Zambia business name and registration

Sara Drawwater
25 October 2013
My earlier blog post looked at

My earlier blog post looked at the importance of registering your business in Zambia. In this blog post, I will address two issues:

  1. How to come up with a business name
  2. The process of registering a Zambia business name

People know that the name they choose for their business is very important. But people often choose business names not related to the kind of business they do, which misleads the public. And to some, the process of coming up with a business name is something quite tedious; people often ask me to name their business for them. It is very important to determine the business elements that guide you when coming up with a good business name.

A good name should give an idea to the public about what the company is involved in.

Do’s of a coming up with a business name

  1. Easy to remember — the idea is to have this name in the minds of the public
  2. Easy spelling and pronunciation — the public must not have difficulties in spelling and pronouncing the name. Let it sound decent and professional
  3. You may use legal information such as ‘Limited’ for incorporated companies
  4. Never forget to work on the logo for your business name****
  5. Consult widely and wisely before coming to the final decision. It is important to have a list of three names in the order of your preference to avoid going back to the drawing board in case some proposed names are rejected****

Don’ts of coming up with a business name

  1. The name must not be complicated — make it easy for your clients to remember. You don’t want clients to have to ask to be reminded of the name.
  2. Don’t do the opposite of the name. There are business names that confuse the public; what their business name implies they do and what they actually do are totally different. Avoid at all costs such confusion when naming your business.

Zambia business registrationBusiness names are governed by The Registration of Business Names Act №16 of 2011. The Act does not allow a registered Business Name to be used by any one else.

Names that cannot be registered in ZambiaWhen a name forwarded to the Registrar is very much like the name of an already existing company, Section 41 (1) of the Companies Act prohibits the Registrar to register such a name. The Business Names Act also provides that no name shall be registered which tends to show that the company enjoys patronage of the President of Zambia.

Other considerations for approving business namesThe Registrar follows some guidelines when registering business names:

  • A company may adopt descriptive titles, but only if the title describes the main objective of the company, as set out in the application form for registration.
  • The use of “Zambia” as the first word in a name can only be allowed for companies who show State participation. The use of the word ‘(Zambia)’ in brackets should be permitted only if the company were a subsidiary of a foreign company having the same name; otherwise ‘Zambia’ without brackets should be used.
  • Use of the term “Sons” in the name should not be allowed unless the sons are actively participating in the affairs of the company.
  • A company whose main objects include tuition, running of schools, etc, should register with the Ministry of Education as required by the Education Act, Cap.134.

Who can register a business name in Zambia?To be safe in your business operations, you must adhere to the laws of the country. Act №16 of 2011 requires that you must register your business name and other particulars with the Registrar of Business Names if, in summary:-

1. you have a place of business in Zambia and are carrying on business2. your Business Name does not consist of your own name (or names of all partners, or corporate names of all partners who are corporations)

For an incorporated company, two or more persons associated for any legal business may form an incorporated company by subscribing their names to an application for incorporation and lodging it with the Registrar.

Application for approval of a nameWith a list of proposed business names, you will need a Name Clearance Form from the Patents & Company Registration Agency (PACRA). To submit the form back to PACRA, you will need to pay ZMW10. Submit your choice of three names. Why three names instead of one? Because you may be told the name you have forwarded is deemed unsuitable. Therefore, to increase the chances of getting a business name approved, it is better to submit at least three names.

You can also just apply to the Registrar for name reservation in writing. Upon making a payment of ZMW50 your preferred name will be reserved for 90 days.

CertificationThe sealing and issuing of the Certificate of Registration marks the end of the process for registration of business names. When this process is done, you have legal support to do business, but you still need additional documents from other statutory institutions like Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and others.

You should not do any business transactions before you have applied for TPIN (Tax Payer Identification Number), TAX Clearance Certificate and Income Tax Number. These can only be given with proof that you have a sealed Certificate from PACRA.****

With a good Business Name, a legally registered company, and ZRA and NAPSA compliance, you are now good to go!* This preparation work is a good start to taking you through to having a large and successful business.

For further business advice, get in touch with Siciabi Mooya through his company Fair Sheaves Ltd.

*However certain types of companies require additional registration and certification with other bodies. You will need to check with a lawyer or other specialist for details.