I've been doing a lot of research on how to get a business visa for Kenya, but keep getting so many conflicting answers. I'm a US citizen and need to register a business in Kenya as the owner. What I'm most concerned about is the revenue requirement that I must show that we have 100k in a bank account. We're a very early stage startup and very bootstrapped, nowhere near 100k in the bank. Also do I have to register as a LLC or LLP?

1 Answer 1


What you describe requires business registration and The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya US website has a step-by-step guide: >

i. Steps
Fill the Investment Application Form.
Engage legal advice in Kenya.
Register Your business
Submit Application Form + Certificate of Incorporation + Articles and memorandum of association to KenInvest
Issue of The Investment License

ii. Procedures for establishing a company in Kenya
The principal types of business enterprises in Kenya are:
Registered Companies (Private and Public)
Branch offices of companies registered outside Kenya
Partnerships Sole Proprietorships

Companies are registered as limited liability companies as in 1 and 2 above, and regulated by the Companies Act (Cap 486). Kenya's legal system is based on English law and practice. A wide range of legal services are locally available.

iii. Company Registration
The initial step in forming a company is to register the proposed company name with the Registrar of Companies at the Attorney General's Chambers in Nairobi. The Memorandum and Articles of Association should be filed with the Registrar of Companies who, upon satisfaction, issues the Certificate of Incorporation.

Opening a branch office of an overseas company
An overseas company wishing to open a branch office in Kenya should deliver the following to the Registrar of Companies:
A certified copy of the Charter, Statutes or Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company, or other instruments defining the constitution of the company;
A list of the directors and secretary of the company, giving full names, nationality and other directorships of companies in Kenya;
A statement of all existing charges entered into by the company affecting properties in Kenya;
Names and postal addresses of one or more persons resident in Kenya authorised to accept, on behalf of the company, service of notices required to be served on the company;
Full address of the registered or principal office of the company in its home country; and,
Full address of place of business in Kenya.

Both private and public companies may allot shares for considerations other than cash. Companies should inform the Registrar of Companies of such allotments and submit a written contract constituting the title of the allottee.

iv. Patents and Trade Marks
Patents are regulated by the Industrial Property Act and administered by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), while trademarks are regulated by the Trade and Service Marks Act (Cap 506) and administered by the Registrar of Trademarks at KIPI. The duration of trademarks is seven years from the date of filing and renewable every 14 years.

v. Work permits
The Government allows investors to have key expatriate staff in senior management positions or where locals with specific skills are not available. Work permits for such expatriates are issued by the Immigration Department and are valid for one to two years, renewable on application.

vi. Import and export procedures
There is no import licensing except for a few items restricted for security, health or environmental reasons detailed in the Imports, Exports and Essential Supplies Act (Cap 502). During the Budget for Fiscal Year 2001/02 the Minister agreed to waive the 2.75% Import Declaration Form (IDF) fees applicable on imported goods used for manufacturing goods for exports under the Tax Remission for Export Office (TREO) scheme. Manufactures under the TREO will however have to pay Kshs. 5000 which is processing fees.

The World Bank, through its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and The International Development Association (IDA) are invaluable resources for global businesses. I would suggest you review its Doing Business report for a:

[D]etailed summary of the bureaucratic and legal hurdles faced by entrepreneurs wishing to incorporate and register a new firm in Kenya. It examines the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a commercial or industrial firm with between 10 and 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

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