Question: Hello Yaneek. I am a returning resident and have a keen interest in starting a car rental business. I would like to serve the high end of the tourist market and Jamaicans who live outside the country but visit from time to time. I observe that when you come from overseas and want to rent a car, it is usually Toyota Corolla and Nissan cars that are available for rent, which are not very spacious or comfortable. I have tried unsuccessfully to contact the respective TPDCo agents for information on how to be certified to provide this service and how to receive grants of rights to the motor vehicles I import for the company. I called several times and each time I was transferred to an extension and no one answered. I really need help getting this information and your general feedback on my ideas. So would you be so kind and willing to use your connections for me, please?
Business side: I truly admire your love for Jamaica and your passion to return home and start a business, especially after identifying a need and various gaps in the market that could be a promising entrepreneurial opportunity. Although I don’t have any special connections, as you say, I used some good old-fashioned research to get the information you need.
Conduct research for your business: I will briefly explain my research process since you will need to conduct a lot more in the future. I started with Google and typed “how to acquire a license for a car rental company in Jamaica” into the search engine bar, which generated over six million results. Since it would be nearly impossible to search six million results, I noted the top results from official government entities and news sources. I then modified my original search phrase to include keywords such as JIS (Jamaica Information Service), GOJ (Government of Jamaica), JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board), TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company), Jamaica Customs Agency, etc. By doing so, I received the best search results relevant to my specific interests. Interestingly, the top result was a document titled ‘Motor Car Rental Company Licence’ found on the TPDCo website at the following link http://www.tpdco.org › pre-req-CAR-RENT-2014.
It contained a schedule of requirements/documents to be submitted with a license application dated September 17, 2014. I then called the TPDCo office to confirm that the form I found online was up to date, for clarification on some of the requirements, to check if there were any fees or costs as none were stated on the requirements, and for details on the nature of concessions or waivers that may be available and the steps to apply . Unfortunately, I had a similar experience to yours calling the TPDCo. I was transferred to extensions which rang with no answer. However, I persisted, called back and let the receptionist know that no one was answering. She explained that the agents are traveling personnel who are frequently on the road. She then shared a cell phone number for an officer she thought could help.
Unfortunately, this number also rang unanswered. I persisted and called the office back. The receptionist gave me another cell phone number for another officer, which also went unanswered. So, I called back, and this time I asked for email addresses so I could email them, which I did. Eventually my calls were returned and a response to my email was received. I was able to get the following information for you, not through connections, but through perseverance:
The most recent car rental company requirements document is dated 2019 and available on the TPDCo website where you will also find the application form. The application/license fee is J$10,000. The license must be renewed every year and the renewal fee is also $10,000.
Requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
Minimum of five motor cars, or 10 motor cars if the operator intends to apply for a car dealership after one year of obtaining the license
Appropriate sanitary facilities
The office(s) should be staffed with qualified staff
Telephone/communication system installed and functioning
The identification sign must be clearly marked and displayed
The company must operate from a registered office in a commercial area
TPDCo Recommendations Assessment Report
Vehicles must be registered in the name of the operating company
First aid kit and fire extinguishers to be placed strategically
Documents to submit:
Completed application form with required documentation submitted to Manager, Licensing Processing Unit, TPDCo.
Copy of the certificate of incorporation
Copy of trade name registration (if applicable, i.e. if the trade name is different from the company name)
Letter of good standing from the Jamaica Companies Office (if applicable)
Copy of Tax Identification Number (TRN)
List of directors (if applicable)
Copy of liability insurance
Local planning authority approval (e.g. Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, St James Municipal Corporation, etc.)
Permission to operate from location: certified title/lease or rental agreement (if applicable)
Fleet list showing year, type, model and license number (vehicles must be registered in the name of the company making the request)
Copy of terms and conditions of rental deposit requirement and cancellation and refund policy
Copy of work permit(s) (if applicable)
Unfortunately, up to the time of writing this article, I have not received any written responses regarding available concessions or waivers and the application process, among other questions I have asked. However, the officers I spoke with were helpful and pleasant and promised to provide the information as soon as possible, which I hope to share with you and my fellow readers in another column. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact them again, even if it requires several calls, voicemails, texts and emails. I understand you’ve been away for a while, and this is an approach that may be foreign to you now, but is often effective at home.
One love, Yaneek
Yaneek Page is Program Manager for Market Entry USA and a Certified Entrepreneurship Trainer. She is also the creator and executive producer of The Innovators and let’s make peace TV shows.