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How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in Malawi

February 20, 2021
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Malawi is located in South-East Africa, and it's one of the largest freshwater bodies in the world. Malawi is ranked high by the World Bank by the Doing Business Index. The business environment is good, and Malawi is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. There are several investment opportunities in tourism, fishing, manufacturing, mining, agro-processing, etc. If you're interested in doing business in Malawi, we can help you understand the establishment procedure.

Disclaimer: Be aware that this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Please always check official websites or seek legal advice before you take action.

There are three main business forms in Malawi: Sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, and Partnership. The sole proprietorship is the most suitable for an individual operating a small business. The owner and the business are not legally separated, and the business liability is not limited. That means that the owner is liable for the business with all their assets. As only one person runs the business, it is more flexible than big companies, and the decision making is prompt.

Here is the criteria for registering a sole proprietorship in Malawi:

  • A person can open a bank account
  • A person can register for income tax at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) 
  • A business has a physical address.

Business registration with the authorities in Malawi

The sole proprietorship registration in Malawi is rather easy for both local citizens and foreigners - it only takes a few steps:

  1. Before the application, you should come up with three names for your business, which you will write on the form. If one name is already taken or invalid, the authorities will register the second.
  2. Make a copy of your ID card or passport, as it is required for submission.
  3. Submitting the application form can be done online or in-person at the office.
  • Online registration: Go to the Registrar General website. You will find the option TO REGISTER BUSINESS ONLINE, and it will take you to the Malawi Business Registration System (MBRS). Fill out the form and click on submit.
  • In-person registration: Submit the application form to the Department of Registrar General office. You can download the application form here, or you can get one in the office. There are three offices in Malawi: Lilongwe, Blantyre, and Mzuzu. Check this link for the addresses and contacts. 

The registration fee costs MK 2,000. Your certificate should be ready in 3-10 days. 


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Taxes in Malawi

Any person who makes taxable supplies of goods or services and whose business turnover is estimated or exceeds MK 10 million annually is obliged to register for Value Added Tax (VAT). Registration for VAT can be done at any MRA Domestic Taxes office. When registering for tax, a business registration certificate and valid ID are required. MRA will issue a Taxpayer Identification Number (TPIN) on registration that should be used on any correspondence with the Authority. The standard Value Added Tax rate in Malawi is 16.5%