Investors are increasingly showing interest in doing business in Guyana, drawn by the rapid economic growth the country has seen over recent years and the opportunities presented by a host of unsaturated investment sectors. Those attractions are bolstered by the relative ease with which you can enter the market, with company formation in Guyana completed in seven key steps.
Located in the northeast of South America and bordered by Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela, Guyana is considered a Caribbean nation, and is one of only three mainland Latin American countries to be a member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) — an economic association that also includes Belize and Suriname, as well as 13 largely English-speaking Caribbean island nations. Five British Overseas Territories from the region are also associates.
Membership to that bloc means that Guyana is a party to free trade agreements with the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, while the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) offers Guyana-based businesses preferential access to the US market. The country also signed an investment cooperation and facilitation agreement with Brazil in December 2020.
Recent years have seen Guyana experience significant economic growth, with gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income (GNI) increasing more than sixfold between 2005 and 2019. That saw GDP reach $5.17 billion in 2019 (all figures in USD unless otherwise stated), while GNI — which is considered a primary indicator of overall prosperity — hit $6,630 per capita, according to World Bank statistics.
The country has also seen a major rise in foreign direct investment (FDI), which grew tenfold in the five years up to 2019, when it reached $1.695 billion.
Among its major exports, Guyana counts ships and shipping containers, metals and precious gems — especially gold, aluminum ore, and diamonds — and foodstuffs such as cereals and fish. Nearby Trinidad and Tobago is Guyana’s principal trading partner and the number one destination for Guyanese goods, however, other key destinations for the country’s exports include Canada, Ghana, Norway, and Portugal.
If you are considering doing business in this fast-growing Caribbean nation, read on to understand what types of entities you can choose from, as well as the seven steps you will need to follow to complete company formation in Guyana. Or go ahead and contact us now to discuss your business options.
Business formation in Guyana: which type to choose?
There are four main types of legal entity to choose from when starting a business in Guyana, including a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a private limited liability company (PLLC or LLC) and a public liability company (PLC).
Each comes with its own prerequisites and advantages or drawbacks. For example, a sole proprietorship is one of the easiest types of companies in Guyana to set up, however the liability is not limited, so the owner holds full responsibility for all assets and debts. A partnership is similar, however that liability is spread across the named partners.
Meanwhile, an LLC can be 100 percent foreign-owned by a minimum of two and a maximum of 20 shareholders, with each shareholder’s liability limited to what they have contributed to the company’s share capital. On that note, there is no minimum required capital, making this entity type low-cost to establish. If you set up an LLC, only one director is required to be appointed, and that can be one of the shareholders.
A PLC on the other hand, which is a company for which ownership is divided into shares that are publicly traded on a stock exchange, requires a minimum of two directors to be appointed. In both cases, a director can be anyone of legal age who is not otherwise prohibited from occupying such a role.
Given the convenience of establishing an LLC in Guyana, this tends to be the most popular choice among foreign investors and, as such, is the focus of the step-by-step guide for company formation. Note that, while the shareholders of an LLC can be foreign and do not have to reside in Guyana, in the case that all of them are based abroad, a local agent should be appointed to receive legal and other official documents at a Guyanese address.
How to form an LLC in Guyana in 7 steps
1. Choose a name
You will need to verify that your company name is not the same or too similar to another locally registered company. This process is done through Guyana’s companies registry and can be completed in one day.
2. Receive a declaration of compliance
During this type of company formation in Guyana, a declaration of compliance must be signed by a locally-registered attorney. That document will state that, to the best of the attorney’s knowledge, all signatories to the new company’s articles of incorporation are eligible to be signatories. That means they are at least eighteen years old, of sound mind, and are not prevented from participating in the company formation by past or ongoing legal matters. This step will usually be completed in approximately two days, as the attorney gathers what information they need to be able to sign the declaration.
3. Register your company formation in Guyana
To continue with the process of company formation in Guyana, the new company must be registered with the Guyana Registry of Companies, which will publish the issuance of the company’s certificate of incorporation in the Official Gazette of Guyana. Such a registration process will usually take a week and involves submitting the likes of the company name, its registered address, information related to shares and the number of directors (including their listed addresses), and any sort of restrictions that will apply to the business activities of the company.
4. Apply for a tax identification number (TIN)
Once the company has been registered, you will need to apply to the Guyana Revenue Authority Agency for a TIN. This will be used to identify your company on tax declarations and invoices, as well as import and export documents. The process requires submission of the certificate of incorporation, valid identification documents from named directors, and a properly completed TIN application form. This process usually can be completed in a single day.
5. Register for a Value Added Tax (VAT)
A specialist department of the Guyana Revenue Authority deals with VAT, and applications to register for VAT must be made to it within 15 days of your business operations beginning. As long as all is in order in that application, the corresponding certificate will be issued by the Authority within 10 days of your submission. This process will generally be completed within a week.
In 2017, Guyana dropped VAT from 17 percent to 14 percent, while simultaneously raising the annual sales threshold at which VAT registration is mandatory to 15 million Guyanese dollars (approximately $71,800 as of April 2021).
6. Register for the Social Security
The sixth step you must complete for company formation in Guyana, which will take around a week to complete but can be undertaken simultaneously with the fifth step, is to register with the National Insurance Scheme. This scheme covers all persons between ages 16 and 60 who are engaged in insurable employment. People outside this age range can be covered on a voluntary basis, but only for industrial benefits, while self-employed people are not covered for industrial benefits.
Social security contributions for standard employees within the statutory age range amount to a total of 14 percent of salaries, with employers liable for 8.4 percent of that salary, while the employee has 5.6 percent deducted from their pay. Meanwhile, self-employed people must contribute 12.5 percent of their declared income, and voluntary contributors pay 9.3 percent of average earnings, based on the previous two years of income.
7. Create a company seal
Once this process has been completed, a company must create an embossed or rubber seal — with most opting for the latter. Embossed seals are made of steel and can usually be delivered in less than a week, while rubber stamps can come even sooner. This process can also be undertaken simultaneously with steps five and six.
Biz Latin Hub can help you with company formation in Guyana
At Biz Latin Hub, our multilingual team of company formation specialists has broad experience supporting foreign executives starting businesses throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. We have offices in 16 countries around the region and trusted partners in many more. With our strong track-record of providing comprehensive back-office services to foreign investors — including legal, accounting, and recruitment support — we are ready to help you achieve your business goals in Guyana.
Reach out to us now for personalized assistance or a free quote.
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