Basic Business Registration and Compliance

I’m starting a new business and/or making my side hustle official, what registrations do I need?

You will want to start with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to register your business name as a sole proprietorship, or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if you want to run your business as a corporation or partnership.  Immediately thereafter, register with the Local Government Unit (LGU) to obtain your Mayor’s Permit also known as your Business Permit.  Then, you will need to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).  If you have a trademark (logo) for your brand, it is advisable to register the trademark with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

What if I run my business without any registrations, what is the consequence?

You are violating the law and can even be liable for imprisonment (tax evasion) with penalties.

How long does it take to register with the DTI/SEC, LGU and BIR?

Typically, you would want to allot three to six months.  However, it could even be longer.

Is the process easy?

For regular small and medium business that are not highly regulated, the process is not difficult. However, registration is time consuming and it is advisable to outsource the process.  There are continuous improvements though, in the delivery of government services for registrations.  The SEC has made the registration process much easier and a large part of the process can be done online.  Various local governments have also initiated online registration and payment processes.

What is the advantage of registering a corporation instead of a sole proprietorship?

A corporation is a considered as a separate entity in itself.  The corporation’s assets and liabilities are separated from yours and the other owners. From this alone, there are many advantages, such as: First, this makes accounting of corporate assets clearer and easier.  Second, this also limits the liability or risk of loss of the owner of the corporation as the debts of the corporation cannot simply be collected from the owners of the corporation.  Third, selling the business (in part or as a whole) or taking in new investors is simple as you can sell shares of stock.

A corporation is also governed by law and there is a system in place to regulate multiple owners of a single business.  Thus, if you are a group of people starting a business together, a corporation is a good option.

Note: that under our law, you are also allowed to register a partnership.

What is the difference between a partnership and a corporation?

One key distinction in a partnership is that the liability of the partnership entity extends to the partners.  A partnership is more commonly used by professionals (i.e. Law Firms, Architectural Firms, Engineering Firms, etc.)

I have been running my business already but have no registrations, what should I do?

It is best to register immediately and ensure full compliance with all regulations, moving forward.

Is it important to register my logo?

Yes.  First, many logos can look similar so it’s best to register immediately to see if it can be registered.  Second, it can be problematic if someone copies your logo but registers it before you do.

What other regulatory compliances should I be preparing for?

There are several that you should immediately look into.  For your employee’s benefits, you will need to register with the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-Ibig, and Philhealth. As an employer you also need to register with the Department of Labor and Employment and check the applicable regulations for the size of your manpower complement.

If you handle customer information, you will need to comply with the regulations in the Data Privacy Act, one of which is to appoint a Data Privacy Officer (DPO).

Note that there are periodic and special reportorial/filing requirements for SEC, BIR, LGU and the other agencies mentioned above.