Sole Proprietorship Registration

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Sole Proprietorship Registration

Majority of the businesses in India are unregistered with many being operated as a sole proprietorship firm business.  A sole proprietorship is one of the easiest and simplest form of business entity to register and maintain in India. There is no formal sole proprietorship registration and to start a proprietorship only PAN number for the Proprietor, certain licenses and capital is required. In this article, we look at the process for forming a sole proprietorship in India.

Sole Proprietorship Registration

There is no formal procedure in India to register a sole proprietorship, as a sole proprietorship is considered to be an extension of the Proprietor. Therefore, the existence of a sole proprietorship business can be established only through opening a bank account in the name of the proprietorship firm or obtaining licenses required for conducting the business.  To open a bank account for a sole proprietorship, RBI’s KYC norms mandate that any two of the following document must be submitted to the Bank:

  • Certificate/license issued by the Municipal authorities under Shop & Establishment Act,
  • Sales and income tax returns
  • CST/VAT certificate
  • Certificate/registration document issued by Sales Tax/Service Tax/Professional Tax authorities
  • License issued by the Registering authority like Certificate of Practice issued by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Indian Medical Council, Food and Drug Control Authorities,
  • Registration/licensing document issued in the name of the proprietary concern by the Central Government or State Government Authority/ Department, etc.
  • Banks may also accept IEC (Importer Exporter Code) issued to the proprietary concern by the office of DGFT as an identity document for opening of the bank account etc.
  • The complete Income Tax return (not just the acknowledgement) in the name of the sole proprietor where the firm’s income is reflected, duly authenticated/ acknowledged by the Income Tax Authorities.
  • Utility bills such as electricity, water, and landline telephone bills in the name of the proprietary concern.

Since, any two of the above documents are required to open a bank account in the name of the Proprietorship, Proprietors typically first obtain any of the above license / registration / certificate first to establish the existence of the proprietorship firm.

Sole Proprietorship Registration through License

As explained above, the existence of a sole proprietorship is established through licenses or registrations or certificates in the name of the Proprietor. Based on the type of business, the following are some of the easy registrations to obtain for establishing a sole proprietorship in India.

Proprietor PAN Card

Proprietorship businesses are considered to be one and the same as the Proprietor.  The PAN card of the proprietor will be used for opening bank account, obtaining licenses / registrations / certificates in the name of the sole proprietorship and filing income tax return for the sole proprietorship. Hence,  obtaining PAN card for the Proprietor is the first step in establishing a sole proprietorship.

Business involved in Manufacturing or Trading

Value Added Tax or VAT tax is applicable for goods and products sold in India. Any person involved in manufacturing or trading must obtain VAT Registration for conducting business irrespective of the type of business entity. Therefore, to start a sole proprietorship business, business involved in sale of goods and products may obtain VAT or TIN Registration using the Proprietor’s PAN Card from the respective state government. However, once VAT registration is obtained, monthly or quarterly or half-yearly or annual VAT tax returns must be filed by the Proprietorship.

Shop & Establishment Act License is required for businesses that operate a store or factory or formal place of business. Shop & Establishment Act license is often provided by the Department of Labor in the State and is required to operate a business in most states. Therefore, shop and establishment license can be obtained to show proof of existence of Proprietorship business.

MSME Registration is a registration provided to Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises under the MSMED Act to promote small scale businesses in India. MSME registration can be often obtained easily in many states and can be also used to prove the existence of a proprietorship business.

Business involved in providing Services

Businesses involved in providing services are liable to collect and remit service tax. Service tax registration can thus be obtained from the Service Tax Department to show the existence of a proprietorship business. However, once service tax registration is obtained, half-yearly service tax returns must be filed by the Proprietorship.

In addition to service tax registration, other registrations like shop and establishment act license or MSME registration or ESI registration or professional license can be used by the sole proprietorship to establish the existence of a proprietorship business.

With the above easy to obtain and common registration, most sole proprietorship can satisfy RBI rules for opening a bank account in the name of Proprietorship and conduct business as Proprietorship firm.


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