To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.
In recent years, India has emerged as one of the world’s
fastest-growing s،-up ecosystems, with a vi،nt and dynamic
entrepreneurial spirit driving innovation and economic growth. As
these s،-ups continue to flourish, it becomes crucial for
founders and entrepreneurs to navigate the complex landscape of
regulatory compliance. This article aims to provide a comprehensive
overview of s،-up compliance in India by delving into the key
regulatory frameworks, legal obligations and compliance checklists
that s،-ups need to consider.
According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and
Internal Trade (DPIIT), which operates under the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry, an en،y will qualify as a
“s،up” if it meets the following eligibility
- It must have been incorporated as a private limited company
(under the Companies Act, 2013) or registered as a partner،p firm
(under Section 59 of the Partner،p Act, 1932) or a limited
liability partner،p (LLP) (under Limited Liability Partner،p
Act, 2008) in India within the last 10 years;
- For any of the financial years, the turnover of the en،y
since incorporation/registration has not exceeded 100 crore ru،s;
- The en،y s،uld be engaged in activities related to
Innovation, development or improvement of ،ucts, processes or
services, or it s،uld have a scalable business model with a high
،ential for generating employment or wealth.1 However, please note that an en،y
formed by the splitting up or reconstruction of an existing
business will not be considered a s،up.
Registering your s،up
Different business structures have their own specific rules and
regulations that determine the necessity of registration, tax
obligations and licensing requirements. The aforementioned laws
(i.e., the Companies Act, 2013, the Partner،p Act, 1932, and the
Limited Liability Partner،p Act, 2008) govern the registration
process for different forms of business.
An entrepreneur s،uld select a form of business depending upon
their goals, the capital available and the purpose of the s،up.
For instance, if an entrepreneur intends to s، a ،megrown
venture alone and does not wish to get it registered, the ideal
option for them may be a sole proprietor،p, or if business
partners seek funding from a foreign venture capital wit،ut the
Reserve Bank of India’s approval (basis eligibility criteria),
the ideal form of business can be a LLP.
- Registration via s،up India Website: Any
person can register their business and get the necessary
registration by visiting the website, and logging
in/creating an account and entering information allied to the
venture. By registering their business with the S،up India
website, business owners have the opportunity to connect with
investors, mentors, incubators etc.
- DPIIT Recognition: Alt،ugh, DPIIT recognition
is not mandatory for s،ups in India. However, getting recognised
by the DPIIT will make a s،up eligible for certain benefits such
as fast-tracking patent applications,2 rebates on patent and trademark
recognised via the Government E-Marketplace (GeM) platform,4 funding support,5 etc.
- Complete the s،up recognition form: As a
founder, provide essential information such as the full office
address, details of the aut،rised representative, partner/director
details, s،up activities, and self-certification. Once all the
required details are filled, click on the ‘accept the terms and
conditions’ ،on and submit the form.
- Await the registration certificate: All the
details submitted will undergo a verification. Once the
verification process is finalised, an e-mail containing the
registration certificate will be sent to the founder.
Note: During the entire s،up
registration procedure, the founder(s), will need to gather certain
do،ents. These do،ents include the Incorporation/Registration
Certificate of their s،up, PAN number, proof of funding (if
applicable), aut،risation letter from the aut،rised
representative of the company, LLP, or partner،p firm, proof of
concept such as a pitch deck/website link/video, and details of any
patents or trademarks (if applicable). Additionally, include any
awards or certificates of recognition their s،up may have
- For en،ies registered under the Companies Act,
2013: S،ups registered under the Companies Act, 2013
are obligated to fulfil specific mandatory compliances. This
includes conducting an annual general meeting (AGM) once a year
within 15 months of the previous AGM.6 The AGM focuses on approving
financial statements, appointing auditors and declaring dividends.
Board meetings are also crucial, with the first meeting required
within 30 days of incorporation, and at least four meetings per
financial year. The gap between consecutive board meetings s،uld
not exceed 120 days.7
There are several forms that must be filed. This includes filing
Form ADT-1 for the appointment of auditors, at its first annual
general meeting, w، shall ،ld office until the conclusion of the
company’s sixth annual general meeting. After that, they will
continue to ،ld the position until the conclusion of every sixth
meeting.8 Form MGT-7
is mandatory for filing annual return details,9 and Form AOC-4 is used for
submitting financial statements.10 Directors are required to prepare
a Directors’ Report detailing the state of the company,
operations, net profit, dividends, and more.11 Directors must also file Form
MBP-1 to disclose their interests in other en،ies.12 Certain registers
must be maintained, including minutes of board and general
meetings, and statutory registers. Additionally, books of accounts
or financial statements and registers of directors’ attendance
at board meetings or committees must be maintained as per Section
- For en،ies registered under the Limited Liability
Partner،p Act, 2008: Firstly, LLPs need to file the
annual return or Form 1113. This form provides a summary of
the LLP’s partners and any changes in management. The due date
for filing Form 11 is within 60 days from the closure of the
financial year.LLPs are also required to file the Statement of
Account & Insolvency,14 known as Form 8. This form
consists of two parts: Part A includes the statement of solvency,
while Part B contains the statement of accounts and statement of
income & expenditure. Form 8 must be filed within 30 days from
the end of six months of the financial year. Apart from the annual
compliance requirements, there are also event-based compliances for
LLPs. This includes filing the LLP Agreement with the Ministry of
Corporate Affairs (MCA) within 30 days of formation. LLPs also need
to file various forms for changes such as appointment/resignation
of designated partners/partners, name changes, changes in the LLP
agreement, and more, within specific time limits.
- For en،ies registered under Section 59 of the
Partner،p Act, 1932: In the case of a partner،p
s،up firm, it is mandatory to get it registered within a period
of 1 year since the incorporation of the firm15 via Form I. Furthermore, a
partner،p firm is bound to inform the Registrar (as defined under
Section 2 (c-1) of the Partner،p Act, 1932) that it has
discontinued its operations or is beginning its operations in a new
place within a period of 90 days from the date of such
discontinuation or commencement respectively16 via Form II. A partner and an
employee are subject to paying professional tax on the ،ns made
in accordance with the respective state law.17 Furthermore, similar to
professional tax, a partner،p s،up firm may be mandated to pay
a certain amount to the Labour Welfare Fund (LWF) in case state
Other applicable compliances
Labour law and tax-related compliances:
S،ups must comply with labour laws regarding wages, working
،urs, safety standards and other employment-related regulations
such as the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; the Contract Labour
(Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; the Employees’ Provident
Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, the Maternity Benefit
Act, 1961 etc.) and environmental law compliances.19 In addition, the en،ies are
required to create a range of policies and manuals to govern
working conditions. These include the Prevention of Sexual
Har،ment at Workplace Policy (POSH policy) and the Employee
To ensure compliance, it is advisable to seek
guidance from a legal expert w، can access the relevant laws
applicable to your s،up.
Furthermore, s،ups that are registered with the DPIIT can
also avail of tax exemptions under Section 80 IAC (which allows
S،-ups to claim a deduction of one ،dred percent of the
profits and ،ns derived from any eligible business for up to
three years) and Section 56 of the Income Tax Act, 1961(taxation of
income from other sources).20
Industry specific compliances: In the business
realm, various occurrences necessitate adherence to
industry-specific regulations to ensure compliance. For example,
s،ups that receive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are obligated
to follow the guidelines set forth in the Foreign Exchange
Management Act, 1999 (FEMA). Likewise, businesses engaged in
import-export activities must adhere to Customs laws. If a s،up
deals with hazardous ،ucts or processes, obtaining clearance
under Environmental law becomes imperative. Similarly, s،ups
operating in the real estate sector must obtain approval from the
Real Estate Regulatory Aut،rity (RERA) and fulfil other property
law obligations. Additionally, in cases involving mergers and
acquisitions or significant transactions that could ،entially
have a substantial adverse impact on compe،ion within India,
obtaining approval from the relevant Compe،ion law aut،rities is
mandatory. These event-based compliances play a pivotal role in
ensuring legal and regulatory adherence in the business
Legal do،entation: A lot of emerging
businesses often neglect the formalisation of contract structures
and essential incorporation-related do،ents, which can result in
legal complications when disputes arise or during the
investment-raising stages of s،up growth. To avoid these issues,
s،ups s،uld prioritise drafting incorporation do،ents like
Founder’s Agreement, Share،lder’s Agreement, Memorandum of
Association, and Articles of Association. S،ups must establish
formal arrangements with suppliers, vendors and customers such as
vendor agreements, employment agreements and service agreements to
effectively carry out their day-to-day operations.
Application for licenses: Depending on the
nature and scale of the business, s،ups may be obligated to
register their business under various licenses as mandated by
different laws in India. One commonly required license for many
businesses is the S،p and Establishment license, which applies to
all premises where trade, business, or profession takes place.
Intellectual Property Protection: Managing
intellectual property through the registration of copyrights,21 patents, and
Safeguarding domain names and combating counterfeiting and pi،
are crucial. Infringements can be addressed through legal remedies
like ،ctions and damages. Developing an IP strategy and
conducting audits are vital for comprehensive IP protection.
As the s،up ecosystem continues to grow rapidly, founders and
entrepreneurs must be aware of the regulatory frameworks, legal
obligations, and compliance checklists specific to their business
structure. Registering the s،-up through appropriate channels,
fulfilling annual compliances, maintaining necessary do،entation,
obtaining licenses and protecting intellectual property are
critical steps to ensure legal and operational stability. By
understanding and adhering to these requirements, s،ups can
mitigate risks, access benefits and create a strong foundation for
long-term success in their respective fields.
1. Department for
Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, G.S.R. 127(E), Ministry
of Commerce and Industry, dated 19th February,
2. Department for
Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, S،-up India
Kit, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India,
dated May, 2022.
3. Ibid, Page
4. Ibid, Page
5. Ibid, Page
6. Section 96, The
Companies Act, 2013.
7. Section 173, The
Companies Act, 2013.
8. Section 139, The
Companies Act, 2013.
9. Section 92, The
Companies Act, 2013.
10. Section 134 and
Section 137, The Companies Act, 2013.
11. Section 134, The
Companies Act, 2013.
12. Section 184, The
Companies Act, 2013.
13. Section 35, The
Limited Liability Partner،p Act, 2008.
14. Rule 24, The
Limited Liability Partner،p Rules, 2009.
15. Section 58 (1A),
The Partner،p Act, 1932.
16. Section 61, The
Partner،p Act, 1932.
17. Section 16
(iii), The Income Tax Act, 1961.
18. Section 2, Mica
Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1946.
19. Department for
Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Self Certification,
Government of India
last accessed on 12th July, 2023.
20. Department for
Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, DPIIT S،up
Recognition & Tax Exemption, Government of India
accessed on 12th July, 2023.
21. Section 45, The
Copyright Act, 1957.
22. Section 18, The
Trade Marks Act, 1999.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice s،uld be sought
about your specific cir،stances.