To sensitise aspiring entrepreneurs, the economic affairs ministry held a session on business registration and legal requirements at the global entrepreneurship week on November 16 in Thimphu.

An industry can be either production and manufacturing, or construction and services industry. Regional Trade and Industry Office (RTIO) issues industrial licenses for any types of industries including business license to start a cottage or a small industry.

Any Bhutanese who is 18 years and above can own and operate a business.

Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) issues licenses for entertainment businesses while the economic affairs ministry issues licenses for other activities within the entertainment complex such as a restaurant, bar, and shop. BICMA is also responsible for issuing license for cinema halls, live music or karaoke centres, discotheques, drayang, cable TV, video or computer gaming, snooker establishments, printing, and publishing of books and newspaper.

Industrial businesses are classified into large, medium, small and cottage based on the number of permanent employees and the company’s investment. Large industries consist of those who have more than 100 employees with more than Nu 100 Million (M) investment; medium have 20 to 99 employees with Nu 10M-100M investment, while small have five to 19 employees with Nu 1M-10M investment. Cottage industries are those having one to four employees with less than Nu 1M investment.

When availing a new industrial license, a fee of Nu 1,600 for cottage, Nu 3,100 for small, Nu 6,100 for medium, Nu 12,100 for large, and Nu 13,100 for travel agents have to be paid. Online application for approval and licensing, or renewal can be done at Six services for cottage and small-scale industry are available online.

There are more than 80 activities delegated to RTIOs and Dzongkhag Trade and Industry Offices, and more than 140 activities which require prior approval from the Department of Cottage and Small Industry for licensing.

To process approval and licensing of activities delegated to RTIOs, an industrial license application form, form III with endorsement from the concerned dzongkhag or thromde, copy of citizen identity card, two copies of recent passport sized photo, an affixed legal stamp on the application form with signature, a valid security clearance certificate, sectoral clearance from the agency concerned, and hard and soft copies of the project profile are required.

Once a license is approved, printing of license can be done from any RTIO after the fee is paid.

An applicant must carry an application ID, two passport size photographs and license fee while obtaining the license from the RTIO.

An industrial license should be renewed online or at the nearest RTIOs before June 30 annually. Valid tax clearance certificate, environmental clearance certificate, and original citizenship identity card are required for renewal.

Renewal fees of industrial license is Nu 500 for cottage, Nu 1,000 for small, Nu 2,000 for medium, Nu 4,000 for large, and Nu 12,000 for travel agents.

Cooperatives have to first register with the Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) to obtain relevant business license from the economic affairs ministry while farmhouse or home stays have to register with the Tourism Council of Bhutan to obtain their business licenses.

Licensee intending to close down an industrial or commercial establishment should submit an application to the licensing authority in writing, surrender the original license, and should produce original citizenship identity card during the time of application submission. In case of partnership business, all applicants should produce their original citizenship identity card along with tax clearance certificate for cancellation from the concerned Regional Revenue and customs office.

Karma Cheki