The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a nation in the Caribbean, consisting of the two named islands and several smaller ones. Trinidad, with 1,850 square miles, is more than 10 times the size of Tobago. If a day job on a Caribbean island sounds like fun, you start by registering a business name with Trinidad and Tobago's government.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Before you file any other paperwork, pick a business name and then have the government search to see if it's available. If you're forming a limited liability company, you have a second step — filing articles of incorporation. Branches of foreign companies must file slightly more paperwork.
What's Your Business Concept?
In the 21st century, an online business can work out of Trinidad and handle clients anywhere in the world. If you're interested in an off-line business, you'll need to choose an industry that fits with the Trinidad and Tobago economy.
The two big dogs of the economy are tourism and the petroleum/natural gas industry. The government is working to diversify, however, so Trinidad has industrial plants that manufacture chemical products, iron and steel goods, cars, radios and televisions.
Registering a Business Name
You have your choice of three options for a business structure: sole proprietorship, limited liability company or partnership business in Trinidad and Tobago. Whichever structure you want to set up, the first step is registering a business name with the government.
The process is pleasantly uncomplicated. Download the one-page application for reserving a name from the government's website. Provide your name and contact information, proposed business name, the nature of your business and a few other details and submit it to the nation's Companies Registry with a check for $25 in Trinidad dollars.
If the name's already taken, you'll have to reapply. For an extra $20 and filling out a business name search form for Trinidad, the government will search your proposed names and tell you if they're taken. You can search for three names with one search application. Once you know a name is available, you have 20 days to reserve it, or you'll have to start all over again.
Articles of Incorporation
Like in the United States, partnerships and sole proprietorships are simple to set up. Registering a business as a limited liability company requires an extra step: filing articles of incorporation. You have two pages to fill out with the information the Companies Registry wants and then you're done registering a business.
- Name of the company
- Restrictions, if any, on share ownership or transfers of stock
- Stockholders' pre-emptive rights to purchase new issues of stock
- The number of directors and their authority to amend the bylaws
- Number of employees you expect to have
- The nature of your primary business activity
- Name and occupation of the incorporators
Trinidad and Tobago was a British colony, which is reflected in another line of the form: asking whether liability is limited by shares or by guarantee. If liability is limited by shares, the most a stockholder can lose is the cost of the shares. "Limited by guarantee" means there's a guaranteed limit for how much the company members are liable. You're more likely to see this with a nonprofit than a for-profit business.
If you incorporate your business under, say, the laws of the U.S. or Brazil, opening a branch in Trinidad and Tobago requires registering a business as an external company. The application requires one page of information, including:
- Address of your head office
- Address of your branch office in Trinidad and Tobago
- When and where did the company incorporate?
- Names of the directors
Along with the application form, you have to submit your corporate charter and articles along with an affidavit attesting to their accuracy. You must also provide a power of attorney identifying an agent who can accept Trinidad and Tobago legal notices on your behalf. Your agent can be a single local company or two or more residents.
- Encyclopaedia Brittanica: Trinidad and Tobago
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: Registering a Business
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: Application for Name Search and Name Reservation
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: Application for Name Approval/Name Reservation
- InvesTT: Setting Up a Business in T&T
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: Articles of Incorporation
- Company Law Club: Companies Limited by Guarantee
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: External Company Application for Registration
- Hamel-Smith: Choice of Business Structure
Fraser Sherman has written about every aspect of business: how to start one, how to keep one in the black, the best business structure, the details of financial statements. He's also run a couple of small businesses of his own. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com