Businesses can soon apply for new licenses and renewal online when the Online Trade Registration & Licensing Service (OTRLS) becomes operational in a few days.
The Ministry of Trade & Industry is launching the new online system, which purports to reduce the days the former procedure took from 32 to six. The system is also expected to reduce the number of people who physically visit the Ministry for new business licenses and renew old ones.
By logging into the virtual system, clients can obtain information on the requirements for renewing and issuing a particular type of business license from anywhere in the country and beyond. Once logged in, an individual can fill out the appropriate forms, attach scanned copies of supporting documents such as a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and process their license.
The system, initially installed in 2012 by local firm Custor Computing for one million Birr, did not originally provide online access to clients. Businesses had to be present at the Ministry to process their documents physically.
Under the current updated system, businesses can apply online for registration and license renewal, and they do not have to visit the premises of the Ministry and the regional trade bureaus to pick up the hard copies of their permits.
The procedures, which businesses were passing through to secure a business license, are also reduced from 11 requirements to five. The reform was made as part of the latest initiative from the Office of the Prime Minister to ease the requirements of doing business in the country.
The mandatory requirement to obtain a business license, which includes newspaper publication of trade names and a lease or rental agreement, was also lifted by the Ministry a few months ago.
The online registration system has 19 different services. The services are provided through 1,063 offices, out of which 163 are already operational throughout the country.
The system also integrates the Ministry of Revenues, the Document Authentication & Registration Agency and the Ethiopian Investment Commission to shorten the customer journey when processing licenses.
The Commercial Registration & Business Licensing Proclamation was amended in 2016, adding a new feature to the business sphere of the country. It introduced the concepts of the franchise and holding company arrangements, new to the business environment in Ethiopia.