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This is of course not the only factor, but Bahrain’s rise to the top of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem was made far easier by the government’s relentless efforts to ensure that every stakeholder gets a conducive environment for running a business. Sijili is a textbook example of that. 

You have probably already heard a lot about this milestone initiative. StartupBahrain has itself covered it several times in the recent past

Today, we’re going to compile all of that info (and more) into one single article to give you a complete overview of everything you need to know about Sijili.

What is Sijili and who is it for?

Simply put, Sijili a type of Virtual Commercial Registration (CR) that empowers individuals to practice a wide range of business-related activities without having to register an office. 

Ministry of Industry, Commerce & Tourism (MOICT) initiated Sijili a special provision for small individual entrepreneurs to gain the same legal status and flexibility of a conventional business. Basically, what it means is that even if you are a stay-home-mom with your own freelance writing business, you can register your home-office is a legit business.

Of course, you have to meet a few criteria first, more on that in the follow-up section

Overall, a Virtual CR under Sijili is a perfect choice for individual entrepreneurs such as freelancers, consultants, photographers, and such. 

Eligibility criteria for obtaining your Virtual CR

You are eligible for a Virtual CR only if:

  • You are a Bahraini national.
  • You are able to furnish a permanent mailing address.
  • You are the sole proprietor of the business.
  • You are not the sole proprietor of a single-person company. 
  • You are not a director or member of any other business.

As a side note, you can own shares of another company so long as you don’t serve it as a manager or director.

How to obtain your Virtual CR

It’s an easy two-step process. All you need to have is your eKey. If you don’t already have an eKey handy, just head over to your nearest Central Informatics Organization office in Manama or Isa Town, Muharraq

Make sure to bring along your Central Population Registry (CPR) and keep in mind that you will probably require having your fingerprints scanned for the log-in details.

Once you’re done with the first step, visit the Sijilat website, log-in using your eKey, and apply for the Virtual CR. 

Here, you will have to furnish important personal details, a commercial name, as well as the business activities you will be performing. Note that you could opt for more than one activity. 

If you opt for more than one activity, chances are there that your application will be screened by multiple government agencies in addition to the mandatory screening by the MOICT. In any case, the approval process doesn’t usually take more than 1-3 business days.

What you can and can’t do with a Virtual CR

Once you obtain your Virtual CR, you are allowed to do the following as a legit business approved by the MOICT.

  • You can indulge in all approved commercial activities without having to register an office or place for business.
  • You can pick one or more business activities ranging from software publishing and computer programming to performing arts/drama school and repair of footwear and leather goods (and anything in between). More on that later.
  • You can have yourself listed as a legal business entity.
  • You can tie-up with any organization that requires a CR for collaborations.
  • You may choose to be a part of other organizations as a shareholder.

However, given that a Virtual CR is not a full-fledged Commercial Registration, there are obviously a few restrictions in place, including:

  • You can’t bring in foreign nationals to Bahrain as employees.
    You can neither be the owner of a sole proprietorship or single-person company nor a director or member of any business.
  • You can not perform any business activities outside the purview of Sijili.

On that note, let’s quickly walk you through the list of business activities allowed under Sijili.

List of 39 activities you can do with Virtual CR in Bahrain

For your convenience, we have also listed the names of all the appropriate licensing authorities related to each activity:

  1. Computer consultancy and computer facilities management activities (MOICT) 
  2. Computer programming activities (MOICT) 
  3. Data processing, hosting and related activities (MOICT) 
  4. Operation of websites web portals (MOICT) 
  5. Software publishing (MOICT) 
  6. Management consultancy (MOICT) 
  7. Public relations (MOICT & MIA, Publication and Press Directorate)
  8. Fashion design (MOICT) 
  9. Interior design decoration (MOICT) 
  10. Graphic design (MOICT) 
  11. Photographic activities (MOICT) 
  12. Translation and interpretation (MOICT & MIA – Publication and Press Directorate) 
  13. Jewelry design (MOICT) 
  14. Other specialized design activities (MOICT)
  15. Motion picture, video, and television program activities (MOICT & MIA – Publication and Press Directorate) 
  16. Sound recording and music publishing activities (MOICT & MIA, Publication and Press Directorate) 
  17. Sports instruction — baseball, basketball, cricket, football, swimming or any sports instruction activity not specified elsewhere (MOICT) 
  18. Horse riding Instruction (MOICT) 
  19. Martial art Instruction (MOICT) 
  20. Fitness / Yoga instruction (MOICT) 
  21. Design of training programs (MOICT) 
  22. Performing arts/drama school (MOICT) 
  23. Other education (MOICT)
  24. Production of live theatrical performances and other stage productions (MOICT, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority) 
  25. Activities of sculptors, painters, cartoonists, etc. (MOICT) 
  26. Activities of producers or promoters of sports events (MOICT)
  27. Personal event planners (MOICT) 
  28. Repair of footwear and leather goods (MOICT, The Supreme Council for Environment (only for notification)) 
  29. Repair of other personal and household goods (MOICT)
  30. Ironing of textile and fur products (MOICT) 
  31. Washing and (dry) cleaning of textile and fur products (MOICT)
  32. Packaging activities – Packaging of food (MOICT & MOH, Public Health Directorate for health certificate) 
  33. Other business support services (MOICT) 
  34. Landscape care and maintenance service activities (MOICT) 
  35. Packaging activities – packaging of cosmetics or herbs (MOICT & MOH, Public Health Directorate for health certificate)
  36. Manufacture of other metal products (MOICT) 
  37. Apparel tailoring activities (MOICT) 
  38. Manufacture of textiles (MOICT) 
  39. Sale / Trade of souvenirs, craftwork, religious articles, stamps, coins, activities of commercial art galleries (MOICT)

If you’re looking for any additional information, Sijilat’s dedicated help desk is always available to help you out on the helpline: 80008001.

You may also direct your questions to your friends over here at StartUp Bahrain using any of our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Jenan Al-Mukharriq

Jenan Al-Mukharriq

A highly driven organizing member of the StartUp Bahrain ecosystem. And a Project Manager at Matter In Hand with a passion for content creation and empowering communities.