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Launching a tech startup of any type can be intimidating or at a minimum, a confusing process for anyone. More so for first-time founders with no prior experience of navigating legal and regulatory compliances mandated by Bahraini laws. 

But you don’t have to worry. We at StartUp Bahrain understand that you have a whole range of other important matters to attend to. That is why we’ve done the slogging for you and compiled the following list of regulations mandated by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism (MOICT) for up-and-coming tech startups. 

Commercial Registration (CR) for tech startups

The commercial registration process for tech startups is pretty much the same as that for any other type of company. You have to visit Sijilat, the MOICT portal set up specifically to enable businesses to obtain their CR and business licenses. 

In order to apply for CR and relevant business licenses you have to meet one of the following two criteria:

  • You must be one of the business partners, or
  • You have to be represented by a registered professional body or a person with a notarized power of attorney and a Bahrain smart card/CPR.

And of course, you will need to get your Advanced eKey to be able to log into the Sijilat portal. For those out of the loop, the eKey is a highly secure system that enables you to access eGovernment services in Bahrain (including Sijilat). 

In case you are yet to obtain your eKey, just head over to your nearest e-government service center and get in touch with a representative. You may have to provide your biometrics (fingerprint) and other important details for security reasons. You can find detailed insights about the eKey on www.ekey.bh

Just in case you are unable to get your eKey for CR, there’s only one alternative and it involves you processing your application via a professional body or a person with a notarized power of attorney.

Once you have the eKey handy, the rest of the process is pretty straightforward.

The process of Registering a new company is performed through two applications respectively (CR without License and Get License):

CR Without License:

  • Submit your online application on Sijilat.bh to receive your Electronic Certificate of Registration (e-CR) from MOICT. The process usually takes one working day. (Please note that the CR issued at this step is a CR without a license)

Get License: 

  • Submit another application through sijilat using Cr No issued at the first step
  • For office or a place of business, you have to seek site approval from the local municipality. For pre-approved sites, the system will auto-approve the application. Overall, this step may take up to three working days.
  • Obtain a business license from the relevant authority. Depending on the business activities you intend to exercise, you may have to seek multiple licenses from multiple authorities.
  • If you’re launching a company, you will also have to obtain a notarize memorandum of association, issued by the notary staff at MOICT.

Data you have to submit

Name and nationality of the applicant: National ID (CPR Number) and/or passport number usually suffice.

Legal form of entity: You have to define the type of business your startup will debut as. Available options include Limited Liability Company (LLC), single-person company (SRC), and Bahraini Shareholding Company (BSC), just to name a few.

Authorized signatories: Authorized signature all stakeholders involved in the process.

Commercial name: Not mandatory.

Type of activity desired: You have to specify the business activity your tech startup intends to perform after obtaining the CR.

Commercial address: Full address with documentary evidence. If you’re a freelancer or a single-person enterprise without an office, consider applying for Virtual CR under the MoICT’s new initiative dubbed Sijili. Speaking of, we’ve published a guide on the steps to get your Sijili in Bahrain, you can find it on our website here. But note that Virtual CRs are for Bahraini Nationals only, and can be actively registered in just one working day as it only needs a residential address, not a business address.

Available activities for tech startups

  • Software publishing 
  • Motion picture, video, and television programs 
  • Sound recording and music publishing 
  • Computer Consultancy and Computer Facilities Management 
  • Computer Programming 
  • Data processing, hosting and related activities 
  • Operations of websites/web portals

There are additional scientific and technology-related activities that a tech startup can apply for. For more information, you might want to get in touch with the MOICT. Alternatively, you can also reach out to us with your queries and feedback using one of our social media channels over at Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, or Like us on Facebook to stay up to date with fresh new content!

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.