Business Licence Act, 2010
April 2011

The Business Licence Act, 2010, ("the Act") is scheduled to come into force on 1st January, 2011.  It introduces new licensing and taxation requirements to operate a business in The Bahamas.  Licence fees have now changed and will be based on "turnover".


"Turnover" is defined as the total revenues in money or money's worth accruing to a person for his own use and benefit from his business activities within The Bahamas during the preceding year or any part thereof or in such other accounting period as the Secretary (as defined in the Act) may allow, including all cash, credit sales and commissions without any deductions whatsoever.

Existing businesses will be deemed licenced for a period of 90 days from the commencement date of the Act.

A new Business Licence Review Board has been established to hear appeals by persons aggrieved by decisions of the Secretary regarding applications for business licences or approval of business names.

Any person who attempts to evade payment of business licence fees, keeps false accounts or provides false information to the Secretary may be liable to up to two years imprisonment.

Directors and officers of companies and partners may be liable for being knowingly involved in offences committed by their companies or partnerships.

A foreign person who contracts to carry out business must apply for a Temporary Licence and pay a fee of 1.5% of the value of the contract.

The Liquor Licence Act has been repealed by the Act and, accordingly, persons wishing to sell liquor must now apply for a licence in accordance with the procedure set out in the Act.

Filing Requirements

  • A business whose licence has expired shall be deemed licenced for 30 days from the date of expiry.  In other words, all businesses must apply for and obtain a new licence before the 31st January in each year.
  • All businesses must submit financial results to the Secretary before the 31st December of each succeeding year in order to apply for a renewed licence.
  • A business must maintain accounts and records of any transactions relating to the business for a period of Five (5) years from the date of the transaction.
  • A business which does not exceed a turnover of $50,000 is not required to maintain accounts and records.
  • The Secretary may make an assessment of tax payable by an applicant for a licence within Five (5) years of the date the sum was tendered or, in the case of a temporary licence, within Two (2) weeks of the completion of the project.
  • Applicants for a business licence must, at the time of submission of their application, submit information to the Secretary on their proposed business name. This application must include a declaration of beneficial ownership.

Licence Fees

Business licence fees are now set at the following rates based on the business' turnover unless otherwise stated:

  • Agriculture/fishing/farming; food/meat/fruit processing:  0.5%
  • Accountants/Doctors/Attorneys/Architects/Engineers:  1%
  • New Business:  $100.00
  • Where turnover >$50,000 but < $500,000:  0.5%
  • Where turnover >$500,000:  0.75%
  • If the Business is Non-Resident for Exchange Control Purposes:  $300.00
  • Insurance companies registered under the Insurance Act: 3% of gross premiums per quarter to be paid 4 weeks prior to the end of the respective quarter
  • Telecommunication companies:  3%
  • Banks and Trust Companies registered under the Bank and Trust Companies Regulations Act shall pay an annual fixed amount determined by the value of assets under management

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