Botswana

General Information Entry and Exit Requirements
Banking Intellectual Property
Business Etiquette Tips Legal and Registration of a Business Entity
Embassy Locations and Registration Safety and Crime
Employment-Legal Requirements Taxes

General Information

BotswanaLocated in southern Africa, Botswana boasts the largest inland delta in the world and dedicates 40 percent of its land to national parks and game reserves.  Botswana has experienced a stable democratic government and a growing economy since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. The openness of the country's political system is considered a significant factor in its stability and economic growth. General elections are held every five years. Four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most dynamic economies in Africa and the fastest growth in per capita income in the world. Botswana's impressive economic record has been built in part by curtailing corruption, wisely using revenue generated from diamond mining to fuel economic development, prudent fiscal policies, and a cautious foreign policy.

There may be political unrest and/or targeted crime against visitors to the country.  Travelers should check with the U.S. State Department Web site for current travel safety information.

Major Cities Capital:  Gaborone
Major cities:  Francistown, Selebi-Phikwe, Molepolole, Kanye, Serowe, Mahalapye, Lobatse, Maun, and Mochudi
Official Currency Botswana pula (BWP)
Time Zone Standard Time UTC + 2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time)
Language English (official), Setswana, and Ikalanga

Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

The Botswanan legal system is based upon Roman-Dutch law and local customary law. There is judicial review limited to matters of interpretation, and it accepts compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction, with reservations.

Form of Government

Republic, parliamentary democracy

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Banking

Botswana's banking sector consists of a central bank (Bank of Botswana), five commercial banks (Barclays Bank Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, First National Bank Botswana, Bank of Baroda Botswana Ltd., and Stanbic Bank Botswana), and a growing number of investment and corporate finance institutions. All are geared toward financing for existing and new businesses.

Available Banking Services

ATM transactions
Cell phone banking
Banking in English

Opening a Bank Account

You will need evidence of identity, such as a driving license, ID card, or a valid passport along with a copy of your pay slip or letter from your employer. 

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day
Good Friday
Easter Monday
Labor Day
Ascension Day 
Sir Seretse Kharma Day   
President's Day   
Botswana Day 
Christmas Day                                     

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

The following banks have correspondent relationships with U.S. banks:

Barclays Bank of Botswana Ltd.
Gaborone Station
P.O. Box 50696
Gaborone
Web:  http://www.barclays.com/africa/botswana/

First National Bank of Botswana Ltd.
Gaborone Main
Plot 8844
P.O. Box 1552
Gaborone
Phone:  267 3974370
Fax:  267 3974369
E-mail: main@fnbbotswana.co.bw
Web:   https://www.fnbbotswana.co.bw/

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana Ltd.
Principal Office-Principal office
5th Floor Standard House, 
P.O. Box 496, Queens Road,
The Mall,
Gaborone, Botswana
Phone:  267 3601500
Fax: + 267 3918299
Web:   http://www.standardchartered.com/bw/ 

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Business Etiquette Tips

Botswana is economically connected to South Africa, and it is a member of the Southern African Customs Union. As such, it shares common business and social practices. The tips listed herein also apply to business practices in South Africa.

Business Attire

For an initial meeting it is best to dress conservatively. For men this traditionally means dark-colored conservative business suits, and for women, elegant business suits or dresses. Business attire is becoming more informal in many companies, however, and in subsequent meetings dress may be less formal.

Business Negotiations

Establishing mutual trust prior to negotiating is standard practice. The ultimate objectives of business negotiations are to strive for consensus. Excessive haggling should be avoided, and contracts should include delivery dates. Decision making is done by top officials and often only after consultation with subordinates, which can slow the process.

Proper Greetings

When dealing with foreigners, most Botswanans shake hands while maintaining eye contact and smiling. Some women do not shake hands and merely nod their head, so it is best to wait for a woman to extend her hand. Greetings are leisurely and include time for social discussion and exchanging pleasantries.

Public and Social Behavior

Most people in Botswana follow their traditional pattern of life, so visitors should be sensitive to customs that will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Outside urban areas and safari destinations, people may not be used to visitors.

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Embassy Locations and Registration

Americans living or traveling in Botswana are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Botswana. Americans without internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration makes it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact travelers in emergency situations.

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Embassy of the Republic of Botswana
1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202.244.4990
Fax: 202.244.4164
Web: http://www.botswanaembassy.org/

U.S. Embassy in Botswana
Physical address:
Embassy Drive
Government Enclave
Gaborone, Botswana

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 90
Gaborone, Botswana
Phone: +267-395-3982, after-hours: +267-395-7111
Fax:    +267-318-0232
Web:   http://botswana.usembassy.gov/

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Employment-Legal Requirements

Written employment contracts are required for both short- and long-term employment.  Botswana employment law will recognize implied and/or oral contracts, but the preference is for all employment contracts to be in writing.

Terminating Employees and Employee Contracts

An employer may terminate an employment contract during the probationary period without recourse. Following that period, termination must be with just cause to avoid severance payment. Severance payments are determined based upon length of service with a company as determined by the nearest labor office.

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Annual Vacation Leave 15 days per year (1.25 days earned per month)
Sick Leave 14 days per year
Holidays 11 days (some with moveable dates)
Maternity Leave 6 to 8 weeks (payment of not less than 25 percent and up to 100 percent of regular pay)

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Entry and Exit Requirements

A passport with at least six months of validity remaining is required, though U.S. citizens are permitted stays of up to 90 days without a visa. Longer visits require a visa and a copy of travelers' checks or a letter from the employer. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the embassy. 

As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from the passport. Visitors to Botswana who also intend to visit South Africa should ensure that at least two blank (unstamped) visa pages remain in their passports for each entry into South Africa to avoid potential refusal of entry.

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Intellectual Property

Nonresidents wishing to apply for patents, trademarks, or copyrights to protect their intellectual property must apply through local attorneys as the registrar will only communicate with them via their attorneys.

Botswana is a member of the following international organizations: World Intellectual Property Organization, African Regional Industrial Property Organization for English-speaking Africa, African Intellectual Property Organization for French-speaking Africa, and the World Trade Organization's Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement.

Nature of Rights and Available Protection

Patents (including utility and design patents)

Patent protection is available for all inventions that are new, industrially applicable, and involve an inventive step, except for inventions that are contrary to public order or morality. The maximum term for a standard patent is 20 years from the date of filing (subject to the payment of annual maintenance fees). Payment of maintenance fees is mandatory to enforce patentable rights. 

Design Patents

Design patents are protected for an initial five-year term that can be renewed for two additional five-year terms.

Utility Patents

Utility patents are protected for a seven-year maximum duration from the date of filing.

Trademarks

Trademark protection is determined on a purely national basis. Marks may not be registered if they are incapable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise or business from those of another; contrary to public order or morality; likely to mislead the public or trade circles; and identical or confusingly similar to or a translation of a mark or trade name which is well known in Botswana for identical or similar goods or services of another enterprise. The initial duration of a trademark is 10 years from the date of application and can be renewed for additional 10-year periods.

Copyrights

The Copyright Protection Act protects original literary and artistic works such as books, speeches, poems, musical works, audio-visual works, architectural works, computer programs, and neighboring rights. Copyright protection of a work is for the life of the author plus an additional 50 years following his or her death.

Copyright protection does not extend to ideas, procedures, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, discoveries, or mere data even if it is expressed, described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in a work. Nor can official texts of a legislative, administrative, or legal nature (or their official translations) be protected.

Enforcement

Civil remedies are available for the protection of intellectual property that has been properly registered. The courts are given powers to grant injunctions to prohibit committing or continued committal of infringement. Under the act, authorities can order the impounding of copies of suspected pirated imported copies of works or sound recordings and order destruction or any reasonable disposal of the infringing copies. The act also provides a deterrent through criminal sanctions on infringers and provides for customs officials to enforce their powers against any goods imported into the country that are in contravention with the act.

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Legal and Registration of a Business Entity

The private company is the most common vehicle for operating a business in Botswana. It must have a minimum of two members and one director, who must be a resident of Botswana. A subsidiary of a foreign company is regarded as a Botswana company. The legal liability of the parent company is limited to the amount of capital committed (together with any guarantees provided). A branch of a foreign company is regarded as an "external company" if it establishes a place of business or owns immovable property in Botswana, and it only needs to register for tax purposes. 

A branch is required to have an annual audit. Both a Botswana company and a branch operation are subject to the provisions of the Companies Act.  A branch is also obliged to lodge a certified copy of its Memorandum and Articles of Association (or other instrument defining its constitution) with the Registrar of Companies, as well as a sworn translation into English where appropriate.

Below are additional resources that may assist in establishing an office.

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

The World Bank estimates that registering a new business in Botswana can take a little over two months and consists of 10 individual steps from the initial registration of the company name to the final step of registering employees for work injury insurance. 

But a more abbreviated method may be available to establish a foreign company in Botswana. To access this information from the homepage of Botswana's Ministry of Trade and Industry, select the headings for Registration of Companies (ROC) and then choose foreign company registration.

There are two processes listed. The first is to complete the Application for Registration and Continuation of a Foreign Company in Botswana (known as Form 21) and obtain a Certificate of Registration of a Foreign Company from the ROC. The approximate timeframe listed is 10 working days and requires payment of a registration fee.

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Safety and Crime

Civil unrest and disorder are rare, but all travelers are advised to be alert and maintain adequate security awareness. For the latest security information regular monitoring of the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' Web site for current travel warnings and travel alerts is recommended.

Criminal activity is similar to that of any large urban area and includes muggings, crimes of opportunity, "smash and grabs" from vehicles, and cell phone thefts, some at knife point. Urban areas can be particularly dangerous at night, and pedestrians are advised to avoid walking in Gaborone and other urban areas in Botswana at night. Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should be aware that baggage theft is a serious problem at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports. Travelers are encouraged to use an airport plastic wrapping service and to avoid placing electronics, jewelry, cameras, designer athletic gear, or other valuables in checked luggage. Also, make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.

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Taxes

To date, no income tax treaty exists between Botswana and the United States, though Botswana has concluded treaties with 10 other countries. If you are a citizen of another country, further research is required to determine whether there is a tax treaty in place. The tax year runs from July 1st to June 30th, though a company may choose any day as its financial year-end. Only income arising in Botswana is liable to Botswana tax. 

Individual and Employee Taxation

Determining Tax Residence

All individuals, resident or nonresident, are liable for Botswana tax only on Botswana-sourced income. Residence status is still important because nonresidents are subject to tax at different rates.  An individual is a resident for tax purposes if he or she is physically present in Botswana for 183 days or more, in aggregate, in any tax year or maintains a permanent place of residence in Botswana and is present in Botswana for no less than 183 days including temporary absence for business, recreation, or similar purpose.

Exemptions

Expatriate employees on contract terms are entitled to free passage to and from their home country for themselves and immediate family members; and a tax-free gratuity that increases with the number of years on the contract.

Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations

A pay-as-you-earn system is assessed on all income paid in cash. Tax on noncash benefits are payable upon assessment.

A corporation is considered resident if it is incorporated in Botswana or managed in Botswana. Nonresident entities carrying on business in Botswana (e.g., branches of foreign companies) are liable for tax in Botswana on the same basis as resident companies, except that foreign branches are subject only to tax at a single rate. There is no further tax on the remittance of branch profits to a foreign head office.  Nonresident companies should retain copies of all accounting records regarding Botswana income, and they must make such records available in Botswana if requested.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is levied on all consumables and goods at the point of import and upon manufactured articles at the time of first sale. All essential food stuffs, books, medicine, machinery for industries, and building materials are exempt. Professional services are liable for sales tax on the gross fees. Gross fees include disbursements other than those that have already been assessed sales tax.

Value-Added Tax

A value-added tax (VAT) is charged on the supply of goods or services made by a vendor in the course of doing business and on the importation of goods or services by any person. Goods and services that are exempt from VAT include certain financial and educational services, rent from residential accommodations, and certain medical services. A zero rate applies to exports, the international transport of passengers or goods, and various services rendered directly to nonresidents that are not registered for Botswana VAT purposes.

All corporate taxpayers with annual turnover of a certain amount must register for VAT and submit a return in respect of each tax period within 25 days after the end of the relevant tax period, which generally covers calendar month.

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Online Resources Used for This Template

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