A Provisional Licence helps to reduce the amount of time it takes to start a new business. It is granted to eligible businesses when they apply for a Business Licence.
What is a Provisional Licence?
A provisional licence is a temporary licence issued by the Department of Inland Revenue for 90 days to help small businesses get up and running quickly. Once a completed Business Licence application is submitted, businesses that are deemed “low risk” can be granted a Provisional Licence. This is valid while businesses wait to receive approvals from other government agencies, such as the Department of Physical Planning, Ministry of Works or Environmental Health Services.
Although these approvals are necessary to complete the full business licence process, they sometimes take time. While this process is underway, a provisional licence enables eligible businesses to move forward with critical tasks, such as opening a business bank account.
What type of businesses are eligible?
Low-risk businesses are eligible for a provisional licence. This typically means, home-based or trading-as businesses in non-regulated industries. Incorporated companies, non-Bahamian companies, and businesses with storefronts or operating in regulated industries are not eligible. The following summary list contains business categories that are generally considered low-risk (exceptions apply). For a more detailed list of eligible business categories, see the full list here.
Summary of Eligible Businesses
- Admin Services
- Apparel & Textile Manufacturing
- Art & Craft Vendors
- Audio-Visual Production
- Civic Organizations
- Clothing and Accessory Retail
- Couriers and Messengers
- Furniture Manufacturing
- General Merchandise Retail
- Housekeeping Services
- Marketing and Public Relations
- Printing and Publishing
- Plumbing, Roofing, Fencing Contractors
- Professional Associations
- Small Contractors and Construction Service Providers
What is the process to obtain a Provisional Licence?
A Provisional Licence is only a temporary licence to operate and is not a substitute for a Business Licence. In fact, to obtain a Provisional Licence you must apply for a Business Licence. However, during the application process, some of the document requirements are waived temporarily for businesses that are eligible.
- Create an account on the Online Tax Administration System (OTAS)
- Apply for a Business Licence
- [*IMPORTANT STEP*] On the “Supporting Documents” page, towards the end of the application process, instead of uploading approval letters from the relevant external agencies, you are allowed to upload agency confirmation emails to show proof that you applied. These emails are automatically generated when you use the consolidated agency online application form.
- Submit your Business Licence application. [*IMPORTANT NOTE* All other aspects of the application must be complete for consideration.]
- If you meet the eligibility requirement, you will automatically be granted a Provisional Licence within one business day after your application.
How do I complete the full Business Licence process?
- When you receive your full agency approvals, upload your certificates or certification letters to your account on OTAS.
- A Business Licence will automatically be issued once all requirements are met.
- [*IMPORTANT NOTE* If you do not obtain your full approvals within the 3-months, your Provisional Licence will expire, and you will have to start the application process over for a Business Licence. You will no longer be in compliance with the Business Licence Act.]