This is the most detailed and complete guide on how to register a business name in Nigeria.
Starting up a business is aimed at making a profit.
However, it is vital to get the business registered with the Corporate Affairs Commissions (CAC), especially if you intend to grow the business into something big, or turn it into a company.
In this article, I will be guiding you on how to register a business name in Nigeria.
At the end of this article, you would have learned the difference between a business name and company registration, benefits of registering a business name in Nigeria, and how to register a business name in Nigeria.
Please note that registration of a business name as used in this guide is the same as registration of a Sole Proprietorship.
Difference Between Registering a Business Name And a Company in Nigeria
We realized that a lot of persons still don’t know the difference between a business name registration and company registration.
Some assume that the moment they register a business name, they automatically own a company.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
Hence, before I guide you on how to register a business name in Nigeria, it is very important you know the difference between business name registration and company registration.
Below are 5 major differences between registering a business name and a limited company in Nigeria.
1. Having a business name registered in Nigeria, means you are the owner or proprietor of that business.
As such, you are solely responsible for the day to day affairs of the business.
Whereas, in a limited liability company, the company is not owned and managed by one person alone.
As a matter of fact, to register a limited company in Nigeria, you need a minimum of 2 persons to come together as shareholders of the company.
2. If you register a business name, In the eyes of the law of Nigeria, there is no difference between you and your business.
Whereas, the law sees the owners of a limited company as a separate entity from the company. As such, they are at liberty to have employees who will assist in growing the company.
3. When you own just a business name, the profit you earn from your business is owned by you alone.
Whereas, for that of a limited company, the profit is shared among all the shareholders.
4. If the business of the sole proprietor goes into debt, he or she will have to pay the debt from his own personal finance.
This is not so for that of a limited company.
If a limited company runs into debt, they are not liable to settle the debt from their personal finance, as their liability is limited to the amount they used in the purchase of the shares.
5. When you own just a business name, you are held liable for any wrongs or actions taken by your business.
Whereas, in a company, the directors are not held accountable for the wrongs of the company.
If a case where to be filled, it will be filled against by the company alone, and not against the directors. Though, there are exceptions to this.
Now you know the difference between a business name registration and a limited company, let me quickly show you some of the benefits of registering a business name in Nigeria.
Benefits of Registering a Business Name in Nigeria
One question we get very often from business owners is “why should I register a business name for my business in Nigeria?”
There are many reasons why you should register a business name in Nigeria.
Below are 5 major benefits of registering a business name in Nigeria.
1. Business name reservation: You must know by now that you are not the only person interested in registering a company.
When you register your business name on time, It will be reserved for you for life. Hence, nobody can register the same name anymore.
2. Corporate business name: One of the major benefits of registering a business name in Nigeria is that upon the successful registration, you will be issued a certificate of registration of Business Name by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
As such, the business name will automatically become a corporate name in Nigeria.
3. Business account: Another major reason why you should register a company name in Nigeria is that with the Business Name certificate you will receive from CAC, you will be able to open a company account with a commercial bank.
Hence, you can now have a bank account with your business name, instead of your personal name.
4. Build trust: Another benefit of having a business name registered in Nigeria is that your customers will have more confidence in your business, seeing that it is a registered business in Nigeria.
This will to a greater extent eliminate the fear of being scammed by business in the heart of your existing and potential customers.
5. Access to loans and grants: Another importance of registering a business in Nigeria is that when your business name is registered, you will be able to apply for a loan from formal lenders and financial grants from governments, for your business.
Also See: How to Start an Online Store in Nigeria
Requirements for Registering a Business Name in Nigeria
Below are the requirements for a business name registration in Nigeria.
- The proposed Name of the Business (at least 2 names, for availability sake).
- 2 Passport Photographs
- A valid means of Identification (Driver License, National ID or International Passport)
- Full Names and Bio-Data of the Owner of the Business
- The Nature of the Business
It is important to put together all the necessary documents to be used for the registration before proceeding with the registration process.
How to Register Business Name Online in Nigeria
Getting a business registered in Nigeria is quite simple provided the required documents are available.
The body responsible for registering a business is the CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION (CAC).
Section 574 sub-section one(1) of the COMPANY AND ALLIED MATTERS ACT (CAMA) makes it compulsory for every business or company to be registered under Part B, within Twenty-eight (28) days from the date of the commencement of the business name registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria.
Hence, in other to simplify the process of registering a business, CAC has opened a portal where individuals can register business names online from the comfort of your homes.
Below are the steps in registering a business name online in Nigeria.
- Public Name Search
- Business Name Reservation
- Documents Upload
These steps have been divided into stages, to make it simpler for you.
Here is how to register a business name in Nigeria.
1. Public Name Search
The name of a business is very important as this would attract people to the business and also give them an idea of what the business is about.
On that note, the first step of registering a business name in Nigeria is to perform a check on the Corporate Affairs Commission website if the intended name for the business is taken already.
If the search returns with proof of the business name already exist, it means it is taken, as such, you will have to choose another business name.
When this process is done or the search returns with no existing user of the intended business name, you can then submit a name reservation via the CAC portal.
How to Do a Public Search of Your Intended Business Name
Here is how to check if your intended business name is available, by doing a public name search.
Step 1: Visit the CAC public search platform via this link: publicsearch.cac.gov.ng/ComSearch
Step 2: Enter your intended business name in the first box, and click the I’m not a robot box.
For instance, if I wish to confirm if the Corporate Affairs Commission is available to register or not, I simply enter the name in the box.
After this, click the Search button.
Step 3: Confirm your search result. After you click the search button, if the name is already registered, it will return a result of the registered name, like the screenshot below.
However, if it doesn’t return any name, it means it is available.
Now, you can proceed to the next stage by applying for the name reservation.
2. Business Name Reservation
Once you have done a public search of at least 2 business names, and they are not yet registered, you can then submit them to CAC so they can be reserved for you.
Before the name can be reserved for you, a CAC official will first carry out an official search on the corporate affairs commission portal to officially confirm the availability of the intended business name.
The cost of this process is N500.
If the intended name is not available, your request will be rejected, and you will have to carry out the process again from the start, with another N500 fee payment.
That is why it is advisable to first carry out your own search via the online public search portal, before requesting for a name reservation.
However, If the intended name is available from their end, you will receive an Availability Code from CAC.
This is the availability code that you will use to begin your business name registration online.
Please note that the business name will only be reserved for you for a period of 90 days.
During this period, you are expected to have completed the application for the business name.
Most businesses choose to patent their names giving them the sole right to the name.
This implies that the name cannot be used by any other business and would incur legal actions if the right is infringed.
Patenting a business name comes with its own charges and this ensures the owner of the patented business name enjoys the benefit of expansion knowing that he is the only one recognized with the said business name.
Let me now show you how to apply for a business name reservation in Nigeria.
How to Reserve Business Name in Nigeria
To apply for a business name reservation, please follow the steps below.
Step 1: Visit the CAC business name reservation portal via this link: services.cac.gov.ng/name-reservation/application
Step 2: Create a new account. If you already have an account with CAC, enter your details to log in.
Step 3: After you have created your account, click on login, and you will be taken to your dashboard.
Step 4: Click on the Reserve your preferred company name, as shown in the screenshot below.
Step 5: In the Company Type section, select Business Name for both Classification and Specific Type.
Next, in the proposed Names section, you are given 2 options for your business name.
The reason is, if option 1 is not available, they can reserve option 2 for you.
However, ensure you have done a public search on both of them, and they are available for registration.
Now, enter your most preferred business name in the option 1 box, and enter your second business name in option 2 box, as shown in the screenshot above.
After this, click the Save and Continue button.
Step 6: Now, choose the reason for the availability search. Since you are registering a new business name, select New Incorporation.
In the Nature of Business, select the nature of your business. Please carefully go through all of them, and select the one that most represents your business.
Now, click Save and Continue.
Step 7: Enter your personal details, including your valid ID, and click Save and Continue. This will take you to the Preview page.
Step 8: On this preview page, you will be shown all the details you have entered. Please cross-check and make certain everything is correct.
If they are, click on Proceed to Payment button below.
Step 9: Make the payment of N500 for your business name to be reserved for you.
If your request is approved, you will get a notification with an Availability Code. This is the code that you will use to apply for a business name.
Pre-Incorporation is the main stage for business name registration in Nigeria.
This stage involves 4 major steps.
- Filling the required information on the CAC online business name registration portal.
- Payment of the required business name registration fees. This can be done online with your ATM card details, or across any Nigerian Bank
- Uploading the required scanned documents and the payment receipts
To begin your business name registration, visit the CAC login page, enter your details to log in.
Step 1. Presenter Details: While you are logged in, for an easy process, simply click on this link: services.cac.gov.ng/company-registration/application
This will take you to the registration page, where you will be required to enter your Availability code.
Now, enter the availability code that was given to you when your business name was reserved, this will load all your details on that same page.
If everything is okay, click on the Start Registration button below, to begin your business name registration.
Step 2. Business Details: In this stage, you will have to enter your business details, including where the business or company address.
Step 3. Particulars of Proprietors: If you are the sole owner of the business, do not enter anything. Just click on the Continue button to go to the next step.
Stap 4. Nature of Business: Now, select the category of your business and add the products you sell, or the services you will be rendering.
Feel free to add more Nature of Business, as you dim fit.
After this, click Continue.
Stap 5. Documents: This step involves you to select the city where you would like to go pick up your certificate when it is ready.
Only select your preferred location to pick your certificate, and leave the rest empty.
Note: Do not select any ADDITIONAL CERTIFIED TRUE COPIES. If you do so, your payment will increase during checkout.
Step 6. Preview: Now confirm all the information on the preview page, and be certain everything is entered correctly.
If everything is fine, click on the Proceed to Payment button.
The procedure for payment is pretty much the same as the one you did when reserving your business name.
After you have successfully made your payment, you are almost done. The last stage will be to upload the necessary documents.
4. Documents Upload
After you have made your payment, you will need to upload the necessary documents. This is the last stage in registering a business name online in Nigeria.
There are 4 documents required for this stage. They include:
- Notice of Approval (Availability Printout)
- Registration Form
- Payment Receipt
- Means of Identification
If you are not sure where to find these documents, don’t worry, as I will be guiding you through that.
1. Notice of Approval
This is the approval note you got informing you of the availability and reservation of your business name.
Here is how to find your notice of approval.
Step 1: visit and log into your CAC dashboard via this link: services.cac.gov.ng/login
Step 2: While inside your dashboard, click on Reserved under Name Reservations.
Step 3: Click on Approval Note
Step 4: Now, click on Print.
You don’t necessarily need to print the Notice of approval. All you need is to save it as PDF, so you can upload it back.
2. Registration Form
Step 1: While you are still logged into your CAC dashboard, click on Pending Approval
Step 2: Click on the Business Name
Step 3: Click on Documents
Step 4: Click on Application Form for Business Name (CAC/BN/1)
Step 5: Click on Print
You will need to print it out because you will have to fill the form, scan, and re-upload it.
Filling the form is just a straight forward thing.
However, in the place for COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS, safely ignore, as you do not need to go to court to get that.
Now attach your passport photograph, and scan the form as a PDF into your computer.
If you have successfully done this, you now have completed the registration form.
3. Payment Receipt
You can find your payment receipt the same way you got your Registration Form.
Step 1: Make sure you are still logged in to the CAC dashboard. Now, click on Pending Approval
Step 2: Click on the Business Name
Step 3: Click on Payment History
Step 4: Click Download Receipt
Step 5: Click Print
You don’t need to print this one out. You only need it as a PDF, so you can upload it back.
4. Means of Identification
I suppose you already have a valid means of Identification. Use the one you used why reserving your business name.
Now scan it as PDF, you will also upload it.
5. Uploading Your Documents
With all the available documents at your disposal, you can now begin to upload them.
Before you do that, make sure all the documents are saved as in PDF file format, as only PDF file format is allowed.
To upload your documents, follow the steps below.
Step 1: On your web browser, click on docupload.cac.gov.ng/docUpload/index.php
Step 2: Enter your Availability Code, and select your Originating Office.
I am sure by now you know how to find your Availability Code. If you are not sure, you will find your Availability Code on your Notice of Approval.
The Originating Office is where you will collect your Business Certificate when it is ready. Hence, ensure to pick a location close to you.
Now, confirm you are not a robot and click Begin
Step 3: Select the document type you want to upload, then choose the scanned document file from your computer.
Step 4: Repeat step 3 above till you upload all 4 required documents, just as the screenshot below.
Step 5: After all documents are successfully uploaded, click on the Submit button at the top right of the page.
We’ve confirmed your submission, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re done with your registration!
After your business name application is successful and approved, you will be notified when your certificate is available.
You can then proceed to your chosen location to pick up your certificate of incorporation.
Restrictions in Registering a Business Name in Nigeria
In as much as registering a business name in Nigeria is easy and smooth, it is also important to do it without going against the set rules and requirements.
Below are the rules and restrictions for registering a business name in Nigeria,
1. The intended name should be completely unique in the sense that it should not be owned by some other business or brand.
Choosing a unique business name not only prevents legal complications but also makes the business stand out in every way including making it easy to be identified by the public.
2. The intended business name must not contain terms associated with government or federal institutions like Chartered, National, Federal, etc.
Such terms are only used for Government institutions and it is not permitted to be used on business names or brands.
Any violation of this rule can incur the shut down of that business or any other legal action.
3. The intended business name should be straight forward and not mislead the public.
This means that the intended business name must be related to what the business is about in the sense that it should not say something else and then its operations are different from what it portrays on the business name.
4. The intended business name should not contain words that are offensive or immoral.
The Corporate affairs commission of Nigeria ensures that the names been registered do not portray offensive or immoral messages to the public as this would impact negatively in society.
5. The intended business name should not be in violation of any government policy. This means that the intended business name must not go against any laid down rule or law by the Government.
Violation of any rule can force a shut down of an existing business or cause refusal of registration of the business name by the Corporate affairs commission.
6. The intended business name must not violate the patent rights of an existing business name.
This means that the intended business name must not be the same with an already existing business name that has been patented by the business owner.
Patenting gives a business owner the sole right over the business name and can not be used by any other business or brand.
So, the intended business name can not be the same as that of the already existing company as this can cause legal actions taken against the new business name owner.
It is only in cases where the new business name owner has gotten an approval or permission from the already existing business name owner that it can be permitted.
Also in some cases, while registering a new business name the individual would be expected to present statements of account from the opened business account as proof of stability.
The individual would also be expected to provide proof of tax-paying and payment of certain bills like electricity bills, house rent receipts, etc.
These documents are requested to check the competence and responsibility of the business name owner so as to ensure the business name owner would be capable of carrying out his/her social responsibilities.
That’s all on how to register a business name in Nigeria.
Looking for other business opportunities in Nigeria, you might want to check the top Investment Opportunities in Nigeria.
I hope this guide on how to register a business name in Nigeria helps?