8 Steps Necessary for Formalizing Business in Tanzania

Formalizing businesses in Tanzania can provide many benefits, including increased access to capital, improved customer service, and greater transparency and accountability. Formalization can also reduce the risks of operating in an informal economy and provide more business opportunities. Formalizing businesses can also help the Tanzanian government to better understand the needs of local businesses, improve the business climate, and increase tax revenue. All of these benefits can help Tanzania achieve economic growth and development. Before looking at the steps necessary for formalizing business in Tanzania, let us understand what business formalization is all about and know the key general business formalization concepts applicable all over the world.

What is Business Formalization?

Business formalization is the process of organizing a business and establishing its procedures, processes, policies, and systems. It involves documenting the organization’s structure and operations, as well as implementing internal controls for proper management and monitoring of business activities. The goal of business formalization is to create a predictable and consistent approach to managing the organization’s resources and achieving its objectives. There are necessary steps to follow while formalizing your business.

What are the Key Issues to understand before starting your business formalization process?

The following are the key general concepts (applicable all over the world) that you should understand before starting the process of formalizing your business.

steps differ from country to country.

1. Choose a business structure: Decide if you’re going to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.

2. Register your business: Register your chosen business structure with the state and obtain any necessary licenses and permits.

3. Get an employer/Tax identification number (EIN/ TIN): This is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to identify your business for tax purposes.

4. Open a business bank account: This will help you keep your personal and business finances separate.

5. Establish a bookkeeping system: A good system will help you keep track of your income, expenses, and other financial transactions.

6. Understand your tax obligations: Know what taxes you need to pay and when they are due.

7. Protect your business: Consider obtaining insurance and other legal protections.

8. Separate your personal finances from the business: Keep your personal and business finances separate.

These are general understandings for anyone who wants to formalize a business and keep it sustainably growing. In the context of Tanzania, the following are the necessary steps.  

How to Formalize Business in Tanzania

There are eight (8) steps necessary if you want to formalize your business in Tanzania.

1. Register the business:

All businesses in Tanzania must be registered with the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). This can be done online or at any BRELA office. You may register as a business name if working as a sole proprietor, Partnership, or company if you opt for any of the business structures.

2. Obtain a business license:

In order to obtain a business license in Tanzania, you must first register your business with the Tanzania Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). You can do it online or in person. After registration, you will need to submit the required documents, including a business plan, financial statements, and proof of ownership. You will then need to pay the applicable fees and obtain the necessary permits from the local authorities. Finally, you must submit a completed application to BRELA or the Local Government Authority for approval depending on the class of your license. For Class A businesses BRELA is responsible for issuing licenses for such businesses. However, for class B, it is the Local Government Authority that is responsible to issue such licenses. Once approved, you can obtain your business license

3. Register for taxes:

All businesses in Tanzania must register for taxes with the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN). The process for obtaining the TIN certificate is as follows:

  • Visit the TRA website at and register for the online TIN Certificate application service.
  • Download and fill out the TIN Certificate application form, attach all the required documents and submit the form.
  • After approval of the tax registration, the TIN Certificate is out within 10 days. You can also obtain the TIN Certificate by visiting the nearest TRA regional office. You will need to fill out the TIN Certificate application form, attach all the required documents and submit it to the office.

4. Obtain the necessary permits and licenses:

The process for obtaining permits and licenses in Tanzania depends on the type of business involved.

Generally, businesses must apply for a business license from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

  • The process includes submitting the necessary documents, such as the company’s Articles of Association, proof of the owner’s identity, and a copy of the business plan.
  • In addition, businesses must obtain necessary permits from the Ministry of Trade and Investment (MOTI). This process may include making sure that the business complies with relevant laws and regulations, as well as providing additional documents, such as a Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Finally, businesses must also obtain any other relevant permits or licenses from local authorities, such as the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) or Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA). Depending on the type of business, licenses may require a special permit from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) or the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA). For more information, please contact the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) or the Ministry of Trade and Investment (MOTI).

 5. Comply with labor laws:

Businesses must comply with labor laws in Tanzania. It means that businesses must abide by the laws and regulations set forth by the Tanzanian government regarding labor rights. Thus, Businesses must comply with laws on working hours, minimum wage, overtime, leave, and other labor rights. Failure to comply with these laws can result in fines or other legal repercussions.

6. Follow applicable health and safety regulations:

Businesses as employers must adhere to health and safety regulations in Tanzania. Thus, most of the health and safety regulations relate to employers as follows:-

  • Employers must provide protective clothing and equipment to workers where necessary, such as helmets, gloves, or safety boots.
  • Employers must ensure that the workplace is safe and free from hazards, such as unguarded machinery or slippery floors.
  • Employers must create safety procedures and train employees in their use.
  • Employers must provide a first-aid kit and train at least one member of staff in first-aid.
  • Employers must store any hazardous materials safely and appropriately.
  • Employers must control and monitor any hazardous emissions for the safety of the employees.
  • Employers must ensure that any ladders or scaffolding used is in good condition and safe to use.
  •  Employers must ensure that any heavy machinery is operated by a trained and competent person and that regular maintenance is carried out.
  • Employers must ensure that all electrical equipment is properly maintained and inspected.
  • Employers must ensure that employees are sufficiently rested and not overworked.

7. Open a corporate bank account:

For smooth payment operations, businesses must open a corporate bank account. Corporate bank account in Tanzania offers businesses a number of advantages. These include: –

  • financial security and convenience, access to a wide range of banking services, and increased access to credit and financing options.
  • Opening a corporate bank account in Tanzania can help businesses manage their finances more effectively, improve their access to financial services, and increase the credibility of their business in the international financial community.
  • Corporate accounts can help businesses protect their assets and manage their cash flow more efficiently.

8. Set up a record-keeping system:

Record-keeping systems are essential for businesses operating in Tanzania for the following advantages: –

  • to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations,
  • to monitor business performance,
  • to facilitate financial reporting, and
  • to help protect against fraud or financial mismanagement.

Record-keeping systems also provide businesses with an accurate and reliable source of information for decision-making. They can help businesses plan for the future by providing a historical context of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. Finally, they can help businesses identify opportunities for growth and development.


In conclusion, formalizing a business in Tanzania can be a complex and often lengthy process. However, with a clear understanding of the necessary steps and a commitment to meeting their requirements, business owners can ensure that their ventures will be legally recognized and remain compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. By following the 8 steps outlined above, business owners can confidently formalize and register their business in Tanzania and begin their journey toward success.