UPDATE: Following a court ruling, businesses no longer require government-issued CIPC certificates to operate during the national lockdown. Instead, businesses may issue their own permits, authorising staff to travel to and from work or while conducting business. Navigate to the section below on how to create employee travel permits for more information.
The process of getting a permit during South Africa’s national lockdown is straightforward and involves minimal red tape.
We offer a step-by-step guide, along with answers to some frequently asked questions about lockdown permits.
Types of lockdown permits
Depending on the current lockdown level in your region, you might require:
- an essential services permit so your business can operate and/or
- an employee travel permit, so you or an employee can travel across provincial boundaries.
Steps for getting an essential services permit
Please note that before you follow the steps below, your business must be registered with the Department of Trade & Industry. You’ll need your business registration number to complete your application.
If your company is not registered with the Department of Trade & Industry, skip ahead to our FAQ section below to find out what you need to do.
Step 1 – determine if you are permitted to operate under the current lockdown level
Before you apply for a permit to operate during the national lockdown, check whether your business is permitted to operate.
It may take a bit of online research to figure out how your business has been categorised.
Some of the categories are less than obvious, or rather vague. For example, architects currently fall under ‘Professional services’ in the category ‘Financial and business services’.
You can’t skip this step, unfortunately. You’ll be asked to submit your business category when you apply for your permit online.
Step 2 – Visit the government business portal
The next step is to head to the Department of Trade & Industry’s business portal. This provides a list of eligible industries, as well as links to the latest relevant lockdown regulations.
Using this page, you can apply for a new permit certificate, edit an existing application or download your permit certificate.
A first-time application you will want to click on the New Application option.
Step 3 – Search for your business
Once you have hit the application button you will be asked to run a search for your business.
This is where you will need to have your business registration number. Either of the two commonly used business registration number formats will work.
Type in the number and hit the search button.
Step 4 – Submit your details
If your business is registered on the website database, your business details will be displayed after the search is completed.
You’ll also be provided with fields requesting more information about you and your business.
- the category your business falls under
- whether or not your business trades under a different name to its registered name
- the number of employees who you will require to conduct work outside their homes during the lockdown
- the ID number for your company’s primary contact person
- the contact person’s first name and surname
- the contact person’s email address
- the contact person’s cellphone number
- the ID number of the registered director of your company.
Please note that it’s a criminal offense to supply incorrect information knowingly.
Once you’ve filled in all of the required fields, click the Continue button.
Step 5 – Download your certificate
Once you click Continue, you’ll be taken to a page informing you that your certificate is being mailed to you.
You will also be provided with your enterprise numbers and a link to the certificate download location.
To download your certificate immediately, click the download link.
This will take you to a page where you’ll be asked to enter your enterprise/company registration numbers.
Employee travel permits
You now have a certificate stating that your business is an essential or permitted business under the current lockdown level.
However, any employee who will be commuting to, and working at, your place of business will require a separate permit.
This permit is not generated by the government. Instead, it’s up to the employer to create this permit, using a template provided by the government.
The template for the permit is available on page 29 of the most recent government gazette for the Disaster Management Act. You can find it here.
The required information on the form is self-explanatory. You’ll need to identify the company’s director and details of the employee who will be using the permit.
You also need to provide a company stamp or logo on the permit.
An employee should print the form and keep it and their personal ID with them when travelling.
Frequently asked questions
What if I don’t have a company registration number?
If you are a sole proprietor and not registered with the Department of Trade & Industry as a company, you can’t apply for essential service certification online.
However, if you fall into an essential or permitted service category, you will still be permitted to operate during the national lockdown.
In this case, you will still need to provide employees with an employee permit if you intend to operate at, and commute to, your place of business.
We cover what you require for this under Employee travel permits above.
What if I made a mistake on my permit?
If you realise you made a mistake on your permit after you have downloaded it or received it by email, don’t panic.
All you need to do is return to the main page on the Department of Trade & Industry’s business portal and choose the Edit Application option.
You will be asked to enter your company registration number, and will then be taken back to the page where you submitted your business details.
You can fix any errors on this page. Before you save the changes you will be asked to confirm the email address used for the initial application.
Once the changes are saved you will be given the option to download your certificate again on the next page.
What should I carry with me when travelling?
When travelling to and from your place of work, it’s essential to carry a copy of your travel permit and your ID. You may also want to print out a copy of your essential or permitted services permit.