JIS News

The Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) is urging business operators to register their entities to ensure compliance with the Registration of Business Names Act.
Business registration should be carried out by any person, who is buying or selling goods or providing a service, in a name other than their first and surname.
Speaking with JIS News, Business Registration Manager at the COJ, Camille Neil, outlined that anyone buying and selling livestock, any person, who is occupying a stall or stand in any public market or any company or corporation that is formed solely for charitable purposes, is exempt from registration. She further explained that the registration of business names is usually done by small and medium-sized operators as larger businesses tend to register companies.
Ms. Neil explained that the basic distinction between a business and a company is that “with a company, the liability of the persons who are concerned with the management of that company or the members of that company is limited while with a business, the liability of the owner of that business is unlimited.so he is responsible for every single one of the debts of that business.”
Another distinction, she noted, is that “once the company is registered, it continues indefinitely until the members of the company decide that they do not want this company anymore and they would come in and remove the company from our register,” while “with the business, it (registration) only lasts for three years so at the end of this period, you have to come back in and re-register that business.”
As it relates to the benefits of registering businesses, Ms. Neil outlines that the formalization of operations provides greater protection and proof of ownership. “You are given a certificate of registration, which shows clearly who the owner of the business is,” she said.
Possession of the certificate of registration, she pointed out, helps to inspire customer confidence, while most banks require that business operators produce the document in order to open a bank account in the business’ names.
Also, businesses may only obtain certain contracts and access some loans and grants after they have registered with the COJ.
In terms of penalties, Ms. Neil outlined that “one of the major amendments to the Act is that the penalties have been increased and we at the COJ will be more vigilant in terms of enforcing the provisions.”
She informed that the penalty for non-registration is now included as an offence punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 or imprisonment of up to three months. “For those companies that issue any form of advertising without first being registered, there is a fine not exceeding $20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months,” the Business Registration Manager said.
She further warned that persons who make changes to their business without informing the registrar “is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 for the first offence and $7,000 for a second or subsequent offence or in default of that, they can be imprisoned for three months with or without hard labour.”
The COJ’s role is to foster trade, commerce and wealth while maintaining accurate and up-to-date records on commercial entities.
For further information on the Registration of Business Names Act, contact the COJ at 908-4417/4427-9 or visit their website at www.orcjamaica.com.

Skip to content