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 licence.
Business licencing is administered under the Business Licence Act [CAP 249].
On this page:
- APPLYING FOR A BUSINESS LICENCE
- WHO ISSUES BUSINESS LICENCES
- EXEMPTION FROM THE NEED TO BE LICENCED
- PERIOD OF LICENCE
- HOW MUCH ARE THE FEES
- APPLICATIONS FROM COMPANYS
- APPLICATIONS FROM BUSINESSES WITH A TRADE NAME
- APPLICATIONS FROM BUSINESSES WITH FOREIGN OWNERSHIP
- VARIATIONS DURING THE YEAR - AFTER A BUSINESS LICENCE HAS BEEN ISSUED
Applications for a business licence need to be lodged using the business licence application form. Licence fees will be paid when the application form is lodged.
All applicants must have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). If you do not already have a TIN, then you need to apply for one using the Application for TIN Form (insert link). This can be lodged at the same time as you lodge the licence application form.
For many licence applications there will need to be relevant documents also lodged – refer below.
For some business activities, there are extra documentation requirements which will be advised when your application is lodged – often the extra documentation will be certification/approval from the relevant government department or agency. These activities include:
- Mining for minerals;
- Quarrying and Other Mining;
- Abattoirs and meat packing;
- Oil mills;
- Commercial banks;
- Air transport operators;
- Trust, finance and investment companies;
- Local insurance companies;
- Law Firms
- Health type businesses
- Tobacco importers
- Designated Agents
- Director of Customs and Inland Revenue
The issue of business licences for business operating within the municipal areas in Port-Vila, Luganville, and Lenakel is administered by the Director of Customs and Inland Revenue.
- Provincial Governments
Provincial Governments are the licencing authority for issuing licences for businesses operating outside municipal areas.
- Teachers and professors in schools or institutions not conducted for profits
- Masters, officers and crews of merchant or trading vessels unless they are engaged in business
- Non-proprietary clubs, whose main purpose is social, cultural, sporting or educational and are not conducted for profit
- Religious missions and ministers of religion
- Exporters of any products from Vanuatu
- A credit union registered under the Credit Unions Act [Cap. 256]
- A person operating a micro finance or micro credit scheme that is registered with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission as a charitable organisation.
- A business with a gross turnover of less than 4 million
Licences for new businesses are issued from the date the business commences to 31 December (the end of the calendar year/licensing period).
Existing businesses renew their licences each calendar year - on or before 31 January. The renewed licence that is issued will be valid from 1 January to 31 December.
Business Licence 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. Refer to the Business Licence Application Form for the fee schedule. For new businesses the fee is pro-rated depending on when in the calendar year the business begins operation.
The initial fee is charged according to:
- the category of business activity according to the business licence schedule
- the commencement date of the business activity – if the business starts during the calendar year the licence fee will be charged on a pro-rata basis.
Business commences in January
If a person or an entity were to apply for a business licence to open a retail shop then the business activity would fall under the category D2. If they begin operation in January then the licence fee is VT10,000 which covers the period from January to December.
Business commences in July
If a person or an entity were to apply for a business licence to open a retail shop then the business activity would fall under the category D2. If they begin operation in July then the licence fee is charged on a pro-rata basis
6/12 months x VT10,000 = VT5,000.
This will cover the period from July to December.
For renewals, business licence fees are charged according to the previous year’s gross turnover.
Any business that fails to renew its’ licence 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.
For foreign investors who are renewing their licence - they must first renew their VFIPA certificate. When applying for a licence renewal the VFIPA certificate must be provided.
A refund of a paid Business Licence Fee can be requested for the following reasons:
- Business closure;
- Change of ownership;
An administration charge of VT 5,000 will be deducted from the licence fee.
An application for a new business licence in the name of a company must be accompanied with a valid Certificate of Incorporation from Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC).
An application for a new business licence or a renewal from a business with a tradename must be accompanied with a valid Certificate of Business Name from Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC).
An application for a new business licence or a renewal from a business with Foreign ownership must be accompanied with a valid Vanuatu Foreign Investment Promotion Authority (VFIPA) Certificate.
VFIPA is located at the Tamarama Building, Kumul Hwy in the hub of Port-Vila town.
- Click here to access VFIPA website.
A business re-locating to another place.
A business that moves to a different location has to write a letter regarding the change in location and surrender the existing business licence in order for a new business licence certificate to be issued.
Foreign Investors moving business to a new location must get a VFIPA variation approval certificate before any changes can be made to the business licence certificate.
Change in the ownership (sole trader; partnership; and company).
A change in the type of ownership will require a new licence to be issued.
· 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 licencee to re-apply for business licence and surrender the existing business licence in order for the new business licence certificate to be issued.
Fee charges won’t apply in this case as the remaining fees from the previous business licence would be transferred to the new business licence application.
For Foreign Investors a VIPA approval is required before lodging a new business licence application.
Transfer of ownership.
This applies to a business that is sold to a new owner(s).
The required documents needed before the transfer of ownership can be actioned are:
VFIPA approval certificate if the transfer is to a new foreign owner.
A new licence will be issued.
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.
A new licence will be issued.
Variation Fee: VT 1,500.