Starting a new business
The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pleased to help you start up your business by providing advice and connecting you with the resources and assistance that are available.
We encourage you to submit your project to a professional business advisor, such as a lawyer, chartered accountant or business consultant in Vanuatu. For matters of commerce and industry, please contact us.
Businesses in Vanuatu can operate as the following legal entities: Sole Trader, Partnership, Trust, Company (local or overseas companies registered in Vanuatu). If you haven’t already decided, get some good advice from your professional business advisor setting up the legal structure of your business so that you understand the different rights and responsibilities that each type of structure creates.
Summary of the steps and procedures for starting a business in Vanuatu
|Procedure||Time to complete||Cost to complete|
|1. Check availability of business name with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC)
This service is not automated and cannot be completed on the spot. A form must be completed and faxed to the VFSC – this form is usually available at the lawyer’s office or can be downloaded from the website).In addition to checking the name, it is possible to reserve the name, which costs VUV 2,000. This is required by foreign investments before applying for a Foreign Investment Application Certificate (required in step 2).See our Useful Links for the VFSC website.
|1 day||No charge
(VT 2,000 to reserve the business name)
|2. (Foreign Investors Only) Foreign Investment Approval with the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority
Foreign Investors must obtain a Foreign Investment Application Certificate from VIPA before starting a business in Vanuatu. VIPA authorises all new investment into Vanuatu and checks that your business fits within Vanuatu’s investment guidelines. Once VIPA approval is granted, business license, residency permit and work permit approvals become largely automatic.See Investing in Vanuatu for more information on residency and work permits.See our Useful Links for the VIPA website.
|15 business days to process application||VT 25,000|
|3. (Companies Only) Application for a Permit to Form an Incorporated Company with or without Limited Liability in Vanuatu with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC)
Pursuant to the Companies Act [CAP. 191], an application for a company incorporation permit must be filed with the minister of Finance via the VFSC.The steps for company formation depend on whether the company is a local, overseas or international company. The VFSC website outlines these steps in more detail.See our Useful Links for the VFSC website.
|10 business days||Incorporation Fees of VT 30,000 -250,000 is payable|
|4. Register your business name with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC)
An individual must register every business name that is in any way different to his/her own surname, with or without his/her forenames or initials.A partnership or group of persons must register every business name that does not consist of the names of the persons in the partnership or group.A company registered under the Companies Act [CAP 191] must register any business name that differs from its full company name.See our Useful Links for the VFSC website.
|Same day if paid with cash||VT 10,000|
|5. Apply for a business license with the Rates & Taxes Office, Department of Customs and Inland Revenue
It is not necessary to have a business license unless your turnover is or anticipated to be more than VT4 million.Under the Act, business licenses are valid for one year and are subject to renewal on or before 31 January of the new licensing year.The Rates and Taxes Office of Customs Department issues the business licenses which are required for the commercial activity in the municipalities of Port Vila and Luganville. Provincial Councils of six provinces that are Shefa, Sanma, Malampa, Penama, Tafea, and Torba are responsible for issuing business licenses to businesses operating in these provinces.See our Useful Links for the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue website.
|5 business days||VT20,000 – VT 1,000,000 dependant on business activity and annual turnover|
|6. Register with the VAT Office, Department of Customs and Inland Revenue
A company must register with the value added tax (VAT) office if it anticipates turnover of at least VUV 4 million per year.See our Useful Links for the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue website.
|3 business days||No charge|
|7. Register as an employer with the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF)
It is compulsory for an employer to be registered at VNPF and to pay its contributions. Under the law, an employer must register with this fund 7 days after incorporation of the business (or 7 days as soon as the first employee is recruited). Payment of contribution is made directly at the National Provident Fund.See our Useful Links for the VNPF website.
|1 week||No charge|
Please note that there are annual renewal fees for many of the above procedures after successfully starting up a business. Penalty fees will be required by the body responsible for the non-payment of the annual renewal of licenses, patents, permits fees of issued registration or certificates. The non-payment may cause the total cessation of the company as well as prosecution.
Please note also that each project is specific and it is recommended to have it assessed by a professionals business advisor such as a lawyer, chartered accountant or business consultant in Vanuatu.