Starting a business in Nigeria can be an exciting endeavour, but it also involves navigating a complex process to ensure your venture is legally recognised and protected. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the regulatory body responsible for business registration in Nigeria. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to register a business with CAC in Nigeria in 2024.
We’ll cover everything you need to know, from the necessary documents to the online registration process. Let’s dive in and make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
Before we dive into the step-by-step process of registering your business with CAC, I want to let you know that I have a comprehensive video tutorial and PDF guide where I show how to register a business name, a limited liability company, an NGO, and others and also provide the necessary support. Click here to access the materials and robust support.
Additionally, if you want us to handle your business registration, check out our services here.
Introduction to Business Registration with CAC
Registering your business with CAC is a crucial step in establishing its legitimacy and ensuring legal protection. This process not only grants you the right to operate your business without interference but also allows you to access various benefits offered by the government and financial institutions.
In the past, to register your business, you would need to get a registered agent or a lawyer to help you. So it was costly to register your business, as many agents charge a high fee for helping business owners.
As things evolved, and with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria (CAC) and the government’s genuine interest in making doing business in Nigeria easier, laws were changed to allow individuals to register their businesses without the service of an agent.
The process is now 100% online, and anyone can register their business from the comfort of their home, which is less costly.
As of the time of updating this article in February 2024, the total fee for business name registration is N11,000. N500 for the reservation of name; N10,000 for the CAC certificate; and the remaining N500 for Remita fees, commissions, or bank fees or charges.
Types of Business Structures
Before proceeding with registration, it’s important to determine the most suitable business structure for your venture. The options include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and public limited company (PLC). Each structure has its own legal and financial implications, so carefully consider which one aligns with your business goals.
This article will focus only on CAC business name registration for sole proprietorships and partnerships. However, we have provided links to other articles and resources for other options like limited liability company (LLC) and public limited company (PLC), registration of schools, registration of NGOs, etc., as well as CAC post-incorporation.
How to Register a Business with CAC in Nigeria (2024)
In this section, I will show the step-by-step process of CAC business name registration to help ensure that you’re on the right path to establishing your business successfully.
The good news is that the process is entirely online, and the certificate that will be issued is in soft copy, so you can easily download it from the CAC portal without delay and print it out.
The personal and business information you will need to carry out the process online will be provided in this section, as well as what you need to do at every step of the process.
Step 1: Gather Your Documents and Information
Before you dive into the registration process, make sure you have all the necessary information and documents. These might include your company’s name, address, business objectives, details of its directors, etc. Additionally, prepare identification documents for the owners and directors, as well as proof of address.
This is the preparation or planning stage. This stage is likened to preparing your business plan to make your journey easy and smooth.
Below, we will list all the information and documents that you will need.
List of information and Documents You Will Need
You will need the following information and documents:
1) First name
3) Other names (optional)
5) email address
6) Residential address
7) Business address
8) passport photo
9) Means of identification (government-issued)
10) Date of birth
13) Is your business a partnership business?
14) Business name: optio1 (first choice)
15) Business name option 2 (Second choice)
16) Business Classification: Is it a business name, company, or LTD?
17) What is your business all about?
18) Your signature
Step 2: Choosing a Business Name
When it comes to selecting a business name, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) offers you the opportunity to submit two names for consideration. It’s essential that your chosen name be not only unique but also distinct from any names previously registered. This careful selection ensures that your business stands out and gains its own identity in a competitive market.
If your chosen name is similar to another registered name, it will be rejected. For instance, when I wanted to register my business, I came up with Utimate Services and Utimate Unique Concept; those two names were rejected because Ultimate Services was already registered.
So later, we came up with Etimate Global Services and Etimate Unique Concept. I derived the names from my first name and surname—Utibe for UTIMATE and Etim for ETIMATE—and then added Global Services, Unique Services, or Concept.
During the time I registered my business as an enterprise, the process was not online. You need to go to their office to carry out this process. I went to their Lagos office at Alausa to initiate and complete the process.
It was cumbersome and draining because there was no way to monitor the process or get feedback without going to their office. There are times you will go and come back without making any progress.
But the process is now so simple that anyone from anywhere in the world with access to the internet can carry it out.
Though the online process is easy now and has a lot of advantages, it does pose its own challenges. If you are not conversant with the process, you may end up making mistakes that will affect your registration immediately or in the future.
You may end up abandoning the portal or delaying getting approval. They will question your registration if you did not feel it properly or put it in the wrong category.
I understand that this process can be frustrating. That is why I recorded a video guide to walk you through the whole process of registering your business so that you can avoid mistakes that will cost you more time or money. If you want to access the video and watch the online processes before initiating your registration, click here now to access it, or contact me.
Step 3: Search for Your Business Name
After you have come up with your two business name options, the next thing to do is to start by conducting a business name search on the CAC portal (https://search.cac.gov.ng/home) to ensure that your desired name is available and hasn’t already been registered by another entity. This step helps prevent naming conflicts.
It also helps you to hasten the process and reduce the amount you need to pay for business name reservations twice or more.
Please avoid common names like Fluorence Enterprise. Common and generic names will not be approved.
Step 4: CAC Account Creation: How to Open An Account On CAC Portal
Creating an account with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is a pivotal step towards registering and managing your business ventures seamlessly. The CAC account grants you access to a range of services and benefits, streamlining your interactions with the regulatory body. Through the account, you can initiate and track business registration processes, submit necessary documents, and stay updated on regulatory changes.
To create a CAC account, follow these steps:
- Visit the CAC Website: Head to the official CAC website, where you’ll find the account creation section. Here is the portal: https://pre.cac.gov.ng/home
- Choose Between Phone Number or NIN: To create an account, you will need to enter your phone number or NIN. If the phone number has not been used before, it will allow you to move to the next stage, where you will enter your other information.
- Provide Personal Details: Fill in the required personal information, like your first name, Surname, middle name, email address, address, sex, username, password. etc.
Once you have provided the information, click Submit.
- Account Activation: After submitting, you will need to visit your email address to confirm your email and activate your account. Your account will be activated, granting you access to the CAC portal.
With your CAC account in place, you can enjoy a host of advantages:
- Convenience: Handle all business-related matters online, from submitting documents to tracking registration status, without visiting the CAC office.
- Instant Updates: Receive real-time updates on the progress of your applications and any changes in regulations.
- Document Management: Easily manage and access your registration certificates and other official documents from your account dashboard.
- Secure Communication: Engage in secure communication with CAC officials and resolve queries directly through the portal.
- Efficient Transactions: Make online payments for registration fees and other services, reducing the need for physical transactions.
Remember, your CAC account is your gateway to a smoother business registration and management experience. Keep your login credentials secure and enjoy the benefits of modernised business interactions with CAC.
Step 5: Reserve Your Business Name
Once you’ve found an available business name, created your account on the portal, and confirmed and activated your account, the next step is for you to log in and initiate the name reservation process on the CAC portal.
Once your name is reserved, the reservation is valid for 60 days, giving you ample time to complete the registration process.
Step 6: Complete the Online Business Name Registration:
Thanks to advancements in technology, you can now register your business with CAC online. Completing the online business name registration process with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) marks a significant milestone in officially establishing your business.
The online registration platform offers a streamlined and efficient way to fill out your personal and business information, submit your documents, make payments, and track the progress of your application, all from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to successfully complete the online business name registration process and obtain the certificate:
- Log into Your CAC Account: Start by logging into your CAC account on the official website using your unique username and password. If you haven’t created an account yet, follow the account creation process outlined on the website.
- Select the Reserved Name: Once logged in, select the name that CAC has reserved. Click Continue to start filling in your business details. You can also click on New Registration and enter the reservation code to continue.
- Fill in Details: Provide accurate and up-to-date information as required by the registration form. Ensure all fields are completed correctly to avoid delays or complications in the process.
- Upload Required Documents: When you get to the stage of uploading the document, the documents that you will upload are ID, photo, signature, and others that are optional but depend on the business requirements.
- Review and Preview: Before making a payment, CAC allows you to review all the information and documents that you entered and uploaded to ensure accuracy and completeness. Any errors could lead to delays in the process.
- Make Payment: Pay the required registration fees online through the secure payment portal. The fee for the certificate is N10,000.
- Confirmation and Tracking: Once your application is successfully submitted, you’ll receive a confirmation message along with a unique application number. This number will allow you to track the progress of your application online.
- Communication: The CAC might require additional information or clarification during the processing of your application. Be sure to monitor your account and email for any communications from CAC officials.
Step 7: Approval and Certificate Issuance/Collection
Upon successful review and verification of your application, CAC will issue the relevant registration certificate. This certificate serves as legal proof of your business’s registration and recognition.
You will need to download the certificate within 7 days; otherwise, you will pay N5,000 to download it after 7 days.
Completing the online registration process with CAC not only saves you time and effort but also ensures a smoother and more transparent interaction with the regulatory body.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Be mindful of common registration mistakes, such as providing inaccurate information or submitting incomplete documentation. Such errors can lead to delays and complications in the registration process.
Benefits of CAC Business Registration
Registering your business with CAC offers numerous benefits. It grants your business legal recognition and protection, making it easier to access loans, grants, and other business opportunities.
After registration, there are additional steps to take, including opening a business bank account, filing taxes, and filing annual returns. These actions help you maintain your business’s legal standing and financial transparency.
Apply for Your Tax Identification Number (TIN):
To ensure compliance with tax regulations, you’ll need to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) or from the Joint Tax Board. This number is essential for bank account opening, tax reporting, filing, and payment.
Please follow this article here to read more on: How to Get a Tax Identification Number (TIN) in Nigeria: Online or Offline
Open a Business Bank Account:
With your Certificate of Incorporation and TIN in hand, you can now open a business bank account. This account will be used for all of your financial transactions and operations.
Planning Your Business for Success
Congratulations on successfully registering your business, obtaining a Tax Identification Number (TIN), and opening a bank account! You’re off to a great start! As you embark on this exciting journey, consider taking the next crucial step: developing a comprehensive business plan. Here’s why a business plan is essential and how it can set you up for success:
The Power of a Business Plan
A business plan serves as your roadmap to success, providing a structured outline of your business goals, strategies, and the path to achieving them. It’s not just a document; it’s a dynamic tool that helps you navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and attract potential investors, partners, and lenders.
Benefits of Having a Business Plan
- Clarity and Focus: A well-crafted business plan clarifies your business’s purpose, target market, and unique value proposition. It helps you stay focused on your goals and align your efforts accordingly.
- Strategic Direction: Your business plan outlines strategies for growth, marketing, operations, and financial management. It acts as a guide for decision-making and helps you adapt to changing market conditions.
- Attracting Investment: Investors and lenders often request a business plan to assess the viability of your venture. A well-prepared plan showcases your dedication, market understanding, and potential for returns on investment.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
- Read an Article on Crafting a Winning Business Plan: Dive deeper into the world of business planning by reading our article on how to create a compelling and effective business plan. Read the article.
- Explore Our Readymade Business Plans: Check out our list of readymade business plans tailored to various industries. These plans can provide valuable insights and inspiration for structuring your own plan. View Our Plans
- Tailored Business Plan for Your Needs: If you’re looking for a business plan uniquely tailored to your business’s specific needs, we’re here to help. Our experts can craft a customised business plan that reflects your goals, vision, and industry nuances. Contact us to discuss your requirements.
Remember, a well-prepared business plan isn’t just a formality; it’s a dynamic tool that empowers you to turn your business dreams into a reality. Embrace the power of planning and set yourself up for success in the competitive business landscape.
CAC Offices in Nigeria
CAC has offices in different states of the Federation. But their main offices are in Abuja, the headquarters, and Lagos.
Registering your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria is mostly done online, and you are not required to visit any of their offices before you can carry out CAC registration. However, there may be a situation where you need to interact with one of their offices. Here’s a list of key CAC offices, including the headquarters in Abuja and the bustling Lagos office, along with other state offices for your convenience:
1. CAC Headquarters, Abuja
- Address: Plot 420, Tigris Crescent, Off Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja.
- Contact: Phone: +234 9 2907000, Email: [email protected]
- Working Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
The CAC headquarters in Abuja serves as the central administrative hub for all business registration activities in Nigeria. If you’re in the federal capital territory, this is where you can access a wide range of services and information related to business registration.
2. CAC Lagos Island Office
- Address: 17A, Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
- Contact: Phone: +234 1 2718700
- Working Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
3. Other State Offices
Apart from the central and Lagos offices, CAC has branches in various states across Nigeria. These state offices are strategically located to provide assistance and support for CAC registration. While we can’t list every state office here in this article so that it won’t be too long, we have published all the CAC offices in Nigeria, and here is the article for you to check their offices out.
Registering a business with CAC in Nigeria (2024) might seem complex, but with the right information and guidance, the process becomes much more manageable. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your business and contributing to Nigeria’s vibrant entrepreneurial landscape.
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