Perhaps the simplest definition of a business name is that which can be found in Section 588 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 (CAMA). Section 588 defines Business Name as the name and style under which a business is carried out whether in partnership or otherwise. Business name is also referred to in lay terms as enterprises or sole proprietorship though it can in fact be owned by more than one person. It is about the only real type of company that can be owned by a single person as opposed to for instance, the Limited liability Company which must have at least two directors.
A business name can be registered either by the business owner him/herself or by engaging the services of a legal practitioner who is into incorporation of companies. Where a person engages the services of a legal practitioner to register a business name, all he/she has to do is to provide all the details and information required by his/her lawyer. Where however, a person decides to on his/her own register a business name, the following steps may be important.
The first step in registering a business name is to apply to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to reserve the name intended to be used by the business. This is done by purchasing and filling the Availability Check and Reservation of Name Form and filling two different names in order of preference. The process of getting a name reserved can take anything from just over a week to as long as two months depending on the internal challenges being experienced within the CAC.
It is to be noted that business names which include the words National, Federal, Municipal, Government, State or other words which suggest the patronage of the Federal government or any State or Local government and those which contain the words Co-operative, Chamber of Commerce, Guarantee, Investment, Bank, Building Society, Trustee, Insurance are prohibited and will not be approved by the CAC.
Where a name is approved, it should be registered before the end of the 60-day period for which it will be reserved by CAC. A business name Form will then be purchased and filled with some personal and contact details of the proprietors, the general nature of the business, the address of the principal place of business and branches if any. Two passport photographs of each of the proprietors, where they are more than one, are required to be attached to the Form
The completed Form is required to be taken before a Commissioner for Oaths (there are commissioners for oaths in the Courts and the Ministry of Justice) to be stamped and signed upon the payment of a fee. After all these have been done, the completed form and the availability form showing the approved name are then returned to the CAC where they will be checked and assessed for payment of the filing fees. Once the filing fees is paid and the Form submitted, the business owner should check at the CAC after five working days for the certificate. Again, it could take anything between a week and a month or more for the certificate to be ready depending on the CAC.
Once the business name certificate is collected, the business owner is ready to do business!
Adenike Oyalowo practices Law with Lawsprings & Co.