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Beneficial Ownership

Beneficial Ownership Submissions

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Beneficial ownership differs from legal ownership in that it refers to individuals who ultimately hold ownership rights, such as dividend receipt or voting rights, despite not being registered shareholders. These individuals may exercise ownership through various entities or intermediaries.

Understanding beneficial ownership is crucial for several reasons:

  • Transparency: Submission of beneficial ownership data allows authorities like the CIPC to verify ownership structures accurately.
  • Compliance: Legal entities adhere to regulations like the Companies Act and anti-money laundering laws by disclosing beneficial ownership.
  • Prevention: Revealing beneficial ownership helps combat illicit activities like money laundering and tax evasion by exposing complex ownership schemes.

The urgency of beneficial ownership submissions increased after South Africa’s placement on the FATF’s “grey list” in February 2023. This mandates improvements in ensuring access to verified beneficial ownership information and enforcing sanctions for non-compliance by legal entities.

The CIPC launched the Beneficial Ownership Register on its e-services platform on 1 April 2023, which allows legal entities to submit their beneficial ownership information and documentation online.


All legal entities are required to submit their beneficial ownership information without delay. Any changes to the beneficial ownership information need to be filed with the CIPC within five days of the changes coming into effect. If there are no changes, an annual update is required to confirm that the beneficial ownership information has not changed. This is to be submitted with the annual return.