12 Services at The One Stop Center (OSC) eBiz For Investors Starting Business in Uganda

In a bid to foster private sector development, the Government of the Republic of Uganda created a One Stop Center. This is an inter-institutional project that brings together all players that make it easy for both local and foreign investors and entrepreneurs to easily start and operate a profitable business in Uganda.

The center was established to integrate services of key government agencies with an online platform that will enable entrepreneurs and investors to access government services using a single point of entry.

This digitally enhanced eBiz has a standby team ready to offer user-friendly and faster services to the investment community. The idea was hatched to reduce the number of bureaucratic procedures, time, and cost of obtaining the relevant licenses and permits in Uganda.

The One Stop Center is housed at the Uganda Investment Authority Headquarters located at Plot 22B Lumumba Avenue Kampala, Uganda.

The One Stop Center  Concept is not only suitable for new business entrants but also for Business Management Consultants who provide advisory services in key areas including Incorporation and Business Registration Services, Tax Advisory, Investment Advisory, Land related matters & Immigration among others.

All these have already started using the One Stop Center eBiz and to benefit from the multi-agency all of which cooperate to create a unified point of entry for eBiz users.

The following Services exist at the One Stop Center eBiz for Local & Foreign Investors in Uganda;

  • Investment Advisory Services

This service is provided by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA). The agency has officials that provide all investment and advisory services.

While here, you can access information about investment opportunities in Uganda. Being the first office to interface with, the officials here will guide you on other steps to take like Registration of your company with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Registration for taxes with the Uganda Revenue Authority, and obtain a company Tax Identification Number (TIN).

You can apply for an Investment License which can be issued within 2 Working Days. An Investment License is Free of charge. There are other regulatory licenses that you may have to secure depending on the sector you intend to invest in (i.e. Mining, Health Services, Air Transport, Banking, etc.)

  • Company Registration & Intellectual Property Advisory Services

The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) is the agency responsible for offering this particular service. You can easily do a name search, receive a business name and register a company at the One Stop Center.

URSB also helps you to obtain your certified copy of a Memorandum and Articles of Association, and a Certificate of Incorporation.

Have a Legal Consultant Prepare Company Articles and Memorandum of Association for you with the names and signatures of subscribers. If you have the necessary documents, this process is estimated to take only 4 hours.

URSB recently developed lean Memorandum and Articles of Association (MEMATS) of just 2 pages to make registration faster and easier.

  • Citizenship & Immigration Control Services

You will also have an opportunity to process all the immigration documentation at the One Stop Center including VISA Application and Work Permits.

This is very useful for foreign investors coming to Uganda and local businesses that intend to bring foreign workers and expatriates for the different projects.

  • Tax Registration and Compliance Advisory Services

While at the OSC Office, you can also be able to obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority at least within a period of 1 to 10 Days. It is a service offered free of charge and in accordance with the Domestic Tax Departmental Performance Standards. If you are working with a tax consultant (tax agent), you must pay professional fees.

Your Tax-Payer Identification Number (TIN) helps you to meet all the tax obligations associated with your business-like government taxes, import and export taxes, Value Added Taxes (VAT), Company taxes, operational taxes, etc.

The idea to have URA Officials here is to help investors since it is mandatory for taxpayers to have a Tax Identification Number from Uganda Revenue Authority. Application for the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) can also be done online using the Uganda Revenue Authority portal.

You are required to have access to a computer which has an internet connection and Microsoft Excel Program. You also need an email address, a printer, and a referee (a person who has an active TIN of the new type)

Requirements to Obtain Individual TIN Include:

  1. Passport, Employees Id, voter’s card, national Id, work permit, visas, Driving permit
  2. Email address
  • Mothers name
  1. Phone contacts
  2. A referee who already has a TIN

For Non-Individual:

  1. Company form 7, Certificate of incorporation from Uganda Registration Services Bureau
  2. Contact person
  • Company email address, phone number
    Bank account details
  1. Company director’s TIN

Having obtained your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), you can ask any questions in line with tax compliance. In business, compliance with tax legislation is critical in the determination of an organization’s risk profile.

Foreign investors, local entrepreneurs, and other decision-makers must acquire an understanding of the compliance requirements as far as Taxation is concerned as a first step in mitigating organization risks.

Some of the things you may ask questions could be; the Domestic Tax Policies, PAYE, VAT, Withholding Taxes, Corporate tax, accrual reviews and tax-deferred transactions and computations thereof, Tax Compliance-standards and reporting timeliness, performing a VAT input, output reconciliation, and completion of a VAT return, Understanding the Customs Tax Policy & Changes.

There is much to learn at the URA desk while at the OSC including the Tax Incentives offered in Uganda, the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC-CET).

You can seek understanding about tax dispute resolution processes, Tax Payers Rights, Administering the Income Tax System for Profit Organizations, Employment Income & associated tax deductions as well as understanding tax offenses & associated penalties.

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate Application

In 1995, the Uganda Government enacted a National Environment Statute (now Act Cap 153) calling for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all development activities likely to negatively impact the environment before they are implemented.

To this effect, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) was created and mandated to operationalize and implement this requirement.

One of the key principle provisions of the Act is the requirement that EIA should be administered by NEMA in consultation with other agencies, the private sector, and all interested parties and communities likely to be impacted upon by development activities.

This explains why there is a presence of NEMA, a semi-autonomous institution with the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring, regulating, and supervising environmental management in the country at the One Stop Center.

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is estimated to take about 21 Days and the Cost Depends on the value of the project. The NEMA officials at the One Stop Center will facilitate the application for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all new business operations likely to harm nature and issue Certificates to an investor or developer for any project listed under the Third Schedule to the National Environment Act, Cap. 153 and submitted in accordance with the EIA regulations, 1998 and EIA Guidelines,1997.

You can find more details on the website: http://www.ebiz.go.ug/service/environment-impact-assessment/

  • Issuance of Trading License & Application for Building Permits

For businesses that will be operating in the capital city (Kampala), there is a requirement to obtain a trading license and building permits to set up business premises. This will take only one day if all the requirements have been fulfilled.

The Cost ranges from Ugsh 78,750 to Ugsh 498,750 or about USD 22 to USD 136 depending on the nature of the business being applied for. Kampala Capital City Authority is the responsible Government Agency that issues both trading licenses and building permits in the city.

  • Banking Services and Online Payments

As you may have taken note, there are quite many services that involve paying fees. All these have been catered for by having a bank branch at the One Stop Center (OSC).

Some of the services that necessitated banking services include payment for land verification, name search, and company registration fees with URSB, KCCA Trading License, Etc. These services can also be paid online using VISA or MasterCard.

  • Distinctive Mark Application & Purchase of Standards from UNBS

For consumer protection, public trust, and export of quality goods, manufacturers are required to apply for a Distinctive-Mark.

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) certifies the quality of a product and grants the manufacturer a permit to affix the UNBS Quality Mark either on the product itself or the packaging.

At the One Stop Center, the UNBS officer can help investors with the Procedure for Purchasing Standards from the UNBS Web store.

The organization has also provided an info guide to be used for those who would like to purchase standards. You may want to download a copy of the same guide from the UNBS Website by clicking HERE.

Standards are intended to promote various Codes of practice like hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry. This Uganda Standard specifies the minimum requirements for factories.

They also apply to manufacturers and employees engaged in the processing, packaging, storage, handling, treatment, and delivery of foods intended for human consumption. These and many other standards can be bought or applied for at the One Stop Center.

  • Free Zone Advisory Services from the Uganda Free Zones Authority

The overall objective for the adoption of Free Zones in the country is to create an enabling environment aimed at enhancing economic growth and development of export-oriented manufacturing.

This targets all sectors of the economy, to diversify the country’s economic base, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), generate employment, increase foreign exchange earnings, enhance technology transfer, skill acquisition/upgrading as well as create backward linkages.

At the One Stop Center (OSC), Uganda Free Zones Authority has staff charged with the responsibility to ensure Free Zone Development Promotion and Advocacy.

This is done through Promoting and facilitating export-oriented enterprises, formulating marketing strategies; and generating public awareness about Free Zones in Uganda.

The agency handles Investor Support and Infrastructure Development by Identifying and mapping areas to be declared as Free Zones.

It also provides design information and proposes to Government schemes and incentives and how the schemes and incentives should be administered as well as the approval of the development and site plans in Free Zones in accordance with the Physical Planning Act, 2010.

More information about the Uganda Free Zones Authority can be found on their website https://freezones.go.ug/about-us/role-of-the-authority/

  • Advisory on Investment in Tourism & Conservation by the Giants Club

Uganda is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in East and Central Africa. This is because the Government has committed to providing several opportunities for prospective investors in conservation projects and investment in tour and travel. The business opportunities are open to both local and foreign investors.

Conservation motivated investors will have an opportunity to interact with the Giants Club at the OSC.

For investors to promote responsible investment and sustainable development, Uganda has sought to work towards rehabilitating the protected conservation areas to boost Conservation and Tourism Investment in Uganda.

  • Services of Utility Companies (UMEME & NWSC)

 The utility sector is well represented at the OSC as a category of companies that provide basic amenities, such as water, sewage services, electricity, dams, and natural gas.

In Uganda, UMEME and National Water and Sewage Corporation are public utilities that render support to investors whose projects or investments require access to water and electricity.

For purposes of project access to water and electricity, UMEME and National Water and Sewage Cooperation have a presence to advise investors on how they can follow the right procedures to access these necessary utilities.

  • Land Title Verification Services

 The Agency responsible for Land Verification is the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development. This process is estimated to take 1 Day at a Cost of Ugsh 10,000 per search.

For purposes of Eligibility, a native or local investor is allowed to acquire a lease or even rent land in Uganda.

It should be noted that the Freehold, Mailo Land Ownership, Leasehold, and Customary types of ownership are all relevant to this category. However, a foreign investor can only lease land in Uganda. in other words, a Leasehold type of ownership is the only option available for Foreigner investors.

Learn More about the Types of land tenure systems in Uganda on the One-Stop Centre information portal http://www.ebiz.go.ug/service/land-title-verification-2/

Final Comments

eBiz has been developed as a secure e-Application that enables investors, consultants, and other users to exchange data with several Government Agencies in Uganda. It can be used to apply for services related to starting an investment project or business in Uganda.

eBiz is suitable and open to both local and foreign investors who intend to open a business in Uganda. For one to use eBiz, you must create an account through which you always log in and apply for services. You are advised to obtain the necessary information and documents in the right formats before you start applying for specific services.

Credit goes to Mr. Ngabo Simon Paul from the UIA Investment Promotion Division. Simon took time to give guidance and an impressive description of the services offered at the OSC. He also spared valuable time to review this article before it was published.

You can find more information about the services described in this article, including descriptions of application procedures on the One-Stop Centre information portal https://www.ebiz.go.ug or call Uganda Investment Authority OSC on +256417788300 or 0800300336 (Toll-Free)  and 0800300366 (Toll-Free)

Useful Web Resources

Business Registration, Company Formation, and Incorporation Procedures You Must Not Miss in Uganda
The Main Reasons Why You Should Register Your Workplace in Uganda
How to Register a Company in Uganda
Incorporation Services & Company Registration Consultants in Uganda
Business Networking – The 5 Best Practices You Should Know

About the Author: Robert Mwesige

Robert Mwesige is a Certified Trainer of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Certified Financial Literacy Trainer of Bank of Uganda (BOU). He is the Learning & Development Specialist and Chief Talent Officer at Houston Executive Consulting. Robert Mwesige is a Google Certified Digital Marketing Professional. He is the Content Designer (Web Editor), and SEO Consultant at Geotech ICT Consulting – Uganda.

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About the Author: Robert Mwesige

Robert Mwesige is a Certified Trainer of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Certified Financial Literacy Trainer of Bank of Uganda (BOU). He is the Learning & Development Specialist and Chief Talent Officer at Houston Executive Consulting. Robert Mwesige is a Google Certified Digital Marketing Professional. He is the Content Designer (Web Editor), and SEO Consultant at Geotech ICT Consulting – Uganda.