Dozens of small businesses will no longer need to wait for Civil Defense approval before applying for their commercial licenses, according to new rules announced by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC).
The new measures take effect today and apply to businesses in 55 categories, including beauty salons, car showrooms, cafes, mini-marts, clothing stores and cycle repair shops.
These companies no longer need to get pre-approval from Civil Defense before starting their paperwork to secure their Commercial Registration (CR), a document needed by all businesses before they can legally operate.
Announcing the decision in Arabic, the ministry said on Twitter: “MEC to start a class of 55 licensed businesses without a pre-condition to obtain a certificate from Civil Defense.”
وزارة الاقتصاد والتجارة تبدأ بترخيص 55 فئة من المنشأت التجارية بدون شرط الحصول المسبق على شهادة الدفاع المدني. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/CDwCKxK3Tu
— وزارة التجارة والصناعة (@MOCIQatar) May 16, 2015
According to the Ministry of Interior on Facebook, some businesses should also now be allowed to renew their CRs prior to obtaining Civil Defense approval.
Cutting red tape
The change is being billed by authorities as an “incentive” for entrepreneurs to set up small and medium sized operations, who can now be issued Civil Defense certificates up to 30 days after receiving the CR.
However, shops are still required to obtain the necessary safety approvals before beginning trading, the MEC said as it announced the joint initiative with the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Civil Defense.
Previously, the requirements for start-ups applying for a CR included having a one-year lease for Civil Defense-approved office space as well as QR200,000 (US$54,921) in a bank account.
However, entrepreneurs have complained that the system produces caused unnecessary delays to the launch of their businesses, as waits particularly for Civil Defense sign-offs can be lengthy.
A businessman running a garage in the industrial area was quoted by The Peninsula last year as saying: “The unending wait to get fire and safety licenses is killing our businesses.”
“There are instances where entrepreneurs had to wait 10 months to get a fire safety license. Waiting for such a long time to start a business means that the entrepreneur is losing big money against his establishment cost.”
Fire safety requirements in Qatar were tightened months after the 2012 Villaggio fire, in which 19 people – including 13 children – died.
The MEC said in a statement in Arabic that the new rules applied to businesses in premises of no more than 250 sq meters and aimed to “reduce the length of time to extract and renew business licenses.”
The categories of operations which the waiver applies to include: confectionary and flower stores, telecom services, calligraphers and painters, beauty salons, lawyers’ offices, travel agents, trade events, car showrooms, massage parlors, tailors, internet cafes, electricians, laundries, jewelers, cycle repair shops, supermarkets, grocery stores, tobacconists, clothing stores and opticians.
A full list is published in Arabic on the MEC’s website.
As businesses still need to get sign-off from Civil Defense before they are legally allowed to start trading, it is not clear how the new regulations would actually ease the burden on entrepreneurs.
Over the past few years, Qatar has been stepping up efforts to encourage more people to set up their own businesses and reduce the dependency on the public sector for providing jobs.
A survey conducted last year by Ooredoo found that youth in Qatar had some of the highest entrepreneurial ambitions among their GCC peers, but that regulatory requirements were stifling their enthusiasm.
Previously, experts have called for fewer regulations to help more small businesses get off the ground.
Speaking at Global Entrepreneurship Week last year, Thomas Emerson, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, said the country needs to “lower the barriers” to starting a new business.
He specifically suggested streamlining the business application process, which he described as one of the “barriers to business creation.”
and let the fires show start all over again , very smart
A small tailor or a beauty saloon catching fire is very unlikely. And most importantly, they will always be required to install all the safety equipment and follow the procedures.
its not the type of the shop what starts the fires , its usually electricity / human faults.
I’m sure you are right … but I don’t think Civil Defence have a great record in this area do they? Village had/still has? significant violations … despite being signed off. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
yup, many small fires in the past in markets & small shops.Villagio on the other hand im not sure if they still have issues with CiviL Defence
They will have if Gympanzee was found to be operating contrary to it’s license, because Civil Defence inspections are carried out to ensure that the safety and security measures are in accordance with it’s license, and they will therefore be complicit in the failure if they failed to check the documentation against the operation.
They couldn’t be complicit, because if they were found to be complicit then the facts / records / evidence (such as might ever be made available to the public) would be changed to ensure that they in fact not complicit. Simples!
Many fires in Doha are caused by the cheapest of the cheap electrical fittings and fixtures that are used everywhere. Safety equipment is often inadequate and the staff have no clue how to use it. Arson committed by staff (for example someone who wants to go home but is not issued an exit permit) also could be a factor.
Reduction in the barriers to entry for establishing a business in Qatar is great news. However, just to clarify, when you refer to Commercial Registration, it is the Trade License (Municipality License) that can now be issued, in some cases, prior to obtaining the Civil Defense approval, not the Commercial Registration.
Overall, this will have a great impact on the speed in which companies can establish and begin trading and generate income. In addition, will speed up the process to obtain the Computer Card, which is now required to release the Share Capital deposited. Liam, Company Establishment Expert, Qatar.
Hi Liam – just to clarify; the MEC’s announcement requires that even if the Trade License is issued under this exemption the applicant must acquire the Civil Defense’s approval within 30 days, but more importantly, may not commence any commercial operations till such acquisition. Mahmoud Abuwasel, Project Lawyer, Qatar.
Hi Mahmoud Abuwasel, agreed. However, hopefully (To be confirmed), the benefit is that companies can continue with the establishment process of getting the Computer Card, Labour Quota and visas to hire staff, train them etc. in parallel with (rather than after) waiting for Civil Defense Approval.
Hi Liam – that seems to be the motive here. Otherwise it would be a redundant policy. In any case, thanks for replying.
Well whatever but sudden and surprise inspections are the need of the hour especially now as the summer season is starting. Safety measures are paramount for the safety of the workers and the business itself