FAQ’S – BL

1. Do I need a licence to do business in the Bahamas?
Yes. Every person conducting business within The Bahamas is required to have a business licence (Business Licence Act, 2010 3(1)).
2. What are the requirements for a New Annual Business?
•    Proof of Bahamian Citizenship (Valid passport) or permanent residency with right to work.
•    Approval from the Bahamas Investment Authority for non-Bahamian and foreign owned companies.
•    Certificate of Incorporation (with proof that shares are 100% beneficially owned by Bahamians); receipt of current company registration or Current Certificate of Good Standing.
•    National Insurance Board (N.I.B.) letter of good standing along with copies of owner’s personal N.I.B. cards.
•    Lease/rental agreement or proof of ownership of property (copy of conveyance) for office Space along with approvals from:
a.    Department of Physical Planning (zoning).
b.    Ministry of Works/Building Control Section (inspection) and;
c.    Department of Environmental Health.
d.    Police approval (for sale of alcoholic beverages and music & dance activities).
NB: It should be noted that the above requirements are needed for all businesses; however, additional requirements are needed for regulated businesses, for example attorneys and custom brokers.
3.Can I operate any type of business from my home, i.e. (within a residential area)?
No. Only business activities that are zoned for residential areas can be conducted provided approval is obtained from the Physical Planning Department. Businesses that are deemed industrial in nature are not allowed.
4. Are there any penalties for operating a business without a licence and what are the penalties for not renewing my licence by the due date?
(i) A fine of five thousand dollars and
(ii)In addition to any fine, a sum of one hundred dollars for each day the offence continues subsequent to the date to which the conviction relates. (see Business Licence Act, 2010 26(2)(a))
The penalty for late renewal filing is $100.00
5. Are there any penalties for late licence payments?
A charge of 10% of the tax liability is applicable for late payments. Interest at a 5% rate per annum on the tax liability will be added to amounts overdue 30 days or more.
6. Am I given a grace period?
Yes. All licences expire on 31st December, except for temporary and occasional. The grace period is until 31st January of the following year.
7. Where can I apply for a business licence?
Business Licence applications can be completed online via the RMS-Web system at vat.revenue.gov.bs. (see the link, ‘How To-BL’ located at the top left of this webpage)
8. Is the process simple?
Yes, the process Is relatively simple and more convenient with the new online system
9. After applying for my business licence how long would it take to be granted?
Providing all requirements are submitted, the application should be processed within seven (7) business days.
10. Am I allowed to print my licence online or is there a dedicated processing and pick-up center?
Yes, licences can be printed online.
11. Can a replacement licence be printed online?
Yes, at any time.
12. If I move, can my business licence be transferred or do I have to apply for a new license?
Approval for New Location has to be obtained and a change of circumstances requested. This process is also done online.

13. If I open a business, say mid-year (June) do I pay for the entire year or can my taxes be pro-rated?

Presently, Business licence taxes are not pro-rated. The initial tax for a new applicant is $100; thereafter the taxes are computed on turnover for the prior calendar year.

14. If I have several branches, do I need a licence for each branch or would one (1) license cover all branches?
A licence would be required for each branch.
15. If I have several branches, do I have to submit filings for each branch or do I combine my turnover amounts and submit one (1) filing?
One application is submitted for the combined turnover of all branches.
16. How is my business licence tax determined?
•    Business licence taxes are calculated based on a percentage of the turnover for the preceding year.
•    Where the turnover is less than or equal to $50,000 the tax is $100.
•    Where turnover is between $50,001 and $500,000 per annum the tax is 0.50%.
•    Where the turnover is greater than $500,000 per annum but not exceeding $5 million per annum the tax is 0.75%.
•    Where the turnover is greater than $5 million per annum the tax is 1.25%.
17. Can I use my licence throughout the Bahamas or do I require a licence for each Island on which I operate a Business?
You would require a licence for each island and each specific location.
18. How do I request changes to my business licence?
You would have to submit a change of circumstance application online.
19. How do I request the inactivation or cessation of my business?
You would have to submit a change of circumstance application online. Outstanding taxes and fees must be paid

Notification is to be within fourteen days of the inactivation or cessation of the business but not later than 31st December of the year the licence was granted. 
A fee for late notification of inactivation or cessation is $100.00
20. How do I pay the Business Licence taxes?
•    Online payment using credit/debit cards.
•    Over the counter at most banks, making sure to say that the payment is for Business Licence
•    Wire transfers.