Legal Licenses Required in Setting Up a Business in Kenya

No matter what occupation you hold in Kenya, make sure your business is properly licensed.
No matter what occupation you hold in Kenya, make sure your business is properly licensed. (Image: kenya image by TEMISTOCLE LUCARELLI from

Kenya is one of the countries in Africa where you can establish a business quickly and without much hassle. All you need is to register your business with the Registrar of Companies, whose department falls under the Attorney General. To register a company, you need to reserve your company name for 30 days and then pay the registration fees after providing the Articles and Memorandum of Association. The 30-day name reservation period is to ensure that nobody else can register the name while the company registration process is in progress. You can then apply for all required licenses.

Personal Identification Number

The Kenyan government issues a Personal Identification Number for the purposes of identifying taxpayers. This number is issued to both individuals and business entities and is required when undertaking various transactions such as purchasing property. The number is provided for free by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the body in charge of collecting taxes in Kenya. Go to the KRA offices and present your identification documents — either a passport or Kenya's national identity card, which is issued to all Kenyans when they reach 18 years of age — for the number to be issued immediately. Go to the KRA website to print out a replacement PIN card if you lose yours.

Single Business Permit

All businesses in Kenya must have a Single Business Permit, which authorizes you to conduct business in Kenya. This license was introduced in 2000 and is issued by the Ministry of Local Government through local authorities.

Environmental Impact Assessment License

Before can establish a business in Kenya, you must get approval from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). NEMA is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that businesses don't have a negative impact on the environment. A business, for example, must show that it has put in place a waste disposal system, or that it won't cause noise pollution in the vicinity of its location. When NEMA is satisfied that a business meets these requirements, it issues the Environmental Impact Assessment license, which gives the business the go-ahead to start operations.

National Social Security Fund

All employers in Kenya are required to register their workers with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Employers must make a monthly contribution to the pension body on behalf of the workers so that the workers receive a pension after retirement. It's illegal to not register with the NSSF or to neglect to make the monthly payments.

National Hospital Insurance Fund

All businesses are required to register their employees with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and make a monthly contribution on behalf of the workers. The money is used to take care of employees' medical bills if they're admitted to the hospital.

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