Trading licence validity extended to December 2022, relief for small businesses

Business Insider SA
small business
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his address on Sunday night, provided some relief for small business owners by extending the validity of business licences. 
  • Licences and permits that expired between March 2020 and June 2021 will remain valid until 31 December 2022.
  • Here's what a business licence is, and which businesses are required to have one. 
  • For more stories, go to

Small businesses continue to suffer under South Africa's Adjusted Level 4 lockdown, but President Cyril Ramaphosa has provided some relief by extending business licence validity until the end of December 2022 – here's what you need to know.

With Adjusted Level 4 lockdown having been extended for 14 days, including some amendments, many small businesses continue to suffer financial blows while others face permanent closure.

Ramaphosa said on Sunday night government has agreed to give small businesses some breathing room by extending the validity of business licences by almost a year-and-a-half.

"Cabinet has decided that all business licences and permits that expired between March 2020 and June 2021 will remain valid until 31 December 2022.

"New business licences or permits that are issued from the 1st of July will also be valid until 31 December 2022, and no licence fee will be payable," said Ramaphosa.

What is a trading licence and who needs it?

A business or trading licence is basically a licence that's allows you to establish and run a certain business in a particular area or premises. In addition to allowing you to trade, a business licence oversees that your business and its place of establishment meet all the necessary requirements from building regulations, public safety, to health requirements.

South African legislation stipulates that all businesses should have a valid trading licence before trading. According to Section 1 of the Business Act 71 of 1991, businesses that require trading licences include:

  • Food establishments where customers can eat and get takeaways or perishable foodstuff
  • Turkish baths, saunas, or other health baths
  • Massage or infra-red treatment establishments
  • Male or female escort businesses
  • Arcades and poolrooms
  • Businesses with slot machines
  • Adult venues and casinos
  • Night clubs or discotheques
  • Cinemas or theatres
  • Hawkers who sell meals or perishable foodstuff from place to place in vehicles, or in a stationary vehicle

Depending on the province, you will need to apply for a licence from the relevant City's Trade Licence Department. This will be accompanied by a once-off application fee.

After completion, the application will be forwarded to five departments to check that certain requirements are met. These include environmental health, noise and air pollution control, public safety, urban planning and building control.

An inspection of the premises will be carried out by the departments concerned, and once all departments are satisfied, and have returned favourable reports and recommend approval, your trade licence will be issued.

Here's how to apply

In order to apply in the City of Johannesburg, you need to complete an RP1 form, which can be downloaded or collected from one of the regional offices.

The application form will need to be accompanied by copies of your company memorandum and articles or a founding statement if it's a close corporation.

You will also need the identity documents or passports and visa certificates of all members and shareholders involved, including the manager in charge of the business.

For establishments selling food, a copy of your menu will need to be attached, and if you're going to sell alcohol, include a copy of your liquor licence.

A SARS certificate, approved building layout plan, and zoning certificate will also be required.

According to the Business Licence Office regulations, a trade licence or application cannot be transferred with a change of ownership. A business licence can be withdrawn or suspended if there is a failure to comply with endorsements.

If you need to apply for a business licence in Cape Town, you can do so at the Environmental Health Office. In Durban, you can apply online or register with the Business Licensing Department.

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