South Africa: Non-profit/For-profit Company Registry Requirements


First, determine which type of organization you want to found (Non-Profit Organization, Non-Governmental Organization, Social Enterprise, etc.). Here is a guide to understanding the different types of organizations and requirements.

Being a registered non-profit organisation (NPO) will not only improve your chances of getting funding, it also tells communities that you care about providing quality services. Here’s what you need to know about getting your NPO registered (Information provided by the Government of South Africa).

Different types of NPOs

An NPO can register with the NPO Directorate in the National Department of Social Development (DSD). An NPO can be a trust, a company or organisation, which has a public rather than a private purpose. This means that your NPO will not operate for profit but provide services.

Types of NPOs include:

  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • Community-based organisations (CBOs)
  • Faith-based organisations (FBOs)
  • Organisations that have registered as Section 21 Companies under the Company Act 61 of 1973
  • Trusts that have registered with Master of the Supreme Court under the Trust Property Control Act 57 of 1988
  • Any other voluntary association that is not for profit

Who is responsible for NPOs?

The Western Cape Department of Social Development assists NPOs with funding, while the National Department of Social Development helps all NPOs with registration.


Funding your NPO As an NPO founder, you are encouraged to raise funds to help your organisation achieve its mission and goals. You can also contact your nearest regional office of the Department of Social Development to apply for subsidies and funding programmes.

Registering your NPO To register your NPO you’ll need the following documents:

  • A founding document/constitution
  • A deed of trust (a written agreement used by trusts)
  • The memorandum and articles of association (which set out the mission of your NPO and monitors its growth)

You can apply for registration in two ways:

  1. Register online
  2. Post your application form and two copies of your NPO’s founding documents (constitution or deed of trust, and memorandum and articles of association)

You can submit your documents to: Directorate: Non-Profit Organisations Department of Social Development Private Bag X901 Pretoria 0001

or hand-deliver them to: Directorate: Non-Profit Organisations HSRC Building 134 Pretorius Street Pretoria 0002

Whether you apply by post or online, you will receive a reference number to track your application.

If you are successful, you will receive a registration certificate. If your application is unsuccessful, however, you will receive a letter with advice to re-apply.

For Profit:

In terms of the Companies Act, 2008, a company may be registered with or without a company name. When a company is registered without a reserved name, its registration number automatically becomes the company name. This is the quickest way to register a company.

Such a company may transact with a trading (business) name, or may apply to add a reserved name at a later stage. In this case, the company will need to first reserve a name and then apply for a name change, which constitutes a change to its Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI).

If your initial name reservation application is not approved, you will need to apply for new names. You may apply for between 1 and 4 names during each application process. Each name reservation application costs R50. A company registration may vary between R125 and R475 (R125 for a private company, R475 for a non-profit company registered without members).

A foreign or external company is a company incorporated outside of South Africa, irrespective of whether it is a profit or non-profit company or carrying on business in South Africa. A foreign company is prohibited from offering securities to the South African public unless it follows the specific provisions of the Companies Act, 2008, relating to offers to the public.

A foreign company is required to register as an “external company” with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) if it conducts or intends to conduct business in South Africa. Section 23 of the Companies Act, 2008, lists a series of activities which will be regarded as conducting business.

This list includes:

  • Holding a meeting or meetings of shareholders or board of the foreign company, or otherwise conducting the internal affairs of the company;
  • Establishing or maintaining any bank or other financial account;
  • Establishing or maintaining offices or agencies for the transfer, exchange or registration of the foreign company’s own securities;
  • Creating or acquiring any debts, mortgages, or security interests in any property;
  • Acquiring any interest in intellectual property; and
  • Entering into contracts of employment.

To register an external (foreign) company, follow these steps.

To domesticate a foreign company, follow these steps.


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