Ghana

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

GhanaOn March 6, 2007, Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence. Known at one time as the Gold Coast, Ghana is the first African nation to win its struggle for independence from colonial rule under the Portuguese, Dutch, and English. Visitors to the country will find a rich mixture of modern, colonial, and African architecture throughout the main towns and within the capital of Accra.  Ghana boasts a high level of education among its population, where English is spoken as the main language, and education is compulsory through secondary school. Ghana has extensive tourism facilities throughout its capital and main towns, though these are somewhat limited in the remote areas of the country.

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: Accra
Major cities:  Kumasi, Tema, and Sekondi-Takoradi
Official Currency new cedi (GHS).
Time Zone UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time)
Language English (official), Akan (49 percent), Mole-Dagbani (16 percent), Ewe (13 percent), Ga-Adangbe (8 percent), Guan (4 percent), and others (10 percent)

 

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Legal System and Government

Type of Legal System

The Ghanan legal system is based upon English common law and customary law. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.

Form of Government

Democracy

Banking

Available Banking Services

ATMs
Banking in English
Online banking
Overdraft protection

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day
Independence Day
Good Friday
Easter Monday
Labor Day/May Day
Africa Day
End of Ramadan
National Farmer's Day
Eid ul Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Christmas Day
Boxing Day

U.S. and Other Major Banks in Country

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

Barclays Bank of Ghana Ltd.
P.O. Box 2949
Accra, Ghana
Phone: +233-21-664901-5/664506
Fax: +233-21-667420

Standard Chartered Bank Ltd.
P.O. Box 768
Accra, Ghana
Phone: +233-21-664590-9
Fax: +233-21-667751

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Business Etiquette Tips

Business Attire

Business attire in Ghana includes suits for formal meetings or lightweight suits and cotton dresses for less formal affairs. In parts of northern Ghana, there is a heavy Muslim population, so conservative dress is highly recommended for both men and women in these regions. 

Business Negotiations

Extra time should be factored in to permit the establishment of personal relationships prior to beginning business negotiations. Meetings may be very formal and typically start with full introductions, beginning with the most senior members down to the youngest.

Proper Greetings

When entering and leaving a room or small event, greet everyone present with a handshake (using your right hand) and a smile starting with the most elderly and including children. 

Public and Social Behavior

The left hand is considered unclean. Do not use it to give or receive items, point at things, or to eat. When sitting among those of senior authority, avoid sitting with your legs crossed. If invited to someone's home a gift of Schnapps or gin is appreciated. 

Scheduling Appointments

 Appointments are customary, and punctuality is important.  The best time for business visits is from September to April.

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Embassy Locations and Registration 

Americans living or traveling in Ghana 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 Ghana. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

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

Ghanian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
3512 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone:  202.686.4520 to 4526
Fax:    202.686.4527
Web:   http://www.ghanaembassy.org

U.S. Embassy in Ghana
No. 24 Fourth Circular Road
Cantonments, Accra
Phone: +233-21-741-000
E-mail: http://ghana.usembassy.gov/

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Employment-Legal Requirements

Any employee working six months or more within a 12-month period must receive a contract of employment that spells out the terms of employment and payment, as this now constitutes permanent employment. A standard work week consists of 40 hours broken into a five-day work week, eight hours per day, with reasonable overtime permitted during seasonal production increases.

Terminating Employees

Termination of an employment contract must be with just cause that is similar in scope to employment rules within the United States, with the exception that an employee can be found to be medically unfit for employment. In cases of termination, if an individual is employed by a foreign company, the company is responsible for payment of the employee's and their family's travel arrangements (if required) back to their home state.

Contracts of three years or more require either a one-month notice or payment in lieu of notice, and contracts of less than three years require either a two-week notice or payment in lieu of notice. Week-to-week contracts of employment require a one-week (seven days) notice or payment in lieu of notice.

Employers planning mass layoffs or redundancies of large numbers of employees must first notify the Chief Labor Officer and trade union concerned a minimum of three months in advance of the action. But termination of employees under short-term employment contracts, casual employees, or those under probation are exempt from the above.

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Annual Vacation Leave 15 days
Sick Leave Permitted (# of days not specified)
Holidays 11 days (not including Eid al Adha)
Maternity Leave 12 to 14 weeks (and an additional nursing break of 1 hour per day upon return)

 

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Entry and Exit Requirements

All visitors to Ghana must possess valid passports issued by their home governments except nationals of any member country of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who may produce travel certificates in lieu of passports. All non-ECOWAS citizens must also possess a visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination before entry will be permitted. Be certain to request a multiple-entry application form with a maximum validity up to 365 days. 

Visitors can purchase single entry visas good for one month or long-term entry visas valid for up to 365 days. The typical processing time is two to five days, though it is recommended that travelers submit their applications a minimum of two to four weeks in advance of anticipated travel.

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Intellectual Property 

An invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step, and is industrially applicable. An invention is new if it is not anticipated by prior art. For the purposes of law, "invention" means a solution to a specific problem in the field of technology or may be or may relate to a product or a process. 

Further information can also be found at:

Ministry of Culture-Copyright Office
Greater Accra Regional Administration Compound
(adjacent to Teacher's Hall) off Barnes Road
Accra, Ghana
Phone: (233 21) 22 91 90
E-mail: copyrigt@ghana.com

Ministry of Justice
Registrar General's Department
P.O. Box 118
Accra, Ghana
Phone: +233 21 666 081 / +233 21 666 469
Fax:    +233 21 662 043 / +233 21 666 081
E-mail: regengh@ncs.com.gh

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

Nature of Rights and Available Protection

Patents

The current term of protection for a patent expires at the end of the 10th year after the date of the filing of the application. Upon payment of additional fees within the prescribed time frame of not less than one month and no more than 12 months before the patent's expiration date, this term may be extended for an additional five years. To maintain patent rights maintenance fees are due annually, beginning two years after the initial date of filing. This differs from many countries where maintenance fees are due at prescribed periods two or three times during the lifetime of the patent. 

Enforcement

The right to a patent shall belong to the inventor. If two or more persons have jointly made an invention, the right to the patent shall belong to them jointly. Any intentional infringement of a patent or utility certificate shall constitute an offence punishable by a fine of not more than 2 million GHS or by imprisonment of not more than two years or both.

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Legal and Registration of a Busines Entity 

Foreign companies that establish a place of business in Ghana are required to deliver a certified copy of their corporate charter, corporate statutes and regulations, and the company's memorandum and articles or other instrument to the Registrar's Office within one month of establishing an office in the country. 

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

Although the World Bank estimates the length of time to establish a business in Ghana at two to three weeks, the recent addition of online business registration is expected to reduce this number significantly to approximately five days, with a decrease in filing fees also anticipated. For the most up-to-date information on this process, visit Ghana's Registrar General's Office or the Ghana Investment Promotion Center.

The standard steps listed by the World Bank as requirements to establish a business presence in Ghana are provided here in a simplified version:

  1. Check for availability of company name and submitt company documents to obtain a incorporation certificate.
  2. A Commissioner of Oaths authenticates forms required for the certificate to commence business.
  3. Obtain from the Registrar-General's Department the certificate to commence business.
  4.  Deposit paid-in capital in an account.
  5. Apply for business licenses at the Metropolitan Authority.
  6.  Inspection of work premises by the Metropolitan Authority.
  7. Apply for social security.

For more detail please visit the World Bank.

(Source:  The World Bank, Doing Business - Ghana)

Below is an additional listing of resources to assist in establishing an office or hiring employees.

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Safety and Crime

Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Pickpocketing and purse-snatching are the most common forms of crime confronting visitors. Typically violent crime is rare, but the last year has seen an increase, including reports of armed robberies in expatriate residential areas. Victims who resist attackers run a high risk of serious physical injury.

Take security measures such as traveling in groups and avoiding travel at night. Avoid travel in communal taxis. Travelers who limit their display of jewelry and handle their cash discreetly reduce their vulnerability to crime. Travelers are advised to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents.

Use of credit cards in Ghana should be avoided if possible since a growing number of travelers have been victims of credit card fraud. In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported substantial financial losses from questionable transactions in a variety of areas and business dealings. Due diligence is highly recommended prior to entering into any business dealings.

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Taxes

The tax year in Ghana follows the calendar year (January 1st to December 31st).  In some instances, companies are allowed to choose their own accounting year. But it is best to receive approval prior to doing so. Ghana does not currently have a tax treaty with the United States.

Individual and Employee Taxation

Determining Tax Residence

Tax residency is assumed if an individual is a citizen of Ghana and does not maintain a permanent home outside Ghana from January 1st to December 31st in any calendar year; is present in Ghana for 183 days in a 12-month period; or is already considered a citizen but is temporarily absent from Ghana for a period not exceeding 365 continuous days where that citizen has a permanent home in Ghana. All other individuals are considered nonresidents.  The income tax applicable to resident individuals is based upon income, whereas the tax for non-residents is flat.

Employee Taxes

Individual contribution to the Social Security Scheme is income tax exempt. In general, standard benefits are not taxable if the benefit is available to all employees. This includes reimbursement of medical and dental cost or health insurance expenses.

Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations 

Nonresident companies are taxed only on Ghana-sourced income. The standard forms of business registration in Ghana are the limited liability company, company limited by guarantee, unlimited company, branch of a foreign company, partnership, and sole proprietorship.

Foreign companies typically establish a branch to avoid triggering a corporate residence status, where any company incorporated under Ghanaian laws or whose management and control are exercised in Ghana, at any time during the year, shall be deemed to be resident. Resident companies are taxed on worldwide income. 

Social security contributions: The individual employee contributes a portion of his or her salary, and the employer also contributes a larger portion of the employee's basic salary to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) contributions: The tax is deducted at source on salaries and wages earned by the employee. It also applies to taxable benefits. The employer deducts the tax and pays it to the Ghana revenue authority by the 15th day of the month following the month in which the deduction was made.

Corporate tax responsibilities: A company is resident for tax purposes if that company is incorporated under the laws of Ghana or has its management and control exercised in Ghana at any time during the year. There is an exemption from taxes of imports into free zone areas on profits for a 10-year period. 

Value-added tax (VAT): The VAT rate is imposed on the supply of goods or services in Ghana and on the import of goods or services.

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Online Resources Used for This Template

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