This article explains how to register your business name in Nigeria and get your certificate from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in few days.
Registering your business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria could be expensive if you involve a third party.
So, I want to show you how to register your company in Nigeria without the service of an agent or visiting the commission.
This article will walk you through the process and make your business become a legal entity in 7 simple steps.
With the use of the Corporate Affairs Commission online registration portal, you can register your business at a minimum cost.
It was stated on the official website of the commission:
Individual/Proprietors can register business names without the services of the legal practitioner, Chartered Accountant, or Chartered Secretary. Corporate Affairs Commission
Assuming you want to register your company and you give the job to a lawyer, you’ll be charged higher than the official rate.
As a result of this, most small business owners are discouraged from registering their businesses.
When you fail to register your business, the implication is that the business doesn’t exist.
And in a situation like this, your business will lack credibility.
That makes it very important to first discuss why a business should be registered before discussing how to register your business name with CAC in Nigeria.
Benefits of registering your business name with CAC
Registering your business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria has a lot of benefits and that makes it very important for you to know how to register your company yourself.
CAC was launched in line with the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), promulgated in 1990 and amended in 2020.
The commission is saddled with the responsibility of regulating how companies are formulated and managed in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, there are countless numbers of benefits you get when you register your business name with CAC.
And this includes:
- Opening a corporate bank account
- Online payment integration
- Social media account verification
- Protecting your brand name
- Protecting your legal liability
- Preventing police harassment
- Access to government loans
- Customer trust
- Government contracts
- Continuity of business
Let’s briefly discuss each of the benefits one after the other.
Opening a corporate bank account
Some customers might not feel comfortable paying into your personal bank account.
If doing business requires your bank account, using your corporate bank account will boost your credibility.
For that reason, you need to walk up to any bank in Nigeria and open an account in your business name.
But without your business name being registered with CAC, opening a corporate bank account isn’t possible.
Online payment integration
One of the things to consider before moving your business online is how to receive payments from your customers online.
Selling a product or service and receiving payments from international customers could be difficult without a payment gateway.
There are various ways to receive payments from foreign customers and credit your local bank account.
The only issue is that without registering your business with CAC, you might not be able to achieve this task in Nigeria.
Most online payment gateways, PayStack for example, require a copy of your business certificate of incorporation.
For that reason, it might not be possible to use their services without duly registering your business with the commission.
Social media account verification
As part of the benefits of registering your business with CAC in Nigeria, verifying your social media account isn’t possible without your company certificate of incorporation.
In a bid to curb internet scams on social media, businesses are required to verify their accounts and pages.
Facebook, for example, requires a copy of your certificate of incorporation to get verified.
The reason is that the audience is more comfortable when they stumble upon your page and realize that your account is verified.
So, to take advantage of this behavior, you need to register your business with CAC and verify your social media account.
Protecting your brand name
If you leave your business name unregistered and someone else knowingly or unknowingly hijacks the name from you, you have no legal rights to claim the ownership of the business.
Meanwhile, it’s only when you register a business in your name that you can claim its rightful ownership.
Whatever credit goes to the business goes to you.
Protecting your legal liability
Another reason why you need to register your business name with CAC is to protect your legal liability.
This can prevent you from being responsible for any civil wrong committed by the business.
For example, when an industrial accident claimed 7 lives at Phoenix Steel Mills Limited, Ogijo, Ogun State, a series of petitions was written against the company.
But because the company is a legal entity, none of the petitions were personally directed to the owner of the business.
Assuming the company wasn’t registered, you can see that the owner would be in soup.
So, when your business is registered, you’re not answerable for any legal issue caused by the business.
As a legal entity, the business would have to deal with its problem itself.
Preventing police harassment
The only thing that can differentiate you from a fraudster when police ask you to identify yourself and you claim to be a businessman is your CAC business registration.
At a point in time, most entrepreneurs have experienced police brutality in Nigeria.
Assuming you’re into an online business, you might be regarded as an internet fraudster if the business isn’t registered.
You can’t claim to have a legitimate business that fetches you a substantial fortune and the business isn’t registered with CAC.
That is the belief of unscrupulous security officers and you need to protect yourself against that.
So, to some large extent, registering your business name with CAC is regarded as one of the ways to avoid police brutality in Nigeria.
Access to government loans
The Federal Government of Nigeria had recently initiated some empowerment programs to create jobs for youth and foster a risk-free economy for MSMEs in the country.
And one of the criteria to fully benefit from these programs is your proof of business ownership, which is made easy with your business certificate of incorporation.
Without registering your business with CAC, your business can’t qualify for government grants or financial support in Nigeria.
Customer trust is very important and you must do everything to earn it, most especially when dealing with new customers.
This is possible by registering your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria.
So, any fear entertained by the customers can be erased, knowing that you can be traced with your RC number.
Registering your business, however, can help you gain customer trust, thereby boosting your credibility and reputation.
Before you can bid for and win a government contract, you need a duly registered business name in Nigeria.
This is the number one requirement for eligibility.
The opportunity can come up at any time and it might be too late to begin the registration process.
Taking advantage of this guide and learning how to register your business name with CAC, would prepare you for the best opportunity that lies ahead of you.
Continuity of business
The last but not the least of the benefits of registering your business name with CAC in Nigeria is to make the business outlive the owner.
Regardless of what becomes of you, ill or dead, your business can sustain itself if it’s registered with CAC before the incident.
Whether you’re a foreign or local investor, these are some of the benefits you get from registering your company or business in Nigeria.
How much to register a business name in Nigeria
The cost of registering a business name in Nigeria varies as the agents differ.
This can make you spend more than the official fees required by the commission.
If you know how to register your business name yourself, it would be easy to determine how much it will cost you to register your business name in Nigeria and you won’t have to pay extra fees.
So, as found on the official website of the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria, the following are the official charges for registering a business name in Nigeria.
Fees for application forms
Before registering, you need to obtain an application form which is ₦500.00.
More on this will be discussed later.
There are three types of forms obtainable from CAC to register your business or company and these include:
- Application form for company registration
- Application form for business name registration
- Application form for incorporated trustee registration
As for someone who wants to register his business name, you can apply for the first and second forms.
The other goes for big businesses as the case may be.
Fees for registration and other services
The following image contains fees for business name registration in Nigeria and other various services obtainable from CAC.
As a new business, all you have to pay for is the registration of your business name which is ₦10,000.00.
Other fees can be paid for as the need arises.
Requirements to register a business name in Nigeria
Since the 2020 amendment of the Company Allied and Matters Act (CAMA), the principal law guiding a business and company formation, there have been a lot of new developments in the requirements to register a business name in Nigeria.
So, with the following requirements, registering a business could be as easy as possible for startups and young entrepreneurs in the country.
- You must be as old as 18 years except where there are two or more adults having shares in the business.
- You must propose two names for the registration.
- You can’t register a name that is already in use by another company or a name related to a government agency.
- Your business must have objectives that must be well stated.
- You must indicate the type of business you want to register – be it a private limited company, private unlimited company, or company limited by guarantee.
- The business must have a verifiable physical address.
- If you have partners, the share capital of each shareholder must be stated.
- You must have a means of identification such as voter’s card, national ID, driver’s licence, or international passport.
Previously, a minimum of two persons was required to register a company.
But now, with the provision of single-member or shareholder companies in the 2020 CAMA, you can register a company without entering into unnecessary partnerships with anyone.
This is to encourage small business owners and make them have an enabling environment where their businesses can thrive in Nigeria.
How to register your business name with CAC in Nigeria
As of today, registering your business name online in Nigeria is possible with CAC.
And that gives you the option to avoid the stress of travelling miles to a CAC office and reduce the cost of registration.
The commission now has an online business name registration portal to enable individuals to have their businesses registered with ease and this guide will show you how.
So, instead of visiting a CAC office for offline registration, you would have to visit the official website of the commission and register your business name online.
Either way, the following contains steps to register a business name in Nigeria.
1. Give your business a name
Before you can register a business name, you have to first verify if the name is available for use or not.
For this reason, it’s advisable to propose two names, so you can secure one of the other isn’t available.
Giving your business a name is very important as it contributes to your brand identity.
With this strategy, your business will have a great affinity with the customers.
Most times, your business name must be relevant to your niche or what you sell.
For example, if you consider the concept behind these brands, Shoprite, Shopify, Taxify, Opay, and Oride, you’ll realize that each brand reflects what its business is all about in its name.
So, you may name your business “Trends Villa” or “Bourgeoisie Wears” if you’re into clothing.
That will make your brand search engine friendly in case you decide to launch an eCommerce website for your business in the near future.
2. Verify your business name
After knowing what two names to give your business, you need to verify their availability.
And to do this, you’ll have to visit the CAC public search portal and search on any of the proposed names.
Type in the name in the search form and click Search.
A result will be sent on the web interface, which will state if the name is already in use or not.
If your proposed name is in use by another company, the result will display information about the company.
That means you can’t use the name, because two different companies can’t use the same name under the law.
This is just like opening an account on Instagram. If a username has been taken, you can’t use the username again.
For this reason, you’ll have to search for the second proposed name.
If the result of the second name comes out to be available or empty, it means no one has used the name before.
Hence, you’re good to use the name.
3. Sign up to create an account
Creating your user account on the registration portal will enable you to register your business name with CAC online.
So, click here or visit https://services.cac.gov.ng/signup to sign up.
You’ll see a form on the next page, which must be filled with your personal information to complete your account opening exercise.
Fill out the form as applied to you.
Note that the email address you provide will be used to send your account confirmation link to you.
So, ensure you use a valid and active email address to avoid any glitches.
Once you’re done filling out the form, click Register.
Then, go to your inbox and look for the confirmation email sent to you.
Open the email and click on the confirmation link to activate your account.
After confirming your account, you’ll be redirected to the CAC registration portal where you will see a congratulatory message as seen in the image below.
From that page (your account dashboard), you’ll move to the next step (Name Reservation).
4. Reserve a name
To apply for your business name reservation, look through the menu bar on the dashboard and click on Name Reservation.
Once the menu opens, click on New Name Reservation.
You’ll see a short note, “Reserve your preferred company name here”. Click “here” as seen in the image below.
You’ll be directed to another page where you’ll have to carry out the following tasks in order to apply for your business name reservation:
- Choose the name and type of your business
- State your business objectives
- State presenter details
- Preview your application
- Make payment
Choose name and type
For “Name and Type” of business, see the image below and fill the form as applicable.
There is an instruction right above the form, make sure you read it before filling the form.
When you’re done filling out the form, click the “Save and Continue” button to state your business objectives.
State your business objectives
You’ll have to state your business objectives here.
For “Reason for availability search”, select New Incorporation.
And for “Nature of Business”, click the list icon and look through the list, and select the option that mostly describes your business.
Then in the Additional Remarks box, write a short note about your business and click Save and Continue button to move to the next task.
State presenter details
By default, some of the information required here will be taken from your profile.
The presenter details are the information of the person registering the business name.
If you’re registering for someone, the presenter details have to be yours, while the business particulars must belong to the business owner.
For self-registration, the presenter details have to remain yours by default.
So, to avoid inconsistency in the Presenter Details, take your time to crosscheck what is already taken and ensure all the information is complete and correct.
In case you need to edit the information, you’re free to do so.
When you’re done with the form, click Save and Continue to preview your application.
Preview your application
This will display all the information you have submitted so far in respect of your application, including your:
- Company Details
- Business Objectives
- Presenter Details
In case there is an error, click the tab pointing to the page of the particular task that is having an error, then correct and saves.
But if all the information as previewed is okay, you can proceed to make payment for your business name reservation.
Proceed to payment
The cost of a business name reservation is ₦500.
To make that payment, you need to pay via Remita, by clicking the Remita button.
You’ll be automatically redirected to the Remita payment platform to complete the payment.
You don’t have to do anything other than click SUBMIT and do as prompted.
After the payment has been successfully made, your application for a company or business name reservation would be submitted for approval.
Note that you have only 60 days after application to reserve the proposed business name. If you fail to proceed to register the name within the stipulated time, your application will be canceled.
Generate payment receipt
So, right after paying for your business name reservation, proceed to print out your receipt.
You can find the feature on your dashboard.
Click the “Payment Receipt” button.
On the next page, the receipt would be generated.
Look towards the bottom-right of the page and click on the “Print” button.
You should be able to print out the receipt right away if your computer is already connected to a printer.
Otherwise, make a perfect snapshot of the page and take it to any business center nearby to print.
Note that your application for reservation of name might take some time, which is within a week, before approval.
While waiting for the approval, you can’t take any further steps to register your company or business name with CAC online until you receive your business name availability approval notice.
5. Generate name availability code
Your business name availability code is what you’re going to use to register your business name online.
The code will be automatically generated by CAC and sent to your email alongside your name availability approval notice.
All you have to do is to check your email and be on the lookout until you get the approval notice sent to you.
Once you receive the notice, take note of the approved name and the code to proceed.
6. Register your company
Login to your CAC account dashboard and click on Company Registration on the menu bar.
Meanwhile, the following steps will do:
- Click here or go to https://services.cac.gov.ng/login to log in to your CAC account.
- When you land on your account, click Company Registration.
- On the next page, find the section that says “You have no company registration. Register a company with your availability code here” and click the green link “here” (see the image above).
- Enter your availability code in the form under New Company Registration and press Enter on your keyboard or wait for a few seconds for the result to load.
- The result will contain your approved business name and other personal information. Go through it and update your contact information.
Your company or business name registration begins here.
On the result page, click Reserve Name and you’ll be prompted to register your company by taking the following steps to complete the task:
- Presenter details
- Business details
- Particulars of proprietors
- Nature of business
On completion of one step, you’ll get to the other until you make payment.
Just as you did previously, pay via Remita, generate and download your receipt and any other document, and print.
A sum of ₦10,000 will be charged for registering your company or business name.
So, make sure you have enough funds in your bank account.
7. Receive your certificate
After registering your company, you’ll have to wait for a couple of days for the commission to process your business name registration.
In that case, log in to your CAC account dashboard once in a while to check your registration status.
The status ranges from Not Submitted, Submitted, Pending Approval to Approved.
At this stage, what you need is approval.
Once your application is approved,
And when your certificate is ready, you’ll receive an email from the commission to visit your document collection point.
This is the CAC branch office that you selected during the registration.
If it was your wish to know how to register your business name with CAC in Nigeria, I hope this guide would be of great help to you.
Most people didn’t want to register their businesses having consulted a lawyer and the bill was too much.
Meanwhile, the official fee of registering a company or business name isn’t costly.
As part of the effort of the government to create a sustainable economy for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria, the CAMA was recently amended.
Consequently, some of the requirements to register a business or company in Nigeria have been simplified.
It’s now possible for you to register your company online using the CAC online registration portal.
With such a new development, you should be able to register your business in Nigeria by yourself at a very low cost.