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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

2/15/2008

Opening a Business in Jamaica

I can finally say that I have made it through a critical process -- that of opening up, and registering a business in Jamaica.

The entire process was a daunting one, and I can understand why they say that we have one of the most inefficient tax systems in the world. I have been putting off this post, because I needed to recover a bit from the whole thing so that I could write with some perspective.

The first step is to register the company, and that took several months due to a variety of glitches, some caused by me and the way in which I was trying to set things up. I eventually settled on creating a company that is entirely owned by a U.S. company that I own.

The paperwork was fairly straight-forward, and I used a local company called Profits and Dividends to get this step done. The end-result of this activity (which cost some US$700 or so) was to receive the Registration papers for the company and a company stamp.

In essence this was the simplest step.

The next steps were all necessary in order to have even a single employee. They need to be done with some precision, due to the fact that they all involve travel around Kingston from one office to another, and it's quite easy to get turned back from the office in order to retrieve a single paper that was forgotten. As my wife said, just bring everything that you think might be needed with you in a briefcase .

  1. The first stop was the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) office in New Kingston, at 18 Ripon Road, off Oxford Road.

    You need to bring all your company registration documents plus a full copy. Also have a personal Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) and driver's licence handy for each of the steps. Fill out the NIS form for the business, and for all the employees in the business if they have never been registered.

    Get the slip, and the letter that indicate that you are registered.

  2. Visit the Tax Office some time between the 3rd and 25th of the month to avoid the end of month rush. Sign up for a Business TRN. Bring a copy of the registration. The wait for this to be completed is about 5 minutes.

  3. Once completed, stay at the Tax Office to register for General Consumption Tax (GCT) payments.

  4. If a Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) is needed, then a visit to National Housing Trust (NHT) and the Tax Office are needed. These are used to clear items from customs and are good for six months.
What makes the process difficult is the movement back and forth during working hours from one office to another. I haven't actually paid payroll taxes yet, so that will be another bit of excitement, to be sure.

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