CAC Registration: How to Register a Business in Nigeria

CAC Registration: How to Register a Business in Nigeria

How to Register a Business in Nigeria

Over the years, many have underestimated the significance of the CAC registration process. However, it is essential to note that it is mandatory to register a business in Nigeria before you commence operations and that failure to register may result in fines or other penalties.

In this article you would learn :

  • How to legally set up and register a new business entity in Nigeria 
  • The entire CAC registration process including documents, cost and timelines. 
  • The fundamentals of business incorporations with CAC compliance. 

And at the end of the reading, you would understand the role of CAC in starting a business in Nigeria and all the requirements to register a company in Nigeria.

Why Registering Your Bussiness in Nigeria Matters?

Registering your business in Nigeria matters because it equates to giving your business an official identity and protection. Similar to how you have a name and identity, your business needs one too. When you register, it means the government knows about your business and recognizes it as a real, legal entity.

This helps in a few important ways:

1. Legal Protection:  When your business is registered, it’s protected by the law. This means if someone tries to copy your business or do something unfair, you have legal rights to stop them.

2. Credibility: According to an accredited CAC agent, registering your business makes businesses look more trustworthy. Customers, partners, and investors feel safer working with a business that’s recognized by the government.

3. Access to Opportunities: Getting loans or partnering with big companies, are easier for registered businesses to access. It shows that you’re serious about your business.

4. Easier Transactions: Registered businesses can open bank accounts and handle financial transactions easier. It separates your personal money from business money.

In conclusion, registering your business strengthens its foundation and a greater chance of success.

Your Business Registration Options in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there are several registration options available through the Corporate Affairs Commission depending on the type of business entity you want to register. 

Here are the most common options:

  1. Business Name Registration: This is the simplest and most affordable registration option for small businesses, sole proprietorships, and partnerships. It requires the registration of a unique business name that is not already in use.
  2. Incorporation of a Private Limited Company: This option is suitable for businesses that want to operate as a separate legal entity and the appointment of at least two directors and shareholders. 
  3. Incorporation of a Public Limited Company: This option is similar to a private limited company, but it allows for public investment in the company through the sale of shares on the stock exchange.
  4. Registration of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO): This option is for non-profit organizations that operate for charitable, religious, or social purposes.

What are the CAC requirements for starting a business in Nigeria?

It is important to note that the specific requirements may vary depending on the type of business you are registering and other factors. It’s recommended to consult with a or legal professional to ensure you have all the necessary information and documents to complete the registration process.

Luckily for you, has provided a list of everything you would need as a business. 

This section is divided into two parts;

  • Requirements for your Business Name
  • Requirements for your Company Name

Let’s get into it.

REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME REGISTRATION 

PERSONAL INFORMATION 

1. Surname:

2. First name:

3. Other names:

4. Date of birth: (Date/Month/Year)

5. Gender:

6. Phone number:

7. Email:

YOUR HOME ADDRESS

1. State:

2. LGA:

3. Town: 

4. Street Number:

5. Street Name:

YOUR BUSINESS ADDRESS 

(if you don’t have a functional business address, make use of your home address)

1. State:

2. LGA:

3. Town:

4. Street Number:

5. Street Name: 

NATURE OF BUSINESS

(state specifically what your business is into)

Business Name 1:

Business Name 2: 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

(Take clear pictures of the following listed below)

  • NIN card
  • Passport picture or a close-up selfie of your face
  • Signature (sign on a piece of paper, snap, and send)

REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR COMPANY NAME REGISTRATION 

DIRECTOR

(must not be the owner of the company)

Surname:

First name:

Other names:

Date of birth: Date/Month/Year

Gender: 

Phone number:

Email:

YOUR HOME ADDRESS

State:

LGA:

Town:

Street Number:

Street Name:

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

( Take clear pictures )

  • NIN ID Card 
  • Passport 
  • Signature 

COMPANY OFFICE ADDRESS

(If no functional office address exists then, the home address of the owner of the company will be used)

State:

LGA:

Town:

Street Number:

Street Name: 

Company Name 1:

Company Name 2:

Functional Email Address (company email preferably):

WITNESS INFORMATION

Surname:

First Name:

Other Name:

Phone number:

Email:

WITNESS HOME ADDRESS

State:

LGA:

Town:

Street Number:

Street Name:

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

  • NIN ID Card :
  • Signature on paper:

SHAREHOLDERS INFORMATION

(must be the owner of the company)

Surname:

First Name:

Other Name:

Date of Birth:

Gender:

Nationality:

Phone Number:

Email address:

SHAREHOLDER HOME ADDRESS

State:

LGA:

Town:

Street Number:

Street Name:

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

  • NIN ID Card
  • Passport picture or a close-up selfie of your face 
  • Signature

OBJECT OF MEMORANDUM

(The “object of memorandum” is a part of a document that tells people what a company is going to do or make. 

It’s like a goal or a plan that the company sets for itself.

For example, a company might say in their object of the memorandum that they want to make and sell clothes, or they want to offer computer repair services. It’s important because it helps everyone understand what the company is about and what they can expect from it.)

These are all the requirements for registration, and it’s important to take the time to carefully review all requirements and documentation to avoid common mistakes during the CAC registration process.

Common mistakes made during the CAC process

  1. Choosing a name that is already taken: It’s important to check the availability of your proposed business name before registering with CAC to avoid rejection.
  2. Incomplete or incorrect documentation: Failing to provide all the required information and documents, or providing inaccurate or incomplete information can result in delays or rejection of your application.
  3. Not adhering to the naming requirements: The CAC has specific requirements for naming your business, including avoiding certain words and phrases that may be considered offensive or misleading. (A quick Google search can give you an idea of what not to use.)
  4. Inadequate capitalization: Registering a company with inadequate share capital may limit its ability to obtain financing or enter into certain business transactions.
  5. Not renewing your registration: Failure to file your annual returns with CAC can result in your business being struck off the register, which can have serious legal and financial consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions on CAC Registration in Nigeria

Starting and running a business can be a daunting task, and you may have questions about different aspects of the process. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to provide you with answers and guidance. Our goal is to help you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions. So, let’s dive into the most common questions a CAC agent receives and help you find the solutions you need.

Should I have a business name or a company name?

It really depends on you and your needs.

According to our expert, a business name does not end with “ltd” or “company”. Business names are usually “Enterprises” or “Ventures” and other suffixes like hub, consults, etc.

Business names are also less expensive to register and can be run as a sole proprietorship or partnership without the existence of directors or shareholders. If you’re a one-man (or woman) business, then a business name is most suitable. 

Looking into the company name, which could also be referred to as limited liability, it is essential to have the “ltd” suffix in the name. 

For example Globacom Ltd. Jumia Ltd. 

Limited liability companies are also more expensive to register in Nigeria, and they do consist of shareholders and directors (although one person can be a shareholder and director).

What exactly are shares?

A share is the number of rights you own in a company and is usually calculated in monetary terms,    depending on the company framework. 

 A good example would be if a company had 1 million available shares and you bought/inherited 300,000. That would mean you owned 30% of that company’s profits or losses.

Who is a shareholder?

A shareholder is anyone who owns shares in a company.

Can you be the only director or shareholder in your company? 

Yes, in Nigeria, you can be the only director or shareholder in your company. 

However, it is important to note that the requirements for registering a company in Nigeria may differ depending on the type of company and the industry it operates in.

What is TIN?

Aside from the fact that it is super important for your business, TIN (Tax Identification Number) is a code or combination of numbers needed at the bank when opening a corporate account for your business.

Do I need a business account?

Not necessarily, but it is important to separate business funds for proper management and documentation. 

What happens when your name is no longer available for Registration?

Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. All you have to do is come up with another amazing name, or tweak the current one with a new twist. 

I know it sounds like a hassle and that’s one of the major reasons we advise you to get your CAC registrations out of the way before you begin your branding and marketing ventures.

 Imagine all the time, energy, and money wasted on business cards and team t-shirts if you don’t.

Is CAC registration the same as SMEDAN? What’s the difference?

You’re right to think there’s a difference because there is.

For starters, SMEDAN does not secure the name of your business. They do not give legal structure to your business and most of all when compared to CAC, SMEDAN is not as recognized in Nigeria.

Is CAC recognized and legit?

Yes, it is 100% legit. CAC is a reputable and legitimate organization in Nigeria because it is the only legal body responsible for regulating and registering business entities in the country.

Understanding the financial aspect of CAC registration

Understanding the financial aspect of CAC registration is essential for entrepreneurs and business owners embarking on the journey of formalizing their enterprises. Registering a business with the Corporate Affairs Commission involves various costs, fees, and financial considerations that play a pivotal role in the overall process. 

Here we would delve into the financial aspect of CAC registration and provide insights into the expenses involved to better enable your business budget effectively and make informed decisions.

Registration Fees for Different Business Structures 

When it comes to registering your business, there are different ways you can go about it. The easiest way usually involves getting help from a certified CAC agent. Just keep in mind that the cost can differ depending on the agent you choose. For this explanation, we’ll use the most common fees shared by CAC on their official website. 

CAC Registration Fees for Companies in Nigeria

ProcessLtd/Gte Fee (₦)Small Company Fee (₦)Private other than small fee (₦)Public fee (₦)
Name registration for registricted words and Ltd/Gte50005,000 where applicable 5,000 where applicable 5,000 where applicable 
Incorporation of private/public company limited by shares NA 10,00010,00020,000
Change of name 20,00010,00020,00050,000
Name registration for restricted words and Ltd/Gte5,0005,0005,00010,000
Relisting of company 50,00025,00050,000100,000

CAC Registration Fees for Limited Liability Companies 

Fee (₦)
Name reservation 500
Name Reservation 5000
Incorporation and CTC of Registration Documents20,000
Change of name 10,000
Name registration for restricted words 5,000 each 
Status report / good standing 5,000

CAC Registration Fees for Limited Liability Partnerships

Fee (₦)
Name reservation 500
Name Reservation 5000
Registration and CTC of Registration Documents extracts15,000
Change of name 10,000
Name registration for restricted words 5,000 each 
Relisting20,000

CAC Registration Fees for Business Names 

Fee (₦)
Name Reservation 500
Name registration for restricted words 5000
Registration and CTC of Registration Documents 10,000
Change of name 10,000
Annual Returns, other post-incorporation, and miscellaneous filings 3,000 each 
Relisting25,000

CAC Penalty Fees for Registered Businesses in Nigeria

Daily Default Penalty (₦)Other penalties (One-off) ₦
Small Company 2505,000
Companies private other than small 50010,000
Company limited by guarantee 50010,000
Public Company 1,00025,000
Limited Liability Partnership 50010,000
Limited Partnership 50010,000
Business Names 1505,000
Incorporated Trustees 50010,000

All other fees and prices can be found on the official ‘Schedule of Fees’ document  on the CAC website 

Timelines for CAC Registration

CAC Timeline for Business Name Reservation in Nigeria

Availability 4 hours 
Reservation code for restricted names, Limited by Guarantee, and Incorporated Trustees 48 working days 

CAC Timeline for New Registration in Nigeria

Companies 24 hours 
Business Names  24 hours 
Incorporated trustees 24 hours 

CAC Timeline for Post Registration in Nigeria

Change of Name and deed of Release3 working days 
Search Report  3 working days  
Letter of good standing  Instant 

(all other timelines can be found on the official site, here)

CAC Timeline for Annual Returns in Nigeria

Annual returns for a small company 3 working days 
Annual returns for a company limited by Guarantee  3 working days  
Annual report of exempted foreign company 3 working days 
Annual returns for business names 3 working days 
Annual returns (incorporated trustees)3 working days 

CAC Timeline for Customer Complaint in Nigeria

Customer complaint 72 hours

Staying Compliant After Registration

After successfully registering your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the journey toward maintaining compliance begins. Ensuring ongoing adherence to regulatory requirements is vital for the credibility, legality, and long-term success of your business.

Maintaining Updated Business Information

Consistently accurate and up-to-date business information is a cornerstone of compliance. Keeping records current, including ownership details, business addresses, and contact information, is essential. By promptly updating any changes with the relevant authorities, you not only adhere to regulatory guidelines but also ensure that your business continues to receive important correspondences and notifications.

Fulfilling Annual Filing Requirements

Many businesses are obligated to submit annual returns and financial statements to regulatory bodies, including the CAC. These filings offer transparency into your business’s financial health and operations. Adhering to these filing requirements not only showcases your commitment to accountability but also maintains your business’s good standing. Failure to meet these obligations could result in penalties, suspension, or even the revocation of your business registration. By staying organized and preparing the necessary documentation ahead of time, you can navigate these annual filing requirements effectively.

Types of  Business Tax Obligations in Nigeria 

Comprehending your tax obligations as a registered business is paramount to compliance. Nigeria’s tax landscape involves various types of taxes that businesses may be subject to:

1. Corporate Income Tax: This tax is levied on the profits of incorporated companies at a rate specified by tax laws.

2. Value-Added Tax (VAT): VAT is applied to the supply of goods and services and is collected by businesses on behalf of the government.

3. Personal Income Tax: Businesses with employees must deduct and remit personal income tax from their employee’s salaries to the appropriate tax authorities.

4. Withholding Tax: This tax is deducted at source from payments made to suppliers, contractors, and service providers.

5. Education Tax: Certain businesses are required to pay a percentage of their assessable profits as education tax to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

6. Capital Gains Tax: This tax is imposed on the gains from the disposal of assets, including shares and properties.

7. Stamp Duties: Stamp duties are levied on certain transactions, documents, or agreements.

8. Import and Export Duties: For businesses involved in import and export activities, customs duties and levies apply.

Understanding these tax obligations and the specific requirements for your business type is essential. Ensuring accurate calculation, timely payment, and proper record-keeping for these taxes are fundamental to remaining compliant and avoiding potential penalties.

Staying compliant after business registration requires continuous effort, attention to detail, and a commitment to operating within the bounds of the law. By keeping the information updated, meeting annual filing obligations, and understanding and fulfilling your tax responsibilities, your business can thrive in a compliant and sustainable manner within Nigeria’s regulatory framework.

Ready to Start Your Registered Business in Nigeria?

Starting your own business and making it official in Nigeria is an exciting venture. The process involves registering your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to give it legal recognition and credibility. To make this journey smoother, several innovative FinTech companies have emerged to help entrepreneurs like you navigate the complexities of CAC registration while simultaneously facilitating the opening of a business account.

These FinTech platforms leverage technology to streamline the often tedious paperwork and bureaucratic processes, empowering you to kick-start your registered business with confidence. Here’s a closer look at how some of these platforms can assist you:

5 FinTechs in Nigeria that Aid CAC Registration through Business Account Opening

– Kuda: As a digital bank, Kuda provides dedicated business banking solutions, including the convenience of opening a business account digitally, simplifying your financial operations.

– Carbon for Business: Carbon’s business services combine CAC registration support with avenues for opening a business account, allowing you to formalize your enterprise and access financial tools.

– Prospa: Focused on empowering small businesses, Prospa offers assistance in legalizing your business through CAC registration while also providing access to tailored financial products.

– Rubies Bank: While their exact CAC-related services may vary, Rubies Bank offers comprehensive banking solutions, potentially including assistance with business account opening.

– VFD Microfinance Bank: Providing a range of financial services, VFD Microfinance Bank offers business banking solutions, potentially simplifying both CAC registration and business account opening.

Exploring these FinTech solutions opens doors to not only registering your business but also ensuring your financial operations are efficient and modern. Each platform brings its unique approach to combining CAC registration assistance with business account initiation, helping you pave the way for a successful entrepreneurial journey in Nigeria.

Take the Next Step Toward Business Success

Congratulations on your journey to officially register your business in Nigeria! By understanding the financial aspects of CAC registration, and exploring FinTech solutions that aid in both registration and business account opening, you’re setting the stage for a successful business venture.

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