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07 May 2024

Difference between OPC (One Person Company) and Sole Proprietorship in India

07 May 2024
Difference between OPC (One Person Company) and Sole Proprietorship in India

In the dynamic landscape of Indian business, both One Person Company (hereinafter ‘OPC’) and sole proprietorship offer unique opportunities to establish and run their ventures. However, they differ significantly in terms of legal structure, liability, and scalability.

A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business entity in India, where an individual owns and operates the business entirely on their own. It requires minimal formalities for registration and is predominantly suited for small-scale businesses with limited liabilities. On the other hand, an OPC, introduced in India through the Companies Act, 2013, provides a single entrepreneur with the benefits of a corporate entity. Unlike a sole proprietorship, an OPC has a separate legal identity distinct from its owner, offering limited liability protection. This means the personal assets of the owner are safeguarded in case of business debts or liabilities.

While both structures cater to individual entrepreneurs, the choice between sole proprietorship and OPC depends on various factors such as the scale of operations, growth prospects, risk appetite, and compliance preferences. This article delineates the crucial differences between OPC and sole proprietorship in India and highlights a deeper understanding of the key functions of legal requirements of each of them in order to empower entrepreneurs in making informed decisions about the most suitable business structure for their ventures. 

What is a One Person Company (OPC) in India?

A OPC is a unique legal entity that combines the ease of a sole proprietorship with the advantages of a corporate organization for single entrepreneurs. In an OPC, a single individual holds 100% ownership, ensuring complete control over the business. The key characteristic of an OPC is that it provides limited liability protection, separating the owner’s personal assets from business liabilities. This shields the owner’s personal wealth in case of financial distress or legal issues. OPCs are also allowed to hire directors, aiding in decision-making and governance. However, they are required to nominate a nominee who would take over in case of the owner’s incapacitation. OPCs are ideal for those seeking a streamlined business structure with enhanced credibility and limited personal risk.

Features of a One Person Company (OPC) in India

  • Perpetual Succession and Credibility
    The perpetual succession feature of an OPC ensures the company’s continuity beyond the lifetime of its owner. This means that even if the owner passes away or becomes incapacitated, the OPC remains a separate legal entity, with the nominee taking over management. This feature safeguards the company’s existence, contracts, and assets, enhancing investor and stakeholder confidence in its long-term viability.
    Additionally, due to its structured legal framework and limited liability protection, an OPC tends to command more credibility and trust in the market. This credibility can attract potential customers, partners, and investors, as it signals a commitment to formal business practices and responsible management, fostering a positive reputation in the business landscape.

  • Compliance Requirements
    For an OPC, there are several compliance and reporting requirements that need to be adhered to, ensuring transparency and legality:
  1. Annual Financial Statements
  2. Annual Returns
  3. Board Meetings
  4. Income Tax Filing
  5. Statutory Audits
  6. Compliance with ROC
  7. GST and Other Tax Registrations
  8. Filing of Director’s Report
  9. Ownership Transfer and Expansion

In an OPC, ownership transfer is facilitated by the nomination of a successor, ensuring continuity upon the owner’s incapacitation. Expansion involves converting the OPC into a private limited company or forming subsidiaries, allowing for equity infusion and increased operations. This transformation enables the company to bring in more shareholders and capital, supporting growth while maintaining the limited liability protection and distinct legal entity status.

  • Taxation Benefits
    In India, OPCs enjoy certain taxation benefits, such as lower tax rates for smaller businesses and access to presumptive taxation schemes. OPCs with a turnover of up to a specified limit can opt for the presumptive taxation scheme, which simplifies tax calculations and reporting. Additionally, OPCs are eligible for various deductions and exemptions available to other types of companies, reducing their overall tax liability and promoting a favorable environment for small business growth.

  • Single Promoter and Ownership
    An OPC is characterized by its single promoter or owner, who holds complete control over the business operations and decision-making processes. This individual is the sole shareholder and director, enabling swift and efficient decision-making without the need for consensus from multiple stakeholders. This autonomy empowers the owner to align the company’s strategies and directions with their vision, without compromising due to differing viewpoints. This streamlined decision-making not only accelerates operational efficiency but also enhances the business’s adaptability to changing circumstances.

  •  Limited Liability
    One of the primary advantages of an OPC is the limited liability protection it offers to the owner. This means that the owner’s personal assets are distinct and separate from the company’s liabilities. In the event of financial issues or legal disputes faced by the company, the owner’s personal wealth remains safeguarded. This separation ensures that the owner’s risk exposure is limited to the capital invested in the company, reducing the potential impact on their personal finances.

  • Separate Legal Entity (Demarcation of Personal & Company Assets)
    In an OPC a clear demarcation exists between personal and business assets. This separation ensures that the owner’s personal belongings, such as property and savings, are entirely distinct from the company’s assets and liabilities. Consequently, if the company faces financial setbacks or legal obligations, the owner’s personal assets remain insulated from these challenges. This distinction reinforces the limited liability nature of OPCs, providing owners with a significant degree of financial protection and peace of mind.


Advantages of a One Person Company (OPC)

  • Perpetual Succession: An OPC offers an advantage over a sole proprietorship in terms of continuity. A sole proprietorship ceases to exist if the owner dies or becomes incapacitated. An OPC, however, is a separate legal entity from its owner. This means the business can continue to operate even if there are changes in ownership.

  • Limited Liability: A key benefit of an OPC is limited liability protection. The owner’s personal assets are shielded from business debts and liabilities. This means that if the company faces financial trouble, creditors can only go after the company’s assets, not the owner’s personal wealth beyond their investment in the OPC.

  • Easier to Raise Funds: Compared to a sole proprietorship, an OPC can attract investment more easily. Investors may be more confident in an OPC due to its distinct legal structure and limited liability protection. OPCs can also convert into a private limited company in the future, allowing them to raise capital through the issuance of shares to multiple investors.

  • Enhanced Credibility and Business Image: Operating as an OPC can project a more professional and established image compared to a sole proprietorship. This can be beneficial when dealing with clients, vendors, and potential business partners. The structure of an OPC fosters trust and inspires confidence as it demonstrates a commitment to following corporate governance practices.


Disadvantages of a One Person Company (OPC)

  • Restrictions on Incorporation: Unlike some other company structures, OPCs cannot be incorporated by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). This limits the involvement of overseas investors or individuals residing outside the country who might bring valuable experience or capital.

  • Limited Scalability: OPCs are best suited for small or medium-sized businesses. They have a cap on their annual turnover and paid-up capital. If the business experiences significant growth and surpasses these limits, it will need to convert into a private limited company, which involves additional complexities.

  • Restricted Business Activities: There are certain business activities that OPCs are not permitted to undertake, such as non-banking financial investments. This can limit the scope of operations for businesses in specific sectors.

  • Limited Partnership Opportunities: Due to the single-member structure, OPCs cannot form joint ventures with other companies. This restricts their ability to collaborate and share resources, technology, or market access that could accelerate growth or expansion.


Legal Provisions dealing with OPC in India


Legal Provision



Section 2(62)

Defines a One Person Company (OPC) as a company with only one member. In simpler terms, an OPC can be formed and managed by a single person.


Section 3(1)(c)

Allows for the formation of a company with one member, a key characteristic of OPCs.


Section 7

Deals with the incorporation process for a company. OPCs follow this process for registration.


Section 8

Not applicable to OPCs. This section pertains to companies formed for charitable purposes.


Section 9

Covers the legal effect of company registration. Upon registration, an OPC becomes a separate legal entity.


Section 10

Outlines the impact of a company’s memorandum and articles on its operation. OPCs, like other companies, are bound by these documents.


Section 13

Allows for changes to the company’s memorandum, though some changes may be restricted for OPCs.


Section 14

Deals with alterations to the company’s articles. Similar to the memorandum, OPCs can amend their articles following a specific procedure.


Section 135

Deals with the appointment and qualification of directors. Since OPCs only have one director, this section is relevant for appointing that director.


Section 193

Addresses contracts between an OPC and its sole member who is also the director. It outlines record-keeping requirements for such transactions.


Rule 3 (Companies Incorporation Rules, 2014)

Specifies the eligibility criteria for incorporating an OPC. Only an Indian citizen and resident can be the sole member and nominee for an OPC.

What is a Sole Proprietorship in India?

A sole proprietorship is a business structure owned and operated by a single individual. In this setup, the owner assumes full control over decision-making and business operations. Basic characteristics of a sole proprietorship include its simplicity, where the owner is the business entity itself; unlimited personal liability for business debts; and the ease of establishment and dissolution. The owner reports business income and expenses on their personal tax return.


Features of a Sole Proprietorship in India

  • Unlimited Liability
    In India, a sole proprietorship presents the challenge of unlimited liability, where the owner is personally liable for all business debts and obligations. Moreover, the single ownership structure can limit access to additional capital and expertise. These factors can deter potential investors and business partners, hindering growth opportunities. However, the simplicity of formation and decision-making is a trade-off for these challenges.

  • Limited Succession
    Sole proprietorship entities face limited succession planning, as the business often ceases to exist upon the owner’s death or inability to manage it. The absence of a clear succession framework can jeopardize the continuity of the business. Additionally, while simplicity is an advantage, it can also be a limitation, especially for larger operations requiring diverse skill sets. The sole proprietor must handle all aspects of the business, potentially leading to burnout, increased burden of responsibilities and inhibiting the company’s capacity for growth and specialization.

  • Personal Credibility and Control
    In a sole proprietorship, the personal credibility of the owner significantly influences the business’s reputation. Positive personal standing can enhance the business’s trustworthiness, while negative perceptions may hinder growth. However, the control the owner exercises over the entity can be both advantageous and challenging. Full control allows quick decisions, but it can also lead to limited expertise in critical areas. 

  • Compliance and Minimal Requirements
    In India, a sole proprietorship has minimal compliance requirements. It only needs to register under applicable local laws, if required. Basic compliances include obtaining any necessary licenses or permits, such as a Shops and Establishments license. As for taxation, the owner must file personal income tax returns that incorporate business income. While the simplicity is advantageous, it’s crucial to meet local regulatory obligations to ensure the legality and smooth operation of the sole proprietorship entity.

  • Ownership and Asset Management
    In a sole proprietorship entity in India, the owner and the business are considered one entity. Therefore, personal assets can be used for business purposes. However, this intermingling of personal and business assets can lead to challenges in tracking financial transactions and assessing the business’s true financial health. It’s advisable to maintain clear records and separate accounts to accurately manage business finances and differentiate personal assets from those used for business activities.

  • Taxation Considerations
    In India, a sole proprietorship is taxed as part of the owner’s personal income. The business income, along with personal income, is subject to the individual’s income tax slab rates. Tax deductions are available for eligible business expenses. However, the owner is responsible for paying both income tax and self-employment taxes, making efficient record-keeping and proper expense tracking for optimizing tax benefits.


Legal Provisions dealing with Sole Proprietorship in India

While there’s no single legal act governing sole proprietorships in India, their operation is influenced by a combination of regulations such as: 

  • No Central Act for Sole Proprietorship: The Companies Act, 2013 applies to registered companies, and sole proprietorships are not covered by the definition of ‘Companies’, hence there is no applicability of the Act on sole proprietorship. 
  • State-Level Shops and Establishments Act: Most states in India require sole proprietorships exceeding a certain size (employees/turnover) to register under the Shops & Establishments Act. The specific requirements and registration processes may vary by state. 
  • Tax Laws: All businesses, including sole proprietorships, are subject to tax slabs set by the Income Tax Act, 1961. The owner’s income tax rate applies to the combined business and personal income in case of a sole proprietorship. 
  • GST Registration: A sole proprietorship is required to register for GST if its annual turnover exceeds Rs. 40 lakh. There are additional conditions that can trigger mandatory GST registration even with a lower turnover, such as inter-state sales or e-commerce businesses.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

  • Easy Setup and Maintenance: A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure to establish. There’s minimal paperwork or legal filings required to get started. This allows you to focus your energy on running your business rather than navigating complex regulations.

  • Low Operational Costs: Sole proprietorships benefit from lower operational costs compared to other structures. You avoid fees associated with incorporating or maintaining a board of directors. You only pay for business licenses and permits required in your area.

  • Complete Control: As the sole owner, you have complete control over all aspects of the business. You make all the decisions regarding operations, finances, and strategy. This allows for quick decision-making and flexibility in adapting to changing market conditions.


Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship 

  • Unlimited Liability: A major drawback is unlimited liability. There’s no separation between your personal and business assets. If the business incurs debts or faces lawsuits, your personal wealth (like your car or house) could be at risk to cover those liabilities.

  • Limited Funding Options: Raising capital can be challenging for sole proprietors. Since the business isn’t a separate entity, it’s difficult to attract investors who are hesitant to risk their money against your personal assets. This can limit your ability to grow or expand.

  • Limited Growth Potential: The growth of a sole proprietorship is often restricted by the owner’s skills, time, and resources. You wear many hats and may struggle to delegate tasks effectively, hindering the ability to scale the business significantly.

  • Lack of Continuity: The life of a sole proprietorship is tied to the owner. If you become incapacitated, ill, or pass away, the business may be forced to close unless there’s a clear succession plan in place.


Difference between OPC and Sole Proprietorship in India

  • The most significant advantage of an OPC is limited liability. The owner’s personal assets are shielded from business debts, offering significant protection. In contrast, a sole proprietor faces unlimited liability, risking their personal wealth in case of business failure. 
  • Sole proprietorships boast minimal compliance requirements. There’s often no formal registration needed, and tax filing is straightforward. OPCs, however, require registration with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and adherence to stricter regulations.
  • A sole proprietorship ceases to exist if the owner dies or leaves.  An OPC, on the other hand, enjoys perpetual succession. The business can continue even with a change in ownership, offering greater stability and future potential.
  • Limited liability and a more professional structure make OPCs more attractive to investors compared to sole proprietorships. This can be crucial for businesses seeking external funding for growth.


One Person Company vs Sole Proprietorship – Core Differences in India


One Person Company (OPC)

Sole Proprietorship

Legal Status

Separate legal entity from the owner

Same legal entity as the owner

Liability Structure

Limited liability (owner’s personal assets are not at risk for business debts)

Unlimited liability (owner’s personal assets are on the line for business debts, if any)

Formation and Compliance Requirements

Registration with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) required under the Companies Act, 2013

Minimal registration required under local laws or no registration required

Management Structure

An OPC can be formed and managed by a single person, minimum requirement is of one director

Sole proprietor have complete control and no mandatory requirement of a nominee, unlike OPC.


Separate tax entity, taxed as a company,  usual tax rate computed as 30% on profits plus cess and surcharge

Taxes computed wrt the individual slab rate using: Taxable income x Applicable slab rate = Total taxes due. 


Exists even if the owner dies, retires or leaves the company

Ends if the sole proprietor dies, retires or leaves the business

Annual filings

Filings with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) as per the Companies Act, 2013. 

Filing of only income tax returns. sole proprietorships in India must register for GST if their annual turnover:

  1. Exceeds Rs. 40 lakh (nationally).
  2. Exceeds Rs. 20 lakh (in specific states).

Raising Capital

Easier to attract investors due to limited liability and professional structure

Difficult to attract investors due to unlimited liability



Conclusively, it is evident that OPC and single proprietorships vary from one another, on a larger extent. Even though an OPC and a single proprietorship only have one member, they operate differently. OPC possesses corporate characteristics, but a single proprietorship lacks these advantages. Because of this, the business does not enjoy perpetual succession and the lone proprietor is subject to unlimited liability.

In the event of the sole proprietor’s passing, OPC is required to choose a nominee to manage the business; in the case of a sole proprietorship, this obligation does not exist. People therefore favor OPC over single proprietorships. In a nutshell, the advantages of limited liability, perpetual succession, and potential for attracting investment in OPCs outweigh the benefits of lower compliance burden in sole proprietorships. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Difference between OPC and Sole Proprietorship

Q. What is a One Person Company (OPC)?

A. An OPC is a legal entity introduced in India by the Companies Act 2013 that allows a single entrepreneur to operate a corporate entity with limited liability protection.

Q. What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A. A Sole Proprietorship is the simplest business form in India where a single individual owns, manages, and is responsible for all aspects of the business, bearing unlimited liability.


Q. What are the key differences between an OPC and a Sole Proprietorship?

A. The main differences lie in liability and legal status. An OPC offers limited liability, protecting the owner’s personal assets from business liabilities and operates as a separate legal entity. Conversely, a sole proprietorship provides no such protection, and the owner’s personal assets are at risk.


Q. What are the advantages of forming an OPC?

A. Advantages include limited liability, perpetual succession, ease of raising capital, and enhanced credibility. OPCs are also perceived as more stable and trustworthy by banks, investors, and suppliers.


Q. What are the disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship?

A. Disadvantages include unlimited liability, difficulty in raising funds, and cessation of business upon the owner’s death or incapacity.


Q. Who can form an OPC in India?

A. Any Indian citizen and resident can incorporate an OPC. There are restrictions on Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) from incorporating an OPC without a resident director.


Q. Are there any special compliance requirements for OPCs?

A. Yes, OPCs must comply with regulatory requirements such as annual returns, financial statements, and statutory audits. They also need to adhere to regulations from the Registrar of Companies (ROC).


Q. How does succession work in an OPC?

A. OPCs must nominate a successor during the incorporation process, ensuring business continuity if the original owner becomes incapacitated or passes away.


Q. Can OPCs convert into other types of companies?

A. Yes, OPCs can convert into private limited companies if they exceed certain thresholds of revenue or growth, allowing them to scale operations and add more shareholders.


Q. What are the tax implications for OPCs?

A. OPCs enjoy certain tax benefits under Indian law, such as lower tax rates for smaller businesses and eligibility for various deductions. They can also opt for presumptive taxation schemes to simplify tax calculations.


Posted by
Last updated on
May 07, 2024, 11:25am


The content of this article is for information purpose only and does not constitute advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer to relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc. before acting on the basis of the above write up. The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that the Author / Treelife is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof.

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