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What are those businesses that need a licence to operate?
You need a trading licence if your business has anything to do with the following:
l Making or selling food which can go off.
l Health or entertainment activities such as a business involving sauna, massage, snooker, billiards, slot machines, a night club, disco or showing films.
l Selling of alcohol.
But you need no licence if you make and sell food from your home and also have a hawker's licence.
How do you get a business licence?
To sell alcohol, you must apply to the Liquor Board for a liquor licence.
For other types of business licences one must contact the local council for application forms.
If you are the owner of the business, you must fill in the form and give it to the local council, with a copy of your ID and an application fee.
Different government departments will contact the owner to make an appointment to visit the business.
The following inspectors will visit the business:
l Town planner - to see if the business is in an area that is zoned for business purposes.
l Health inspector - to see that the business follows all the health rules.
l Inspector from the fire department - to see if the business is not a fire hazard.
The inspectors must visit the business within 35 days after the owner has given in the form.
Your local council can give you guidelines of the things inspectors look at. The inspectors will visit the business and tell the council what they have found out about the business.
If the inspectors want the owner to make some changes to the business premises, the owner must apply to the local council for another 14 days.
If the owner does not apply for another 14 days and the work on the premises is not finished by 30 days after giving in the form, the owner will have to apply again and the inspectors will have to come again.
The local council will give the person the licence allowing them to do business.
The council will not give a licence if::
l The place where the owner does business is unsafe or unhygienic.
l The person is not considered suitable to open a business because he or she has a criminal conviction, or has a reputation for cheating people in the community.
You don't have to apply for a new licence every year, but you have to apply for a licence if you move your business to other premises.
Also, if you sell your business, the new owner will have to apply for a licence.
What will happen if I sell food that can go off without a trading licence?
It is a criminal offence to operate such a business without a trading licence.
You could be fined up to R1000 or be given a prison sentence of up to three years for such an offence.
It is also a criminal offence to sell alcohol without a liquor licence.