By Sharné Zimri
When I registered my law firm, I learned some lessons about the registration process and dealing with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC). Setting them out here may assist you shorten your company registration process or make you more prepared for some practical hurdles.
1. Customer registration
You must be registered as a CIPC customer. If you are not yet registered, the easy online process is explained on CIPC's website (go to http://www.cipc.co.za/index.php/register-your-business/register-customer/). If you are already registered as a CIPC customer, you must use your existing customer code and password to login on the eservices login page at https://eservices.cipc.co.za/.
If you, like me, had previously registered as a customer but forgot your customer code, you can obtain it by using the “Customer Registration” option on the eservices login page. Insert your ID number and surname on the customer registration page and it will generate your customer code. Your customer code is linked to your identity (ID) number and therefore the system will identify you as already registered if you have used your ID number to register before. If you know your password, you can login with your customer code and password and it will take you to your customer home page.
If you have your customer code but forgot your password, there is a password reset option on the eservices login page which allows you to insert your customer code and a reset link will be sent to your mobile number and email address. The reset process should be simple if you have access to the same mobile number and email address.
If you, like me, no longer use the same email address and mobile number, then you have to embark on a more tedious manual submission process. You will be required to download and print the Password Reset Request Form, complete it and send it via email to email@example.com, together with a certified copy of your ID card. Certification must have taken place within three months. The Password Reset Request Form can be downloaded here:
After sending the completed Password Reset Request Form and a certified copy of your ID card via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, you will receive an email informing you that your personal details have been updated on the system and you can then reset your password using the normal process already discussed.
2. Company name
You must decide whether you will register your company with a specific name or the company registration number.
If you want to select a name for your company, you will need to pay R50 for a name reservation and it takes up to 5 business days for CIPC to provide you with approval for the name. If you skip the name reservation process, you can register your company with its company registration number and at a later stage do a name reservation and change.
3. Name reservation
The first step in reserving a company name is to transfer the required amount (currently R50) into your CIPC customer account. The banking details and reference for payment can be found under the “Transact” tab on your customer home page. There is a “Banking Details” option under this tab. Payment must be made into that bank account using the reference provided (mine was my customer code).
Once you have made payment, it could take up to 2 business days for the amount to reflect on your customer account, presumably dependent on who you bank with. Once you have the required balance reflected on your customer home page, you can start the name reservation process.
Under the “Transact” tab, there is a “Name Reservations” option, which once selected will take you to another page. On that page select the “Proposed Names” option. You will be asked to list names for your company. You have the option of providing 4 names but can provide less. These names must be listed in order of preference. Do not include “Proprietary Limited” or “Incorporated” in your name as this will be allocated by CIPC when the company is registered. Adding these descriptions to your proposed name is a ground for rejecting the name.
A preliminary check will be done before you can submit your names for approval. Once submitted, a COR9.1 form will automatically be generated and sent to you. CIPC will then test each name against the names of the companies currently registered with it. This is what takes up to 5 business days. It will approve the first available name on the list even if the others are available. It will issue a COR9.4 form, sent to your email address, confirming approval and you must use this form when registering your company.
You may not ask for more than one name to be approved under the same name reservation. If you prefer a name which is different from the one CIPC approved, you must lodge a new name reservation (and pay an additional R50 into your customer account).
4. Company registration
If you choose to reserve a name, you must wait until you receive the CoR9.4 before registering your company. If you are registering a private company with a standard memorandum of incorporation (MOI) the process is different to when you register a private company with a customised MOI or a personal liability company.
Currently, the cost of registering a private company is R125, while the cost of registering a personal liability company is R425 (excluding the name reservation cost). CIPC’s website must be consulted for any change in costs. You must make payment of this amount to your CIPC customer account before submitting the necessary documents for registration.
5. Private company registration with standard MOI
Private company registration with a standard MOI can be done through the “Company Registrations” option under the “Transact” tab. This is a very simple process whereby you fill in the necessary information online including names and personal details of the incorporator and directors, proposed registered and postal addresses of the company and number of authorised shares. This information is generated on a document reflecting a tracking number which will be sent to your email address with a list of addition information required. This form must be printed and signed by the incorporator and the directors of the company. The signed form, certified copies of the incorporator’s and directors’ ID cards and the CoR9.4 must be emailed to email@example.com (the required documents are listed here: http://www.cipc.co.za/index.php/register-your-business/companies/register-private-company/). CIPC does not accept passports of South African citizens or driver’s licences as forms of identification.
Your private company could be registered within minutes of emailing the required documents but no more than 3 business days (depending on CIPC’s capacity). This is a much a simpler process than registering a personal liability company or a private company with a customised MOI.
6. Personal liability company and private company with customised MOI
Registering a personal liability company or private company with a customised MOI is a manual process. The documents necessary for registration are listed on CIPC’s website (http://www.cipc.co.za/index.php/register-your-business/companies/register-private-company-customised-moi/) and include inter alia COR 14.1, COR14.1A and CoR15.1B (being the long form MOI) or a draft of your customised MOI. The COR forms must be printed, completed in manuscript and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is important that you do not sent them to the eservices email for private companies with standard MOIs identified above.
CIPC states that these applications take 25 business days to process. However, from my experience and interactions with CIPC, it seems your company may be registered within a few days.
Where you have inquiries about the process, you may either phone the CIPC call centre or lodge your inquiry on the website. The turnaround time is 10 business days but I have received responses before the lapse of this time period.
Due to the response time to online inquiries, I recommend that you phone the call centre first to determine whether your query is something that can be dealt with telephonically. Where your query can not be so resolved, for example where CIPC is required to correct an error on a document, you should submit the query online as it allows you to attach the document your query relates to.
I hope that the above information answers some of your questions about registering your company. This article does not contain all the information relevant to the subject matter and is not intended to replace the need to seek legal or other advice. The requirements for registering a company must be obtained from CIPC and may change from time to time.