tree nav

Starting a Business - Overview

Requirements for Starting a New Business

Foreign investors starting up new businesses or expanding existing business operations in South Africa require business permits.

  • A feasibility study to be presented in the form of a business plan;
  • Capital investment of R2.5 million. This may be waivered through the Department of Trade and Industry or provincial investment agencies, such as Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal;
  • A letter from a South African-registered chartered accountant verifying the investment amount;
  • An undertaking to employ at least five South African citizens or residents; and
  • Registration with the South African Revenue Services –

Permits for Foreign Employees

The movement of people into South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal is controlled by the country's Immigration Amendment Act (No. 19 of 2004). In terms of this Act, foreigners require work permits to work in the country. If, however, their skills are in high demand at the time of their application, they may apply for Quota Work Permits or Exceptional Skills Work Permits, which quickens the process of being employed in South Africa. 

The Intra-company Transfer Work Permit allows multi-national companies to deploy employees from other countries to work in their South African offices for a period of four years.

Foreign Exchange

There are no restrictions on foreign companies intending to invest in share capital. Administration in terms of portfolio investment is undertaken through the South African Reserve Bank. There are also no restrictions on the removal or repatriation of investment income or capital gains by non-residents.

All loans to South African residents from outside the common monetary area require prior exchange control approval.

Royalties, licence and patent fees for non-residents, where non-local manufacturing is involved, must be approved by the South African Reserve Bank.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) , a unit of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (, approves all manufacturing patents.

For more information, log onto 

Registering a Business

Business registrations are undertaken by CIPC. The following business types may be formed by foreign investors:

  • Company (Proprietary Limited);
  • Close Corporation (CC);
  • Partnership;
  • Sole Trader;
  • Joint Venture;
  • Local branch of a foreign company; and
  • Business Trust.

Main functions of CIPC:

  • Registration of Companies, Co-operatives and Intellectual Property Rights (trade marks, patents, designs and copyright) and maintenance thereof
  • Disclosure of Information on its business registers
  • Promotion of education and awareness of Company and Intellectual Property Law
  • Promotion of compliance with relevant legislation
  • Efficient and effective enforcement of relevant legislation
  • Monitoring compliance with and contraventions of financial reporting standards, and making recommendations thereto to Financial Reporting Standards Council (FRSC)
  • Licensing of Business rescue practitioners
  • Report, research and advise Minister on matters of national policy relating to company and intellectual property law

Further details on the institutional arrangements and information on registering each of these business types may be obtained from CIPC. 

Call Centre: 086 100 2472 (CIPC) 

International Tel: +27 12 394 9973 

Fax Number: 086 517 7224 

International Fax: +27 12 394 1015 



Docex: 256 Pretoria



Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)



South African Revenue Services



South African Bureau of Standards 



Council for Scientific and Industrial Research