How To Start A Business in Malawi

Doing business in Malawi

Malawi’s economy continued to recover from the contraction in GDP experienced in 2012 as a result of slippage in macro-economic policies and withdrawal of budgetary support by development partners (DPs) over governance concerns, which precipitated…


No.ProcedureTime to CompleteAssociated Costs
 1Apply for a Certificate of Incorporation at the Registrar General of the Ministry of Justice
Agency: Registrar General

Company name search is done manually at the same desk of company registration by completing a form and submitting it to the Registrar general. The Business Registration Act 2013, Government Notive No. 11, dated 24th of May 2013, established the electronic Malawi Business Registration Database which stores information for both non incorporated and incorporated businesses. Although it is not fully implemented yet, the registry is moving towards automation. The law provides standard articles of association. By law, registration has to be completed in a maximum delay of 21 days.
5 days on average if done in person, 14 days by mail MWK 1,000 for name search + MWK 25,000 + MWK 500 for first MWK 1,000 of capital, and MWK 20 for every MWK 2,000 or part of capital thereafter
 2Register for income tax at the Malawi Revenue Authority
Agency: Malawi Revenue Authority

Company promoters must register with the Malawi Revenue Authority by filing the memorandum and articles of association, the certificate of incorporation (copy), and an application letter or completed application for registration form, including the accounting date, the name of a public officer, and the nature of the business. The Malawi Revenue Authority then issues a taxpayer income tax number.
1 day if application is hand delivered no charge
 3Obtain a company seal
Agency: Seal maker

Making a seal may take up to a week. Costs depend on the length of the name of the company and the size of the seal.
3 days on average MWK 19,000
*4Apply for a license from the City Assembly
Agency: Blantyre City Assembly

Under the Business Licensing Act, wholesalers must apply for a wholesaler’s license; and retailers, for a retailer’s license. For industrial activities, relevant fees, procedures, and licensing requirements depend on the manufactured goods. Licenses are thus administered by the corresponding ministry. By law, a business is to be deemed as fully licensed if the authority does not respond within 7 days of the day of the application. The Department of Planning checks whether the premises location and business use is consistent with the city code.
7 days, simultaneous procedure MWK 1,000
*5Pay the requisite fee and Obtain the license
Agency: Ministry

Upon approval, the license is issued in a couple of days and mailed to the investor. The amount payable depends on the type and location of the business in the city. Pursuant to section 37 of the Business Licensing Act of 2012, the Minister of Industry and Trade made the Business Licensing Regulations, 2014 (‘‘new Regulations’’). The new Regulations came into operation in November 2014. The issuance of a business license for Malawians where the premises are in a city or municipal council such as Blantyre are fixed at MWK 30,000.
1 day, simultaneous procedure MWK 30,000 (Blantyre City Council)
*6Apply for a registration of the workplace
Agency: Occupational Safety, Health, and Welfare Department of the Ministry of Labor

Promoters must file Form Lab/W/1 (application for registration of workplace) with the Occupational Safety, Health, and Welfare Department of the Ministry of Labor.

Fee schedule for workplace registration:
- Fewer than 20 employees: MWK 1,000.
- 21 to 50 employees: MWK 3,000.
- 51 to 200 employees: MWK 5,000.
- 201 to 500 employees: MWK 10,000.
- More than 500 employees: MWK 15,000.
28 days, simultaneous procedure MWK 1,000, depends on the number of employees
*7Receive inspection of the company premises by the Occupational Safety, Health, and Welfare Department
Agency: Occupational Safety, Health, and Welfare Department

When a company files an application for the registration of its workplace, officers from the Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare Department inspect the premises. If they are satisfied with its conditions, they issue a Certificate of registration to the Company. Otherwise, they will advise the company on certain measures to implement in order to improve the working conditions.
7 days, simultaneous procedure no charge
 8Register for PAYE and fringe benefit tax at the Malawi Revenue Authority (by mail)
Agency: Malawi Revenue Authority

Promoters must file Form P1 (PAYE) and Form FBT1 (fringe benefit tax). On registering for pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax, applicants are provided with the following forms: WTF1 (withholding tax certificate); WTF2 (summary of withholding tax); P9 (PAYE certificate of total emoluments and tax deducted); P10 (advice of employees tax deduction certificates issued); P12 (PAYE monthly deduction payment form; and P16 (reconciliation of the number of tax deduction certificates and schedule of tax deductions to be sent to the Inspector of Taxes).
4 days no charge