the business is owned by Bahamians. Since the coming into force of the Business License Act, 2010 there is no longer a requirement to separately register the trading name of the company. The requested trading name is indicated on the Business Registration Form.

When the Business Registration Form is submitted it must be accompanied by: (i) proof of citizenship of the beneficial owners of the company; (ii) a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the company; (iii) a copy of the Certificate of Registration from the National Insurance Board; (iv) a copy of the lease for the property; (v) a copy of the Certificate of Sanitation from the Department of Environmental Health Services, depending on the nature of the business operations, a Certificate of Sanitation may or may not be required. ; and (vi) the licensing fee of BSD 100.
10 days
BSD 100 (flat fee)

Register for Tax Identification Number for Value Added Tax

Agency: Department of Inland Revenue, Ministry of Finance

On 1 January, 2015, the Value Added Tax Act (the "VAT Act") came into effect in The Bahamas. The VAT Act requires all persons, including companies, carrying on a business with an annual turnover of B$100,000 or more, or who have reasonable grounds to expect that the business will obtain an annual turnover of B$100,000 or more, to register with the VAT Department of the Ministry of Finance. VAT registrants are required charge and collect VAT at a rate of 7.5% on the supply of all goods and services (except goods and services which are exempt or zero-rated under the VAT Act) and remit the VAT collected to the Government of The Bahamas. In addition, persons meeting the registration threshold will be required to submit returns to the VAT Department on a monthly or quarterly basis.

In order to register for VAT, the company must register within 14 days of commencing business if it is anticipated that it will meet the annual turnover threshold of B$100,000. The application for registration must be submitted through the VAT Department's Online Tax Administration System (OTAS): www.bahamas.gov.bs/VAT, which will require the company to create a free online user account and complete and submit the VAT Registration Application. Once the VAT Department has approved the registration, which takes between 3 and 14 days, it will issue a Certificate of Registration to the company , which must be displayed in all locations where the company conducts business.
5 days no charge
* 8

Obtain a company seal

Agency: Registry Agency 

A proof of seal has to be provided at the time of filing the first annual statement. Under Section 26 of the Companies Act of 1992, every company must have a common seal. Seals are locally manufactured and can usually be obtained within 2-3 business days at a cost of BSD 30- BSD 35.
2 days on average (simultaneous with previous procedure) BSD 35

* Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.