Business License Matters

Starting a Business

Before setting up a business in Samoa, section 5 of the Business License Act 1998 requires you to obtain a business license by applying to the Inland Revenue Services (of the Ministry of Customs and Revenue).  This also applies to any foreigner (company or individual or others) who is contracted by a government ministry/agency or any local company in Samoa, to provide services or goods or both in Samoa.  The Ministry is working on creating certain exceptions to this general rule and the public will be advised in due course once these changes have been approved and come into force as part of the Business License Act 1998.

Different Forms have been created for each business type:

  • Individuals or Sole Traders:  IR24S Form;
  • Companies/Partnerships/Non-Profit Organizations/Trusts/Statutory Bodies etc: IR24 Form including IR24B Form (Beneficial Ownership)
A person is not permitted under the Business License Act 1998 (section 4) to carry out any of the following prohibited activities; and a failure to comply with this will amount to an offence:
  • Nuclear and toxic waste disposal or storage
  • Export of products that are prohibited under any law
  • Prostitution
  • Processing and export of endangered species
  • Production of weapons of warfare.
  • For a new business license, we require the following documents to be submitted:
  • Completed and signed business license application form
  • Completed and signed Beneficial Ownership form (apply to all except sole trader)
  • Clear picture(s) or map of the business premises location
  • Evidence of funds: bank statement or receipt of remittance or loan document
  • For business trades and professionals: must provide a valid certificate issued by the governing society/association or body (e.g. Law Society for lawyers; SIA for Accountants)
  • There are also additional requirements for foreign investors, companies and partnerships. For full details, please see the Operational Statement – Application Requirements for New Business Licenses.

    The business license to operate a business activity is valid from 01 January to 31 December of each calendar year. Before it expires on the 31 December, you can renew your business license within December or before the 31 January of next year by completing and signing a Business License Renewal Form and submit it with the appropriate fee to the Inland Revenue office on Level 4, Development Bank Building.

    For new applications only, we will prorate the amount of annual business license fee from the date the Commissioner of Inland Revenue approves your business license. For example, those apply and approve in January will pay the full amount but if you apply and approval is granted in June, you will pay for 7 months fee; or if you apply and approval is granted in November, you will pay for 2 months, etc. This prorate basis is not applicable on renew business licenses.   

    Business License Fees for new registration and renewals:

    • SAT $352 per activity for sole traders / partnerships
    • SAT $800 per activity for company / joint venture & others
    • SAT $50 per day for special license (temporary business or economic activity)

    If you fail to renew your license by the 31 January each year, a late payment penalty of $200 is charged on top of the license fee.

    Also note that business license fee is paid per location, i.e. if you have two or more different locations but with the same business activity, you will be required to pay for each location. If your business activity is supermarkets and one is in Saleufi, one in Savalalo market and one in Vaitele market, then 3 BL fees is required to pay.

    If you have one location but you operate 3 different business activities, you are required to pay 3 BL fees. For example, you have one venue to operate a car rental, hair salon and supermarket, hence pay three BL fees.

    For closely related business activities, please apply for the Commissioner’s approval, providing reasons why you believe you are operating closely related activities and is of the view that one Business License fee is required.   

     

    Business License Register

    Register for Tax Purpose once issued with Business License

    Each new business license operator is automatically issued with a unique Tax-Identification-Number (TIN) which you will use for all your tax matters, such as:

    Closing a Business

    If you are or thinking about closing your business, you need to complete a Business Cessation Form. It is important that the Inland Revenue knows that you have finished trading so we do not keep adding penalties to your account when returns are not filed or business licenses are not renewed.

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