Building & Control

Below is a detailed summary of the procedures, time and costs to build a warehouse in Tonga. This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, completing required notifications and inspections and obtaining utility connections.
The indicator set on dealing with construction permits was expanded in Doing Business 2016 to include the building quality control index that measures good practices in construction regulation and assesses the quality control and safety mechanisms in place for an economy’s construction permitting system, as well as the quality of the building regulations. This new index is a component indicator of the ranking on dealing with construction permits. The details are available under the “Measure of quality” tab.

Measure of efficiency Measure of quality

Time to Complete
Associated Costs
Request and obtain official copy of site plan from the Ministry of Land
Agency: Ministry of Land
Depending on the location of the land, obtaining a site plan may take as long as one year (if the project is outside Nuku’alofa).
3 days
TOP 16
Request and obtain building permit
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
A new building code has been partially introduced. Since August 2005, in practice, BuildCo submits all plans for approval to the Ministry of Infrastructure. BuildCo must submit 3 sets of drawing (the specifications are provided in the law). One copy will be distributed to each department at the same time for approval:
1. Fire Services Department — checking for safety regulations
2. Environmental Department — checking the impact of the construction on the environment. Since 2010, a builder must complete an Environmental Impact Assessment form when submitting a building permit request.
3. Ministry of Health — checking the septic tank, whether it is the Ministry of Infrastructure’s standard septic tank. Normally all architects have the standard specifications and the check list.

Once approved by the various departments, the plans are sent back to the Ministry of Infrastructure for final approval.

The time it takes to obtain the approval depends on the persistence of BuildCo in following up. The official time limit is 21 working days (under Article 11 — Issue of a Building Permit — Building Control and Standards Regulations 2005) or 30 calendar days:
1. The Ministry of Infrastructure has 10 working days to verify the sets of plans and forward all the documents to the relevant departments.
2. All 3 departments have 10 working days to provide their response.
3. The Ministry of Infrastructure has 1 working day to issue the permit.

30 days
TOP 6,515
Receive foundation inspection from the Ministry of Infrastructure
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
The Ministry of Infrastructure is supposed to conduct inspections at certain stages of the project (foundations, walls, pouring of concrete, etc). In practice, there may be about three inspections or none. The inspections must be requested but this can be done over the telephone.
1 day
no charge
Receive inspection of framing material
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
1 day
no charge
Receive inspection of plumbing and sanitary work
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
1 day
no charge
Request water connection
Agency: Tonga Water Board
In practice, unless water supply is already available at the site, many companies use rainwater.
1 day
TOP 900
Request and receive final inspection
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
The builder will inform the Building Comptroller of the MOW either by phone, email or in person. A date for the inspection is proposed by the builder. The inspector will come on the premises and do the final inspection.
5 days
no charge
Receive certificate of completion
Agency: Ministry of Infrastructure
Two days after the final inspection, the Ministry of Infrastructure will issue the certificate of completion.
2 days
no charge